Jean Monnet Open Online Course of European Integration: Strategic Communications

EU leaders are increasingly concerned about the destabilising effect of what they consider coherent hostile strategic communications campaigns sponsored by foreign powers. But communication campaigns aimed at mobilising the public in order to influence EU policy-makers are neither new nor exclusive of foreign governments. So-called grassroots lobbying tactics, like organising public events and launching media campaigns, despite being largely discredited, are very important in granting interest groups access to EU decision-makers. Besides, the EU and its allies are not mere passive targets of strategic communications, and run their own information campaigns, both domestically and internationally. Finally, social media have disrupted traditional communication channels and created new opportunities and threats for EU strategic communications, highlighting the importance of influencers and brand advocates, but also creating new challenges for data privacy, which require critical analytical skills to detect deceptive manipulation campaigns and protect your data.

This course is aimed at students with an interest in strategic communications but little to no previous specialized knowledge of the EU or the management of social media campaigns. It has three main goals. First, it aims to offer a brief introduction to EU policy and policy-making, as well as the tools necessary to acquire information about the EU and analyze it critically. Second, it stresses how, in the EU, as in other democratic political systems, policy-makers are heavily influenced by public opinion, and private and public, domestic and foreign, interests try to mobilise the public through strategic communication campaigns with the ultimate goal of influencing policy makers. Finally, the course aims to prepare students for the new opportunities and threats that social media have created for EU strategic communications, includind data privacy issues. It offers some practical training in agile project management, as well as power tips for those who want to become influencers in the digital age. Whether you are interested in advocating the interests of EU farmers, fighting corruption in Romania, or promoting peace in Ukraine, this course will equip you with the tools you need to be able to rock the social media.

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Methodology: 
This course will be based on synchronous web conferences (Mondays at 11.30 EET and Fridays at 18.00 EET), asynchronous online-only discussions, and an agile team project carried out during the whole semester.
Topics: 
1. The basics of strategic communication: definition, goals, stages, elements: audience, messages, channels, speakers and time. 2. How to manage your strategic communications campaign: introduction to Agile project management. 3. Positive models of the EU: introduction to the scientific method. 4. The single market, the euro, and other efficiency policies: competition, transport, environment, fisheries. 5. The EU budget and redistributive policies: common agricultural policy, regional policy. 6. External relations: immigration, trade, and other foreign policies. 7. EU policy making. Legislative politics: agendas and vetoes. Executive and judicial politics: principals and agents. 8. The citizen connection: public opinion, elections and interest representation in the EU. 9. Outside lobbying: public opinion and interest group strategies in the EU. 10. Government-sponsored strategic communications: Russia, ISIL, the US, and the EU. 11. Power tips for EU strategic communications in the social media: how to optimise your profile, feed the content monster, perfect your posts, and respond to comments. How to integrate social media and blogging, get more followers, socialise events, run Google+ Hangouts on Air, rock a twitter chat, avoid looking clueless, and optimise for individual platforms. 12. Measuring value in strategic communications campaigns: social media, public opinion and political metrics. 13. The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 14. Project result presentations.
Indicative reading: 

Hix, S., & Høyland, B. (2011). The political system of the European Union. Palgrave Macmillan; Kollman, K. (1998). Outside lobbying: Public opinion and interest group strategies. Princeton University Press; Greenwood, J. (2017). Interest representation in the European Union. Palgrave; Chalmers, A. W. (2013). Trading information for access: informational lobbying strategies and interest group access to the European Union. Journal of European Public Policy, 20(1), 39-58; European Union Institute for Security Studies (2016). EU strategic communications with a view to counteracting propaganda. European Parliament. Kawasaki, G., & Fitzpatrick, P. (2014). The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users. Penguin; Hlavac, R. (2014). Social IMC Social Strategies with Bottom-Line ROI; Poston, L. (2012). Social Media Metrics for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons.

Coordinators: 
Live dates: 
Monday, 3 September, 2018 to Friday, 21 December, 2018