Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One small step...or an impossible leap?

I promise, I really promise, my dear reader, that I did seriously try to stop criticising the institutions and their ability to communicate visually - well, if not stop, at least make the criticism less frequent. Some friends have said to me: 'What if one day you want to work for the EU on communications? If you keep on talking badly about them, you will only have enemies there!' Maybe they are right, I should think about that. Actually no. The communications jobs in the institutions - if one excludes the spokespersons service - are for EU officials only. Whether I criticise or not.

No, the reason I tried to be less critical was that I thought you, my dear reader, would be bored with it. I think I made my point on a number of occasions and now I should move on. Sharing interesting and successful campaigns was part of this moving on exercise.

But it seems that you, my dear reader, are not bored with it, because I regularly receive suggestions and  get sent links to videos that come out of the institutions. Videos that I cannot avoid commenting on. I try to, but when I see them, suddenly my eyes become watery, my muscles (both of them) tense up and a flow of thoughts gets into my head; this flow needs, I really mean needs, to be let out on paper, well, on screen, if I want to continue my day peacefully. Do I sound exaggerated? Ok, I am a bit, but wait you see this.

It was sent to me by someone that regularly produces videos - 'For a Commissioner in charge of energy, Oettinger really needs to boost his energy levels!' he wrote in his email. Well, that is the least one can say about the video message by the energy Commissioner introducing 'Sustainable Energy Week 2013 - One small step from you, one giant leap for Europe' -

Leaving aside the cheesy tagline, the ten seconds jingle is nice, but who has seriously been able to watch through all the other 94 seconds?

One small step from you, Commissioner Oettinger, and this video could have been quite different.
Last year Commissioner Potočnik did a great one with a similar purpose - introducing Green Week. As I said at the time, that video worked because it was shot outside, because the Commissioner inter-acted with his surroundings, because he had learned his lines by heart and hence delivered them more naturally and because it was directed and edited in a catchy way. So you would think it would be success to emulate. But it was not - not even for Green Week this year, may I add. Was it considered too extravagant or was the Environment Commissioner smiling too much?

One small step outside the Berlaymont, Commissioner Oettinger, maybe in a 'sustainable' environment - and the message would have sounded more credible.

One small step from your communications people, Commissioner Oettinger, and they might have suggested a different format to make it more interesting. Or maybe they have, but have not been listened to.

The voice, the background, and the constant zooming in and out that makes you sea-sick, do I really need to comment? A giant leap for Europe? Feels more like an impossible one! Let me stop here - I got it out of my system and so can continue my normal life!

Seriously, what drive me nuts, as usual, is that the question is not the lack of ability; there are plenty of capable communications people in the institutions - and many of them, by the way, are just as frustrated as I am at the difficulty of getting the message across. No, the question is the lack of willingness to spend time on it (not money, time), to listen to new ideas, to implement proper communications strategies; all this because communications, despite what people might say, is not a priority.

Will a European Parliament filled with Eurosceptics make it a priority? A fool too late bewares when all the peril is past, a famous queen once said, not me.


Bruce McKean said...

You are entirely entitled to your outrage...or is it despair? On the other hand, I feel sorry for the Commissioner, I really do. It's not his fault that he has no feel for communicating with people. He has, I'm sure, other strengths. But the production team! Is it just stunning incompetence...or are they deliberately undermining the poor man?

Virginia said...

Well, not sure Bruce...but normally it's more likely to be cock up than conspiracy!

Tonia said...

This is cool!