Why Brussels public affairs practitioners should be helping Google

There has been a number of articles in the press recently about concerns about potentials falls in revenue for search engine giant Google, contradicted somewhat by other reports that companies’ ad spend is continuing to move online. Whatever the truth, it strikes us that public affairs people in Brussels should consider using Google Adwords as standard part of their advocacy programmes towards the EU institutions.

For those not au fait with Google Adwords, they are the “sponsored links” that appear on the right and top of the search results every time you enter a search term. You pay a very small sum (cents rather than Euro) everytime someone clicks on your ad and gets to your website. Where you come in the sponsored links is based on how much you say you are willing to pay for the click through and how often people searching actually click thru’.

It may seem strange for a PR agency to promote the use of advertising, especially in the context of EU public affairs, but there are a number of things about “search engine marketing” that we think suit our needs in a Brussels context.

1. It’s extremely targeted, you can reach out to people who are actually looking for information that you are providing. An added bonus is that you can choose to advertise to internet searches coming from only certain countries. BTW – the EP’s IP address is located in Luxembourg…so if you are trying to reach EP researchers, advertising there alone should do the trick…

2, It’s cheap. At the most we can be talking a few hundred Euro.

3. Like all of us, where do you think policymakers and their staff turn when they need info? Google…

4. It can drive your message to a wide range of people interested in your issue at little cost, even if only a small (but really important) bunch of people click thru. 100,000 people may search for your term and see your message in the ad, even if only 20 click thru.

As an example, think of a situation where an MEP asks his/her assistant to do some basic research on an issue raised in Committee or to provide some background for an amendment that they are going to write. Now hopefully, as is our standard practice, you’ve met and briefed the rapporteur, shadows, political advisors etc. But what about the 30 other members of the committee who you’d rather not alert to your issue if you don’t have to, but all of whom could table amendments on take a position on the basis of a brief chat with one of your opponents? Chances are you don’t know everyone well enough that they will pick up the phone and ring you to ask that question.

In an ideal world, your trade association or corporate website would be optimised to get to the top of the rankings on all key issues for your industry. But let’s face it, this is not always going to be possible given the array of topics for any one company and is perhaps a longer term project (with which we can help too…)

As a test, on your current issue, think of the search terms someone might use in the Parliament to find out more about the issue and type it in to Google. See what comes up… This is the information your target audience is looking at. It might be worth investing a few hundred Euro on Adwords, not only to help Google but to help your own efforts.

BTW – to show we are putting our money where our mouth is, we are currently running our own AdWords campaign for FH Brussels.


May 16, 2009 | 12:15 PM

Sure Google is the number one search engine & ads provider but I think this blog entry, being very well written will only increase their publicity however slightly that might be :-). Besides that though, I believe it can provide traffic to any sort of webpage if the user knows exactly what the deal is...

Overview of prices for EU public affairs online campaigns @ Brusselsmedia
February 24, 2009 | 12:03 PM

[...] See also: Google advertising as a Brussels’ public affairs tool [...]

Fleishman-Hillard Point of View — Why Good Google Advertising Makes for Great PR
July 22, 2008 | 9:53 PM

[...] AdWords, Google’s flagship advertising product, is a staple for many marketing plans. But does the program have a place in the world of EU public affairs? The digital specialists at Public Affairs 2.0 explain why when it comes to profiling policymakers and reaching your desired audience, pay-per-click advertising makes PR sense. [...]

Matt Hanson
May 15, 2008 | 2:40 PM

Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader.. Matt Hanson