12 October 2016

#BrusselsCalling: Understanding how to engage with journalists in the EU

This morning got us to a breakfast debate on how to cover technology in the EU organized by the Cambre Associates at the Press Club Brussels Europe.

Understanding how to engage better with journalists covering technology in the EU is vital for any campaign that aims at influencing outcomes in Brussels. Cambre Associates offered us the chance to glean insights from four leading EU journalists, each covering this exacting beat from a different perspective. The discussion has been moderated by Victoria Main, Director of Media Relations at Cambre and here are the journalists that brought their contributions during the debate:

  • Julia Fioretti covers EU policy developments in tech, telecoms and transport for Reuters
  • Magnus Franklin is Chief Correspondent at MLex ITM and was previously an analyst and reporter on Mobile Communications Europe and Telecom Markets
  • Ryan Heath writes the Brussels Playbook column for Politico, and is a former digital spokesperson for the European Commission
  • Duncan Robinson is the Brussels Correspondent for the Financial Times, covering issues ranging from technology regulation to the EU’s response to the migration crisis.

In case you missed the #BrusselsCalling on Twitter, here are a few useful takeaways from this morning’s debate:

  1. You have better and faster access to information in Brussels, comparing to Milan or London, where the relationship is usually mediated by the PRs;
  2. In Brussels, a lot of information is in plain sight. You just have to know where to look;
  3. The tech field is developing so fast, sometimes it’s hard to say whether a journalist writes the correct thing, that’s why he needs an approval or a quote;
  4. The negative stories are not in the spotlight – usually the journalists try to identify where is the power struggle;
  5. Follow-up only when it’s necessary; don’t call on the journalist’s personal phones, they most likely won’t pick up the phone if they don’t know you;
  6. Associations shouldn’t hide behind vague names – journalists shouldn’t have to dig to find out who’s behind;
  7. Be upfront and transparent to give your story a chance;
  8. Leaking documents is a hint to EU institutions to be more transparent;
  9. Don’t overthink – sometimes, a journalist’s job is not complicated;
  10. The journalists often know well in advance what’s coming – you better have something under embargo early, otherwise you might miss a lot;
  11. When it comes to publishing news on companies, it is a matter of seconds to stay ahead of competition;
  12. Don’t make assumptions; don’t assume journalists know what an acronym stands for;
  13. Twitter is a great platform for thinking out loud and getting valuable feedback;
  14. Facebook Live is overtaking Twitter for Brussels bubble journalists;
  15. Be nice in Brussels. You will run into the same people, sooner or later. :)

To conclude, an advice to PR people: avoid jargon, be quick and cooperative with the journalists, they are not your enemies! We hope you will find useful these takeaways and we are looking forward to attending a new debate!

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