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2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday October 31, 2012

At a Glance: Europeana Awareness PR Campaigns

Europeana Awareness is an important element of Europeana, involving 48 partners across 30 countries. Its chief aim is to publicise and promote Europeana by developing new partnerships and distribution channels.

Europeana Awareness aims to run PR (public relations) campaigns in all 30 countries over three years. These campaigns can stand alone or be linked to others. They can be unique or repeat a topic used in another campaign, as appropriate for each country.

Several countries have so far chosen to link in with the Europeana 1914-1918 project and run family history roadshows related to World War One.

This blog provides a brief insight into some of the behind-the-scenes work needed to put on a family history roadshow, taking the next event – Banbury, UK, 3 November - as an example.

Promotional poster for Banbury Family History Roadshow

The Banbury roadshow is part of a wider range of events organised by the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum to commemorate World War One, including a school event giving pupils the opportunity to explore WW1 collections, talk to historians and bring in their families’ objects, and events for the elderly at care homes.

Eleanor Kenny, European Campaign Manager for Europeana, leads all of the campaigns, working with Europeana Office colleagues and a range of partners. Some partners have worked on roadshows before (Oxford University, Facts & Files), others are specific to UK roadshows (British Library, JISC), while others are only involved in the Banbury roadshow (Banbury Museum, Cherwell Council).  

That’s a lot of partners, organisations and people to keep in the loop. To keep things running smoothly, it’s important to keep communications open and clear, and for tasks and responsibilities to be well-defined.

Throughout the campaign process, we must keep in mind the key goal of raising awareness of Europeana. As a measure of this, we record all press mentions of the campaign in a document which will ultimately form part of the project’s official report to the European Commission.

The emphasis on press coverage must, however, be balanced with the other main goal of the roadshow – recording family stories of WW1. For the people bringing their objects to the event, telling their families’ personal stories to strangers can be an emotional experience and so must be managed respectfully.

Waiting area at the Dublin Family History Roadshow

Many tasks are repeated from one roadshow to the next, and indeed are transferable to other types of events and campaigns. As a result, we’ve established procedures and materials for many activities, a key example being the important training days for technical staff who digitise material on the day. Other examples from a communications point of view include:
•    Choosing and briefing a PR agency.
•    Designing and printing promotional collateral using a template tailored for the particular location.
•    Identifying, photographing and writing up local case studies for promotion. (Read Banbury case studies at europeana1914-1918.eu.)
•    Producing and circulating strategic press plans, idenitifying key messages and objectives.
•    Preparing and distributing press releases to all local media to achieve coverage encouraging the public to attend. (Read the Banbury press release and a selection of resulting coverage.)
•    Holding a press launch 1-2 weeks before the event. Print, radio and TV journalists are provided with a wealth of information, including promotional material, press releases, case studies and broadcast-quality film.
•    Using and encouraging partners to use social media to promote the event and key messages. (Follow @Europeana1914 on Twitter)

Chloe Coules' story was chosen as a case study for the Banbury Family History Roadshow. Here, she holds WW1 medals and a cap badge belonging to her great-great-grandfathers.

On the day of the roadshow, all partners are on hand to play their part, whether it’s recording people’s oral stories, digitising their objects, or managing the photographers and TV crews there to record the day. If the previous media work has gone well, there will be a queue of people waiting at the door but until the day itself, we can never really know what the response will be.

And of course, with a target of 30 campaigns over three years, we’re not just dealing with one event at a time, and that is where Europeana Awareness as a best-practice network comes in. At meetings like the WP1 meeting in Berlin on 26 November, partners in similar roles in different countries come together and learn from the experiences that have gone before, sharing ideas, documentation and lessons learned.

The promotion and results of the WW1 family  history roadshows benefit not only Europeana Awareness and Europeana 1914-1918, but also other related WW1 projects Europeana Collections 1914-1918 and European Film Gateway 1914.

So, what’s the real key to achieving success in a Europeana Awareness PR campaign? It has to be team work. Thank you to those who have worked with us so far, we couldn’t do it without you.

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