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EUROPEAN UNION DELEGATION IN GEORGIA MEDIA COMMUNICATION OF KEY PUBLIC OUTREACH EVENTS

Nino Abdaladze


European Union Delegation in Georgia Media Communication of Key Public Outreach Events

Nino Abdaladze



Maia Mikashavidze

 

June, 2017

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Introduction 2

Chapter 2. Literature Review 6

2.1 News media coverage 7

2.2 Events as publicity tools 9

2.3 Potential of social media for public outreach 10

2.4 Four models of public relations as theoretical framework 13

Chapter 3. Methodology 14

Chapter 4. Results 18

4.1 Descriptive 18

4.2 Analysis 21

4.3 Discussion 27

Conclusion 30

References 31






Chapter 1. Introduction

The European Union and its member states have been active in Georgia since the first days of country’s independence from the Soviet Union. The European Union established a permanent diplomatic representation – the Delegation – some 12 years ago. Since then the Delegation has been promoting the political and economic development in our country by maintaining relations with governmental and non-governmental institutions, businesses, and citizens. The EU highly supports territorial integrity of Georgia and plays an important role in conflict resolution and peace building when it comes to occupied territories. (www.eeas.europa.eu).

Throughout the years EU has implemented various developmental of projects aimed at supporting population groups, such as farmers, elderly, youth, women, and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Hundreds of people have benefited from the EU initiatives in all the regions of Georgia. Nowadays the delegation finances about hundred ongoing projects in the entire country focused on empowering vulnerable groups of people (www.euforgeorgia.ge).

Major part of the Delegation’s engagement with Georgia has been awareness building about the EU and its values. Raising awareness of the EU, its institutions, values, and practices among Georgian citizens is an important aspect of European Union Delegation’s mission in Georgia. These goals are achieved through effective public diplomacy and strategic communication. “Public diplomacy encompasses a number of elements from advocacy and public persuasion, usually aimed at media and policy-makers, to the kind of basic information provision that is carried out via the internet, social media platforms,...” (Information and communication handbook for EU Delegations in third countries and to international organizations, 2012, p. 3)

The communication campaign “Let’s Meet Europe” started in 2011 and is funded by EU Delegation in Georgia. The campaign aims to raise awareness in Georgian society about cooperation with the EU. During recent years “Let’s Meet Europe” has conducted different activities thought Georgia. One of them being informational meetings at regional schools aimed to involve more young people in the work of EU. (http://agenda.ge/news/38200/eng)

The EU delegation in Georgia has set up its local communication strategy according to local context to promote EU regional priorities. The Delegation utilizes various communication platforms to engage audiences. These include traditional media, such as TV, radio, newspapers, but also new media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and blogs. The goal of the communication is primarily informing and engaging audiences about the EU and its institutions as well as about the policies and projects of the EU in Georgia. It is the EU’s approach that “Online and offline, people are changing the world”. (Information and communication handbook for EU Delegations in third countries and to international organizations, 2012).

One of the key elements of the strategy has been online communication with diverse audiences via the Delegation’s official website and Facebook page. Since social media is a commonly used environment for citizens, journalists, stakeholders and the government, utilizing social media channels is crucial. It is also important to utilize the full potential of social networks by engaging in both one-directional and two-way communication. The latter is especially effective, since the effectiveness and accuracy of the communication is proven to depends on two way flow of information. In other words, it’s important that the sender receive a feedback from the audience and maintain interactive communication.

The main goal of the project is to research how EU Delegation in Georgian is using different online platforms for raising awareness about EU and its values, and programs during the key public outreach events, such as the EU Day and the EU Prize for Journalism. The study will focus on the nature of communication, specifically if communication channels are used for interactive communication with target audiences or whether the communication is primarily one-way information transfer.

For the research, the author has chosen to analyze EU Delegation’s online communication prior, during, and after two key public diplomacy events: a) the European Day celebrated on May 6, 2016; and b) EU Prize in Journalism awarded on February 14, 2017. These events were used to reach large audiences with key EU messages and they are part of annual informational campaign “Lets Meet Europe”.

The European Days have been celebrated in Georgia for several years. The EU Delegation, together with the embassies of Member States, organizes a series of cultural, educational and entertaining events throughout the country. The key event of month-long celebrations is the EU Day. Since the celebration is open to public, it’s a great opportunity for the EU and its Member States to present their activities through direct communication. They can reach a broad audience, as well as raise the awareness among the society about their work and offered opportunities. (http://europeandays.ge)

Since free journalism is an important pillar of the European democracy, the EU has been running “EU Prize in Journalism” to support professional and ethical journalism in Georgia. The rules of the competition have been formed based on the principles of the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics and encourage establishment of ethical standards in modern journalism. In 2016 there were 7 different categories giving opportunity to many journalists with different specialties to apply. Apart from financial support, the prize pushes journalists to continue their work with more passion.

In the following chapters, we’ll review literature on strategic communication and one- and two-way communication models, outline methodology and the scope of research, present results and discuss them, highlighting key findings.

Chapter 2. Literature review

There is a body of literature that discusses European Union’s communication strategies. Most research focuses on how the EU is represented in the media, and how the media affect public perception of the EU and its policies.  These studies are built on the assumption that the European Union is built on shared identity and values, and the level of integration and ties between the member states. The strength of the European Union highly depends on construction of the common European identity. By the same logic, the standing of the European Union in its immediate neighborhood, and, in general, in the world, depends on the awareness and positive attitudes towards the European values, institutions, policies, and actions. In other words, the more the country identifies with the EU and embraces its values, the better its attitudes towards the EU, and, in the case of European Union integration aspirants, the higher the chance of the country’s eventual integration with the European Union (Triga & Vadratsikas, 2016).

In 2005, the EU institutions decided to improve channels of communication, including by establishing better relations with the news media (European Commission, 2005). As the official communication of the European Union asserts, through support of local media the reputation of the EU institutions grows. (European Commission, 2005). Raising awareness about EU and its values and constructing the European identity became the key goals of the EU communication strategies, including in the neighbourhood countries, such as Georgia.

2.1 News Media Coverage

From 1970s the media coverage of European Union politics has been studied by number of researchers. (Guzek; 2013) News coverage and relations with the traditional media – TV, radio, newspapers -- are at the heart of the European Union’s outreach strategies. Current mass media are believed to have an effect on the cohesion and integration within the EU. As Follesdal and Hix put it (2005), the future of the European integration is dependent on the publicity through mass media. Jürgen and Rittberger (2008) underline the fact that because ordinary citizens do not have “firsthand experience of the EU”, they depend on information in mass media. (Jürgen & Rittberger, 2008, p. 4) Boomgaarden (2010) also suggests that news coverage about EU can potentially have a strong influence on citizens and engage them in matters of European integration. Olausson (2010) agrees that news media and their representation of the European Union highly influence the perceptions and processes in the European Union. The same idea is voiced by Valentini (2007), who suggests that the quantity and quality of information reported in national news media partially determines the audience’s engagement with the EU (Valentini, 2007).

There are many factors that affect news coverage of the Euroepan Union, which include structural and cultural factors. Journalistic values and practices are among these factors. According to Triga and Vadratsikas (2016), a body of literature about the media coverage of the EU focuses on how journalistic practices, professional norms and choices influence citizens’ perception of EU. (Triga & Vadratsikas; 2016) Scholars name agenda-setting, framing and priming as three main tools that the media use to shape public opinion.

Media decide what becomes visible to a broader audience, the recipients. Whether media coverage represents EU positively or as a dysfunctional institution influences the European Union’s perception by the public and support it gets from citizens (Maier, 2011). The idea is seconded by Valentini (2007), who suggests that the “availability of reliable information about the EU is a pre-condition for the establishment of knowledge of the EU” (Valentini, 2007, p. 2).

The decisions about what to show are made by newsmakers, who obviously cannot report on a great number of events (Chaban, 2009). Which EU-related stories are being covered and how much prominence they are given has an influence on the society’s perceptions (Chaban, 2009). Therefore, the EU, through its institutions and delegations in various countries try to make sure that their key events are covered by top media organizations.

Valentini (2007) stresses that the frequency of coverage of EU news depends on the type of relationships between the journalists and EU delegation bodies. The scholar states that such relationships are a big problem in some countries, e.g. Finland and Italy. According to the scholar, with the help of media relations public institutions create “climate of trust and transparency necessary for establishing good and mutual relationships with journalists” (Valentini, 2007, p.11).



2.2 Events as Publicity Tool

While some scholars (Boomgardeen et al, 2010) claim that EU visibility in news is increasing, others, such as Kandyla and De Vreese (2011), argue that the EU gets significant media coverage during key events, such as European elections, referendums, and summits, but remains almost invisible on a regular basis. Boomgardeen and colleagues (2010) agree that various EU events typically draw more attention from the news media, but did not offer conclusive evidence as to what kinds of events would positively affect EU’s visibility in the media (Boomgardeen et. al. 2010). The scholars list several types of events that can increase the news coverage of EU. One type of events that routinely draw attention of the news media and the public are EU-related national celebrations and events (Boomgardeen et. al. 2010).

Theaker (2012) also suggests that organizing events are important as the EU Delegations strive to earn visibility in the media. The scholar (Theaker, 2012) advises PR practitioners to know how to tell stories, what stories are newsworthy, and how story development opportunities are created. One of the techniques includes organizing milestone events, such as launches, anniversaries and other types of celebrations (Theaker, 2012). When it comes to Georgia EU Days and EU Prize in Journalism are the key events organized by the delegation. To sum up, for publicity in the media information dissemination – a routine practice at the European Union Delegations, -- is not enough and should be supplanted by events.

 

2.3 Potential of Social Media for Public Outreach

In recent years, social media has become one of the most important tool for communication and spreading information. The potential of social media has been studied during the last decade, parallel to the massive growth in Internet use (Grunig, 2009).

Scholars agree that social media have become an essential component for the public communication strategy. They allow public relations practitioners to not only deliver the information and reach the target audience, but also enable a two-way communication and receive the feedback (Bjola & Jiang, 2015).

The way organizations use social media channels often influence their successful development. The effectiveness of social media highly depends on of how the people in charge use and administer it. (Piechowicz, 2017) It is highly important to recognise the key audience and its expectations, in order to create messages and develop communication strategies to reach these audience through social media channels (Piechowicz, 2017) Çömlekçi and Güney (2016) outline that EU social media strategy includes not only informing people, but communicating with them. “Enhancing interaction with citizens via social media and finding better ways (videos, graphics, humor… etc.) to communicate with young social media users are key components of this strategy.” (Çömlekçi and Güney, 2016, p. 3)

Davies (2014) suggests that in democratic regimes, social media can be used by powerful institutions and the government to involve citizens in the decision-making process. Çömlekçi and Güney (2016) conclude that institutions like EU use social media for two main reasons. Firstly, inform and communicate with citizens and understand their needs through the feedback. Secondly, maintain diplomatic relationships with other institutions or governments.

Since interactivity has been the one of the key characteristics of social media (Lister, 2009), full potential of social media for informing and engaging the public cannot be utilized without strengthening the elements of two-way communication in the social media outreach.. From 2014, EU has been working on its strategy to establish two-way communication in order to “switch from information - oriented to communication-oriented sort of interaction” (Çömlekçi & Güney, 2016, p. 4). As early as in 1998, Kent and Taylor underlined the potential of the web in dialogic communication (Nordstrom, 2012) They also believed that, not the technology itself, but how it was used would create the environment for dialogue between the organization and its public (Nordstrom, 2012). Effective usage of social media increases public’s engagement and instead of one-way flow of information, creates space for dialogue and discussion. (Melissen, 2005). The time when public diplomacy and communication strategy was monologue-based is long gone. Now it should facilitate a two-way communication and collaboration between different parties. (Cowan & Arsenault, 2008). When an organization contributes to full engagement in its global or local community, it opens up broader perspectives for decision-making process. Additionally, using dialogic communication allows the organizations to improve its effectiveness based on public’s feedback (Kent & Taylor, 2002).

James Grunig (2009) has recently applied his four models of public relations to social media-based communication. He states that social media -- used to their full potential -- can provide public relations with more two-way, interactive, global, strategic, and socially responsible approach.  When it comes to the Internet and especially social networks, they enable two-way communication and contribute to the effective relationships. Kanol and others also underline the social media’s ability to exchange user-generated content and have a two-way communication with the public on real time basis. (Kanol et.al. 2017)

Despite the great potential of social media, organizations and practitioners are rarely utilizing social media resources in full. Grunig (2009) suggests that sometimes new media are used the same way and for the same purpose as the old, legacy media: for one-way transfer of messages to the public. The opportunity of interaction, discussion and engagement in decision-making process is often neglected (Grunig, 2009).




2.4 Four Models of Public Relations as a Theoretical Framework

James E. Grunig and Todd Hunt (1984) established four models of public relations, each based either one-way or two-way communication. These models are: press agentry/publicity, public information, two-way asymmetrical and two-way symmetrical. The first two models use one-way communication with public. Press agentry/publicity uses propagandistic approach to get media attention. The public information model represents how organizations spread accurate information, but neglect the negative part of it. Two-way asymmetrical public relations uses research and searches for messages to get the support of the public and do not change the organization’s behaviour. (Grunig et al., 1995) Two-way symmetrical public relations focuses on dialogic approach and mutual understanding between the organization and the public (Nordström, 2012). James Grunig defines the model the following way: “Two-way, symmetrical public relations uses research, listening, and dialogue to manage conflict and to cultivate relationships with both internal and external strategic publics...” (Grunig, 2009, pg.2)






Chapter 3. Methodology

Hypotheses and Research Questions:

Based on the literature review and general observation of the subject, the following hypothesis was formed:

H1: EU Delegation in Georgia uses Facebook for one-way communication rather than two-way, dialogic communication with users.

The study also posed these research questions:

RQ1: How frequently is the EU Delegation engaging the public in the social media?

RQ2: What kinds of posts get the most interaction (two-way communication) from the users in EU’s social media outreach?

RQ3: How frequently is the EU Delegation informing the public through traditional media?

Types of Research and Data Collection

Because of the significance of the topic, the author decided to do two types of research and combine the final results to have a broader picture of the subject.

Content Analysis of TV Coverage of the EU Events

Firstly, the study has analyzed the content of traditional media outlets, that is, of TV stations. The study, which is focused on the EU Delegation’s communication around key events, will examine the coverage of “European Days” and “EU Prize for Journalism”. The data will be collected from the database of Georgian media operated by the sociological research agency IPM. The data was obtained through the database search with designated keywords (EU Day, EU Prize for Journalism). The following TV stations were examined: (1) Imedi; (2) Rustavi 2; (3) GDS; (4) Maestro; (5) TV Pirveli; (6) Public Broadcaster; 7) Adjara TV; 8) Palitra TV. These stations were chosen based on their position on the continuum between conservative to liberal ideologies. For instance, Rustavi 2 is on the extreme end of liberal, pro-market ideology in the Georgian media, whereas Public Broadcaster is considered as one of the most conservative stations.

Variables

Main variables for the research are frequency of coverage of the EU’s events, measured by counting the number of news reports/articles about EU per day.

The study will also identify if key EU messages formed for the events were spread through the media.

Content Analysis of EU’s Communication in social media

The study analyzed EU Delegation’s communication in the through its Facebook page. Facebook is the most important social media channel in Georgia. The study analysed the EU Delegations official Facebook page and event pages created for “European Days” and “EU prize for Journalism”. According to Ardley and Brooke (2014) Social media analysis can focus on audience demographics, volume engagement and interaction (Ardley & Brooke, 2014), which is the methodology this research has followed.

The unit of measure was posts located in Delegation Facebook page and event pages. Event page is created prior to the actual event and is used for communication with the audience. It is the online space dedicated strictly to the event and therefore the audience active on the page is the one highly interested in the actual event.

The type of communication (one-way and two-way communication) will be assessed through the analysis of the posts. For the purpose of these study, “likes” and ‘shares” from the users will be considered as the indicators of one-way communication because of the lack of feedback from the Delegation. User “comments” will be analyzed as two-way communication as they express the audience’s response to the information given. The study will separate the comments that have been answered by the administration of the page, by users and the ones that were left without attention. The sum of likes, shares and comments will be defined as interaction rate. According to Ardley and Brooke ‘interaction rate is the number of interactions (likes, shares comments) for the reach of each post’ (Ardley & Brooke, 2014; p. 7).

The Social Media Analysis will show how successfully the EU Delegation uses online space for two-way communication and dialogue with its target audience.










Chapter 4. Results

Content Analysis of EU’s Communication in social media

4.1 Descriptive

The study analyzed Facebook posts and user interaction regarding two major events in 2016-2017 - EU Days and EU Prize in Journalism. The quantitative social media analysis has showed that in total there were 119 posts made by the EU Delegation in Georgia and users in the newsfeed of its official Facebook page and in two facebook events created for the above mentioned events. The majority of these posts (99 posts, 83.19 %) were about the EU Day, while posts connected to EU Prize in Journalism were less numerous (20 posts, 16.8 %).

Out of the total number of posts, 78 posts (65.5%) were put by the Delegation, while authors of 41 posts (34.5 %) were citizens/users. According to the data, the posts have fallen under following categories: 1) Event link; 2) Media coverage; 3) Photo; 4) Video; 5) Text; 6) Link to website. The study showed that the majority of the material posted by EU Delegation and the users was photos.





Table 1.1 Type of posts



Out of 41 posts generated by users, 12 were statements, 26 were questions and the rest – visual content (photos/videos). Among the posts generated by users, only 12 (15.3%) received a response from the delegation. And out of these responses just 5 received feedback in the form of comment from the author of the post. In all cases there was positive feedback. However, the interaction did not go further.

Hashtags

The delegation used hashtags #europeandays2016 or #EUPrizeJournalism2016 in but 63 posts (80.7%). The use of hashtags was significantly lower within the posts generated by users; The hashtag was used only in 2 cases (4.8 %).  

Interaction

In terms of interaction, the delegation posts have received in total 2834 likes, 476 shares, 38 comments and 18 questions. Out of comments only 1 received a response from the delegation, 2 – from other users. There was no feedback on either of responses. Out of 18 questions 8 were responded by delegation and 4 from other users. Again, delegation responses received no feedback. Responses from other users had feedback in 5 cases.

For the total amount of posts, photos have received the highest number of Likes equal to 1879 (64.7 %), followed by video posts with 781 Likes (26.8 %). In comparison, texts received 95 (3.27 %)

The video posts have received the highest number of shares – 242 (50.8 %). Photos came second with 202 shares (42.4 %). In comparison the posts in the form of text have received only 5 shares (1.05 %).

The post covered the following six themes: 1) Generally about the event; 2) Performers; 3) Activities; 4) Government bodies; 5) Delegation bodies; 6) People.  Theme that received the highest number of Likes was ‘Activities’ with 1035 Likes that equals to 35.6 % of the total number. Followed by the posts that were ‘Generally about the event’ with 987 likes (33.9 %). The number was significantly lower for the rest of the themes.

The situation was different with the amount of Shares. The users were the most interested in posts ‘generally about the event’ that has 320 shares (67.6%). The theme ‘Activities’ received 127 Shares (26.8 %), much less than Likes. The numbers for the rest of the categories varied from 1 to 15.

In terms of comments, the order was the same as with Shares. Posts ‘generally about the event’ have 30 comments and ‘Activities’ -16. There was no interaction under the posts about ‘the delegation bodies’ and ‘people’.

There were much less questions than comments. The highest number was 10 for the posts about ‘Activities’, followed by the posts about ‘performers’ with 7 questions and ‘generally about the event’ with – 6. There was no questions regarding the posts about ‘delegation bodies’ and only 1-1 for ‘government’ and ‘people’.

4.2 Analysis

To test the first hypothesis (H1) about the EU Delegation relying on one-way rather than two –way, dialogic communication, the scholar studied the response rate from users to the Delegation posts. In addition, the study analyzed the rate of feedback from the Delegation to the comments and questions from users.

Out of 78 posts by the Delegation, only 29 (37.17 %) received comments or/and questions from users, which means most posts were one-directional rather than dialogic.

Out of 41 posts by users, only one comment and eight questions received a response from the delegation. This means the delegation failed to engage users

This supports the hypothesis that one-way communication prevailed in the EU Delegation’s social media strategy versus two-way, dialogic communication.

The scholar has also calculated the overall interaction rate for delegation posts. The study has shown the interaction rate by type and by theme. As mentioned above, the interaction rate is the sum of likes, shares and comments. For the purposes of this study, the high interaction rate was considered to be above 1000, low interaction is below 1000 and null interaction. In cases where the interaction was null means that the posts did not get any Likes, Shares or Comments/Questions.  The study found out that none of the delegation posts received high interaction (above 1000), 77 posts received low interaction (below 1000), which is 98.7 % received low interaction, and one post received no interaction. The mean interaction was 46.82. As it turns out, the Delegation received low level interaction from the audience.

To answer the first research question (RQ1) about the frequency with which the EU Delegation was engaging the public in the social media, the study counted frequencies of the Delegation posts in the social media. The study showed that the frequency of delegation posts was low. During the research period for EU Day (from 03.05.2016 to 06.06.2016) the Delegation put out 59 posts in 35 days. Even through the research period for EU Prize in Journalism was much longer (20.10.2016 – 15.02.2017) the frequency of posts was significantly lower. There were only 19 delegation posts in four months about Journalism Prize.

To answer the second research question (RQ2) about “the kinds of posts that get most interaction (two-way communication) from the users”, the study counted frequencies of interaction (Likes, Shares, Comments and Question) for all six types and themes of posts. As expected, the high interaction rate for both delegation and user generated posts was with photos – 2 102 (60.09 %). Followed by the videos – 1054 (30.1 %). The text got low interaction rate– 126 (3.6 %). The number for other three types was not significant.

Table 1.3 Interaction rate by type

As for the theme, the interaction rate was the highest for the posts ‘generally about the event’ – 1343 (38.9 %). ‘Activities’ interaction rate was 1188 (34.4 %). The numbers were close for ‘performers’ and ‘government’ – respectively 400 (11.58 %) and 352 (10.19 %).

Table 1.4 Interaction rate by theme

Media Content Analysis

The study analyzed the coverage of two events -EU Day and EU Prize in Journalism – in TV and Online media. In total there were 51 TV reports and 52 Internet stories about both events.

To answer the fourth research question (RQ4) about the frequently of the EU Delegation’s information outreach through traditional media”, the study counted the frequency of media coverage of EU Day and EU Journalism Prize in the news media.

As expected, EU Day received much more attention from both types of media than EU Prize in Journalism. The study showed that 35 (68.62 %) TV reports were about EU Day and only 16 (31.38 %) about EU Prize in Journalism. On the Internet, 41(78.8 %) stories were about EU Day and only 11 (21.2 %) about Journalism Prize.  

In terms of TV media, ‘Imedi’ was the one which gave the most time to covering not only the actual event, but also the preparation period. There were 12 (32.4 %) TV stories on ‘Imedi’ and 7 (18.9 %) on Rustavi. Surprisingly, Public Broadcaster was the one with the least amount of coverage – 2 (5.4 %). The subjects of TV reports were mainly EU/Delegation and Georgian Government, respectively in 14 (37.83 %) and 15 (40.54 %) occasions. Let’s Meet Europe team which was the organizer of the event, was the subject of TV reports only in 3 (8.1 %) cases.



Table 2.1 Subjects of TV reports – EU Day

As mentioned above the frequency of coverage was approximately the same on the Internet as on TV. But there was higher diversity of media organizations on Internet – 17 different websites covered EU Day.  

3.3.2 EU Prize in Journalism Coverage

The study has shown that traditional media has played much less attention to covering EU Prize in Journalism, even through the competition itself involved the journalists. ‘Rustavi 2’ made 7 TV stories about the event, ‘Imedi’- 5. Surprisingly, there were 2-2 TV reports on Public Broadcaster and Adjara TV. There was no coverage on other media organizations. The subjects of TV reports were mainly journalists in 7 cases. Lets Meet Europe team which was again the organizer of the event, was the subject of TV reports only in 2 cases. 8 stories had no subjects.

 

Table 2.2 Subjects of TV reports – EU Prize in Journalism

There was slightly more diversity of coverage on the Internet than on TV. 9 Different websites covered the EU Prize in Journalism event. Only in two cases out of 11 the stories had subject – EU/Delegation.

To answer the fifth question (RQ5) about the frequently with which the EU Delegation distributes messages through traditional media, the study counted the frequency of appearance of EU messages in the television content.

The study found that the message for EU Day event - “Together with EU” – appeared in none of TV reports. As for the EU Prize in Journalism, there was no special message formed primarily to the event, therefore we did not count it.



4.3 Discussion

The study showed that even though the EU encourages delegations to increase their presence and activity on social platforms, the Georgian delegation does not seem to use the full potential of social media. The overall interaction rate is quite low if we consider the importance of the institution. The questions and comments from users rarely receive the response from the delegation. As a result, it decreases the chance for feedback and continuous dialogue with the audience.

The study showed that 58 and 67 posts did not receive respectively comments and questions. If we consider that the overall amount of Delegation posts was 78, such rate of null interaction is very high. It means that in more than half cases there was no activity from the audience and no chance for two-way communication. As Grunig (2009) suggested, sometimes social media is used the same way as traditional media – to deliver messages to pub and therefore, the interaction and engagement opportunities are forgotten.

According to Nordstom (2012) some researchers have shown the ability of social media to create the space for two-way communication. However, other scholars think that the actual application of social media by organizations does not correspond with its potential. (Nordstom, 2012) The same can be said about the EU Delegation in Georgia – it uses social media for communication and spreading information, rather than establishing two-way communication with its audience. The findings show that the EU Delegation often misses a chance to have a dialogue with users and therefore increase their engagement in decision making process. One of the perfect examples was the actual date of EU Day, when there was high activity from users in the event. However, almost none of them received the response from the delegation.

According to Valentini (2007) investing in media relations can help the EU to create image of a strong institution in public and raise awareness about its work. “More EU coverage in the national media will affect readers’ knowledge and involvement in EU matters (Valentini, 2007, p. 11).

In terms of media content analysis, the scholar concluded that EU Delegation works well with the media to result in frequent coverage of its main events. However, as the data shows the media campaign was more effective for EU Day, rather than for EU Prize in Journalism. Obviously, the event involved much bigger audience of different age categories when the Journalism Prize was interesting mostly for journalists.

The study showed that EU Delegation and Georgian Government were the main subjects of most TV reports and Internet Stories about EU Day. This was expected as Boomgardeen and others (2010) concluded that “EU news is often dominated by national political actors” (Boomgardeen et. al. 2010; p. 15) Guzek (2013) also suggested that EU matters are often connected with the activity of local governments or authorities. The high presence of government bodies as subjects of EU connected stories can indicate the government’s support for the events and for the EU Delegation itself.



 













Conclusion

Social media is an important part of EU Delegation’s communication strategy. However, its potential as an effective tool for two-way communication is not fully adopted. The delegation’s strategy appears to be mainly information-oriented, rather than based on interaction and dialogue. The frequency of spreading information through social media is not high and the posts do not receive much attention from the users.

In comparison, delegation’s communication strategy with traditional media is much more affective. The major events are frequently covered on TV and online media. As a result, there is a higher chance that the information reaches wide audiences affecting their perceptions of EU.

In order to engage more citizens in EU Delegation’s work in Georgia, the institution should strengthen its social media communication strategy. To focus on raising level of interaction through creating textually and visually interesting content and maintaining high rate of response to the audience. .





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Grunig J. A. (2009) “Paradigms of global public relations in an age of digitalization”. PRism 6(2): http://praxis.massey.ac.nz/prism_on-line_journ.html

 

Guzek D. & Milewski N. (2013) “Representations about the European Union in Spanish, Polish and Romanian TV news”, Jurnalism si comunicare ,Volume 8 (4).

 

Follesdal, Andreas/Hix, Simon 2005: Why There is a Democratic Deficit in the EU. A Response to Majone and Moravcsik, in: European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) C-05-02.

 

Kanol D. and Nat M. (2017) “Interest groups and social media: An examination of cause and sectional groups’ social media strategies in the EU”. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd 10.1002/pa.1649

 

JürgenM., Rittberger B. (2008) “ Shifting Europe's Boundaries: mass media, public opinion and the enlargement of the EU”, European Union Politics 9,  243-267.

 

Nordström T. (2012) “Two-way communication potential of social media in public relations: Application by environmental NGOs.”

 

Piechowicz N. (2016) “The use of new media in the European Commission’s information policy”. Przegląd Europejski  3 (41).

 

Valentini C. (2007) “EU media relations: Views of Finnish and Italian Journalists”. GMJ: Mediterranean Edition 2(2).

 

Information and communication handbook for EU delegations in third countries and to international organizations (2013). Retrieved May 2017 from:

http://eeas.europa.eu/archives/delegations/ghana/documents/press_corner/20121231_en.pdf

 

Ardley S. and Brooke G. (2014) “Social Media Analyics” Digital Communication. University of Oxford.

 

 

 

Websites

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage_en

 

http://agenda.ge/news/38200/eng

 

http://europeandays.ge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Appendix A

 

Codebook

 

Social Media Analysis



1. Coder: Please, write down the event name 1. Coder 1 2. Coder 2

  1. Date. Please, write down the date of publication of the post. Format date as this: 03.05.2016 (stands for 3rd April, 2016).

 

  1. Placement of the post: Please, indicate where the post was placed:

.1 Official Facebook page

.2 Facebook event page.  

  1. Author of the post: please write down what is the source of the post.

.1 Delegation – administration of EU delegation Facebook page.

.2 Users – Facebook users who have liked/followed delegation page.

  1. Type of the post:  

.1 Event – the post that includes the link to the event page

.2 Media coverage – post that includes link to online media article/news, TV story or radio story.

.3 Photo – any type of visual image.

.4 Video – any type of video content.

.5 Text – any type of text material.

.6 Link to event website – post that includes the link to event’s official website.

  1. Theme of the post:

.1 Generally about the event – any post that contains the information/question regarding the event in general: date and place of the event, name of performers, time of concert.

.2 Performers – posts about those singers/dancers who performed on EU Day concert.

.3 Activities – every type of activity that took place on the actual day of EU Day.

.4 Government bodies – posts about the government bodies and their participation in the event.  

.5 Delegation bodies – posts that include delegation bodies.

.6 People – post that mention regular citizens.

8. Use of hashtag by delegation: please indicate if the delegation has used a relevant hashtag with the post.

9. Post response from the delegation: please indicate if the delegation has responded to the post by comment. N/A: code non –applicable, if you are coding a delegation post.

10. Post feedback on response: please write down if the author of the post has returned a feedback on the response through the comment. N/A: code non –applicable, if you are coding a delegation post.

11. User interaction Like: please write down number of likes.

12. User interaction Share: please write down number of shares.

13. User interaction - Audience Comment: please write down the number of comments that the users have written under the post. Under comment is considered any type of textual comment except questions.

14. User Interaction - comment response from the delegation: please write down if the delegation has responded to the comments.

15. User Interaction - comment response from other users: - please write down if other users have responded to the comment.

16. User interaction - comment response feedback: please write down if the author of the comment has returned feedback to the response.

17. User Interaction - Audience question: please write down the number of questions under the post.

18. User Interaction - question response from the delegation: please write down if the delegation has responded to the question.

19. User Interaction question response from other users: - please write down if other users have responded to the question.

20. User interaction - question response feedback: please write down if the author of the question has returned feedback to the response.

21. User interaction – photo: please write down if the users have posted a photo as a comment under the post.

22. User interaction – video: please write down if the users have posted a video as a comment under the post.

23. User interaction – media coverage: please write down if the users have posted link to media story as a comment under the post;

24. User interaction – other: please write down if the users have posted anything other than comment, question, photo, video and media link.

 

Appendix B

 

Coding Sheet

 

Social Media Analysis



1. Coder

.1 = EU Day

.2 = EU Prize in Journalism

  1. Date____________________________________________________________

  2. Placement of the posts

.1 = Official Facebook page

.2 = Facebook event page.

  1. Author of the post

.1 = Delegation

.2 = Users

  1. Type of the post

.1 = Event

.2 = Media coverage

.3 = Photo

.4 = Video

.5 = Text

.6  = Link to event website

10.Theme of the post

.1  = Generally about the event

.2  = Performers

.3  = Activities

.4  = Government bodies

.5  = Delegation bodies

.6  =People  

8. Use of hashtag by delegation

.1 = yes

.2 = no

9. Post response from the delegation

.1 = yes

.2 = no

10. Post feedback on response

.1 = yes

.2 = no  

11. User interaction Like_______________________________________________

12. User interaction Share______________________________________________

13. User interaction - Audience Comment_________________________________

14. User Interaction - comment response from the delegation__________________

15. User Interaction - comment response from other users____________________

16. User interaction - comment response feedback__________________________

17. User Interaction - Audience question__________________________________

18. User Interaction - question response from the delegation___________________

19. User Interaction question response from other users_______________________

20. User interaction - question response feedback____________________________

21. User interaction – photo_____________________________________________

.1 = yes

.2 = no

22. User interaction – video

.1 = yes

.2 = no

23. User interaction – media coverage

.1 = yes

.2 = no

24. User interaction – other

.1 = yes

.2 = no








Appendix C

 

Codebook

 

TV and Online Media Content Analysis



1. Coder: Please, write down the event name 1. Coder 1 2. Coder 2

2. Date. Please, write down the date of publication or appearance of a TV or online story. Format date as this: 03.05.2016 (stands for 3rd April, 2016).

 

3. Source: Please, circle the online media or TV you are coding: 1. Imedi; 2. Rustavi 2; 3. GDS; 4. Maestro; 5. TV Pirveli; 6. Pirveli Arkhi; 7. Adjara TV; 8. Palitra TV; 9. Interpressnews.ge; 10. Expressnews.ge; 12. Liberali.ge; 13. pirveli.com.ge; 14. newpost.ge; 15. Livepress; 16. Qartli.ge 17. Front news; 18. Ipress.ge; 19. info9ge; 20. kvira.ge; 21. IPN.ge; 22. ghn.ge; 23. news.ge; 24. Medianews.ge; 25. accent.com.ge; 26. netgazeti.ge; 27. sknews.ge; 28. Gurianews.ge; 29. ick.ge.

 

4. TV program, story headline: please, write a program name in full.

 

5.Rating: please, write down the rating of concrete TV program. N/A: code non –applicable, if you are coding online story.

 

6.TV story length

.1 Length in minutes/seconds: please, write down the length of the story.

.2 N/A: code non –applicable, if you are coding a newspaper.

7. Sources: Please check if an article or a TV story has a source or sources belonging to any one of these categories. A source is defined as any subject in an online or a TV story other than an author/anchor, who is directly quoted, paraphrased or mentioned or whose sound bite is provided.

.1 Delegation bodies – representatives of EU Delegation in Georgia.

.2 Let’s Meet Europe Team – members of the team specially hired for the organization of EU Day and EU Prize in Journalism.

.3 Performers – Singers, dancers and groups who performed on EU Day concert.

.4 Journalists – Representatives of different types of media organizations.

.5 Georgian Government - appointed officials, government servants.

.6 Member States – EU members states embassy representatives.

.7 Cultural Figures – Representatives of the sphere of culture, other than the performerns on the concert.

.8 NGO’s – representatives of non-governmental sector.

.9 Others: Anyone who does not belong to any of the above categories. Please, describe the source.

 


 

Appendix D

 

Coding Sheet

TV and Online Media Content Analysis

 

  1. Coder:                                                                                    

.1 = EU Day

.2 = EU Prize in Journalism

  1. Date:

  2. Media: .1 Imedi_ .2 Rustavi 2_ .3 GDS_ .4 Maestro_ .5 TV Pirveli_ .6 Public Broadcaster_ .7 Adjara TV_ .8 Palitra TV_ .9 Interpressnews.ge_ .10 Expressnews.ge_ .12 Liberali.ge_ .13 pirveli.com.ge_ .14 newpost.ge_ .15 Livepress_ .16 Qartli.ge_ .17 Front news_ .18 Ipress.ge_ .19 info9ge_ .20 kvira.ge_ .21 IPN.ge_ .22 ghn.ge_ .23 news.ge_ .24 Medianews.ge_ .25 accent.com.ge_ .26 netgazeti.ge_ .27 sknews.ge_ .28 Gurianews.ge_ .29 ick.ge_

 

  1. TV program, story headline____________________________________

  2. Rating______________________________________________________

  3. TV story length

Length in minutes/seconds

  1. Sources

.1 = Delegation bodies

.2 = Let’s Meet Europe Team

.3 = Performers

.4 = Journalists

.5 = Georgian Government

.6 = Member States

.7 = Cultural figures

.8 = NGOs

.9 = Others