About involving people much more
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  ( http://www.touteleurope.eu/ ) , Debating Europe ( http://www.debatingeurope.eu/ ) and EuroPCom ( http://cor.europa.eu/en/events/europcom/Pages/european-conference-on-public-communication.aspx )

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:    www.livingeurope.eu 

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:  http://www.covguide.com/

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

My COMMUNICATIONS 2.0 greetings for 2010




Communication is a great challenge. This is what makes things happen. This is what makes people understand. And not least: this is how people feel engaged and involved. 


You know what ?   New research tells us that:  people remember 10 % of what they read, 50 % of what they read AND hear, and 90 % of what they read, hear AND interact with.


Democracy is only satisfactory, if people take part – are engaged and involved.  Today they are NOT.  And less and less so.  Voter turnout at elections is dropping. The number of members in political parties is “growing” smaller and smaller.  The media are not really involving people in politics on a daily basis and in a serious way, which activates them. And the occasional referendum in one or the other country is only making things much worse by distracting voters from the real issues and by stimulating confrontations and extreme positions L   


So what should we do ?  COMMUNICATIONS 2.0  is an important part of the answer.  Using the new interactive tools at our disposal in a very coordinated way to let people not only be well informed – but be actively involved.  By “translating” Obama’s very successful on-line communication for use in Europe.


This is what I am working on.  And I was very happy to see some of the methods being used with great success in the European elections in Denmark and also in the referendum campaign in Ireland.


Let us find a way to help re-connect all politicians throughout Europe with the citizens. European, national and local politicians alike. Let’s build a model for a GOOD politician’s ACTIVE and CREATIVE presence on the web and propose it to as many politicians as possible. Convincing  them that this is the best way ahead – the best use of their time. And certainly the best and most interesting for the citizens. On the condition that the politicians and institutions accept that they loose some control.  Getting people involved means letting them set part of the agenda. And that’s good. That’s what democracy is about.


I have made a first draft for a modern presence on the web.  I will happy to send it to you for comments.


I also believe that a service like YOOSK  ( www.yoosk.com ) in the UK is very interesting. A way to involve citizens actively and enabling them to show what they think is important.




I strongly believe that we should all exchange ideas and experiences in this fast developing field. By comparing notes and inspiring each other we all become better.


I have, therefore, created two closed spaces called COMMUNICATIONS 2.0 , where we can easily and for free exchange our ideas and projects:


On LinkedIn:     http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2590756&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr   


On Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=205579264721  


I hope you will join one of them – or both.  And be part of a dynamic network in this very dynamic field.


Ok?  Let me know.







I want to wish you a very joyful and relaxed Christmas and an exciting and challenging New Year 2010 . Let us together make it a real 2.0   ( version 1.0   - at least ) year  J   


Best greetings,






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


Tel. 00322 652 0812  Mobile:  0032 474 747 040

E-mail:  kimbrer@gmail.com     Skype: kimbrer

Web:  www.Niels-Jorgen-Thogersen.dk


Interesting Web 2.0 services

WEB 2.0  -  Interesting Sites



EMM ( Europe Media Monitor ):    http://press.jrc.it/NewsBrief/clusteredition/en/latest.html  


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



Imooty :     http://www.imooty.eu/    


( media news from 19 European countries )


MyImooty :   http://www.imooty.eu/my_imooty.php   


( make your own tailor made Imooty )



Blogging Portal :   http://www.bloggingportal.eu/  


( monitoring 343 blogs for the time being )



miCandidate:     www.miCandidate.eu  


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



Twitter  ( 10 Downing Street ):





Welcome Europe :   http://www.welcomeurope.com/   


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




Milkshaker:     http://milkshaker.eu/   


( mixing your ideas about Europe )



Y VOTE 2009:    http://yvote2009.blogactiv.eu/  


( 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:   http://europa.eu/eucalendar/   



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:







Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


e-mail:  kimbrer@gmail.com




April 17, 2009   
How to make people vote in elections



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


                   e-mail:  kimbrer@gmail.com


                   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 websiteBarackObama.com  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:


http://my.barackobama.com/page/user/login?successurl=L3BhZ2UvZGFzaGJvYXJkL3ByaXZhdGU =


  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  


e-mail:  kimbrer@gmail.com 




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  

CON AMORE - communicating to the Heart
See also my special chapter on this Home Page on my new company:


Specializing in COMMUNICATION 2.0 Communication for the 21st century
Communication: 10 Golden Rules




1.      Define a clear message from the outset


2.      Know your “target group” very well


3.      Listen. Gain and deserve confidence


4.      Get your timing right


5.      Visualise your message. With a sense of humour


6.      Never lie – be trustworthy


7.      Never say or show: “I know better”


8.      Show willingness to change your mind


9.      Stay on message – repeat it again and again


10.  Evaluate your communication – and adapt



                            Niels Jørgen Thøgersen 

Your headline



Niels Jørgen Thøgersen’s speech at his reception in Berlaymont on 28 Feb 2005



First of all, heartily welcome to this reception, which I am very happy to organise tonight – my last night in the European Commission. It is a great day for me, and it gives me a lot of pleasure that so many colleagues and friends have turned up here.


Why do I want to leave the Commission NOW?


There are at least four reasons:


  • all my main communication projects have been finalised or are now so mature and grown up that I am not needed to be around any more. My excellent colleagues will handle them and develop them further
  • at the same time it is very satisfactory to know that our new political masters, and not least Vice-President Margot Wallström are giving a very strong political support to all these projects. They will, therefore, have a bright future – being a very important part of the Commission’s communication activities also in the future
  • tomorrow morning I have worked exactly 32 years in the Commission – first 15 in Copenhagen and now 17 here. This means that it is time to try new challenges and to get going with the second half of my life
  • furthermore, I prefer to leave and start in a new “life-gear” while I still feel that I am in full speed. And while many of you say, “Oh, what I pity that you are leaving – we will miss you!”. I do not want to wait until you all say: “Finally, he leaves!”


And if you asked me for a few reflections after all those years – what would I say?


1)      First of all, we have to realise that everybody – and I mean everybody – in the Commissionare very important for our communication work. For good – and for bad. And not only DG PRESS. Each and every colleague in any DG has a direct influence on the image, which we have in the general public. If she or he is nice and helpful we all look better. And if he or she is negative, do not answer letters or mails or don’t pay bills on time – then we are all in trouble. I strongly believe that you have to find a way to make each and every official understand that. I even think that some of the resources for training should be used to train our colleagues in exactly that. It is not a question of making everybody specialists in communication. But to make them the nice, friendly and efficient “Eurocrats” they are paid to be!


2)      Get out there to REAL people. Meet them. Discuss with them. Tell them what we are doing. Show them where they can find more information, if they want. I very much believe that every official has a clear-cut duty to speak to our visitors. I know that we are all busy. But what is more important than telling the people, who pay our salaries, what we are doing – and to listen to them. Furthermore, you always LEARN something from such meetings. And this is perhaps not too bad either! Finally, imagine how many people we all meet privately. Millions a year. Why not see it as very important also to tell them about what we are doing and ask them for their views and advice. Involve people. Give them ownership. That’s the way ahead.


3)      When the media are concerned – let’s get out of the “Brussels Beltway syndrome”. There is a tendency to believe that we have done a great job, if we have managed to get an article in the Financial Times, in Le Monde or in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. They are great newspapers – yes. But they are not the papers citizens read. They are VERY small in the wider context. TV, radio and big regional newspapers are much more important for the public at large. And they have credibility; they are positively interested in EU affairs, if they can see the relevance for their area. Something really new and efficient has to be done in this area. The new communication means like satellite conferences, web casting and on-line training sites must be part of the solution.


4)      And you should be much more open also to go into Infotainment and Edutainment. They are not smart and fancy words from the other side of the Atlantic. They are real factors in modern communication. Getting factual information out via entertainment and education. Get interactive communication going that way. Involving citizens. Exciting citizens. And citizens, which we very rarely reach in any other way.


5)      The power of humour in communication is very, very important. You can get a lot of messages and facts across, if you do it with a smile and a glimpse in your eye. Being too serious turns people off. And confirms their prejudices that “Brussels people live in their own ivory tower”. Make sure that people go away in a “feel good” mood.


6)      And don’t forget that almost all of our 450 million citizens do not care, if it is the Commission, the Council, the Parliament, etc., who inform and communicate with them. They are interested in the EU. Basta. Therefore, we have a solid duty to work closelytogether in as many fields as possible. I am very proud of the formal and efficient cooperation we have now established with our colleagues in the Council concerning EUROPE DIRECT and the coming multimedia centre INFO POINT EUROPE on Rond Point Schuman. Now we are just waiting for other institutions to join – nobody mentioned, nobody forgotten!


7)      All in all: Make it interesting. Make it motivating. Make it fun. Make it happen! Go for it!



Thank you all for a great friendship, great projects, and a great time together. I always was a strong believer in the importance of the cocktail: make your colleagues at work also your very good friends. Then nobody can beat you.


It has been fantastic. We did not always agree – and fortunately so. But we got results. And we enjoyed it.


I very much hope to keep in contact with you. Therefore, I have made a new “non-business card”, which you can find on the table over there.  Or my personal Blog:  http://kimbrer.blogspot.com/



And finally you might ask: What are you going to do now?


Every ending is also a new beginning!


  • No new permanent jobs
  • No new permanent commitments
  • But perhaps getting somewhat involved in a few tempting projects related to modern communication and to Europe. My attitude is: if somebody asks for my advice I certainly will give it, if I have one. But I don’t want to be responsible. Neither to be ir-responsible. I want to be somewhat in between. Perhaps it should be called “a-responsible”!
  • And one thing more: you don’t have to be employed in the European Commission to fight for Europe. So ……
  • But first and foremost I will enjoy my new freedom to do what perhaps has been put aside until now: write, read, enjoy beautiful nature, travel, see family and friends, continue my genealogy, see films, play with new communication gadgets – and also from time to time concentrate on doing nothing!
  • And one thing more  (change to Harley-Davidson jacket):  drive smoothly and quietly across the Belgian landscape surrounded by wonderful flowers and friendly singing birds!   I only have this very small H-D at the moment (show the small “toy H-D”). But I am watering it every day, so I hope it will soon grow bigger!


Thank you very much!  SKAAL!

Birthday greetings to the Club of Venice
The "Club of Venice" is the informal gathering of all directors of communication in the governments in the EU member states and the EU candidate countries + in the EU institutions. It celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2005.

My personal greetings:



A small story about great things



Flattering: Yes. Pleasing: No.  But I believe it takes a little bit more of an 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 to the people at large. Those who actually paid for the whole lot. This was not only 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 responsible” of their respective governments’ services took the initiative to create the Club of Venice. Our friends 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 was sitting quietly and shyly looking down on the floor like an innocent virgin!  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 were 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. They 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 suspicious 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 never 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 – not a word.


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 later with a slip of the tongue. It was from the beginning a professional exchange of experiences and best practices among friends. Among like-minded.  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 in 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? Lovely Venice and its Fondazione Cini took the wonderful and brave decision not only to invite the Club. But also to pay for everything. I know of no opponents of this initiative. We have really enjoyed being the guests of the Venetian pearl. The meetings on the islands (no easy escape possible) and also the evening and night 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 with new Club friends in the medieval 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 believe that we all feel that we have found a good way of running things. And on the top of that the Commission does not have to play virgin anymore!


Everybody agrees that one of the colleagues from a member state should be the coordinator. Not the institutions. And the experience we have had with that practice has so far been very convincing.


And all the many participants during the 20 years? Apart from the “founding parents” I will mention nobody. As we say in Danish: “Nobody mentioned – nobody forgotten”. But they all have a warm place in my – and I’m sure in everybody’s – hearts and minds.


Finally, a few personal recommendations to the Club:


  • Keep it informal. At any price
  • Keep the present rhythm of meetings. Perhaps with a specialised meeting from time to time. We had a very good experience with that some years ago, when the Commission organised a few of them for those interested (on topics like opinion polls, web information and Call Centres)
  • Make sure that as many countries as possible take active part in the meetings. Perhaps even Portugal?
  • The VeniceNet: develop it further. It has a lot of potential. I was responsible for it in the beginning. Now Hans and the Council have taken over – and it is much better today. And don’t forget: To make it better is not only a question of using it more. It also means that we all have to contribute more. Make it a point in your personal “To-Do-List”.


I might have made you happy and content with these remarks. Hopefully not sad or angry. Under all circumstances: I am now bullet proof. Dependent of nobody inside or outside the Club. But professionally very much attached to the purpose of the Club and to what we are all trying to do together.


Congratulations to the Club with the first 20 years! Congratulations to us all! And in particular congratulations to the professional public communication in Europe!



Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


Rixensart, Belgium.


My ideas on celebrating 50 years of EU

The 50 Years’ Anniversary of the Rome Treaty in March 2007


Concrete ideas on how to celebrate it



A)     The point of departure for the celebrations should be the following:


·        the key parts of the celebrations must be forward-looking

·        all initiatives and events have to be important for ordinary people

·        the initiatives should involve as many people as possible – make them participate

·        they should as much as possible be centrered on core European values

·        the initiatives and events should have a lasting effect, if possible

·        the celebrations should, of course, not be limited to the day itself – March 25. They could be concentrated on the period March 25 – May 9. Or last from March 25 and the rest of the year 2007


B)     Concrete suggestions for initiatives and events:


·        A very good and easy-to-remember slogan for the celebrations. Could be selected through a public competition among young people


·        A special European Council in a very special and symbolic place on March 27


·        Invitation to three 50 years old persons from each member state, who were born on March 25, 1957 for a special event at the summit. Symbolic, easy to arrange and very visible


·        A special personal “Welcome” greeting from the European Council to each new baby born on March 25, 2007


·        Nomination of 50 European Goodwill Ambassadors from outside the EU. Or 25 from outside and 25 from inside the EU. Very well known personalities who support the idea of cooperation among the Europeans (not necessarily EU and its institutions as they are now). Possible names: Michael Gorbatjov; Kofi Annan; Nelson Mandela; Bill Clinton; Isabel Allende; Kiri Te Kanawa; Pele; Robert Redford; Olivia Newton-John; Vigdis Finbogadottir; Gro Harlem Brundtland; etc.


Or one could choose people who are all under 50. Would also have a very symbolic importance. The Danish crown princess Mary (ex-Australian could be one of them)


The purpose of the European Goodwill Ambassadors is to show that the IDEA of a close European cooperation continues to have widespread support, also outside Europe


Those already selected before March 25 could be invited to part of the special European Council on that day – and to the following three European Councils in 2007. And to other major events


·        A special Europe-wide TV event (or several, if possible). In close cooperation with the EBU and its 72 member stations

It could be an interactive charity event – collecting money for one or several concrete projects, which Europe supports (such as the fight against poverty; against AIDS; or against cancer. Or for children’s’ projects; for educational projects; for environment projects; or for projects integrating new Europeans).  Run in cooperation with the most important NGOs, which the EU and the member states already work closely with


·        The schools in Europe have to be actively involved. Through competitions and special events. The NGO European Schoolnet can be very helpful. Other organisations of schools, students and teachers have to be actively involved – giving them ownership to the initiatives


·        The huge network of former ERASMUS students could possibly be involved too. There are more than 1 million of them; and many of them are still very active in their network


·        Initiatives focusing on successful integration of 2nd and 3rd generation newEuropeans could be very important, especially at this point of time. Europe has contributed a lot to such projects (through the Social Fund, etc.)


·        Events which focus on concrete results of the European cooperation (in research; in environment; in transport and communication; in education; in culture; in regional development; and many other human-touch results). “Europe Working for You”.


·        The Commission’s annual “Town Twinning Programme” supporting thousands of twinning projects must focus on the anniversary in 2007


·        And the Commission’s Calls for Proposals for TV and Radio Programmes on Europe should also focus on the anniversary all of 2007


·        The creation of a special “Foundation for European Democracy” suggested by the organisation “New Europe” could very well be linked closely to the anniversary


·        Finally, a more symbolic initiative could be to re-name the Zaventem international airport in Brussels:  Brussels-Europe International Airport


Or the Monnet- Schuman Airport 


This would be a very visible contribution to the anniversary by the host country Belgium



Niels Jørgen Thøgersen


Rixensart, Belgium, May 2006

e-mail:  niels@skynet.be
About Interactive Communication

Getting People Involved

Lots of people complain about it. Very few do anything about it. Getting citizens involved in public life, in politics and even in European affairs. And involved for REAL.

The old fashioned way of throwing information at them, talking to them, telling them what to do: It's dead. It's over. People realise that. But communicators don't.

People are clever and interested in life - and have good intentions. But they have so many possibilities today on how to use their time that they avoid everything which does not interest them or seems irrelevant for them. And where they can't see how THEY can have their say.

The way ahead is to INVOLVE people. Involve them actively. In new initiatives. In changing existing things. In communicating to each other. In connecting to people with the same interests and points of view elsewhere. Also in other countries.

Today we have at our disposal all the necessary INTERACTIVE TOOLS to make that happen. The Web in all its forms is just one of them. Blogs, Vlogs, On-line Communities, Podcasting, Videocasting, SMS and MMS, VOIP telephony, Interactive Television, Digital Story-Telling, On-line Translations. And many many more. All very cheap and very userfriendly.

I am a specialist in the use of these new and stimulating tools. Let me know, if you want to know more.

The "European Communications Academy"
I am actively involved in creating:


The European Communications Academy

The European Communications Academy is a not for profit group hosted by the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) aimed at providing world class training and development for senior communications professionals working with the European Union institutions and member state governments.

The training programme will consist in a one week session combining 3 types of activities:

1) 8 half-day sessions each on a specific topic alternating presentations and co-operative activities

2) A number of evening on-site visits which will serve the double purpose of:

* Showing relevant realities of today's media and communication and

* Catalyse socialisation within the group

3) A sophisticated and innovative online system to facilitate and enrich exchange of experience and the characterization of good practices, while maintaining or enhancing bonds among participants, ideally even after the session

The first seminar will take place in May 2007.