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How to communicate in the European Parliament? Latvian experience

Have you ever thought about the differences how the national parliaments of member states and the European Parliament communicate to public? Aren’t aims and challenges the same? After working a couple of years on the behalf of the Latvian Parliament now I have had opportunity to explore my understanding about communication culture here in Brussels.

In one month I visited or participated in the work of all DG Communication Units – the Web Communication Unit, the Press Service, the Audiovisual Unit, the Media Services and Monitoring Unit and the Europarl TV Unit. What are my main conclusions? The European Parliament’s communication policy is certainly following the new challenges of information era. During the last year it has become more active than ever to respond to all the new requirements by using such new communication tools as Web-TV, Facebook and Twitter. The European Parliament provides all kind of information (written, oral, audiovisual and web) on the EU matters in all official EU languages. So no doubts – wonderful work is done here.

They say here they want to reach their "Latvian Grandmother" - well here the Speaker of the Latvian Parliament (and my boss), Gundars Daudze, shows how it's done! - from Saeimas Flickr page

Also in Latvia we’ve learned the lesson of information revolution and widely opened the door of the Latvian Parliament to the new media. We started to use Twitter in August 2009 and for the moment we have more than 1200 followers (it is remarkable achievement for Latvia). We have put a lot of effort to develop Youtube and Flickr account. But the question probably remains the same as for the European Parliament – how to sell this all these good products that we produce to the general public?

There is no simple answer to this question. But in my view one thing should be done for sure. There is a need to explore internal communication between the different units of the European Parliament. We cannot expect people to know and use all these wonderful products if even our colleagues from the third and fourth floor have only a remote idea about our work. In my opinion this is the general problem in all public institutions, in Latvia as well. We could ask a question in the Latvian Parliament – how many of you know that for almost a year the Parliament is in Twitter? And presumably not even a one sixth of all staff would be informed.

I understand that for such a huge institutional body as European Parliament to make it happen is even more complex task but still it’s worth trying. Only by working as one united body one can expect better results.

I want to thank all the people who were involved in my education process here in Brussels. I was positively impressed about the things you’ve done in a couple last years. And hopefully I will be able to take this good experience to Latvia.

Lāsma Lapinska

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