Three strategies, nine months and a plethora of positive outcomes

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The final versions of the national communications strategies for EURES Croatia, Spain and Slovakia have been delivered. Congratulations to all the EURES managers and their teams for an intensive and rewarding nine months of audit, analysis, evaluation, strategising and creation! Now the hard work of implementation begins.

The strategy is the first step in delivering effective, evidence-based communications (note our strapline: Smart Strategic Communications) that will produce the desired outcomes for all target audiences – jobseekers, employers and partners and stakeholders.

To achieve this, it will require consistent implementation, integrated use of the full communications mix and effective monitoring. More than this, it will require the understanding of and ownership by all members of the national network in order to ensure that those who should be message-givers aren’t message-fakers when engaging with clients.

Each document includes an action plan for the next twelve months, a communications activity template to assess a comms activity before starting it and to highlight potential flaws and a factsheet on evaluation to complement the chapter on evaluation.

To give the teams a headstart on promoting their strategies so that they don’t gather dust on a shelf or take up valuable hard disk space, I developed an ideas sheet called Embedding your new communications strategy internally. This, like the strategies themselves, is a collaborative document which I hope members of the network will contribute to in order to share best practice with their colleagues across Europe who are also working on taking their communications to the next level.

Three down, one to go! The outstanding strategy, for EURES Ireland, is a work in progress. I’m due to present it to the national network at a meeting in Galway at the end of the month and solicit feedback from those who know better than me the challenges in their day-to-day work that make promoting EU job mobility in a time of crisis a difficult task. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to listen, learn and adjust accordingly.

So, in terms of those all important outcomes, I would say they are these:

  • a renewed commitment to communications, from the top through the middle and all the way down, and vice versa
  • an improved understanding of not only the challenges but the benefits of strategic communications
  • a team more confident in planning and implementing communications activities and campaigns

And these outcomes will only multiply as the strategies are ‘taught’ and embedded within the wider networks.

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‘I wish I had breast cancer’ campaign draws flak

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Objectively, pancreatic cancer is one of the worst types of cancer someone can get, with a survival rate of only 3 percent.

But when the United Kingdom charity Pancreatic Cancer Action released an ad campaign depicting patients wishing they had other cancers—all with higher survival rates—representatives from other organizations did not take it well.

In one ad, the words “I wish I had breast cancer” are written in a huge font next to pancreatic cancer patient Kerry Harvey’s somber face.

“While the intention of the campaign is great, the adverts are hugely upsetting and incredibly insensitive and divisive,” Dyleth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, toldCivilSociety last week.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said, “I’ve yet to meet a man or woman with breast cancer who would consider themselves in any way fortunate to have received a diagnosis.”

Writing in The Guardian, Pancreatic Cancer Action Chief Executive Ali Stunt explained that the ad, which the organisation created with the firm Team Darwin, was designed to spark debate.

“With a limited budget, it was vital that the advert would stand out and provoke thought and initiate discussion among members of the public, the media, and influencers,” she wrote. “The decision to run this campaign was not taken lightly, and we carried out a fair amount of research to understand what the likely reaction was going to be.”

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10 reasons why more clients are hiring freelancers

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The PR industry has for some time incorporated many self-employed consultants, but the pressures on budgets of recent years combined with developments in technology and the growing allure of entrepreneurship have all contributed to a growing interest in independent consultants.
Here’s why:

1. Skills. Rather than being forced into freelancing by changes in circumstances, high-performing consultants with confidence in their skills are increasingly going independent in search of a higher income. This has opened up new opportunities for businesses requiring specialists’ skills and experience.

2. Clients and agencies are gravitating towards smaller teams. 
As well as cutting the cost of meetings and calls, many businesses are seeing value from having a smaller team that can be more focused on their client and develop greater expertise in their particular industry. Independent consultants quickly become the logical next step.

3. Independent consultants can be more nimble than agencies. Whereas an agency team might take anything up to a week to create a press release, an experienced independent consultant can pump one out in a couple of hours which barely needs changing. Speed of delivery can be a significant factor, particularly for high-growth, fast-paced businesses.

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Developing communications strategy one draft at a time

EURES ES 14 Jan 14 Madrid

Earlier this week, I was in Madrid at the national public employment service headquarters for a meeting with the EURES Spain working group on strategy and communication. It was our second meeting to develop a national communications strategy for the Spanish network, which is dealing with increased public and media interest as the impact of the economic crisis continues to hit Spanish jobseekers hard. The commitment of the group to responding to the needs of their clients through new and improved communications is refreshing and our collaborative way of working makes for a mutually beneficial, two-way learning experience.

The first session involved three hours of brainstorming. This resulted in an audit of the network’s current communications and served as a basis for the development of the new national strategy in terms of forming recommendations for consolidating and streamlining activities based on their contribution to organisational objectives and return on investment (ROI).

The follow-up session was much more focussed,  with intense discussion on the first draft of the strategy developed on the basis of our previous discussion. The strategy is divided into five parts and the first, Strategic Fundamentals, is the most important, providing the framework and the rationale for everything else. Taking into account the national and European political and economic contexts, and recent policy developments, the group debated the Vision, Objectives and Key Messages and defined and segmented Target Audiences using empathy mapping.

This consultancy support is funded by the European Commission as part of the EURES National Communications Project (ENCP) to deliver targeted communications advice and support to the 32-member EURES network. The project, which was piloted in 2012-2013, works with four Member States a year.

This year’s participants are Spain, Ireland, Croatia and Slovakia.