On October 4 and 5, our colleagues at Belnet, the Belgian NREN, hosted a hybrid meeting of the Special Interest Group on Marketing and Communications. It was wonderful to be again face to face with some of the participants, after more than two years of online meetings!
The meeting lasted one day and a half and was filled with interactive conversations, insightful examples of marcomms practices on social media and lots of sneak peeks of ongoing and future re-branding projects!
The first day started with a face to face workshop led by GÉANT Senior Graphic and Motion Designer, Andrea Meloni. Andrea walked the audience through the key steps of planning, designing and recording a video interview and assigned the participants the task of recreating the explained process and record an interview on the theme of “The value of the Community Programme”. It was really fascinating to see how the three groups interpreted the instructions, came up with questions to ask during the interview and also chose the location for their video.
Pictures taken during the workshop in Brussels.
Before the online participants dialled in, the group in Brussels took a tour of the Belnet premises and enjoyed the incredible view of the city from the 26th floor of the building!
The first two sessions of the hybrid meeting focused on the theme of social media campaigns. First up some Marjolein Oorsprong from PRACE. She presented their various communications channels and the campaign that was just launched earlier this week with the hashtags #triviaTuesday, #throwbackThursday and #PRACEswag! Great hashtags to motivate the community of followers to share their memories of PRACE events. Also on the topic of addressing the audience on social media and customise content for different targets to increase engagement, Ariela Herček from ARNES presented how the Slovenian NREN uses different strategies for the general audience, users and institutions, and researches. It was great to see practical examples of posts like their “reading Thursday”.
Delivering the right message on social media with the right words and appealing visuals and at the right time is crucial but yet not easy. We see that NRENs and institutions all have their own way of communicating with their audiences, but are there some rules to follow? Olga Popcova from RENAM, the Moldavian NREN, shared a thought-provoking presentation on her own subjective view of “do’s” and “dont’s” on social media. And Louise Karungi from RENU, the Research and Education Network of Uganda, showed us the “behind the scenes” of their social media campaigns and the techniques her and her team use to drive the number of likes and shares up! After a discussion of good and bad practices on social media, the group concluded that it is key to “give the users what they like”, which means customising your content and how you present it across your platform to the audience you want to target. For example, RENU mainly targets students, which means promoting their initiatives on students’ platforms, involving local influencers, and also giveaways!
On day two, the group in Brussels reconnected with the online participants to discuss the differences across marcomms teams in the NREN world. It was interesting to see that it is not only the number of people in the team that changes (with even some one-person teams!) but also the tasks covered: marketing, external and internal communications, CRM, events, graphic design, etc. The discussion complemented a survey which was run by the Brazilian NREN, RNP, and saw the participation of 24 regional and national RENs. Similarly to what was shared during the meeting, the survey showcases not only how differently marcomms responsibilities are distributed across the organisation’s chart but also shared challenges, such as implementing a user-centred approach to increase service use and satisfaction, and a general lack of time and resources especially in small teams with many responsibilities.
The discussion continued on branding. Being such a wide topic, the presentations and the conversations included examples and questions about NREN brand management, HR recruitment campaigns and employer branding as well as the project branding of EOSC in Georgia. Christine Glaser from Restena, the NREN in Luxembourg, shared the process of going from RESTENA to Restena, which was definitely more complex than a simple name change! The rebranding meant strengthening the main brand and promoting all activities under the same name and a more recognisable logo.
The audience also had a sneak peak of the Belnet’s new corporate video. The Belgian NREN is going through a process of employer rebranding with the aim of highlighting the NREN as an attractive employer with a societal role, increasing the inflow of qualitative applicants and also giving the company a face. The last two presentations were delivered by Barbara Carroll (HEAnet) about exciting new changes to the Irish NREN and Tamara Gvenetadze from GRENA in Georgia, who showed the audience some examples of branding and local promotion the EOSC project.
Overall, the meeting was full interesting and insightful talks, ideas shared and of inputs to take home! We would like to thank the meeting host, Belnet, which successfully organised a seamless hybrid meeting.
Next step: Kajaani, Finland – 21-22 February! hosted by CSC
To learn more about SIG-Marcomms and its activities, visit the group’s wiki page.