We are Andrea and Piero, two IVY volunteers who participated at 9th EuroPCom held in Brussels on 8th and 9th November 2018. The European Public Communication Conference, organized by the European Committee of Regions (CoR), is the annual summit of communication experts from local, regional, national and European authorities, as well as private communication agencies, non governmental organizations and academic experts. The conference aims to share better contents and information about European institutions, policies and programs. During the event, we participated in some very interesting workshops, for this reason we decided to share our findings with all IVY volunteers. The sessions we attended were:
Opening and closing sessions
How to engage young people in the electoral process?
The European elections: media, quo vadis?
Disinformation and elections: lessons learned
Celebrating the local in pan-European campaigns
We were also present during the projection of the short film “Party Animal” by Yorgos Zois, produced within the #EUandME social media campaign.
A brief summary of the event
The whole event seemed to revolve around the forthcoming European Elections which will be held during May 2019. Over this theme, speakers and participants focused their attention on two main topics: first, how to involve young people in electoral process, second the widespread phenomenon of fake news and disinformation. The speakers agreed for the fist topic that we need to reach young people where they are, both on Social Media or directly, involving them to know more about European policies and initiatives, regardless their own political thougths. For the second one, the speakers took in consideration past events, such as the last elections in United States, France and Italy, to demonstrate how disinformation works and how to face this growing trend. Lastly, the speakers discussed a lot about the point, if democracy and technology are two compatible concepts: can the development of an artificial intelligence, that can cope with enormous quantity of data, endanger not only our privacy, but the democratic system and the intere concept of “free will”too?
Below you will find an extract of our key findings, which you could put in practical use in your everyday life as volunteers. If you want know more about the event, you can find all the material avalaible at this link. It includes the videos of the recorded sessions. You can ask us if you need more information about a specif topic or about the event.
- Comunication is based on commitment: it will take commitment to reach others, expecially when they are from different countries or cultures than your.
- Deal with Fake News: we need to accept the presence of fake news but we need to promote education in our community to decrase their negative effects. Promoting social awareness means to give our community the antibodies to figth against ignorance and disinformation. If you want to spot fake news, try to “stand in the shoes” of the creators. What is their aim? How are they trying to reach it?
- Don’t be shy: to engage young people in elections, give them a goal that they can share with their community of peers. Try to make them passionate about, not only aware of something.
- Use the data: data can be extremely dangerous if used in the wrong way, but if we use them in a correct manner, by verifying the source and respecting their owner, we can use them to understand the changements of our society better.
- Use emotions not numbers: while facts are important to justify our choiches, people don’t want to see charts and figures, they care about things that generate emotions. Remember that communication is a matter of empathy. If you need to talk about complex topics or you need to summarize numeric tables, try to utilize infographics.
- Keep your message simple: complex topics, like EU policies, are hard to understand by common people. For this reason, don’t write posts with long text and avoid acronyms and the thecnical jargon when it’s not necessary. Instead try to maintain your content “sneakable” and “sexy”. You can also utilize humor and pop culture to deliver your message better.
- Choose carefully the platform: remember that there are huge differences between different platforms. Whenever you share your content consider your target group and the purpose of the message. If you need to communicate an official statement, it’s probably better to use Twitter, but if you need to engage young citizens in European Election is probably better to use Instagram or You Tube.
- Bear in mind differences: even if the process of European integration had changed many of our common habits, inside the European Union remains huge differences between different conutries, regions and even local communities. When you are volunteering abroad, remember to take account of the relevant differences perceived by the public opinion about the European and national politic, quality of life and social and economic issues.
- Useful online tools: EU Survey (surveys and forms) Canva (design), Piktochart (infographic maker), Google trends, PicMonkey (photo editor), Pixabay (free photo).
Andrea Luzzini – Piero Graziano
Please find below a little gallery with photos of the event: