Are you fit for 2024? Communicating in a year of change

It’s no secret that 2024 will be all about voting, and that the world, including Europe, may look very different in 12 months’ time. More than 200 million EU citizens will be able to cast their vote to elect the next members of the European Parliament – and this will only be the second-largest election of many set to happen in 2024 (after India in April-May).

In such a scenario, where virtually every player with a stake in Brussels will be vying to reclaim their share of voice, companies, associations, and organisations need to ask themselves some important questions that go beyond advocacy tactics. How can we be part of the conversation? How can we add value to the debates arising in our sector? How can we stand out in a very loud crowd?

We’ve outlined three topic areas to help you gear up for a year of turmoil, while cutting through the crowd. With an upcoming shift involving new faces in the seat of power and evolving political priorities, staying relevant, carving out a unique identity, and being open to information exchanges will be crucial steps to establish your voice as one that people can recognise and rely on.

Relevancy: Align your communications with evolving dynamics

At the heart of strategic communication lies the principle of relevancy. This becomes even more crucial during an election cycle, where the political and regulatory landscapes are in flux. The key is to continuously realign and adapt your messaging to resonate with changing priorities and interests in the EU’s policy landscape.

This requires a forward-thinking approach, anchored in data and factual accuracy. Through background research and regular monitoring of events, trends and conversations in the media and online, you are better able to anticipate and address emerging sector-specific concerns or uncover opportunities.

Alongside data-driven communication, optimising your website content for search engine visibility (SEO) is crucial in helping those seeking information around your industry or issue, find it on your website. Purely relying on good website content is not always enough, however, so if you want to compete, search engine advertising (SEA) is a useful tactic in making sure your website and your content is prominent.

Differentiation: Highlight your unique selling point

In the EU advocacy arena, establishing a distinctive identity is crucial. This differentiation can stem from a multitude of factors, such as innovative solutions to old (or new) challenges, a unique policy perspective, or an expert approach to sector-specific issues.

Sharing your expertise on social media (most likely LinkedIn) and in selected media outlets is a powerful strategy for personal and professional branding. It allows you to build up your thought leadership in a given field, differentiating yourself from competitors.

However face-to-face meetings and discussions, in the form of roundtables, events, panel discussions, will also play a vital role, particularly in the latter part of the year when MEPs are in their new seats. Being creative with formats will help you to stand out and engage with decision makers in a meaningful way.

Another key aspect of this stand-apart strategy involves a savvy use of creatives. The choice of imagery, typography and colour schemes can significantly amplify brand recognition and differentiation. A regular health check of your company, association and organisation’s visual identity against current trends may reveal the need for a creative refresh.

Furthermore, embracing strategic paid marketing campaigns, both in digital and traditional media spaces, is critical. This targeted approach ensures that your message not only reaches but also resonates with the intended audience, however specific this might be, thereby enhancing your influence in a competitive landscape.

Education: Inform and get informed

Every 5 years, the institutional changes bring about an (almost) clean slate. This is a unique opportunity to shape the policy discourse by engaging with a new wave of policymakers and influencers. Initiating an educational and advocacy campaign during this pre-election period can significantly impact the policy agenda of the coming years.

This requires an audience-first approach, recognising and engaging not only with policymakers, but also with those who influence policymakers. This includes media, other NGOs, industry players and civil society. An in-depth understanding of ‘who influences the influencers’ and their viewpoints is essential for effective advocacy.

In return, staying informed and updated with the latest trends, policy shifts and public opinion is not just beneficial but essential. This involves a commitment to ongoing research that can inform your messaging and communications tactics to ensure that what you want to say aligns with what your audience wants to hear, how and where they want to hear it.

In conclusion, as we navigate through the complexities of an election year, the imperative for trade associations, NGOs, and the industry is to engage in strategic, informed, and innovative communication. By focusing on relevancy, differentiation and education, organisations can not only effectively communicate their message but also significantly influence the policy landscape. In this dynamic environment, strategic vision, adaptability and a nuanced and data-driven understanding of the political and social context are the keys to impactful communication.

  • Thibault Jacobs

    Thibault leads the Integrated Communications and Reputation Management team. He is also Head of Media relations and a Certified Crisis counsellor, and leads the DE&I work of the FleishmanHillard EU. Thibault has a strong experience in Strategic and Corporate communications, public relations and public affairs. ...

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