Find your audience, where they are.

A relatable aphorism, for all who work in the domain of communications. In the world of political communication, perhaps, this phrase rings most vividly. 

The takeaway from this statement – attributable to Kieran Chandler, during his discourse on Communication with Limited Means – is applicable not only to the political sphere. The phrase travels beyond politics, beyond the field of communications, toward each individual person and the audience they desire. We all have a message, thus we all have an audience. It would seem consistent, then, to consider the question – how do we reach our audience?

This was amongst the hefty questions which the latest edition of the Liberal Communicators’ Network – Youth Edition (an initiative organized by the European Liberal Forum/ELF with the support of LYMEC) sought to answer. Occurring this year in Warsaw, Poland, and uniting a multinational network of participants from the four corners of Europe, the event permitted the exchange of best practices between the assembled participants, and to encounter experts from the field of communications and youth activism. The event manifested into a fitting follow-up to last year’s edition in Helsinki, Finland, and took place on the sunny first weekend of June in the Polish capital.

This year, amongst the participants from Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, the Netherlands, Ireland (inter alia) were bright young minds engaged in youth activism, strategic communication, marketing and related subject areas. A diverse and energetic network of attendees, who each added their own knowledge and worldviews to the programme. Moreover, all participants – EU citizens or not – were engaged in some way with unfolding the vision for Europe, and with the expansion of the Liberal cause in local and European contexts. The team gelled well, and set a relaxed benchmark for a weekend full of intrigue and excitement. 

The programme took place in the afternoon of 2 June, at the Ibis Styles in Warsaw’s Solec district. Following a welcome by Milosz Hodun, Board Member of ELF, and an icebreaking session orchestrated by Ellinor Juth of the LYMEC Bureau, the participants were treated to an insightful panel discussion between Kieran Chandler, Brussels-based Digital Communications, Andrzej Prendke, Poland’s Nowoczesna Youth Party President, and Milosz Hodun titled How to communicate in a way that attracts the youth? Shortly after, Kieran Chandler took the floor with the striking presentation Communication tricks with limited means, before the first day of activity was concluded with remarks by Bálint Gyevai, LYMEC’s Secretary General. To top off the programme, the network later interacted with great abandon over an evening barbecue at the invitation of partners at Projekt: Polskain the leafy vicinity of the nearby Park Ujazdów.

The weekend continued on Saturday with a number of practical and interactive sessions. In the morning, Aleksandra Wójtowicz (Senior Disinformation Analyst, NASK National Research Institute) offered the participants an intimate breakdown of the role of social media in the dissemination of fake news, followed by an introduction to methods of verifying information in the era of digital media. Next, following a sumptuous lunch offered at the Ibis restaurant canteen, Ms Madeleine Lerup of the European External Action Service (EEAS) connected with the participants online, continuing the morning session’s scrutiny of methods to counter disinformation through the EEAS’s unique takes. As the day continued, Boryana Atanassova, Senior Regional Communications Manager, FNF East & Southeast Europe, joined online and shared insights about the Liberal Communicators’ Network itself – along with further opportunities for the participants to engage in such projects in the near future. 

The event – as a whole – offered not only a practical and skills-based insight, but opportunities for networking and for further engagement with similar projects in the future for the attending young people. Late on the second day, the programme of events was concluded with a video-making exercise overseen by the LYMEC staff, followed by a few words of reflection and gratitude by the Secretary-General once more. 

Following the conclusion of presentations and the submission of projects for the video-making exercise, the attendees and organisers left for a family dinner in Specjały Regionalne, a Polish cuisine restaurant in Warsaw’s Nowy Świat district. Afterward, the collective socialised together throughout the evening in the buzzing city centre of the Polish capital, in the shadow of the immense Palace of Culture and Science at Warsaw’s Śródmieście.

Despite the energetic previous days, many of the attendees (including LYMEC organisers) found time to attend the historic march against democratic backsliding in Polish domestic politics, adding the organization to the 500,000+ protestors who turned in opposition to a bill passed by the ruling Polish conservative party. An active end to a fulfilling weekend in Warsaw.

As a participant and observer of the smooth execution of this most memorable event, it is appropriate to issue credit and gratitude to LYMEC, to the European Liberal Forum, and to BálintEllinor, and Chiara for the activities and running of the weekend past. With an eye toward future such events, there remains little doubt that the participants attending in Warsaw would be first in line to go to similar such occasions, and to seek exposure to the many wonderful minds they encountered between fellow participants, speakers, and organisers alike. 

The speakers did themselves – and their respective organisations – great credit, and their words spoke directly to the experiences, the ambitions, and the intrigues of the participants. Not least the words of Kieran Chandler, whose maxim ‘Find your audience where they are’ served as a powerful and memorable statement to evoke the very object of the weekend (communication), and as a memorable descriptor of the lessons derived from the event.

With the event now over – but looking forward to many more – it is a fond and nostalgic ‘bye for now’ from the sole participant remaining in Warsaw!

The blogpost was also published on Libertas. Published by the European Liberal Forum. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the European Liberal Forum.

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