Fifteen years of successful knowledge and ideas exchange was celebrated by SIG-Marcomms, the GÉANT Special Interest Group on Marketing Communications, during a landmark 45th meeting on 26-28 September in Lisbon, hosted by FCT|FCCN.

A key achievement of the group, meeting participants agreed, has been the increasing professionalisation of NREN marketing communications activities and helping NRENs to recognise that marcomms contributes to their business success.

Other achievements include initiating the PeaR Community News channel and the CLAW crisis management workshops, as well as inspiring the establishment of similar groups in other world regions and of the Global PR Network, which celebrated its 5th anniversary at TNC18. Participant feedback in recent years has also shown a consistently high level of satisfaction in general and with the value that face-to-face meetings bring to everyday NREN marcomms work.

Fun, games and serious discussion

SIG-Marcomms participants play a team-building communications game.

Lisbon meeting participants highly rated the agenda, which was strongly influenced by feedback about previous events and featured hands-on communications games, breakout discussions, updates about NREN and GÉANT activities, the anniversary celebration and a tour of FCCN facilities.

Four main sessions explored various aspects and examples of internal communications, digital engagement, how to be effective in conveying print and online messages, and how to produce a communications strategy. Several of the discussions suggested potential benefits if marcomms teams work with their Human Resources colleagues on activities that measure and improve staff satisfaction and engagement levels and optimise internal communications.

An exchange of branded giveaways as anniversary ‘gifts’.

Few NRENs have a formal internal communications plan. A presentation about Jisc (UK) highlighted the mutually beneficial relationship between internal communications and staff engagement with company strategy and goals. Two communications games gave hands-on examples that participants could try with colleagues. And specific internal communications scenarios were brainstormed in breakout groups.

The digital engagement session focused on the challenges and potential advantages of widespread social media use by non-marcomms colleagues. Almost every NREN has staff who are active on personal social media accounts and the meeting participants exchanged ideas and experiences about how to make that work in the favour of those colleagues and NRENs alike, with inputs from Jisc, SURFnet (Netherlands), DeiC (Denmark) and GÉANT.

Participants new and old

Participants of the Lisbon SIG-Marcomms meeting on 26-28 September 2018.

Updates about NRENs’ marcomms activities were presented by Belnet (Belgium) and FCCN (Portugal) as well as – for the first time – partners from the Eastern Partnership Connect (EaPConnect) project: RENAM (Moldova) and ASNET-AM (Armenia). Another first was participation by a research institute, with a presentation about marcomms challenges and activities at the Roslin Institute and a SIG-Marcomms-like group among research institute peers.

Four people who were founder members of the group participated in Lisbon. In September 2003 when the group began it was known as ‘TF-PR’. It evolved into ‘TF-CPR’ and then SIG-Marcomms, reflecting an increasing emphasis on marketing rather than public relations as the group and NREN marcomms activities matured. The main objective of the group has remained constant, however; to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, experiences and best practices in order to develop skills among the group’s participants and increase NREN marcomms capabilities and effectiveness.

Next meeting and further information

The Lisbon meeting agenda and slides are available online.

The next SIG-Marcomms meeting will be hosted by Jisc in London on 4-6 February 2019.

More information about SIG-Marcomms can be found in a new CONNECT magazine article about the steering committee and anniversary and in past PeaR Community News articles.