The approval of every European-funded project is a big step and a relief for the partners. It precedes long months of hard work, writing and rewriting, discussing of content, indicators and budget, negotiations about co-financing, adjusting and translating. As former INTERREG manager I am well aware of the efforts that partners put into their project application!
1) A communication strategy that speaks the partners’ languages
Now that the project is approved, it is crucial to start with the communication about the project right away. The budget dedicated to this task is often on the side of the project leader. What we see is that the lead partner, under time pressure and for budgetary reasons, simply asks the Communication service to work out press releases and communication material - with its own corporate identity. The project partners will not be very happy with that and might have difficulties engaging their institution if the return on media attention is low. For the success of the cooperation with all partners, it is crucial to develop a communication strategy and a visual identity that speak the language of all partners in all regions.
2) Professional- right from start
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression! For the kick-off, you already need tools for the visibility of the project: logos, roll-ups for the press conference, a website. It may not seem like the most important place to start the project, but the European Commission and the program authorities look closely at this aspect, and starting with self-made or provisional communication tools can cost more money if they don’t comply with the rules of the program. Expenses for communication material with missing logos will not be subsidized by the program. Don’t hesitate to get professional support! It might even save money in the end.
3) More than just the right logos
The communication of your project is more than placing the right logos at the right place - although this is a very important issue when it comes to the eligibility of expenses. The communication should consist of more than a kick-off and the closure event. A sound communication strategy plans activities within the limits of the budget for the complete project duration of three years and ensures that the achieved results are communicated to the right target group via the right channels. Have you thought about using social media to promote your project goals? Is it handy to use English for your Facebook site although you address people in French- and German-speaking regions? And how come LinkedIn is not very common in Germany? Intercultural communication skills and good knowledge of the partner regions will be very useful for your successful project communication.
4) Local press releases
When organizing a press conference, attracting journalists from all concerned regions may prove difficult. Our experience is that press releases have to be adapted in language and according to cultural specificities, but also in content to get the attention of local media. Put the focus on the local partner and work closely with the communication services of the project partners. They have privileged contacts with the press. Use this leverage effect for your project!
5) Keep the steering wheel
As lead partner you are responsible for the good communication of the project. Get support to develop a sound communication strategy according to the objectives you fixed in the application form. When it is ready, present the strategy and the plan to the project consortium. It is important to have their adhesion and to adapt if needed, to ensure that cultural and linguistic specificities are met. After that consultation, partners have to trust you for the implementation of the communication strategy. Don’t lose time consulting everybody on the layout of a roll-up! Keep close contact with communication officers of the partner institutions, however, to make use of synergies when organizing events, sending out press releases, etc. Communication should be at the agenda of the partners meeting, but as lead partner, it’s on you to ensure that the communication strategy is implemented and the costs are kept within the limits of the budget.
This definitely sounds too complicated and you want to focus on the content of the project? Always keep in mind that good communication matters, because it’s the tool to prove to authorities that the public money they put into the project was a good placement. It will also help you when applying for the next funding.
You need help? We know best about the challenges and the complex rules of European project communication! With our multilingual team, we support you in telling the success story of your INTERREG project!