European Mobility Week 2010 Goes Digital to Get People Walking, Biking and Smiling
Planning is now in works for the annual European Mobility Week 2010 to take place September 16-22, and this year’s campaign will see an increasing promotional use of social media by cities across Europe who are embracing digital media to tell stories about how they are reducing use of motorized transport.
This week I visited Brussels, to present ideas to the public relations campaign managers for the cities involved with European Mobility Week about how they can increase presence online through social media tools. Joined by other trainers from Pinnacle PR, we helped 80 representatives better understand how to use online tools to engage people and encourage them to bike or walk rather than use a car. Many cities across Europe participating in the campaign host car-free days in city centres, celebrating with pedestrian-friendly events that draw crowds of thousands.
As part of the 2010 campaign, the organizers are busy planning events and promotions that will increasingly see encouragement and use of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube, and blogging, to showcase what happens during the week, and increase resident’s participation. Andrew Manasseh, Managing Director of Pinnacle PR’s Brussels office, talked about how the online media landscape has changed the rules of how government engages with people, and presents opportunity to embrace new practices that involve and help two-way conversations happen. He talked about how using online tools show that an organisation is transparent and open to listening to what people have to say.
Incredible examples demonstrate how powerful online communication tools can be, with the recent events of the earthquake in Haiti illustrating how social media helped raise funds, quickly. Other examples presented are the efforts of the World Health Organization’s World Health Day 2010′s campaign of 1000 Cities, 1000 Lives, that is using digital media to tell stories from urban health champions. In one example, a young boy from Japan started a campaign to stop people smoking in public places, to combat asthma problems. His story is posted in YouTube videos.
While the tools are available, free, and relatively easy to use, participants did express concern about how to manage and provide enough time to orchestrate an online campaign, in addition to running traditional media promotions. This is an increasing question private and public companies have, and many are now assigning new roles in communication departments of Social Media Managers, to focus on the many elements an online campaign requires. In some cases, marketing and communication departments are increasingly assigning members of staff, or even teams, to manage social media. Some companies are hiring in specialty social media agencies to manage the effort. To run a successful campaign, it does take planning and dedicated professional staff to be given authority and time to manage all the elements of online communications. Running an online communications campaign can also require a change in organizational culture, transforming the internal process for how messages are shared from just talking at people, to inviting people to talk back by sharing opinions through tweeting, leaving comments on blog posts and uploading videos to YouTube.
European Mobility Week is a terrific opportunity for municipalities across Europe to embrace online communication tools, and already you can see photos on Flickr, connect on Facebook, watch videos on YouTube, and see people tweeting about the campaign on Twitter. It will be interesting to see how this campaign grows momentum online, and to look for the pictures of people smiling as they enjoy their home city on car-free days.
Glad to share digital media knowledge with people from throughout Europe,