The Central Baltic 2014-2020 Programme finances result orientated cross-border cooperation projects in Estonia, Finland (incl Åland), Latvia and Sweden

Creating succesful communication

As communication is a part of everything you do in your project, there is no requirement to create a separate communication plan. The communication has been built into your project in the application phase when planning the project’s aims and activities. This is a good starting point.

However, with some thinking and planning you can make your communication more efficient, effective, and lasting. This should be done in the beginning of your project. The half-way and the end of the project are here sooner than you think and then you might already have lost the chance of making your project the very successful one through good communication. So, don’t stop your reading here! 

Before we start, one very important thing to bear in mind is the difference between informing and communicating. While information is more about making things available, communication is about making the audience understand the importance and context of the things you tell them, in the best case affecting their thinking or making them take an action. This is what you should be aiming at. Keep in mind that making information available on the internet is only a starting point. It is like a table set for the guests to come but does not yet make a party. You need to send out invitations and host the event so that people feel welcome and enjoy being with you. Good communication is happening when people feel, think and do something that supports your goal. 

Understanding target groups

It is important to see the difference between the project objectives and communication objectives, and that no matter what type of a project you are running, communication must always be planned and done well.

For some projects communication is very closely related to the main project aims and for some not. For instance, in a project aiming at raising awareness about a certain minority group to improve their inclusion in the society, the project as such is very much about communication. On the contrary, for a project developing small harbours with investments the main activities are not as closely related to communication. Yet, both projects will in practice fail if communication is not done well. The first project will not reach any of its aims and the latter will maybe get the investments done but as people don’t know about them, all the work and money is wasted.

In order to know what to do, be clear about your communication objectives. What do you want to achieve by communication and why? Whom do you want to address? When is the best time to catch their attention – with what methods? It is also good to think of how you can evaluate the outcome of your communication afterwards.

 

Target groups can be easily identified by developing a list of important people and organisations that you want to know about your project and its work. Be sure to include all partners in this brainstorming exercise!

After listing the relevant groups of people, put yourself in the shoes of each target group: 
  • What does this group need to know and want to hear? What should I get them to do (e.g. change their attitude, participate in an activity, promote a change in legislation)?
  • How should it be formulated (e.g. friendly, demanding, official, fun, provoking, short and catchy or well elaborated and in-depth)?
  • What would be the best way to reach them (e.g. phone call, newsletter, visit, organising an event, doing a presentation, social media update)?
  • What will stop them listening to what you have to say (e.g. writing a too long or difficult message, being too official, not being able to show that you know who you are talking to)?
  • How will you know that they have got the message (e.g. they register to an event, take part in a discussion, reply to a questionnaire)? 

Gaining media visibility

Interacting with the media can be a very effective and efficient way to get information about your project out to a broad audience. But it can also prove to be difficult to make it through, especially if you try to target national, or let alone international, media. However, as an interesting article or a radio/television broadcast spreads so widely and to also those people that do not attend your events or other activities normally, it is very strongly encouraged to spend time and energy on gaining visibility in media with your project.

In order to get your message through, make it easy for the press to do a good story on the topic you care so deeply about. Sending a press release or an invitation to a press conference is, unfortunately, not likely to get the desired attention. Instead of just sending out press release after press release, try to establish a closer cooperation with the media. Identify journalists that write about your issues, call them up and talk to them. Serve them with “ready-made stories” that are interesting for their readers/audience, convince them about your “point” – that it is not just another EU project, this is something else!

In many cases local media can be easier to reach and could be more interested in the issue if there is a local touch to your story. Therefore, consider adapting your strategies locally and figure out what is in it for each location. Sometimes the international cooperation taking place in your project can be the new thing, sometimes it can be the local people being provided something or doing something new as part of your project, or people from somewhere else coming to a place to do something new together. Try to find the locally interesting angle to your news but do not forget to underline the European perspective.

To support you in the venture with media, the Joint Secretariat has compiled a list of media contacts in the whole programme area for the projects to use. You can request it from the JS. We hope to be informed on any good contacts and cooperation possibilities with the media not yet on the list. 

Highlighting funding sources

In addition to the required communication about project proceedings, there is one more general message communicated by projects financed by the Central Baltic Programme 2014-2020: the benefits of the funding received from the EU through the ERDF.

This message can be spread out in several ways, e.g. by verbally or visually informing the target groups about the fact that EU financing is a key factor for the project to be implemented. All projects are encouraged to find innovative and inspiring solutions, including different media channels, to deliver the message of the benefits of EU funding.