Back To Blog

5 stories from #EuroPCom 2016

Brussels is a hub of ideas, Art Nouveau architecture, European institutions, and great beer! It is also the centre of communication for Europe. Briefings, talks, consultations, and conferences are the bread and butter of Brussels’ daily life. It’s a unique place.

I recently attended one of the most anticipated conferences of the year – EuroPCom, the 7th European Conference on Public Communication. It is the meeting point for communication managers and senior experts from local, regional, national and European authorities, academia, not-for-profit and some private businesses.

This year’s overarching theme was ‘Reflecting (on) Europe’, and discussions focused on how together we can better engage citizens during changing and challenging times. And how Europe can remain relevant and a source of inspiration.

I attended the two-day event with Dave Worsell (MD of GovDelivery Europe) who gave a talk about effective citizen engagement campaigns.


Here are 5 stories from the two-day conference that have stuck in my mind:

1. European institutions can be critical of themselves and of the so-called #brusselsbubble

Yes, they can! The keynote speech by Ulrike Guérot from Danube University Krems and the European Democracy Lab revealed some really inspiring ideas and forecasting for Europe, and challenges to the way we “see” it. Art and philosophical approaches came into play to get people talking right from the start of the conference. You can re-watch Ulrike’s talk here:


2. Slovak wine is better than French wine

OK, maybe not all of it. But this was certainly true at the evening networking reception. Lucky Slovak folks!


3. Open data is a phenomenon that still hasn’t been fully grasped

Tanja Lahti presented a really interesting approach to leveraging the potential of data and transparency in Helsinki. Pavol Lacko from the Slovakian Aliancia Fair Play NGO reflected on the user perspective of getting open data in the right formats, and the right ways for governments to play a watchdog role in Slovakia. Simona De Luca and Weijer Vermeer represented the side of national governments and also presented their open data approaches.

But the first question from the audience was: ‘What is open data?’ It is perhaps surprising that although we are seeing a huge boost in opening up data for research and business purposes, the mainstream public still fight with understanding the basics.

Check out GovDelivery’s Open Data Checklist and webinar recording to learn more about the power of open data.


4. Eddie Coates-Madden is a great presenter and someone you should listen to

Eddie really knows how to engage people. And he’s also a Twitter fiend. Eddie talked about Sheffield City Council’s digital engagement strategies and tactics. His quotes like ‘You can’t click on a poster’ or ‘The time of a single message is dead!’ resonated with the audience and his talk was certainly one of the #EuroPCom 2016 highlights.


5. Think locally, act locally

I caught a conversation about how ‘going local’ has been a topic of EuroPCom ever since the first conference. It is still a valid point today – perhaps now more than ever. The Brussels-bubble is strikingly present, yet, Brussels needs support and input from local/regional agencies in order to act in the best interests of everyone. It is local governments too that can help shape the narrative, acting as messengers on a range of EU matters that affect their geographies. Collaboration and cooperation across Europe are essential.

Local projects were celebrated at the European Public Communication Awards. Campaigns in Brittany, Poland and Sardinia were marked as positive examples of effective local EU storytelling. But there’s certainly more to be done to share positive and impactful narratives about Europe.


Recap resources online

Luckily for me and for you (if you missed the event), you can watch the sessions online any time. Check out the videos and IdeasLab, and the hashtag on Twitter too for a barrage of interesting tweets #EuroPCom


Stepan is a Solutions Consultant for GovDelivery Europe, and is based in the Czech Republic.

Want to talk to him about your organisation’s citizen engagement strategies? Email him here and follow on Twitter.