Creating a content 'solar system' to strengthen the EU’s connection with citizens

Creating a content 'solar system' to strengthen the EU’s connection with citizens

Last time we looked at how citizens are consuming content differently and, as a result, a new approach is needed to reach them. Now, let’s take this further: What would this new way of communicating look like? And how could it overcome the challenges facing EU communicators today, namely the rise of populist narratives, the rapidly changing media landscape, and the flood of AI-generated misinformation?

Any new approach would need to be effective and cost efficient. This means that it’s time to accept that it’s impossible to reach out to all audiences through all media. Or to “go where the audience is” because they’re everywhere.

Instead, we should consider going back to “pull” strategies, as the “push” era is ending—or is becoming too overcrowded for us to compete in, due to volatile user-generated content that mainly focuses on what’s trending at the moment.

A new content ecosystem model

What if we did the following?

  • Create a centre point for EU communications, built around what citizens love: audiovisual content. This will be their single gateway to a wide spectrum of content that goes far beyond video, but it will start from this multi-sensory experience.
  • Include the right mix of content: both entertaining and practical content that goes beyond merely providing information.
  • Use both short and long content formats and keep “mobile first” in mind during design.

The advantage of this solar system model over existing ecosystems is that it has a clear centre, which guides the user as well as the content owner. Today, too many institutions—not least the EU—count on a series of communications channels that have all become equally important, but also all equally ephemeral. This is often the case for thematic-based campaigns that come and go, leaving little trace afterwards, and making it hard to capitalise on what has been achieved.

Every EU communications campaign should aspire to become part of this new ecosystem: adding value to the whole, rather than being a stand-alone page or small website as is often the case now.

Currently, when users arrive at a webpage, they typically get their information and then leave, leading to high bounce rates. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on the objective of the website, it’s often considered not the best use of budget. To combat this, and make good on the investment already made in the campaign, communicators tend to try to push people to other content on the site instead.

Creating sticky content within the content ecosystem

However, people don’t get lost on an EU website in the same way that they do on other channels. Think of the hours spent on YouTube, thanks to the suggested videos to watch next. Or on TikTok where the algorithm constantly tries to deliver variety, but within the topics in which you’re interested. The same applies to Twitch, Facebook videos, Pinterest, and Instagram.

As communicators, how can we recreate this kind of journey? One where users are happily “captive” and move through EU content sparked by questions or topics that are of interest or relevance to them.

Imagine if the EU could create its own gateway at the centre of a solar system of content: a genuinely central hub for the EU, taking a video-first approach, with other compelling content orbiting it.

Interested in the EU or any questions? That’s where users start. Seen a compelling message somewhere? They know where to find the information. Read an article or heard something that triggered their interest? Here is the place to look for answers.

Add strong user experience and intuitive navigation—making content accessible—and you have a place where users can lose track of time, absorbed in fresh EU content. Where they can discover the EU at their own pace and according to their own interest. And this expanding universe of content will eventually develop its own gravity, pulling users in.

A fresh approach like this would provide an attractive, accessible way to get information on the EU, replacing news sources like social media. It would enable citizens to get information first-hand from the institution itself, thereby reducing the risk of misinformation. Engaging content with proof-points placed front and centre would help demystify the EU and counteract the power of populist Eurosceptic narratives.

It would bring the EU closer to individual citizens and empower them to discover the EU at their own pace and time. It would also enable the EU to develop more and stronger communities, and encourage people to share their thoughts, ideas, and expectations.

Above all, it would be the embodiment of a new style of EU communication, showing it does understand its citizens’ needs and is committed to building connections with them—not just around election time, but consistently and effectively as part of their everyday lives.

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Meet the authors
  1. Geert Stox, Head of Strategy, ICF Next

    Geert is a strategic communications and brand management expert with more than 25 years of experience in global brands, innovation, and consumer behavior. View bio

  2. Elizabeth Tapper, Senior Content Designer and Strategist