Bohinj and Bled were the settings of the European Digital Diplomacy training this week, bringing together government communicators from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The event was prepared as a joint effort between the U.S. Department of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia within the framework of the Official Development Cooperation, the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia and Centre for European Perspective. Activities of the three-day training enforced the participants to join forces, ideas, and best practices to bridge challenges in the field and build a strong network for the future of the project.
On Wednesday morning, the participants were addressed by CEP Executive Director Katja Geršak, Public Affairs Officer Jean B. Leedy from the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia and Miriam Možgan, Head of Public Relations Office within the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The training was then set off by Matt Jacobs from the U.S. Department of State and Centre for European Perspective’s very own Project Coordinator Ingrid Omahna, who have been supporting and coordinating the project from the very beginning.
The first day of the training was devoted to a series of discussions, workshops, and lectures that covered the communication sphere of governmental institutions and the ever-growing threat of misinformation/disinformation. The digital revolution has yielded a unique opportunity for individuals and communities alike to stay informed and engage within their audiences. At the same time, digital innovation is proving the importance of communication activities governments and other state institutions have to undertake in order to build on the engagement of their communities. Digital platforms, social media and other methods of digital data transmission, therefore open the door to transparent and more effective politics with engaging policies that can more closely listen to the needs of communities affected by them.
The sharing of ideas and best practices among peers working at the same capacities have always been in the heart of the overall EDDE project, so to better address the challenges that occur in their profession. Being no different for the training in Bohinj, the afternoon of the first day continued with a presentation of successful digital campaigns. Jane Lazevski working as a Special Adviser to the Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia presented a successful digital campaign from North Macedonia meanwhile Nataša Adlešič Barba working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia presented the most recent Slovenian successful digital campaigns within the scope of Official Development Cooperation. The participants were also engaged in a lecture on how to address disinformation so to preserve information integrity. The debate based on the participant’s experiences and challenges continued within a Night Owl Session on identification and responses to misinformation.
The second day of the training moved the participants to the ambient of Lake Bled, where the event was hosted by the IEDC Bled School of Management. Participants were divided into two smaller groups who sequentially cooperated in interactive lectures. The first pair of workshops covered Photography training (led by the experienced journalist Uroš Hočevar) and Infographic and Design Training (led by Ingrid Omahna). Both of the workshops covered practical aspects and skills, which can help public officers build on better and more effective visual material for their campaigns and digital efforts. The afternoon session engaged participants in a discussion on analytics (prepared by Paolo Ganino working at the European External Action Service) and Matt Jacobs on the topic of social listening. Both the presentations covered many useful aspects on how to better engage with their audiences and secure digital campaigns that more effectively resonate within communities. The evening program continued in Bohinj, where the participants once more engaged in a Night Owl Session, this time on the topic of Policy as Lifestyle.
All of the lectures, infographic and design training, debates, photography training, exchange of experiences and best practices were brought to a practical test on Friday, when the participants were faced with a digital challenge. A hands-on simulation based on a descriptive storyline challenged the groups of participants to prepare a specific digital campaign for their imaginary country Frakya. All of the groups were innovative and successful in their efforts to build visually appealing campaigns and content with creative solutions for the task in question. The evening continued with closing remarks and a certificate ceremony.