BARCELONA--European Commission comms head Sixtine Bouygues today outlined the challenges that affect the organization's attempts to craft a strong European story, at the Holmes Report's ThinkTank Live conference in Barcelona.
Bouygues, who is director of strategy and corporate communication at the European Commission, told attendees that the sheer scale of Europe - 24 languages and 500m inhabitants - can make effective political communication a difficult task.
"One of our main assets is our diversity," said Bouygues. "Diversity is an asset but very often it turns into a challenge as well."
"It is a huge challenge to convey a message and tell stories to all these people," explained Bouygues. "Each has their own interests and their own differences. You have to segment your audience and target more precisely."
Bouygues also noted that "diversity of approach" can also pose problems, given the differing national agendas that also exist. "When something is not successful they have a tendency to say the scapegoat is Brussels," said Bougyues, adding that national government messaging can sometimes clash with Brussels.
While many specific EU policies have benefited people, Bouygues admitted that it can be difficult communicating when it comes to "macroeconomic issues". "It doesn't really have an impact on citizens."
And, said Bouygues, the diversity of communication channels adds another layer of complexity. "You can't have one-size fits all," said Bouygues, pointing out that different media preferences all for a localised approach.
Responding to a question from the floor, Bouygues said the most difficult story to tell is "the present one."
"What is difficult is that, with the context and crisis we are living in, it is difficult to tell happy stories about Europe and about the future of Europe," said Bouygues. "This is an ongoing challenge."