Building a pan-European communications campaign? Ask yourself these 7 questions

Brett Kobie

If you’re like me, the events of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 have got you scratching your head, wondering what it means to work in communications in such a confusing time in an increasingly complex Europe.

And if it’s your job to build communications campaigns that get people across Europe to think, feel and do things—you might find this list of seven questions useful as you build (if you’re in a rush, you can just check the slide deck below, but I hope you’ll come back for the rest).

Note that this is obviously not an A-Z guide on building campaigns, but more like an annex you should consult when your audience crosses multiple European borders.

1. Does my idea of “Europe” reflect reality?

I think most people would agree that Europe, in many ways, is not a homogenous place. The existence of a European public sphere is a matter of much debate – is there enough (pop) cultural cohesion to allow for a common “European conversation” and therefore a unified communications approach?

Many of us in the EU bubble tend to think or tend to want to think that the European public sphere exists – but that’s an assumption probably worth questioning.

2. Who do I really need to reach? Can I narrow that down further?

Europe is a really big place. You’ve only got a shot at reaching a fraction of the people here, so choose that fraction wisely and stick to it. Resist the urge to reach “as many people as possible” especially when you’re not quite sure what reaching them will actually achieve.

3.  Can I simplify my message down to the bare essentials?

You know that really comprehensive message house you created after months of internal back-and-forth? The long-winded messages and proof points of which could easily fill a billboard? Edit that too.

If you can distill that down into one simple message, your chances of actually conveying it across Europe increase exponentially.

4.   Is my central creative concept (if I have one) too culturally specific or is it built on a universal theme?

It’s really tough to craft creative concepts that work everywhere and it’s really easy to fall into the trap of making something that you personally like which tends to be something at least subconsciously ethnocentric that relies on things idioms, puns or pop culture references.

Instead, think about using more universal themes as your entry point to reaching your audience – things that everyone can relate to, like family, education, work, hardship, loss or happiness.

5.   Are my tactics (the ways I’m delivering my message) right for all of my audiences?

You might have a shiny object at the centre of your campaign – a large scale event, or maybe a virtual or augmented reality piece – but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to convey your campaign’s message across countries.

Do your research about information consumption habits among your target audiences to find whether some other channel or tactic like print media or social video could be more effective.

6.   Can I spread tactics across target countries to reach the largest possible audience within my limited budget?

Facebook live streaming in France, a webinar in Germany, an op-ed in Portugal, a panel debate in Lithuania and a radio spot in Slovenia.

If it makes sense for your audience, there’s no reason you can’t adjust your tactical approach across your campaign to extend reach and get the most out of your budget (just make sure you don’t skip the next question:))

7.   Can I build a leaner campaign structure?

You can have the best ideas in the world, but if you can’t execute them well no one will ever know. Keep your campaign team lean so you can focus less on managing it and more on getting your message out in the best possible way.

Now take another 120 seconds to flip through the deck above for a quick recap and campaign blueprints based on past projects.


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