Filed under: Fleishman-Hillard Blogs
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As we set in for the winter months here are some waste residues that can be burned without subsidy or fear of eating up someone else’s much loved feedstock.
5 years ago: we heralded the arrival of the blogactiv platform from Euractiv and asked whether it was the future of the EU blogosphere? According to the Betteridge law of headlines the answer is ‘no’. I daresay the good folks at Euractiv would disagree.
3 years ago: we chuckled all day as an official Commission bio of the new Commissioner for Research was copied and pasted Wikipedia and therefore repeated an untrue rumor about the private life of the new Commissioner. Goes to show getting balance in a story is not all it’s cracked up to be.
1 year ago: The formidable Nick Andrews asked if the ‘leave us alone’ strategy has ever worked for industries under fire. His headline at least answered the question, although he slightly hedged it with a ‘not likely’. Whether you’re the financial services sector, big pharma, the biofuels industry or indeed just energy intensive the last 12 months suggests that Nick’s crystal ball had some truth in it.
November 14, 2012
The FH-Brussels biofuel event (http://fleishman-hillard.eu/2012/11/eu-biofuels-in-tranport-an-uncertain-future/) on Tuesday gave a glimpse of the broader and impassioned debate you can expect in 2013 once the European Parliament and European Council formally sink their teeth into the European Commission’s recent biofuel/Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) proposal.
Here’s a laundry list of the views, complaints, observations and questions from the event, attended by many of the key stakeholder groupings in the debate – industry (Neste Oil, BP, eg), NGOs (WWF, eg), and, of course, the institutional side (DG Energy, eg). Chatham House rules applied, so apologies for not attributing who said what:
*The multiple counting element under the Commission’s 5% target for advanced biofuels (cellulosic, animal fat, eg) is “an accounting trick” but is needed to provide some sort of incentive to industry to produce more of this type of biofuel and less of the first-generation, or food-based, variety (soy, corn, wheat, palm oil-based, etc). (Depending on the feedstock, an advanced biofuel can count double or quadruple its energy density, making it easier to reach the 5% target; the reason for this is quite simply that too little advanced biofuel is produced today so there’s a need to stretch the amount that is produced by counting it multiple times.)
*Why has the Commission defined a list of feedstocks that can be multiple counted? This will lead to all sorts of unwanted indirect effects as the biofuel industry competes for feedstock with other industries, and cause new indirect effects. Better for the Commission to have defined a list of robust biofuel-related technologies, namely the advanced ones.
*ILUC modeling remains (indeed) very suspicious. It’s five years old, the results change by the day, and the results are, by nature, arbitrary because the modeling is strictly assumption dependent and not measureable. But, hey, the EU needs to take a stab at accounting for potential indirect effects caused by the biofuel mandate, so some kind of research-cover is required to do this.
*Commission’s proposal needs “social” criteria added to the mix. (a very unlikely item that the Council will touch for many reasons. How do you define “fair” standards on labour, wages, working conditions, etc, and apply to the rest of the world?)
*Waste and residues are generally a good thing in order to discourage consumption of food-based biofuels, but you still need sustainability criteria of some kind. Removing, for example, forest residues can lead to unwanted biodiversity problems.
*EU should be cautious about ripping the floor away from first generation biofuels. It is the biofuel industry that is driving positive sustainability changes to agricultural growing practices globally. In order for feedstock growers to compete in the EU biofuels market, they must meet some of the world’s most stringent sustainability standards under the RED and FQD.
November 14, 2012
The European institutions have rarely faced a sterner test than in their dealings with Hungary. As defender of the European treaties the Commission must do all in its power to protect the fundamental principles that underpin liberal democracy in the EU, yet any decision to block an EU-IMF aid package until Hungary’s authoritarian measures have been scrapped risks further serious damage to an already fragile European banking sector.
A collapse of the Hungarian currency and subsequent default would hit Austrian banks particularly hard. They have €40 billion in liabilities in Hungary. Italian banks would also suffer with liabilities of €20 billion. The damage would not end there, as contagion spread. No doubt Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party hope to rely on the threat of such collateral damage to secure “precautionary” support from the IMF without having to make too many other concessions.
Hungarian negotiators may say that everything is negotiable and that there are “no preconditions” in talks with the IMF taking place in Washington this week. There may even be a move to restore some independence to the Hungarian National Bank, but there are so many wider issues to be resolved in Hungary-EU relations such as press control, dismantling of the Constitutional Court, weakening of the judiciary, changes to the electoral system, grant of nationality and voting rights to Hungarian minorities in neighbouring countries, limited recognition for religious groups and the arrest of the Socialist party leader – to name but a few. Here is a recent analysis.
Hungary’s new constitution which came into effect on January 1 2012 seems indeed to have many of the trappings of an authoritarian state. The European Commission and the other EU institutions must do all they can to reverse this situation. In the background is always the threat of Hungary’s suspension or expulsion from the EU. A paradoxical outcome in pursuit of democratic principles!
It is a sad irony that the death of Vaclav Havel, standard bearer of freedom for all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, should occur at a time when another country of Eastern Europe is donning the apparel of a one-party state. It’s a further irony that Hungary’s governing party, with a clear parliamentary majority, is apparently intent on entrenching a single party in government. It has some of the hallmarks of Putin’s Russia, including party control of administrative, judicial and constitutional appointments – in other words a “nomenclatura” without the checks and balances vital to a democratic society.
January 10, 2012
Earlier this month the European Parliament launched the mobile version of its ever popular (at least in the Brussels bubble) website. Hooray! Forgot the room number of the MEP you are meeting? Well now you can go on your mobile device and find it with ease.
In seeing the new site, we asked ourselves why an organisation would choose a mobile website rather than one of those trendy apps we spend far too much time (and money) downloading for our iPad/iPhones? Well, call us curious, but we decided to phone a friend far more knowledgeable than ourselves to find the answer. Gwen Foutz, SVP and Director of Mobile and Social Platforms in our Washington D.C. office and global co-chair of FH Mobile practice group happily picked up the phone. Here’s what she had to say.
What’s the difference between a native app and a mobile website?
A native application is an application designed and built for a specific operating system, e.g. iPhone iOS, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, etc., that users download and install to their devices. A mobile website (or mobile web application) is essentially a mobile optimized website – a site designed specifically for the smaller screen and mobile context. Mobile websites are accessed through a URL and work across all web-enabled mobile devices.
Is there anything you can do with one that you can’t do with the other?
Mobile websites provide the best opportunity for a single platform to reach a majority of mobile devices with an enhanced experience, including lower-end devices not considered smartphones. Mobile websites can vary in complexity from static, information-based experiences to more robust, feature-based experiences similar to those of native applications.
Mobile apps provide the most feature-rich approach for mobile as they offer access to native device features such as GPS functionality and cameras. An app generates the highest level of engagement through an ideal mobile user experience that is tailored to the specific device it was built for. However, with the advancements that HTML5 has brought to the mobile space, the line between what is possible with mobile web vs. native apps continues to blur. More and more developers are building application-like experiences via the mobile web that can be accessed through the browser.
When would FH’s Digital Practice counsel an organisation to use one rather than the other?
We first ask the organization three critical questions before recommending a mobile solution:
1) Who is your target audience?
2) What are you trying to achieve with mobile and how does that fit with your overall business objectives?
3) How will you tell people about it?
Based on the organization’s goals and resources as well as audience research and insights, we may recommend an optimized mobile website, a native app, a text message campaign or all of the above.
Mobile optimized websites really should be seen as a starting point for most organizations before jumping into the mobile app space. Main company “.com” websites should be viewable and usable from any device, especially as mobile browsers become users’ primary browsers. Furthermore, mobile web provides the largest reach, regardless of the type of phone people are using and allows you to be found the same ways users find you on the desktop web (via direct URLs or search).
Native apps are recommended (as an addition to a mobile website) to serve a focused purpose that addresses a user need – usually in the form of providing utility or entertainment. Apps are chosen over mobile web when there is a need to offer robust functionality and features, such as those that are transactional in nature (e.g. shopping, banking), highly customizable or account-based services (e.g. photo tools, cooking/recipe assistants, travel tools), entertainment focused (e.g. streaming video and music, games) and those that are used frequently (e.g. social networking, mapping/navigation services).
What’s the easiest to develop, mobile website or app? Is the process very different?
Mobile websites typically require less overall effort to design and develop, and have a much larger reach than native apps alone. They are also easier to update and maintain once released, as updates can be pushed to all users at once and accessed via the browser, rather than a user having to download and install a new version.
Native apps have to be built platform by platform (i.e. iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc.) – there is no one size fits all – which requires a significant investment. Each version of the app across platforms can and should share similar user experience and design aspects, but ultimately will be built independently. Another factor is that apps have to be selected by the user, usually from an app store, which requires a significant investment in promotion and awareness-building to make people aware that it exists.
Is it common practice for public institutions to use mobile websites rather than apps?
Yes, it is fairly common for public institutions to provide mobile websites rather than apps. This is due to usually having limited development and promotional budgets and a desire to reach the widest audience possible. If the public institution desires to provide a more robust experience, they may go the native app route, but at the cost of reaching less people with their content.
Where can we find out more?
Check out these two posts from other FHers in the mobile space:
“Are You Really Ready for a Mobile App?” by Erick McNett, FH Kansas City
“There’s An App for That! Cutting Through the Clutter to Find the Best Branded Mobile Apps” by Radu Iancu, FH Cleveland
July 20, 2011
In my post A quick tour through the FH blogosphere, I shared some articles from other FHers writing on their own or team blogs. Here’s what some of them have been up to so far this year.
First of all we start by welcoming back James Stevens to Brussels. Having originally pioneered this blog back in the day, James has been in the Washington DC office for the past year and writing his own blog Bubble to Beltway. Here is his last post about the influence of interest groups in the legislative process and how more measurement is needed in Public Affairs – What I want is more data.
Which ties nicely with another colleague concerned with measurement from across the pond: Don Bartholomew, or MetricsMan, writes an excellent summary of the lessons learned in social media for 2011. Not strictly PA, but knowing what to measure in the digital realm is absolutely essential whatever the communications discipline, so definitely worth a read.
Steffen writes about reaching decision makers online, outlines ten key points that resonate with audiences when he presents on digital and PA to various audiences, and describes why campaigning more widely than the government relations comfort zone is important in a post entitled Campaigning to achieve PA goals, pay heed to the constituent consumer.
Outside the communications and public affairs arena, Michael Berendt gives his perspective on current affairs, specifically how Libya’s fate will have a major impact on Europe.
And of course I cannot sign off without welcoming FH Amsterdam to the blogging fold. They have been going for a couple of months now, writing about the digital and public affairs intersection. Definitely worth the Google translate!
March 16, 2011
So Thursday was the long awaited European Public Affairs Action Day, organised by the Parliament Magazine, and of course it was every bit as good as it promised to be. We hosted a workshop entitled ‘Social Media: what works what doesn’t’? We aimed at having a range of perspectives in our panel to get a good picture of how social media is being developed in different areas, from industry to national and then European politics.
Michael Adolph from FH started off with some of the inspiring work they do in Washington and highlighted that good quality content which shows real personal enthusiasm for the subject matter is most likely to resonate with audiences. He showcased a video for Johns Hopkins University’s Malaria Free Future campaign, which demonstrates how a fresh approach to traditional funding applications with creative visuals and a proactive online outreach can make a practical difference to malaria sufferers.
He was then followed by Samuel Coates from the UK Conservative Party. He gave very straightforward advice: don’t just believe the hype but find out who your audience is and reach out to them. Try to build a relationship rather than just following the latest social media trend and using those media channels like you would a foghorn.
Finally, we rounded off with another perspective, that of Ryan Heath who, as a member of Neelie Kroes’ social media team, has the opportunity to experience firsthand the way social media is shaping the government/citizen conversation. Definitely the most eye opening quote of the day comes from our dynamic Australian who said that on Neelie Kroes’ website ‘a single average blog post gets as many views as all of her 2010 press releases combined’ – a clear sign that the more immediate and personal nature of a blog post resonates with audiences.
Yes a good time was had and it was great to see so many industry leaders there. We videoed the panel and have a few snippets from the audience coming soon so watch this space…
December 13, 2010
Whilst we’d like to think that Public Affairs 2.0 was the only blog worth reading when it comes to the digital/public affairs/PR sphere it’s not the case at all! There are quite a few excellent bloggers at FH who blog in both a personal and professional capacity, and we thought we’d bring you a few samples once in a while, from Brussels to across the Atlantic.
Firstly staying in house; some of our regular contributors to Public Affairs 2.0 also have their own blogs, one of these is our Digital Strategist, Steffen Thejll-Moller. He writes here about the struggle to implement digital in public affairs, remember: don’t blame it all on the old fogeys.
Liva Judic is based a little further afield in our Paris office and describes herself as a ‘social media addict’. Her blog Merrybubbles is a regular upload of all things interesting and digi. One of her great articles is about the digital divide around the world and how mobile technology is being innovatively implemented in unexpected places.
James Stevens, whilst technically no longer a Euroblogger, now offers a unique European perspective on the goings on in Washington DC. His article ‘Neither the US nor the EU wants to kill its citizens’ takes a look at the transatlantic relationship in reality, especially in light of regulatory convergence. Whilst in his most recent article examines the line between government relations and public affairs, and how we can learn from each other.
But of course blogs take many different formats and not just personal perspectives. The FH London office clearly translates in-depth briefings into accessible blog format. For example, see their outline of the recent UK government’s spending review.
So I hope you enjoy sampling a little taste of where else the digital discussion about public affairs and public relations is taking place.
November 25, 2010
After nearly eight years in our Brussels office and coming up to three years posting on this blog I’m off to our Washington D.C. office for a couple of years at the end of the month.
Before I leave I thought it not a bad idea to indulge myself just a tad, forgive me folks, and point to some of the blog posts I’ve enjoyed writing or reading on this blog. I say enjoyed because, as my wife (sorry, my luv) will testify, relaxation of an evening has become me on the laptop tinkering with this blog, the twitter feed or various other websites that are in some way work related.
Which MEPs use Twitter?
Part of our hypothesis when we started the blog was that digital communications was changing how policy-makers were interacting with voters and stakeholders. To support our view we created a long list of MEPs, the good folks at Europatweets aggregated them a couple of months later on their nice website, Digimahti had another go at listing them and finally we’ve now created our own Twitter lists to categorise them by Committee on our twitterfeed in recent weeks.
65% of MEPs use Wikipedia at least twice a week
Spotting MEPs that tweet was one thing, but we wanted to go a little deeper in understanding how they use the internet and how we may be able to use it to communicate to them. Our EP Digital Trends study sought to do this in 2009. The results led to three conclusions on how our results influence our thinking on public affairs here. It also turned out that MEPs aren’t the only ones who rely on Wikipedia – seemingly the Commission services have a penchant for it too…
Grayling’s EU office starts it’s own blog
We are known to say that to be a thoughtleader one has to have thoughts and they have to be leading ones. Well one measure of thoughtleadership may well be that others follow where you have gone. Grayling’s team has a super blog. We wish more agencies in town would join them (and us).
Helen Dunnett explains the value of blogging for trade associations
Helen’s views on how ECPA was using its blog in Brussels was enlightening and uplifting. It underlined that there are organisations out there who do recognise the value of using digital tools in Brussels.
Scoop: European Parliament talks about European Parliament
Wordle is a great tool. Never more so than when reminding us of the fact that the Bubble likes to talk about the Bubble. The outgoing EP President’s speech was a classic.
Parallels between a Mel Gibson film and the President of the European Council
Sometimes it’s just been fun writing. No more so than one Sunday morning over coffee when I delighted in the fact that the nomination of the President of the European Council was like a seen from a 1980s US action film.
April 9, 2010
The following post is from Simon Benson of our London team
There has been much written in the UK media that this will be the first truly digital general election campaign. This is true to an extent, with the numbers of blogs and websites devoting themselves to politics and the election having increased widely since the last General Election in 2005 – it is hard to believe that neither Facebook nor Twitter existed the last time Britons went to the polls. So it was perhaps somewhat surprising that one of those bloggers, Iain Dale, told a packed Fleishman-Hillard London breakfast event last week that in his view, digital content and information will not dramatically influence the outcome on election day.
Dale’s analysis was that initiatives such as myconservatives.com (a tool which enables local campaigns to recruit volunteers and collect small donations) were launched too late by the Conservatives and should have been introduced earlier in the election cycle in order to have a real impact. Labour strategists are keen to point out that their version - membersnet has been operational for several years now, where initiatives such as the phone bank (where members can phone other members and voters using an online database) have been successfully deployed. However, such online phone banks are merely digitally advanced versions of more traditional campaign methods - i.e, a compliment to the long established tactics of canvassing and cold calling rather than a digital step change.
Dale also suggested that the UK should look to political systems closer to its own parliamentary democracy such as those in Europe or Australia for inspiration, as opposed to the vast Presidential election campaigning in the USA. He’s right, but not only because of the difference in style (and resources) but also because the digital elements of that election were built on a grassroots campaign for change – in the UK, there is no such instinct, with voters turned off from politics by the expenses scandal and no great desire shown for either Brown or Cameron.
Where the bloggers and political websites can be influential is in their attempts to create news agendas either as virals or in the traditional media. After some caution, journalists are beginning to report on stories created by bloggers, with Guido Fawkes having claimed senior scalps, including Peter Hain MP and Brown’s former press adviser Damian McBride. However, it is worth remembering that the UK’s biggest political scandal this year – MPs expenses – was uncovered not by the new media, but by a very old and traditional title – the Daily Telegraph.
Recent episodes such as spoof versions of David Cameron posters have perhaps best shown how virals can attempt influence. Its owner, Clifford Singer, posted spoofs of the Tories’ main billboard campaign on his website but realised the idea could grow when he almost immediately started receiving hundreds of similar versions from viewers. Within days, a simple website was created which allowed anyone to ‘invent’ their own professionally completed versions of the Tories’ campaign posters. The Labour MP and blogger Tom Watson MP has said about the viral: “MyDavidCameron.com is an example of people taking an idea and reusing it to add to a discussion and make a point. Political party managers might not like it, but it has given election billboards new relevance and interest for the forthcoming general election. It is making electioneering interesting, unpredictable and, dare I say, more fun.”
So although the internet will not control this campaign entirely, it is already challenging political strategists, campaign advertising executives and candidates to think in new ways and to respond to challenges that they would never have envisaged just a few years ago.
You can check out more about the UK elections at the F-H London blog.
March 19, 2010
News from the US late last week that our Washington D.C. colleagues have picked up a gong at the US PR Week awards for FixHousingFirst campaign. Congratulations to Pat Cleary, Bill Black, Ben Clark and everyone else involved. We don’t do the work for the awards, but receiving one is pretty special anyway.
In summary, the team helped a bunch of home builders build a broad-based coalition to advocate for federal funding for home-buyers as part of the economic recovery package. The novelty? Much of the coalition building and advocating made use of those digital tools we’ve been banging on about over here for some time. The results? Everywhere you go in the US you can’t move for talk of the federal tax credit for home-buyers.
You can read the Fix Housing First Case Study here. And below is Pat speaking about the programme late last year at the European Public Affairs Day here in Brussels.
A further article from the UK’s Communicate Magazine talking about the campaign with a wider view of what we do here in Europe, can be found here.
March 15, 2010