Survey reveals EU association’s taste for communications

Trade associations now all use internet sites as prevailing communication tools. But phone calls and meetings remain essential to keeping up personal contacts, EURACTIV’s 2006 survey of European federations shows.

Websites (94.5%) and e-mails (99.5%) have now become widespread communication channels for trade associations, EURACTIV’s 2006 survey of European federations has found. 

Keeping a website properly updated would now even appear more crucial than producing press releases with only 65% rating them as “important” or “very important”. By comparison, an updated website is considered “important” or “very important” for 82% of respondents.

The rise of online channels is accompanied by a relative decline of print material with only 5% saying they use print newsletters as a communication tool. A possible explanation is that this task is now being taken over by internet/extranet sites, with possible support from e-mail alerts. This trend is supported by survey findings showing a growing use of intranet and extranet sites (58%).

In fact, most respondents report a combined use of print and online materials, suggesting that online communications channels are used only to pass on conventional communication material. For instance, 92% put position papers at the very top of their preferred external communication tools and 87% rate written briefings as “important” or “very important”. At the same time, 89% view e-mails as important, suggesting online channels are used as a dissemination tool for more traditional material.

But the human factor continues to be determinant with 91% saying meetings are “important” or “very important” to them. Seminars and conferences where personal contacts are made are also popular, 81% rating them highly, just ahead of phone calls (79%). In fact, about 8% reported some drawbacks to the increased use of technology, saying it produces an overflow of information and makes personal contacts more difficult. For this reason, technologies can only be seen as a complement to meetings and other personal contacts. 

Online advertising continues to grow among federations and now equals print advertising with 15% rating them as “important” or “very important”.

Dan Luca, Public Relations Director at EURACTIV, said "advertising online is becoming increasingly important, because more and more associations understand that positioning in EU affairs is crucial and that online communication is cost-effective".

EURACTIV's survey of European federations takes place on a yearly basis. The results of the 2006 edition are based on 183 responses from European business federations, NGOs and consumer groups who replied online. The number of respondents increased to 183 compared with the 2005 edition where 120 associations replied. 109 participated in 2004. 

The survey was presented at the 2006 EuroConference in Brussels on 26 April. It was prepared in collaboration with Kellen Europe, an association management firm.

  • A summary report of the survey is available upon request to participating federations at: euractor@euractiv.com

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