2014: was it different this time? A company perspective

This time it’s different.

With this slogan, the European Parliament made it clear: the 2014 European elections would give citizens unprecedented power in determining the future leader and direction of the European Union.

With the appointment of victorious Spitzenkandidat Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission, these elections were different and took some by surprise.

But that was not all.

The role of social media during the European election campaigns has already been the subject of numerous articles. Candidates, political parties and the EU institutions have used social media to mobilise voters in what has been labelled as the first digital European election campaign.

Apart from political actors, non-governmental organisations have also used online media to mobilise their supporters and communicate their appeals, manifestos and policy priorities.

Business has been less conspicuous on social media regarding the European elections. Of course, companies and industry groupings have prepared positions and wish-lists of EU policy priorities. Published on websites as manifestos or reports, these tended to remain fairly static. Platforms such as Twitter were used to broadcast these documents, but were followed by relatively little interaction.

Another approach was taken by 3M, a global technology company. Given the importance of Europe as a regulator and market for their products the company decided that it was important to raise the awareness of its Europe-based employees – who number nearly 20,000 – about the elections.

To help changes perception that the EU is distant and anonymous, 3M produced the “Why Europe” initiative.

 

In a series of three videos, five Members of the European Parliament from the main political groups spoke to 3M staff about the importance of Europe. The videos were shared with employees in the run up to the elections and made available on 3M’s YouTube channel.

Our colleagues across the region welcomed these ‘Why Europe?’ videos as an engaging way of informing them about the elections, as well showing 3M to be a responsible company.

The 3M initiative demonstrates the commitment of a major company to the European project.

“In times of rising euroscepticism, communicating about Europe cannot be left solely to governments and politicians. It does require an effort by those who stand to gain from integration. We at 3M have an interest in a well-functioning European Union and therefore as a company and corporate citizen, also have a responsibility to raise people’s awareness”, said Patrick DeConinck, 3M’s President for Europe.

Do you know of other examples of stakeholder engagement with the EP2014 elections? Please let us know.

Maxime Bureau – Director Government & Public Affairs, Europe, 3M