Stratcom Summit 2021: ‘Do not leave information vacuums’

Experts discuss features of a successful communications strategy, suggesting ‘diversity in producing engaging content’.

Stratcom Summit 2021: ‘Do not leave information vacuums’

Leave aside prejudice but do not leave information vacuums and for a good communications strategy, produce “engaging and evergreen content", experts said on Sunday.

“We need to remove our biases; there is an important role of diversity of data, approach, analysis, and analysts,” said Ben Page, the CEO of Ipsos, French-based multinational market research and consulting firm.

Page was virtually addressing the Strategic Communications Summit 2021, hosted by Turkey’s Communications Directorate in the Turkish metropolis Istanbul.

“Focus on key things that drives perception,” Page urged, adding that communications “can change people’s perception.”

Warning that the online environment “threatens our view of reality at a new scale,” he said: “Do not leave information vacuums where people get educated through one-sided perspectives.”

“Be part of the public conversation and understand what to focus on and what to ignore,” he said, adding that opinion polls “remain the best way to understand the public mood.”

Ben said the research helps understand “how people are making decisions.”

On fake news, he said it was better to “get used to living with uncertainty. For example, COVID-19.”

Page said it was important to “understand the channels that are used by different audiences and the measures that work.” “Stick to them,” he insisted, suggesting “simplicity and consistency” in the approach.

‘Create engaging content’

Miklos Gaspar, head of digital media and public information at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), discussed how his office is “communicating nuclear topics” to laypeople.

Nuclear power “is a technical topic… some people like it, some people don’t care (because) they’re not aware of the nuclear potential,” said Gaspar, adding that a quarter of total electricity generated across the world today comes from nuclear sources.

He said digital has become the primary method of communication for the IAEA to “let people see all the potential of nuclear.”

Through its website and social media accounts, the IAEA reaches “about 6 million a month,” said Gaspar, adding that this “is more than five times we would do few years ago.”

“To catch, grab and keep the attention of people who are not interested in your topic, you need to be innovative in terms of content creation and also distribution mechanisms,” he said.

He said it was necessary to make websites “search engine optimized… in fact, hyper search engine optimized both in terms of the content.”

“We also make sure we are compatible with the evolving algorithm of Google and other search engines.”

Gaspar said the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction RT-PCR, which has almost become a household term due to COVID-19, “is actually a nuclear-derived technology.”

“The IAEA has been helping countries for decades to use PCR to detect viruses,” he said.

When the pandemic began, Gaspar said: “The IAEA put out an article explaining how the RT-PCR works … And it got us 1.3 million new visitors.”

“But it’s not enough to optimize for search engines,” he added, urging the use of “simple language, infographics, videos and embed them in the story,” as these factors will make them “evergreen,” he added.

He said times are changing and now is the time when “we use social media first content strategy.”

Gaspar also suggested producing content that is not specifically about one’s organization, saying: “We produce one-third of our content that is not about the IAEA but is about nuclear.”

Another way to increase engagement, he said, is working with other organizations and “cross-sharing our posts.”

Turkey this weekend is hosting Stratcom 2021, an international gathering to address compelling policies, issues, challenges, and trends of the strategic communication ecosystem.

The two-day summit brought together 112 speakers from over 30 countries and a distinguished audience of over 3,000.

Topics tackled at the summit include strategic communication, public diplomacy, digital diplomacy, the metaverse, nation branding, disinformation, new media, open intelligence, new communication technologies and trends, strategic marketing, and political communication.

Hüseyin Demir

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