New FH Study Reveals Extent of MEPs Digital Communication With Voters

Fleishman-Hillard, one of Brussels’ leading public affairs and communication agencies, analysed data from 110 MEPs representing 26 Member States to create the first ever study on the digital habits of MEPs. The full results and analysis of the survey can be read online at

With less than a month to go before the European Parliament elections, the Party of European Socialists (PES) will be pleased to discover that it leads both the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) in utilising online technology. Fleishman-Hillard’s research shows that from using Facebook to Flickr, Twitter to Digg, PES members are more likely to be an ‘early adopters’ than members of either of the other two major parties.

Despite some early adopters, the data shows that only a minority of MEPs have fully grasped the potential of using online technologies to help them engage meaningfully with their electorate. The vast majority of politicians in the European Parliament still use mass media techniques rather than the personal and participatory media of the future. However the direction of travel is clear from the data and when new MEPs take their seats later this year, it is likely that many more will start using online communication techniques which provide inexpensive and limitless ways to reach voters at relevant moments in the right context at the right time.

The survey also concludes that MEPs increasingly are using the internet to inform their daily legislative work. Public affairs professionals in Brussels need to build digital communications into their public affairs strategies if they are to remain effective advocates for their organizations. The results show that MEPs are using search engine and Wikipedia results to inform their thinking on policy issues. It also concludes that those MEPs who use the internet in their own communication are more likely to see the internet as influential in their thinking on policy issues.

Other headline facts revealed by the study are:

  • 75% of MEPs use a personal website extensively.
  • 93% of MEPs use search engines on a daily basis to understand legislative issues.
  • 51% of MEPs visit blogs once a week or more.
  • 62% of MEPs have never heard of Twitter or have no plans to use it.
  • MEPs who are active online are more inclined to rate the internet as crucial to helping them form policy positions than those who are less active.
  • 33% of MEPs believe online advertising to be either very effective or effective way to communicate to voters compared to 57% for television advertising.
  • MEPs have low recognition of the strengths of search engine marketing.

For more information please contact Steffen Thejll-Moller or call +32 2 230 05 45