Sunday, 19 April 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (85): The EP's information campaign and information deficits in Germany

On Friday I went to the information point of the European Commission and the European Parliament Information Office in Berlin, right by the Brandenburg Gate.

I was interested how much the European Parliament elections would dominate the public relations activities within this service point where Germans and international tourists pass by.

To make it short: Until now, the EP elections do not dominate the information activities, although they took an important share of the materials presented. For a list of these see below.

What I would like to mention is that when I asked the staff member at the desk about public events and campaign elements organised in the city, I didn't get a satisfactory answer. The only event recalled was the press conference of the major German TV stations presenting the spots for the EP elections on 27 April 2009.

I was told that all the other events were organised by local partners, but all I could get was a printout of a list of projects all over Germany, mostly without particular dates and location.

The most relevant information I could extract from this list was that the promotional material of the campaign will be distributed from 01 May 2009. But no hint to the public event of Can You Hear Me, to the Europawahlgang '09 kick-off event or to any other particular activities going on.

I also couldn't get the information how many posters of the EP campaign would appear in Berlin and when this would happen.

I think the information office should put a much stronger focus on the elections, and it needs to co-ordinate with local partners (and vice-versa) to make sure that the activities organised will receive maximum attention.

Why should you spend money on websites, printed materials, and TV spots when you miss to show that also real-life events are going on where people can participate actively instead of just consuming information?

Having an information office at one of the best locations in Berlin and not using it for the promotion of events from local and national partners is an example of lack of synergy between the institutional side and these partners.

This deficit needs to be addressed as quick as possible, at least from my point of view!


Materials I got on the EP elections at the EU information point

1) A special issue (N° 26) of the "EU-Nachrichten" ('EU news) on the European Parliament elections

The issue presents, on 24 pages, the history and work of the European Parliament. Nice, very readable. Also very interesting are the pages 20-21, where the web 2.0 activities of MEPs are presented, but against expectations in a rather critical tone, pointing to ignorance and lack of responsiveness from the side of many politicians.

2) The booklet "Europa 2009" (download; PDF)

On 105 pages information on the European Union, with the first 20 pages dedicated to the European Parliament and the European Parliament elections. That is already quite a read, and although the design is modern, I have a doubt that many citizens (and the design addresses rather the younger generation) will read the full booklet.

3) Postcard "Per Handy zur Europawahl"

On the postcard it says "Via mobile phone to the European Parliament elections" and it offers the possibility to register to receive a short message that will remind you of the elections some days before.

4) Flyer "Berlin wählt Europa"

"Berlin elects Europe" is the flyer of the city and federal region of Berlin. The flyer is ugly. No need to read it. But on Berlin's website for the EP elections (which was printed on the flyer) I discovered the following campaign spot focused on a Berlin audience:

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

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