Gyldne regler i moderne kommunikation
Guide for alle kommunikatorer
Communicating with 80 mio. European expats

Communicating with Europeans worldwide

Some reflections on the best ways ahead

Europeans are living and working all over the world. Some for a short time, others for a longer period and many for ever.  Exact figures are not available. But a good guess – based on facts and calculations – is that about 80 mio. Europeans holding passports from one of the 28 EU member states are living in another country than the one they were born in. In our more and more globalised world this is a figure, which is increasing, not least for young Europeans. Of the 80 mio. altogether 14 mio. are living in another EU country than the one of their passport.

As president for the pan-European organisation Europeans Throughout the World  ( I am actively involved in working for all 80 mio. expatriats (expats). Among our main policies are: voting rights for all European expats; easier and more streamlined procedures around voting, incl. electronic registration and voting; possibility for dual citizenship for all expats; better consular protection of Europeans outside the EU;  more awareness of the value of mobility and of expats; and a special effort to address the needs of young European expatriats.

Our member organizations in most European countries are all working for and with their citizens abroad.  And our partner organisations and many individuals are using their networks for that purpose. As the European umbrella organization we do our best to make everybody work together and learn from best practices everywhere.  Working together is winning together, is our motto.  And we are in particular active on behalf of all to make Europe work better and harder for expats wherever they are.

So much about the background.

Now to the very important question:  How can we best communicate with 80 mio. citizens scattered all over the globe?

First of all, we must have a very clear and relevant message.  What do we offer of importance to all expats? How can they profit from our work? How can they contribute to our common efforts? And how can they - wherever they live - work better with other European expats in these matters?   It is evident that European citizens inside the EU have more fundamental rights wherever they are – due to the EU treaties.  But the large majority of EU citizens outside Europe have other important rights and possibilities.  They just have to know about them. 

Another very important fact to make clear to everybody is that they can – if they want to – be very valuable “ambassadors” for their country of origin. Be it in business terms, culturally, linguistically and socially. Perhaps they haven’t thought about it. Perhaps they do not know how. And perhaps their country of birth is not realizing the potentials of this opportunity.

How to get that information across? And how to show and explain that it is a win-win situation for everybody, not least the expats themselves, if they invest some time and effort into knowing about and using the many possibilities coming from their European citizenship?


Organising expats in clubs and associations in the “old fashioned way” with annual membership fees and regular meetings, etc. belongs to a large extent to the past.  It will perhaps mobilize “the usual suspects” – not the large majority of expats.

I see the following ways ahead when communicating with the Europeans worldwide is concerned:

  1. Very focused and up-to-date social media   (LinkedIn and in particular Facebook - and also Twitter for back-up).  When resources are available they have to be in several languages. And a very active policy to encourage others to link up to our sites and to re-tweet our messages
  2. Video communication via a special expat channel on YouTube  with webinars, testimonials and small videos to explain new rights and developments (again in several languages)
  3. Cooperation with a widely seen multilingual TV station (such as EURONEWS) with a regular magazine for expats. This can be seen on TV and on their website.  And it will – in the case of EURONEWS – automatically appear in 14 languages.
  4. Cooperation with international radio stations of particular interest to expatriats in many languages
  5. Contact to editors and journalists in international and national newspapers interested in the issue of expats and their special challenges and potentials
  6. Close cooperation with organisations in direct contact with European expats such as chambers of commerce, cultural institutes and clubs and associations for expats
  7.  Development – also on European level – of expat Parliaments such as already used in countries like Sweden and Finland (informal regular meetings between expats from around the world and ministers and other political leaders).  Such expat Parliaments could in the future also be virtual expat parliaments using all the new tools of the internet.  Such events will become a very important source for spreading information and for interactivity with and between expats.
  8. Last, but not least governments, regional bodies and European institutions have an equally important role to play in this work.  The 80 mio. EU citizens abroad can almost be seen as one of the very biggest member states of the EU  (only Germany being bigger).  Needles to say that their potential importance and democratic rights have to be taken seriously – not only in words, but certainly also in deeds and actions.  Also in communication.  Some European countries are already doing well in this challenge. May they give a positive and convincing inspiration for all the others.


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen

President of Europeans Throughout the World   (

Honorary vice-president of the Club of Venice   

July 2014

Social media and public communication: Time to move ahead


Time to move ahead

Niels Jørgen Thøgersen

Hon. vice-president of the Club of Venice

The Club’s activities so far:

Social media have been on the agenda of the Club for years. Since 2008 we have organized 8 special working groups/seminars concentrated on different aspects of social media.  External experts have been invited to make contributions, and most members from the member states and the institutions have been very active too. We have profited from good contact to initiatives like Toute l’Europe in France  ( ) , Debating Europe ( ) and EuroPCom ( )

We have also been cooperation very closely with EMM (Europe Media Monitor), run by the JRC in the European Commission. It monitors around the clock more than 4.000 on-line media and about 1.300 blogs and makes the results available selected by key words. All in 40 different languages. You can follow and subscribe to it for free here:

The Club has also initiated LIVING EUROPE, which is based on EMM.  It contains live as well as more static factual information from each European country. And it has Google translate built into the system making it possible for you to follow media and information in languages you normally do not understand.  All for free too.

The link is here: 

A third Club initiative on the web is an on-line GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA FOR PUBLIC COMMUNICATORS.  It is still in its initial stage and will step by step by further developed. 

You find the link to it here:

It has until now had more than 11.000 visitors.

The Club has also developed a very good and active cooperation with companies like Facebook and Google. This has facilitated special projects with these companies for several Club members.

Finally, a special group of members particularly interested in social media was created a couple of years ago. It is called The Web 2.0 Animation Group.

What should be the next steps?

The world moves on – not least the communication world.  So the Club of Venice also has to move on in the field of social media.

I see four important initiatives we should take. The purpose should be to make us all more professional, more up-to-date with developments and challenges in this important field. And to learn much more efficiently from each other.

  1. We have to create ON-LINE MEETING FORA for Club members, where we can meet more often, esp. about specific topics. Video meetings when possible.  This reduces costs and saves us all time. And technically it is fairly easy to do and very cheap
  2. We must find ways to organize TRAINING in the use of social media in public communication. Joint operations – often on-line. Concentration on the most important parts of the work
  3. We should find efficient ways to be up-front in our operational knowledge about NEW DEVELOPMENTS at all times. Web 3.0, credible web polling, communication around voting on the web, on-line monitoring of TV and radio in real time, how to mobilize people via the web, etc. etc.
  4. We could try to develop a frequently updated operational list of “10 GOLDEN RULES ON SOCIAL MEDIA IN PUBLIC COMMUNICATION”

Let us discuss each of these four suggestions – and – if agreed – make an Action Plan for each of them.


To kick off our debate in one of these four suggested initiatives I want to add this:

What could the 10 GOLDEN RULES be?

a)      Make the active use of social media the rule – not the exception. Integrate them fully in your communication strategy at all levels

b)     Involve in principle all staff – not only a few people in the communication department. And organize an ongoing training for them. Have a small and efficient in-house back-up help for them

c)      Present your use of social media as a new Service to the public – not as just another political or bureaucratic gimmick

d)     Use the straight forward language of the internet – not heavy-handed language like Eurospeak. Soft and sweet.  A sense of humor always makes any message pass more easily

e)      Make sure that all staff is aware that they are “government” – not just representing themselves. This needs special attention in their training

f)       Ensure that your use of social media are fully integrated in and coordinated with your website, events of your departments and your media initiatives

g)      Remember that photos and small videos often communicate much better than text

h)     When planning the contents and the timing of your use of social media give a top priority to stimulate the viral effect of it, meaning that your readers and contacts send your information and message on to many others in their networks

i)        Be straightforward and honest in your communication. If you cannot tell everything, never lie. And don’t be afraid of admitting mistakes. Do admit them very quickly and clearly.

j)       Monitor the effect (successes and failures) in your use of social media efficiently and at all times. And adapt your initiatives and activities accordingly.


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen

September 2013   
Interessante WEB 2.0 hjemmesider

WEB 2.0  -  Interesting Sites



EMM ( Europe Media Monitor ):  


( monitors permanently about 1200 media every ten minutes and in 26 languages )



Imooty :    


( media news from 19 European countries )


MyImooty :   


( make your own tailor made Imooty )



Blogging Portal :  


( monitoring 343 blogs for the time being )





( new interactive site with lots of candidates for the European elections all over Europe )



Twitter  ( 10 Downing Street ):   



Welcome Europe :   


( how to find funding from the EU – in 7 languages )






( mixing your ideas about Europe )



Y VOTE 2009:  


( about voting in the 2009 European elections )


Parties and Elections in Europe:  


( overview of political parties all over Europe )



What has Europe ever done for us ?   


( interactive communication from the European Movement )



EU Calendar:   



Dutch Site on Web 2.0 communications:    




Social Media Forum:    


( discussions on many aspects of the use of social media )



D L D  (  Digital, Life, Design ):   


( discussions on back to human touch )



S K Y P E:


( free Internet telephony, incl. conference calls, and free chat functions too.  And for the price of about 5 € a month ( Europe ) and about 9 € a month ( rest of world ) you call also call all fixed phones in 43 countries worldwide ).



Google Translate:   


(  machine translation to and from 41 languages – including all 24 official EU languages )




Obama:  Organizing for America:    









LIVING EUROPE:         ( under construction )   


(  coming site with public information about each European country )






Niels Jørgen Thøgersen




April 17, 2009   
Om at få folk til at stemme ved valgene



Mobilising Voters in Ten Steps



                                         1.   WHY VOTE   - a very short, dynamic text


2.       Mobilise through the Pyramid Principle


( Activists: “You find 10, who each finds 10, etc.”

                   “ Be the first to know “

                   “ Find local events “

                   “ Contact undecided voters “

                   “ Share your story on your blog “  )


Use Google Docs for communicating with the activitists


Create special support groups: Women for…; Students for…;

Youth for…; Teachers for…; Nurses for…; Farmers for…; etc )


3.       Modern interactive Website   /  Home Page


      Has to be the epicentre of the campaign and include everything

      ( such as Messages, Updates; Activation site for Activities; Blog; Social

        Networks; You Tube, Flickr; Eventful; Event programme; etc. );

        Donations / Fundraising; e-Shop )


4.       Use Social Communities very actively


( such as Facebook; MySpace; Twitter; Digg; Ecademy; XING; LinkedIn,

  BeBo; hi5; NING; Plaxo; Friendster; etc. )


( select the most appropriate communities – and have a responsible for each )


5.       Use efficient on-line distribution channels


( such as YouTube for video messages; Flickr for photos; Eventful

  for coming events; etc. )


                                         6.   Use E-mail alerts    ( “Be the first to know “ )


                                               ( to your activists and to everybody who wants it )

                                               ( collect e-mail addresses via special Web Forms, Business Card

                                                 Scanners, etc. )


                                         7.   Use SMS / Text Message alerts     ( “ Be the first to know “ )


                                               ( to your activists and to everybody who wants it )

                                               ( collect mobile phone numbers via special mobile number )


8.       Systematic feed-back about voters’ reactions, worries, questions


( via e-mails; Google Docs; sms/text messages, etc. )

( and react immediately to the most important issues to your activists,

  on your Home Page, by e-mail and on YouTube with video message )


9.       Systematic monitoring of media, blogs, discussion fora, etc.


( by activists, EMM, Imooty, bloggingportal, and other means )



10.   Voting on beforehand :


      Make a special and energetic campaign to make people use of this possibility 

                                               ( different rules for each country )





                   Detailed OPERATIONAL PLANS for each point can be prepared and made available

                   according to special agreement.





                   Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


                35, avenue de l’Europe, B-1330 Rixensart, Belgium

                   tel. 0032 474 747 040




                   Skype:  kimbrer



C O M M U N I C A T I O N S    2.0


Mobilise, Empower, Organise, Involve, Stimulate, Fundraise, Get  feed-back


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


President Barack Obama is now well installed and has under very difficult circumstances started implementing his very ambitious political programme.


For communicators like me it is time to try to analyse his very new and successful on-line communication campaign in more detail. And not only because the campaign is now over. But also because Obama and his team will continue to use and develop most of the communication initiatives he used during his campaign. During the campaign the activities were called: Triple O ( Obama’s On-line Operations ). Now many call his continued efforts in this field:  Obama 2.0 


Which lessons can we learn from his approach? And not least: Which Operational Conclusions can we as Europeans draw from him? And even use with success in Europe in coming elections, referenda, etc. ?


Learn What ?




Can we learn anything from Barack Obama’s on-line communication strategy ?  YES, WE CAN !    And why should we learn from it ?   Because it’s   TIME FOR CHANGE !


You might recognise those two replies ?   They were the two main messages , which Obama used during his entire campaign for president in the US.  Clear messages, which are positive. Fit for the situation in the US.  Easy to use. And easy to remember. They were simply the only repetitive messages he and his campaign used all the time – and everywhere .  They were so frequent and so visible that millions very quickly identified with them. And made them their own.


During the campaign the messages were further developed. Like this one:  I ask you to believe. Not only in my ability to make change. But in your own ability to work for change    People were made heroes of change themselves. Being part of it all.  It worked.


Interactive Web 2.0 Tools:


But these clear messages are not the only important innovation in the Obama campaign.  He brought them across by using the full arsenal of all available modern communication instruments . From a very dynamic web 2.0  to a very active and personal presence on about 16 different social networks from MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg and Twitter to more special ones like Black Planet, AsianAvenue and MiGente. And backing it all up by state-of-the-art distribution channels like YouTube, Flickr and Eventful.  All of them used in a very coordinated way at all times. Thereby reaching out to millions and millions of citizens, not least the younger generations in America.


The policy behind all the on-line activities were and are:  Meet the Voters where they are


Mobilise millions:


And this was actually far from all: He also used the web to mobilise people . Mobilise them to work for him – to identify with him – to make his campaign their own. Letting them take ownership. His main instrument on the web was the site MyBo  ( “My Barack Obama” )He used the so-called Pyramid Principle – asking a person to find ten persons, where each of them again find ten persons, etc.  And promising them to be the first to know, when he takes new initiatives like his choice for running mate or what he would say in major TV shows.  This way he mobilised about 13 million activists all over the country.  Got their e-mail addresses and about 1,3 million mobile phone numbers – making it possible for him to communicate directly and instantaneously with them at any moment and very, very fast. And he never ever sent an e-mail or a text message to anybody, who had not given him their e-mail address or mobile phone number.   This campaign was not only national and not only organised in different ways in the 50 American states. It went all the way down to local level and local committees – run by activist in many different ways.  About 10 million people joined in in different ways. And 1,2 million of them met or talked to 68 million voters




The Obama campaign also built up an enormous database called CATALYST .  It held information about 220 million Americans – either collected by the activists or information bought in. This made it possible to tailor-make and localise much of the information, which was sent out.


Collecting money:


Obama also got millions of small financial contributions to his campaign – adding up to 750 million dollars. Two thirds of that amount was raised over the web as small amounts from 5 to 200 dollars. That money came from 3 million different people. Much more than any political candidate ever did before.


Feed-back by text messages ( sms ):


The campaign also organised that all his activitists permanently via text messages could feed information into a central data base on what people were worried about. This made it possible for him to react in real time – and often before any media got hold of a story.


Constantly active and innovative:


All these very well coordinated initiatives were constantly active . It’s crucial to move forward at all times – never to sit back and let others dominate the agenda.







The Campaign as Media News in Itself:


And very important: By running a big campaign like that the traditional media will consider the campaign itself as  NEWS .   It’s the media, which run after the campaign – no longer the other way around. Also in this way Obama’s strategy was a very interesting innovation.



Interesting websites in the Obama strategy – past and present:


  1. His web 2.0 campaign website:   The “epicentre” of the on-line campaign )


  1. His website to mobilise activists:   My Barack Obama  or    MyBo: =


  1. His mobile WAP site:


  1. His TV site:   Barack Obama TV


  1. His BLOG site:



  1. His new PRESIDENT ELECT website – started within 24 hours after his election:


  1. Site for people to tell their story about the election: It’s Your America. Tell Your Story


     To run this operation the campaign had 95 staff employed in its Chicago headquarters.       

      And a lot of the mobilised volunteers around the country.


      8.   His Citizens Briefing Book:   Collected more than 44.000 ideas and suggestions:


     9.  His special site: Your Seat at The Table   during the President-elect period:

                                       Openness in practice


     10. His site Join the Discussions   also during the President-elect period:


11. His new White House web site:


  1. His new “Organization for America” site:







Why do I call this strategy – this approach:  COMMUNICATIONS 2.0   ?


Because it is a NEW way of communicating . It lifts communication to a new, higher and much more interactive level than before. Not by inventing new technologies, but by the way it is organised. By the whole approach.  And also because it puts all the possibilities of web 2.0 into practical operation.


What we all have been doing until now has been COMMUNICATION 1.0. Yes, most of us have probably used some of these new possibilities. But never in this way. Never so coordinated. Never with such a constant and innovative drive. That is what we all have to learn to master.


COMMUNICATION 2.0  will become the efficient communication approach for the 21st century .




So what is really NEW in Communications 2.0 ?


·         that all relevant web 2.0 instruments are used


·         that they are used in a very coordinated way


·         that they are used to mobilise lots of people and to activate them


·         that people are given ownership of the campaign – they feel they are at the centre


·         that all relevant social networks are actively used in coordination  ( Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Ecademy, Bebo, XING, hi5, etc. )


·         that e-mails and text messages are extensively used to back up


·         that permanent feed-back, f.ex. via text messages, is ensured giving the leadership an overview of attitudes, attacks and uncertainties in real time


·         that false information and attacks are addressed immediately via the new instruments – bypassing traditional media, esp. in time


·         that the campaign is directed by an ever running drive and innovation


·         that thecampaign makes the traditional media run after it – and not the other way around








How can we best adapt Communications 2.0  to Europe ?


12 concrete ideas for a successful use in Europe:


1.       Make a short and clear message   ( related to what people consider important, related to their daily life and worries - like jobs, climate change, personal security )




2.       Find well-known and well respected dynamic people to lead the campaign. Ensure that they have different and conflicting ideas.  This will engage and mobilise people




3.       Create a really dynamic website – based on all the web 2.0 possibilities.  And ensure a very dynamic and very visible and constant promotion of the site. Have a strategy on how to make popular websites link to it – and promote it




4.       Work actively with web companies like Google, Yahoo, and many others on promoting your site


HOW ?  WHO ? 


5.       Use also as many of the popular social networks as possible – coordinated with your own website and campaign.  Adapt them as much as possible to national and local situations




6.       Mobilise supporters and activists – and give them ownership . And get your timing right







7.       Make a data base with as many e-mail addresses as possible ( collected according to legal restrictions )


           HOW ?  WHO ?  LEGAL RULES ?


8.       Make a similar data base with as many mobile phone numbers as possible  ( also collected according to local legislation )




9.       Make a concrete and operational plan on HOW to use the e-mails and mobile numbers




10.   Use your web site, the social networks, mobile wap applications and TV ( YouTube ) in a dynamic, well planned and coordinated way




11.   Back all these activities up by sending e-mails and/or text messages to your many contacts


HOW ?  WHO ?  WHEN ?


12.   Organise a permanent and operational feedback – and use the results immediately





Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


January 2009  



OBAMAs meget aktive brug af Internettet



Main elements


                                         1.  Have very clear and mobilising messages:



·         YES WE CAN


                                              And use them again and again – and everywhere


2.       Create a very dynamic and innovative web site:




3.       Be actively present on all relevant Social Communities:


                  *    Facebook   ( 3 million )

·         MySpace

·         YouTube

·         Flickr

·         Digg

·         Twitter

·         Eventful

·         LinkedIn

·         Black Planet

·         Faithbase

·         EONS

·         Glee

·         MiGente

·         My Batanga

·         Asian Ave

·         DNC Partybuilder


4.       Use the Internet to mobilise people and funds:


                                                          *  Special web site:   MyBarackObama  ( MyBo )


-          Find local events and groups

-          Contact undecided voters near you

-          Share your story on your blog

-          It only takes you 2 minutes to create your account


·         Mobilising people all over the country:

·         The Pyramid Principle ( you find ten, who find and train 10, who find and train 10, etc. )

·         Appeal to their hopes, dreams and wish to make a difference. Make them to ambassadors for your message

·         Result:   13,6 million people mobilised, esp. young people –  8 million under 40 years

·         Funds: ask people for small amounts paid on-line. Found altogether 3 million fund donors, who gave 600 million dollars

·         More money collected than any candidate ever before


5.       Use  SMS messages ( text messages ) systematically:


·         How to get them?  Promise special service before anybody else

·         Example: I will sms you the name of my running mate 2 minutes before the media know ( you feel “in the know” and give your mobile number

·         Millions signed up by sending their mobile number



                                        6.   Build a huge data base with e-mail addresses:   11 million came in


7.       Use YouTube to  send out videos of your main meetings ( in extenso )


·         Use sms and e-mails to inform your supporters that a new video is available on YouTube

·         Example:  2 million saw the full victory speech in the first 24 hours on YouTube  ( and millions more on other platforms )

·         All Obama’s videos seen 15 million hours on YouTube   ( worth about 50 mill. $ in purchased ads )


8.       Use Infomercials – by buying prime time on national TV  ( with part of it from a live event – to increase the credibility )


9.       Give people the possibility to share their experience and  give their opinion on your always dynamic website


10.   Make a new and different web site immediately after you are elected:





NJT  - Nov. 13, 2008  

Ti Gyldne Regler i Kommunikation

10 gyldne regler i kommunikation



1.       Beslut fra starten nøjagtig, hvad I vil sige og lægge vægt på. Og formuler det enkelt og klart


2.       Gør jer helt klart, hvem I især ønsker at henvende jer til. Sørg for at kende jeres målgrupper særdeles godt. Vis, at I respekterer dem. Og tilpas indholdet i jeres kommunikation til dem


3.       Lyt. Vær åben. Skab tillid


4.       Sørg for, at timingen er rigtig. Planlæg. Tænk fremad. Vær på forkant. Vær aktiv – ikke reaktiv.


5.       Brug det eller de bedste midler i situationen. Visualiser indholdet. Om muligt med et stænk af humor


6.       Sig aldrig noget usandt. Vær ærlig og tillidsvækkende



7.       Giv aldrig udtryk for, at ”Jeg ved bedre


8.       Vis vilje til at ændre mening



9.       Gentag jeres hoved-besked. Igen og igen. Og gerne på mange forskellige måder


10.   Følg nøje med i, hvordan jeres kommunikation lykkes. Mål og evaluer dens virkning løbende. Og sørg for hurtig tilpasning, når det er nødvendigt. Lær af fejl.



                           Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


Ti ideer til en moderne Borgerservice

10 Konkrete Ideer til en Moderne Borgerservice



1.      Gør det nemt – meget nemt – for folk. De skal opleve en klar forbedring i forhold til i dag


2.      Lav en moderne og lettilgængelig hjemmeside (med et smart og mundret navn). Med facts, spørgsmål/svar, og med selvbetjening. Måske en god ide at have en særlig del af hjemmesiden til unge og en anden til seniorer


3.      Gi’ folk tilbud om at abonnere gratis på NYT på hjemmesiden. Så får de automatisk en e-mail, når der er nyt på det område, de er interesseret i.


4.      Opstil synlige terminaler til denne service, hvor folk normalt kommer. I indgangen til alle kommunale kontorer, på alle biblioteker, på posthusene, i banker, i Brugsen og andre supermarkeder, på skoler, m.v.


5.      Lav også en gratis telefon-service (med let-huskelig nummer og et mundret navn). Og hvor folk kan ringe om stort set alt.


6.      Lav selvbetjening så meget som overhovedet muligt. På Nettet. Overskueligt. Let at håndtere – også for ikke-specialister.


7.      Organiser en aktiv præsentation af denne Borgerservice – især i de første måneder. I foreninger, i skoler, på aftenskoler, i klubber, osv. Også i lokalradioen. Behøver ikke at koste noget, hvis man af og til sørger for at have en god historie, som de er interesseret i. Husk også alle nytilflyttere


8.      Lav et tæt samarbejde med de lokale aviser og gratis ugeblade om Borgerservice. Gi’ dem jævnligt godbidder, der har læsernes almindelige interesse


9.      Inddrag det digitale TV, så snart det kommer. Skal være på plads overalt i Danmark senest oktober 2009


10.  Lav et aktivt Brugerpanel til løbende at kommentere, rose, kritisere, og foreslå nye tiltag. Og sørg for, at deres kommentarer og forslag selvfølgelig er offentlige


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen
Venedig-Klubben: Kommunikationschefer i Europa



A short story about great things



Flattering: Yes. Pleasing: No.  But I believe it takes a little bit more of explanation.


Why is it so? For many happy reasons.


In the mid 80ies life was full of new opportunities. One of them was that even public institutions and their political masters were equipped with an eye-opener on communication. Even they now understood that good policies, good behaviour, good products (meaning results) were nothing. Unless they were communicated properly. And not just to the happy few – or to the usual suspects. But the people at large. Those who actually paid for the whole lot. This was not the situation in one or two particularly enlightened countries. It was universal. At least in Europe.


In this situation two masters of communication and here-stops-the-buck responsibles of their respective governments’ services took the initiative to create the Club of Venice. Stefano Rolando and Mieke van den Berghe. The “founding parents”.  This is the short version of a great initiative.


Now, first question: who should be invited to join the Club?  The top bosses (and not the political ones) of the information and communication services of the then 9 EU-governments were evident. But what about the European institutions?  The attitudes were split. Especially our British friends – and their (then) natural allies) had great difficulties with that.  But the final outcome was that the Commission (which in particular was under suspicion) could join as a sort of observer. On the condition that it like an innocent virgin was sitting quietly and shyly looking down on the floor!  This was the situation for quite some time.


Second question: who should represent each country? The whole raison d’être of the Club was that the REAL communication bosses in each government was there – personally. At each meeting. All respect for the spokesmen at the Permanent Representations in Brussels. But they normally (excuse me) have no clue about how communication is run in their home countries.This is not their job. There are paid to present their country and in particular their visiting ministers in the best possible light to the media.  Therefore: yes to the back-home bosses, no to the Brussels based spokesmen (with a few exceptional exceptions! It has been like that. But it has also meant that the “trade union of Brussels based spokes-persons” often has been quite méfiant towards the Club. For the very wrong reasons!


Third question: what should the Club discuss? Communication, of course. But what communication? Let me say it this way: I have personally learned so much about communicating road safety, anti- AIDS, anti-smoking and pro-developing aid as in those years. All respect. But  on Europe? No –nothing.


Fourth question: in what form should the Club gatherings be held? Never any doubt: in a very informal way. No formal agendas. No formal speaking points.  And in the beginning no minutes either. And no list of members. Everybody could speak freely – would not risk to be unpleasantly confronted with a slip of the tongue later. It was from the beginning a professional exchange of experiences and best practices among friends. Among like-minded.  And very good. This is certainly an important part of the (secret) success of the Club!


Fifth question: how should the Club develop? With the enlargements of the EU in 1986, 1995 and 2004 it was evident that the Club would expand exactly the same way. But it was in my view a very wise decision some years ago also to include the candidate countries. Not as observers, but as full members. For everybody’s sake. And it has proven to be a great asset.


Sixth question: where to meet? The lovely of Venice and its Fondazione Fini (?) took the wonderful and brave decision not only to invite the Club. But also to pay for everything. I know of no opponents of that initiative. We have really enjoyed being the guests of the Venetian perle. The meetings at the islands (no easy escape possibilities) and also the evening and night Club life in the city itself. Who can forget the Club members walking together in 30 cm water at the St. Marco Square at midnight some years ago? Who can forget getting lost my new Club friends in the mediaval alleys in the night? Who can forget the lovely dinners in a prison, in the Casino or in a music restaurant? Still exchanging views and facts about the best of communication!


Seventh question: when did Europe arrive at the agenda? As always in such cases: step by step. No real decision about it. It just happened. And today it’s all one way or the other about Europe. About HOW. Not about WHY. There still has to be something for the politicians to do! I belive that we all feel that we have found a good way of running things. And even the Commission does not have to play virgin anymore!

Råd til danske kommunalfolk

Artikel til Særnummer af Strukturmagasinet:


Vær åben, dynamisk og på forkant


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


Rådgiver i Kommunikation

Tidl. kommunikationsdirektør i EU-Kommissionen



Nytænkning: JA. Fornyelse: JA.  Kommunikation har alt for længe været et stedbarn, ikke mindst i den offentlige sektor.  Det har reelt ikke været anset for vigtigt.  Medierne og borgerne har ofte måttet affinde sig med: ”Ingen kommentarer”. Eller: ”Det er ikke mit bord”. Eller: ”Det har vi ikke”.  Og de skriftlige materialer har ofte været dårlige, indviklede  og derfor svære at forstå.


Den går ikke. Og den går slet ikke længere!


Moderne borgere i dag bliver – uanset om de vil det eller ej – bombarderet døgnet rundt med bunkevis af oplysninger og meninger. Samtidig har alle og enhver en mening om alting, også selv om de ikke nødvendigvis ved så meget om sagen. En mening, som tit er en stopklods for, hvad de vil have at vide. Samtidig ved de fleste, at borgere har RET til information fra det offentlige.


Det er i denne situation, at det offentlige skal forsøge at nå frem til den enkelte dansker med sine oplysninger, tilbud og anvisninger.


Enhver leder i det offentlige må gøre sig klart, at det er kommunikation – ikke bare information – det drejer sig om. Man skal tilrettelægge sit arbejde og sin organisation sådan, at man involverer borgerne – og ikke bare passivt informerer dem. Det er fundamentalt.


Og så skal man også gøre sig krystalklart, at en effektiv kommunikation kræver, at man har professionelle folk til at køre det. Folk, der ved hvordan moderne kommunikation fungerer. Hvilke beskedder og hvilke midler, der virker, og hvilke der ikke gør. Folk, der har respekt og anerkendelse i medieverdenen.  Derfor må man ikke fortsætte med at sætte de medarbejdere til at informere, som man ikke kan bruge i andre jobs. Det skal være professionelle kommunikatorer – og de skal have lejlighed til løbende at efteruddanne sig.  Udviklingen går hurtig – endda meget hurtig – på dette område. Ja, det koster penge. Men det koster meget mere at have en dårlig kommunikation.


Og een vigtig ting mere:  Jeres kommunikationsfolk skal referere direkte til ledelsen og have adgang til alle. Og når de beder om oplysninger, skal dette have topprioritet.  Hos alle.


Hvis I også skal kommunikere på andre sprog end dansk, så gør det sammen med en velformuleret person, der har det pågældende sprog som aktivt modersmål. Hvor ofte har man ikke set  tekster på halv-hjælpeløst engelsk, som man har fået oversat af en velmenende dansker.  Et dårligt sprog slår enhver god kommunikation ihjel.      


Og så et par gode råd til alle kommunikations-folk:  lad jer ikke afskrække af modstand fra chefer og kolleger. Når I har forebedt en ny plan og et nyt initiativ, så gør det godt og grundigt. Vær klar til at argumentere for det. Med styrke og overbevisning. Da jeg i Internettets pure barndom i 1995 foreslog, at vi i EU-Kommissionen straks skulle gå igang og oprette vor egen service på Nettet, fik jeg at vide, at Internettet var en amerikansk sammensværgelse, som vi skulle holde os langt væk fra. Vi gik dog videre og fik hurtigt verdens største offentlige web-tjeneste EUROPA op at stå.


Det ER jo nemlig sådan med information og kommunikation: Alle tror, at de har forstand på det. Vi er så at sige omgivet af ”lommetyve”.  Men de har ikke forstand på det. Som sagt ovenfor er det en professionel og ret indviklet branche, som skal håndteres af folk, der har uddanelse og erfaring på netop dette område.  I sidste ende er det selvfølgelig de politiske og administrative chefer, der har den endelige afgørelse – også om hovedlinjerne i kommunikationen. Det kan af og til koste kommunikationsfolk deres job. Men sådan er det. Det er ”risk business”. Men så længe ledelsen har tillid til deres kommunikationsfolk, skal den give dem dens fulde støtte og lade dem køre det daglige løb efter de professionelle kriterier, som nu engang gælder i moderne kommunikation.


Jeg har i  de to bokse givet mine konkrete forslag til, hvad de vigtigste grundregler i moderne kommunikation er. Og til, hvordan man fra det offentliges side kan lave en moderne og meget brugervenlig Borgerservice.


Niels Jørgen Thøgersen




Rixensart, Belgien  November 2006.