How do most organisations operating in the Brussels PA-Corp Comms space approach their work? By and large, via channels operating in splendid isolation: lots of focus on advocacy (yes, I’m calling it a channel), a fair bit on media, and a tiny bit on web communication. Lots of it may be very good, but it’s poorly integrated.

How would I like to see them operate? With all channels neatly placed within the same circle, treated as part of the same larger “comms” framework on any given issue.

p.s. the web circle is not bigger than the media and advocacy circles because it’s more important, but because the web acts as the integrator that brings the rest together, beyond its own individual benefits as a channel. Whenever you engage in the media or through advocacy, it should be supported and channelled via the web also.

At least once a month, we hear a Brussels-based communicator state that their goal is to get their organisation’s story into the Financial Times. I get it, and I agree to the extent that if I had to choose to have my best story appear in just one place, it’d be the FT. Please don’t think “mission accomplished” if your story gets coverage in FT though, or any top-tier publication for that matter. It’s simply not enough; people – and this includes legislators – need more: individuals view 8 sources of media per day and on average need to hear a story 3-5 times to believe it (Richard Edelman.)

So what do you do about it?

  • You open your eyes and acknowledge that the list of credible news sources has grown exponentially, and it’ll often include people you’ve never heard of. Edelman speaks of dispersion of authority, meaning that figures of authority aren’t just main stream media and the like anymore, but also other experts or aficionados in any given sector or issue who might not reach 100,000s of readers like the FT, but will reach everyone who matters within their niche.
  • You extend your monitoring so that it refelects this shift to niche content providers, whether online (usually) or offline.
  • Extend the scope of your editorial work so that you’re present in all the spaces that matter. Whether that means responding to blog comments on someone else’s blog or writing your own tweets doesn’t matter. What does matter is that your editorial plan reflects “dispersion of authority” and the shift to niche.
  • People don’t find information by having it sent to them or by picking up a paper. They look it up on Google, so you really need to have a search strategy in place. It’s the dullest part of the job but arguably the most important (remember: +90% of MEPs use search daily!) Get an SEO agency in to help you, and produce content that will mean people find you online when they look for information on whatever issue you’re working on. Tip: publish far more press releases on your site and on eWires only than you do at present as it’ll mean you provide more good value content and improve your search engine ranking without bothering journalists. For more on this, I’d recommend David Meerman Scott‘s eBook, New Rules of PR.