Thanks to Aart van Iterson, a former colleague now at Cambre Associates, who points out by email that our current survey of the use of the internet by Members of the European Parliament is not the first time we have undertaken to research how digital tools are being used in Brussels.
Back in 2000 the then GPC (even then an Omnicom company, but at that stage still to become part of ) teamed up once again with Simon Leysen of Morris & Chapman to conduct “a first of its kind survey investigating primarily how the Brussels based international community use email and internet in their work.”
The highlights of the 2000 survey included the following:
- The Brussels based international (EU political) community generally prefer first contact to be established via e-mail rather than by letter.
Over 90% of respondents directly receive and process their own e-mails.
- For almost half of those surveyed, the Internet has become their main source of information.
- Before dealing with an organisation, over 70% of respondents say they will visit the organisations’ web-site first to obtain background information.
- Close to 50% of survey participants prefer to download large amounts of data as opposed to receiving it in its original format.
Despite being less than ten years old, our findings from 2000 have an air of a different era about them. Almost like finding that more than half of us prefer the car to the horse to get to work.
In looking at the online communication activities of our MEPs, we should therefore not be too harsh. Much has changed in the tools we all use to communicate in a very short time. At the last European elections the likes of YouTube and Twitter did not exist, google was not a verb and Facebook was only accessible to students at Ivy League schools. With this in mind, the use of any of these tools by MEPs, even just a third of them, is truly impressive. What’s more, I am sure that in another nine years our findings from 2009 will seem so beginning of the century.