The purpose of this phase is to make a finished, validated site available to and known to the public or to the intended target audience of the site.
This section provides a comprehensive review of the series of actions necessary to bring a site “to life”, including publicity-related actions aimed to connect the site with its intended audience, technical actions such as the transfer of the final site onto servers in DIGIT-DC and the final checks to be done before shift to production mode, as well as the necessary planning, follow-up and co-ordination related activities. Other actions for specialised sites may also be needed, such as training, dissemination of more detailed documentation on the site, etc.
The content to be publish must be compliant with IPG publishing rules, validated against QC checklist.
Any launch of a new website, revamp of an existing site or new functionality addition to a site, should be communicated as wide as possibly to users both within and outside the European institutions.
The information communicated should be aimed at increasing the visibility and popularity of the new site and should stress its usefulness, improvements and novelty in order to increase the number of users and pass its message to the widest possible and most relevant audience.
Promoting a website usually involves a set of activities before, during and/or after the official launch. You may involve both internal and external parties or resources and a single means or a variety of different means. It might be destined to a specific target audience or to a variety of target audiences.
All information related to the promotion of a website should be defined and included in a separate communication plan, or could be part of a wider communication plan.
Promotional actions should be planned well in advance and not be left until late in the development phase. The timing of promotional activities should be defined in the relevant communication plan, and is closely related to the project’s timetable.
Promotional actions can take place at the publication of a new site, during an event, or when a new or important piece of information becomes available. They may continue after that time and can be anticipated and planned in order to best raise awareness and interest.
Read more about Communication plan.
Promotion of a site involves short-, mid- and long-term planning. Actions have to be determined and tasks and responsibilities have to be allocated. It is important to decide who will be informed about the new website, how, when and where:
In order to evaluate the promotion exercise, it is necessary to find out and demonstrate concretely how it has paid off (i.e. monitoring closely statistics, possible increase in the number of visitors, increase in being referenced by search engines, being mentioned in blogs, social networks, etc.) Gathering, analysing and reviewing systematically such data against previous site statistics would be a good evaluation start.
Further information on promotion issues can be requested by email to the EUROPA team.
Your communication plan will help you to define your communication goals and use the right means to achieve them. Timing is of essence. You can plan promotional activities over a specific period of time and during one or more project steps.
You have to start by defining the goals of the communication campaign. Goals can be:
Each goal should address at least one relevant target audience. Knowing well your audience(s) in advance will help you to select appropriate messages and better way(s) to deliver them.
You have to envisage the necessary resources:
Key messages are the concepts that you want your audience to remember from your communication campaign. These messages should be carefully selected and woven through all of your communication materials and activities.
You will choose one or more different ways of communication in priority/importance order. Read more in Promotion channels and tools page.
You have to evaluate the needed amounts to realise your communication plan and prepare a budget. An extra 10% of the final estimate should be included in order to anticipate unforseen/unplanned changes and obstacles in the develoment of the plan.
Each communication activity should be evaluated to measure how much it contributed to the pre-defined goals. Information can be gathered by tracking visits to your Intranet or Internet site, and receiving mails with compliments or complaints or direct feedback when in direct contact with your audience(s).
Read more about communication plan on Helping you communicate on DG Communication website.
There are different ways of promoting your new website. Once you have identified your target audience, you will have to find the most appropriate ways to reach it. Below you will find some popular strategies.
In order to find information, more than 80% of the users of the Internet use search engines available on the net. One of the most efficient methods for your site to get found is therefore by referencing your site in search engines and directories (either manually or automatically).
The term “search engine” is often used generically to describe both crawler-based search engines (e.g. Google) and human-powered directories (e.g. Yahoo). These two types of search engines gather their listings in radically different ways and do not cover the same way different geographical regions or linguistic areas. Make sure that your website is registered into all the major national and international search engines and directories of the Member States.
Read more about Search Engine Optimization of your site's content.
The more relevant sites that link to your site, the better. It boosts your ranking and helps potential users find your site. Keep informed related web portals and sites (other institutions, universities), using mailing lists, RSS feeds, discussion groups, social media, online newspapers, etc.
You can also create a small promotional button/banner with a link pointing towards your website and ask other EUROPA webmasters to add it if possible on their pages. Representations webmasters can also include the button in order to promote your website locally.
Consult the page about Promotional link buttons.
A newsletter either in electronic or in paper format could be one of the most effective marketing tools for a site or portal. It could also be a good way to draw attention to the news published on the website.
Identify fairs, seminars and congresses of interest to your target audience and demonstrate the advantages of your site either through direct demonstrations to users or through support material (CD-ROMs, brochures, etc.)
Online advertisements consist mainly of buying banner adverts or ad words. It is only allowed for specific campaign sites and NOT for promoting regular EUROPA websites.
Banners are advertisement areas, mostly at the header of the website. But, be aware, they are so obvious and dominant on a page, that a lot of people just simply ignore them.
Advertisers pay to have their ads displayed when a user searches a specific keyword or set of keywords. On other sites, a targeted ad may always be displayed on certain topic-specific pages of a site, or have a higher frequency of display in the banner rotation on that page. Bear in mind that many sites displaying banner ads usually have a banner rotation program. The banner rotation script can present a different ad each time the page is visited.
Google offers ad words. You create ads and choose keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business. When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to the search results. So you're advertising to an audience that's already interested in you. With ad words you pay per click! You need to set a maximum budget or set yourself a number of clicks threshold.
You can also advertise your site through national and European TV (e.g. Euronews), or the local press through announcements in magazines and periodicals. Do not forget the online press either. Some wellknown online newspapers have direct links to EUROPA and you could ask for a link to your new portal to be added in a relevant section.
Warn in advance delegations, representations, EuroInfo Centres, etc. and send them on time promotional material (posters, CD-ROMs, brochures, gadgets, etc.)
Coordinate with your spokesperson to produce an appropriate and well-written press release. You can send press releases to periodicals and magazines of your target group and mention the URL of your portal. Certain commercial sites could also distribute your press releases, against payment, to their online periodicals and magazines.
Definition: On-line, user-friendly, one-stop-shop, forward planner previewing all important events, decisions and actions by the main EU Institutions, in all policy fields.
Admissible documents and information: Content: short, factual information; instant links to background information (pictures, videos, sounds, documents, websites, etc.); direct contact details.
Frequency of update: Added during the week as necessary.
Deadline: No deadline.
Languages: In English.
Whom to contact: Each DG has designated an 'EU Calendar correspondent' to contribute events in the DG's field of activity.
Definition: Take Part is the section of EUROPA where we present ways for people to interact with the EU, for example via blogs, consultations, debates, visits and competitions, all together in one place. The list of open competitions has an RSS feed that can be integrated in other websites. All institutions, bodies and agencies can apply.
Admissible documents and information:
The request should include the following information
If the competition occurs every year, we would like to include it in one of the subcategories. In that case, you should also send us the logo of the competition or a relevant picture.
Frequency of update: When necessary.
Deadline: No deadline.
Languages: 24 languages if available.
Whom to contact: COMM EUROPA Management
The purpose of the promotional link-buttons is to provide illustrated links to one’s website without having to use a textual hyperlink or a link description in many languages. Such "buttons" can be more visually stimulating (and therefore attract more attention), flexible and easily interchangeable (they do not have to be permanent), user-friendly (the user intuitively clicks on them) and they do not require much editorial intervention. During the last EUROPA evaluation in 2008 when users were asked if they use these buttons to access related information through the homepage of EUROPA a staggering majority of them said "no" as they thought that they had to do with pre-paid commercial advertisement. This is the reason why it was decided not to include them anymore in the EUROPA homepage and the Commission site homepage. However, it is left up to the individual webmaster's discretion to decide using them when it is thought useful for specific sites and in particular instances.
Link-buttons can be used for the promotion of your new website.
The buttons always have to be of the following dimensions: width=150, height=56,
They should always contain an alt text,
They should be of high quality but light,
If text appears on them, then the buttons need to be provided in all linguistic versions or at least the linguistic versions of all the pages they appear in.
The design/development of a link-button precedes the date of the beginning of the site’s online campaign. All the actions described under “Steps” should be complete before the link-button is used online. The same button can be used several times in the same way, according to promotional needs and the topical nature of the site promoted.
You can subscribe banner advertisement on other web pages against payment. Banners are advertisement areas, mostly at the header of the web site. There is one disadvantage with the banner ads, they are so prevalent that they might be ignored or, as previously mentioned, percieved as pre-paid advertising. That is why you could use a targeted ad which is aimed at a specific audience. On the search engines, there are the advertisers that pay to have their ads displayed when a user searches a specific keyword or set of keywords. On other sites, a targeted ad may always be displayed on certain topic-specific pages of a site, or have a higher frequency of display in the rotation on that page (Bare in mind that many sites displaying banner ads have a banner rotation program. The banner rotation script can present a different ad each time the page is visited).
Commission staff is expected to act in accordance with the Staff Regulations when communicating online. Social media widgets should not be embedded on EUROPA websites.
Social media refer to online technologies and practices that are used to share opinions and information, promote discussion, and build relationships. They use a variety of different formats, including text, pictures, audio and video.
More and more EU citizens are active on social networks. The European Commission therefore uses these platforms to reach out and connect with citizens and stakeholders in addition to the communication which takes place via more traditional channels such as written press, broadcasters and EU publications and websites.
The Commission distinguishes social media use for the following purposes:
The purpose of this type of communication is relaying official announcements, press releases and statements in a consistent and coherent way. This communication will be done 'on behalf of the Commission' by a designated group of staff members, the Social Media Network (SMN).
This network of mandated staff in the DGs and Representations will therefore work closely together with the Spokespersons' Service (SPP).
Mandated staff are at least connected on Twitter and use branded account names (including EU or EC) such as:
These usernames should, if possible, also be used on other social networks, like Facebook and Flickr to ensure consistency.
The purposes of this type of communication vary from
This form of communication is conducted by the lead DG, service or agency in close coordination with DG Communication and in cooperation with the Social Media Network.
The lead DG entity develops and revises its own social media strategy based on common good practice guidance jointly developed under the auspices of DG Communication. Any decision to engage on social media must be preceded by a “fitness check”, i.e. whether the planned action is "fit for purpose" including a thorough assessment whether the available resources match the envisaged level of ambition. The EUROPA site provides information on what is already available: Connect with EU on social networks.
Social media have an important scope for interaction and engagement with interested groups on EU-related themes and activities, but each DG has to take into account the specific policy, its context, target audiences and the available resources.
Find more information and best practices on the Social media wiki.
European Commission staff members who are active users of social media in their personal capacity should note in their profiles that statements and opinions are personal and that they do not represent the official position of the Commission if they mention in the profile where they work.
As Commission official, the participation in social media is subject to the Staff Regulations and the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour, in the same way as participation in other media. DG Communication and DG Human Resources and Security have made particular guidelines for all staff on the use of social media .
The main guidelines governing the Commission's use of social media are listed below:
DG Communication Social Media team guides all staff in the use of social media. It is in charge of coordinating the Social Media Network. The team provides practical guidance on social media use, looks into the best training opportunities, and promotes cooperation between various Commission networks.
Functional Mailbox: COMM SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM
In addition, the Social Media team is tasked with monitoring trends and the Commission's presence on social media, prospecting the communication landscape for emerging innovative communication tools, techniques and/or approaches, assessing their added value for use in the Commission and managing their implementation.
Find out more:
The Social bookmarking and networking allows users to share web pages' contents. Contents are shared using social networks or e-mails.
The Social bookmarking and networking tool helps website publishers spread their content across the web, by making it easy for visitors to bookmark and share content to their favorite social destinations. This service is:
This is a central service; you do not have to install the files on your website to use it. The required files to run this service are hosted on both domains http://ec.europa.eu and http://europa.eu/ under the same directory structure.
Default style. Counter is not displayed.
A counter is displayed and indicates the number of times an item has been shared.
Software used :
Free to use. You do not need to fill in a request form. Please have a look at the documentation/examples just above.
No training available. Please check the documentation/example above for more information.
This section deals with background details only and does not give any practical tips on how to optimise your pages for search engines.
For that, see Search engines - getting your content found .
A search engine is a coordinated set of programmes that includes:
An alternative to using a search engine is to explore a structured directory of topics. Yahoo, which also lets you use its search engine, is the most widely-used directory on the Web. A number of Web portal sites offer both the search engine and directory approaches to finding information.
Crawler-based search engines, such as Google, create their listings automatically. They "crawl" or "spider" the web, then people search through what they have found.
If you change your web pages, crawler-based search engines eventually find these changes, and that can affect how you are listed. Page titles, body copy and other elements all play a role.
Crawler-based search engines have three major elements. First is the spider, also called the crawler. The spider visits a web page, reads it, and then follows links to other pages within the site. This is what it means when someone refers to a site being "spidered" or "crawled." The spider returns to the site on a regular basis, such as every month or two, to look for changes.
Everything the spider finds goes into the second part of the search engine, the index. The index, sometimes called the catalogue, is like a giant book containing a copy of every web page that the spider finds. If a web page changes, then this book is updated with new information.
Sometimes it can take a while for new pages or changes that the spider finds to be added to the index. Thus, a web page may have been "spidered" but not yet "indexed." Until it is indexed -- added to the index -- it is not available to those searching with the search engine.
A human-powered directory, such as the Open Directory, depends on humans for its listings. You submit a short description to the directory for your entire site, or editors write one for sites they review. A search looks for matches only in the descriptions submitted.
In the web's early days, it used to be that a search engine either presented crawler-based results or human-powered listings. Today, it extremely common for both types of results to be presented. Usually, a hybrid search engine will favour one type of listings over another. For example, MSN Search is more likely to present human-powered listings from LookSmart. However, it does also present crawler-based results (as provided by Inktomi), especially for more obscure queries.