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  • 8th November 2016 - 15:06 GMT
EMI Training Academy

European Movement Public Affairs Seminar

On 4 – 5 November 2016, the European Movement International and European Movement Germany organised a Public Affairs Seminar presented by Adrian Taylor, Director at the Parmenides Foundation. During the two-day workshop, participants learned about monitoring and agenda setting in the public arena, stakeholder mapping, how to develop positions and positive relationships, as well as about how to sell proposals and the relationship between public affairs and social media. Each of the points on the agenda were accompanied by impulses given by two participants, allowing for a lively and interactive discussion on different strategies and methods of the different organisations.

Beginning with monitoring and agenda setting, Adrian Taylor described the process as a radar on which a variety of actors, events and developments come to our attention. The two key features of monitoring, according to Adrian, consist of sources (i.e. members of the organisations, institutions, media and stakeholders) and topics (i.e. the topic an organisation has a mandate to monitor).

Rebekka Haffner, Project Officer at EUROMIL and Emma Klever, Head of Policy at European Movement International offered some insight into how their organisations conduct monitoring on a certain topic. Discussing the difficulties and pitfalls of agenda setting, participants agreed that particularly in an association the building of trust between the members of a network is important in order to effectively work on an agenda. In addition, customised communication can have a large impact on how the agenda is perceived. Furthermore, changing the fundamental direction of the political agenda requires a lot of foresight which in turn requires attentive monitoring.

Although there are many ways to conduct the mapping of stakeholders, Adrian suggested a method by which stakeholders are identified according to their interest for a certain cause on the one hand and according to their influence on the cause on the other hand. The stakeholders with the highest level of interest and impact are then the main persons to reach out to. Irene Zanetti, Communication Manager at ALDA and Christian Fjellstad, Public Affairs Officer at European Movement Norway shared their experiences with stakeholder mapping.

When talking about the issues of developing positions and building positive relations, Adrian emphasised the internal and the external dimension of the issue. When working for an association, coming up with a common position may be a burdensome process in which it is again crucial that the members trust each other and that the messages are as clear as possible. Carol Thomas, Advisor at CEMR and Aleksandar Bogdanović, Project Manager at European Movement Serbia shared their organisation’s best practices in this regard. When it comes to the external aspects, Adrian suggested to operate as a platform in order to match different views and stakeholders with other stakeholders. Being present at events, seminars, and public hearings also enables an organisation to build positive relationships externally.

On the issue of selling proposals, Aurelia Leeuw, Senior Communications & Public Affairs Officer at GESAC pointed to the importance of a customised way of presenting the message depending on the audience. Matthew Fulton, CEO at European Movement UK, added that in the context of the “Remain Campaign” it was crucial to understand where facts are important and where selling a proposal simply depends on a good narrative.

Finally, on the issue of public affairs and social media, and following the presentation of Bernd Hüttemann, Secretary General of European Movement Germany and Gaffar Rampage, Communication Manager at ESN, it became clear that the choice of a social media outlet is a matter of what one wants to achieve as well as the horizontal matter of foresight. A social media outlet of today may not be the social media outlet of tomorrow.

All in all, the seminar was perceived as a great success both by the organisers and participants.

The European Movement International and European Movement Germany organise similar events for members on a regular basis. The next workshop, this time focussing on Press and Media Relations, will take place on 9 – 10 December 2016.

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