First impression: This looks interesting. A think tank pamphlet titled “What the EU Did Next -Short essays for a longer life” with a nice blog and prominent young writers. It is a good idea to promote a think tank pamphlet with a blog where authors and readers can discuss the ideas. The blog has a visual identity and looks fun and engaging. So far so good.
Second impression: Why is there no buzz, neither online nor offline? No comments, nothing! (to be fair: this is difficult after 1 day) But more importantly: Why have all essays been published on the same day? Why not play a bit more with the opportunities of social media? From a PR perspective this is a wasted opportunity. There are quire a few possibilities to create a buzz around your new publication on EU affairs. So what would I do if I was in charge of “What the EU did next” or something similar?
1. I would probably use ideasoneurope.eu or blogactiv.eu to host the blog as it will only have 12 blog posts – maybe with a bit of follow-up activity. It is quite difficult to make a new blog popular and if it is a project with a limited life span (and you don’t have an established think tank blog!), it makes more sense to use an established blogging platform to spread the word! Use the existing readership for maximum exposure.
2. Post one blog post every couple of days. That gives readers more time to read – and the debate usually focuses on one essay for a few days. Moreover, people look forward to the next piece and the project has the possibility to grow as readers tend to build up trust and recommend the content to others. Obviously you should only publish the pdf at the end of the blogging exercise!
3. Make sure that the authors will react to comments. And you should also try to motivate your think tank colleagues to post comments. Especially if you have a pamphlet with several authors! Commenting is an important part of blogging and think tanks should embrace this opportunity to start a debate online. After all, this is how you make your work known and increase your public profile as a “dynamic and modern” think tank.
4. Create a twitter account and ‘advertise’ your blog, start discussing your themes with others. I think twitter is much more useful than facebook to target the classic think tank audience. Journalists and decision makers are more likely to be on twitter than anwhere else. Especially if your project is a pamphlet with 12-essays, no need to create a facebook profile. But you could use the existing profiles of the respective think tanks to circulate your new publication!
5. Pitch some of the essays to media outlets. National media, European media, whoever is interested! Do some radio and TV interviews. (OK, to be fair, they might have done it, I just haven’t seen it! And the pamphlet was only published this week!)
6. Do all the classic think tank PR work but do mention your “innovative website” where “everyone can join the debate”. This is a no-brainer really: Conferences, events, mailing lists, cocktail parties etc. Maybe not only in your home town but also in Brussels, London, New York, Davos…depending on what you want to achieve and what kind of budget you have. If you don’t have a budget, why not organise a online conference or an online chat? This could also lead to some youtube videos that can easily be posted on the blog. Some people rather want to watch a debate or a lecture or listen to a podcast. The production of such content does not cost a lot of money.
I think think tanks can still learn a lot when it comes to social media/blogging and how to integrate it with the work they are doing. It can be useful to strengthen the public profile of a think tank and to increase your visibility. Very few European think tanks blog or tweet in strategic way. On bloggingportal there is a (incomplete) list of European think tanks that run a blog. On twitter it is a bit difficult to get an overview. An attempt to map think tanks has been made here but I have not found a list of EU think tanks or think tank staff.
But now I need to read the pamphlet. Let’s hope the content as interesting and engaging as the first impression of the blog!