First regional KAS Summer School of Political Communication

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Media Program South East Europe of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung offers high-level training for political spokespersons and PR experts

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The participants at the Summer School of Political Communication

The participants at the Summer School of Political Communication

Upon the invitation of the KAS Media Program South East Europe 17 young PR experts gathered for the first regional Summer School of Political Communication. It took place from 2nd to 7th July in Chișinău (Moldova). The participants from nine countries deepened their knowledge on communication planning, online campaigns and citizen dialogue. Further topics were the different requirements of governments and political parties in their media work and the media situation in the region.

The summer school was opened by the Head of the KAS Media Program South East Europe, Christian Spahr. He introduced the concept of the training and emphasised the challenges of spokespersons of political parties and governments in the region – amongst others the highly polarised media landscape. "The citizens wish for an open dialogue with politicians and an active participation in the decision-making process. Press spokespersons have to address these needs," said Spahr. Participants were looking for an intensive exchange of ideas and experiences with colleagues from the region and trainers. These expectations were met during four intensive days of workshops and Q&A sessions.

The first speaker Clara Eaglen, Head of Campaigns of the British Government’s Communications Department, explained different aspects of media planning and drafting of narratives. Eaglen underlined that every core message has to represent the values of an organisation. "The political context is important. The core message has to be targeted towards the needs of the citizens," so Eaglen. Furthermore, she provided know-how on strategic communication planning, using examples of different campaigns. During a group discussion the participants developed a draft communication strategy where they applied what they had learned.

Challenges in communication: networking, fake news and evaluation

At the first day of the training, participants gave short presentations on typical challenges in their work and presented best practices. Amongst others it became clear that strategic communication is not yet an integral part of the overall strategy of parties and government bodies in many countries. Targeting of communication measures and dialogue with the citizens via social networks is still in need of improvement. Moreover, the PR experts explained that good coordination of core messages among different departments is crucial. All teams should be informed about external communication priorities which is not always happening in practice. A big challenge is fake news. Participants agreed that fake social media profiles and trolls obstruct the online communication with citizens. The insufficient evaluation of campaigns has been identified as another weakness.

Linda Jākobsone, Head of the Communication Department of the State Chancellery of Latvia, talked about professional and ethical principles for media relations. Together with the participants she established guidelines for communication with journalists, e.g. proactive and transparent media relations. Jākobsone furthermore provided insights into successful communication formats of the Latvian EU Presidency 2015.

New digital tools make political communication management easier

Tabea Wilke, Digital Strategist from Berlin, discussed new communication channels in political communication like Snapchat and the use of messengers like WhatsApp and Viber. She said that it is important to focus on the needs and wishes of individual target groups and develop the communication strategy accordingly.

Christian Zinke from the Communications and PR Agency "Praxisnah" based in Jena showed examples of political campaigns in Germany. Thereby he introduced the App "connect17" which helps to mobilise election campaigners. Furthermore he presented free online tools for graphic design, animations and social media management which are popular in Germany.

More in the event report.


Manuela Zlateva

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