How to spice up EU communication

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EU communication has a reputation for being boring, stuffed with jargon, obsessed with process and hardly cutting edge. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

One EU official who seems to be on a personal mission to shake up the way Europe communicates is Dan Sobovitz, an Israeli, Swiss and Hungarian national who is a speechwriter and digital communication strategist for European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.

We’re big fans of the campaigns Dan runs so we invited him along to talk about ‘How to Spice up EU communication’ at the monthly News and Booze meeting for NGO communicators we co-host with Joanna Sullivan and Julia Ravenscroft. 

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December newsletter

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It’s been a busy year for us at Clear Europe and we’re taking a well-earned break. We hope you are too and wish you and your loved ones happy holidays and a cracking new year.

To get you in the Christmas spirit we’re posting our favourite festive video – from the BBC above. But if you’re looking for something slightly less Santamental check out Greenpeace UK’s epic trolling of Coke to hammer home a powerful message about protecting our oceans.

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November Newsletter 2017

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There are two quotes in the tweets above and both are terrible. Why? Because they are crammed with jargon (#EuropeanSemester, #PillarOfSocialRights), obsessed with process (#EURoad2Sibiu) and full of stuffy technocratic language like ‘social dimension’ and ‘country specific recommendations’.
So how do you craft a cracking quote?
  • Use colourful, vivid language that paints a picture.
  • Voice strong opinions rather than bore people with facts, context and process.
  • Make use of rhetorical devices like contrast and repetition.
  • Cut all jargon, process and acronyms. Use clear, simple language.
You can find more tips on how to write sticky soundbites in Gareth Harding’s article here. Or sign up for his masterclass on Working with Journalists on December 12.

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The myth of influencer marketing in Brussels

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The notion of ‘influencers’ has been all the rage in Brussels recently. Understandably. In the real world, influencer marketing – the practice of teaming up with influential people to help promote an organisation or product – can be highly effective.

The principle of influencer marketing is not new. We’ve all sniggered at grainy ads from the 50s featuring doctors flogging cigarettes that do wonders for a niggly sore throat. And in public affairs, we’ve also been at it for years – think pharma and patient groups, or agrochemicals companies and farmers – but calling it stuff like key opinion leader mobilisation (or whatever).

But in the social media age, the concept of influencer marketing has moved on a notch:

· It is far easier to build a public platform, so there are simply more people who are       influential (as well as plenty more who think they may be, but patently are not)

· Similarly, it is easier to get an influencer in front of those one is seeking to influence online than it is offline

· Higher levels of mistrust in entities like industry and media makes credibility harder to attain, and influencers can help

Cue: lots of people, including public affairs practitioners, with high hopes for online influencer marketing.

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How to make your quotes quotable

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2017 is not over yet but there are already two strong contenders for Clear Europe’s ‘worst quote of the year’ prize. And they both come from the same person.

The unquotable quotes above were cobbled together for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and tweeted within minutes of each other at a summit of EU leaders in Gothenburg on November 17.

So why are these soundbites so terrible? Because:

  • They are crammed with incomprehensible EU jargon – #EuropeanSemester sounds like a study abroad programme, while #PillarOfSocialRights has to be one of the weirdest, wonkiest hashtags in history.
  • They are obsessed with the tedious process of EU decision-making – #EURoad2Sibiu sounds like an EU-sponsored Romanian motorway rather than the latest plan for reforming the Union.
  • They are full of stuffy technocratic language like ‘social dimension’ and ‘country specific recommendations.’

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Can You Write A Good Press Release?

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Are you a PR guru? Take the test and see the results!

Always send press releases as attachments to emails.

Opening attachments takes time. Always send press releases in the body of the email.

Quotes in press releases should contain opinions, not facts.

Quotes should be quotable. Strong opinions in colourful language please.

Jargon in press releases shows you are an expert in the field.

Avoid jargon because your audience may not know and care about the issue as much as you do. #curseofknowledge

October Newsletter 2017

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Press releases are still a major source of news for journalists. However, as Brussels-based correspondent James Crisp points out, many press releases contain no news whatsoever. And even when there is news, it is often buried, the quotes are unquotable and the text stuffed with technocratic jargon.

On November 7, our MD Gareth Harding will offer his tips and tricks on how to write sparkling press releases drawn from over 25 years as a journalist, political communicator and media coach. Among them:

  • Only send press releases if you have real news for journalists.
  • Trumpet your news in the headline or first sentence. Don’t bury it at the bottom.
  • Craft quotes that voice strong opinions in vivid language.
  • Axe all jargon, make your messages punchy and provide plenty of context.
We have a limited number of places left for this course so sign up today!

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September Newsletter 2017

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“What we have here is failure to communicate.” Remember that famous line from Cool Hand Luke? We think about it all the time at Clear Europe because so often we see organisations failing to communicate clearly and concisely. So this autumn we are offering 10 media and communication masterclasses that are open to everyone, affordably priced and taught by our experienced comms pros. We still have some places for our October courses, so book a place now:

                          October 5                    How to Write Clearly 

                          October 10                  Effective Public Speaking 

                          October 19                  Mastering Media Interviews 

                          October 25                  Social Media Campaigning 

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