Reach out to the visitor

Tünde Handó: “In the 21st century the court is a service institution”

New trends in communication were discussed at Budapest’s VI Annual Conference for Judge Speakers from the Council of Europe “Courts and Communications”. Its participants discussed the issues of creating and forming a positive image of the judiciary, the best communication strategies with visitors and receiving feedback from participants in litigation.

One for all

In total, more than 100 representatives attended the conference from 16 European countries, including judges, press secretaries, assistant judges, chairmen of communication committees and departments. The first day of the event was devoted to lectures and speeches in which Hungarian and foreign lawyers and journalists shared their experience in the field of communication.

In an introductory speech, the president of the National Judicial System of Hungary, Tünde Handó, said: “In the 21st century, the court is a service institution. We should not forget that our work is aimed at consumers (visitors). They are always in the center of events. It is very important for the judicial system to be accessible and understandable to workers, visitors and society as a whole.” It was also emphasized that “every judge is personally responsible for the brand of the judicial system”.

In turn, Vice-Rector of the University of Art and Design of Budapest, Daniel Barcza, presented the court from the point of view of his visitor. He called his speech “The Case of Cup of Coffee” and drew attention to the difficulties that cause some of the litigation to the visitors, as well as their length, complex language, and the natural excitement that surrounds a person when interacting with the judiciary.

Hungarian judge Natasha Fjulop stressed that the judiciary should assess the situation from the point of view of visitors. Information should be clear, and attitude – friendly.

Channels for communication

The head of the communications department of the National Justice Office of Hungary Laura Dadeshi, together with the Judge of the Budapest Main Administrative and Labor Tribunal Gabor Remez (they were preparing a program of the conference), conducted a study in which they defined the target audience by birth. This helped to better orient in the communication channels with visitors.

For example, with the generations of 1965-1979, it is better to keep the birth of a relationship through Facebook and e-mail. It’s better to go through Facebook and Instagram through the 1980-1996 generation. Generation after 1997 prefers to receive information through YouTube and Smapchat. To communicate with different generations, one should use the communication tools that are acceptable to them, the speakers emphasized.

Hungarian colleagues also presented their YouTube channel, which hosts educational cartoons. In such a simple and accessible form, visitors learn the rules of conduct in court. Participants of the conference had an opportunity to watch an animated film, in which it was shown in an accessible form what awaits a person in court who was summoned as a witness. In a gaming form, a person will know how and when to appear in court, which is the procedure of a court session with the participation of witnesses.

The presentation of the head of the communication department of the Court of the European Union, William Valasidis, about the official website of the court, its structure, and the ease of access to information for various categories of visitors was extremely useful for the participants of the conference. Information on the court site is provided to citizens in all EU languages. “#We speakyouralguage” is a hashtag of this institution, noted V. Valasidis.

The court will work with the online platform for filing documents from 2016, for 3 years it plans a communicative strategy and has a network of spokesmen for operational work.

Speakers of the event were unanimous: the development of communication is an opportunity to provide objective information about judicial power, about what is happening in the courtrooms.

Brand Creation

The following day, the participants worked in small working groups in three areas: the creation of a judicial authority; on-line court; satisfaction of visitors needs.

Georgian Prime Minister, PR-consultant on strategic communications, said that the brand of judicial power is not only a logo or a slogan, or a kind of advertising campaign. It includes a set of tangible and intangible elements. According to the speaker, this is the philosophy of thinking, the strategic asset of the court. It is formed in the imagination of citizens, consumers of court services, and the brand creation is the task of every servant of Themis.

Representatives of Ukraine, whose participation in the event was held with the support of the HCJ and the USAID “New Justice” program, shared their experience in developing judicial communications. After all, we have created an institute of judge-speaker, in each court there are press secretaries, and in some of them – the press-service. Courts are actively informing their activities, organizing educational events, lecturing, conducting open lessons, promoting judicial institutions and procedures, promoting a healthy lifestyle, acting in the media, blogging, etc.

By the way, in the “online trial” working group, the hottest debates were held on the use of Facebook by judges. Should they comment posts on the official pages of the court or not?

As it turned out, the courts of Romania and Spain do not have pages in social networks. In some countries, Facebook pages do not have much demand (for example, in Hungary). Instead, they have popular official sites for court agencies. On such sites, communication services try to provide information in an easy-to-understand and perceptive form.

During the panel discussion on satisfying the needs of consumers, the participants of the event exchanged experiences with the survey of visitors. Everyone uses almost identical methods: personal questionnaires, online surveys – but they note the very low activity of visitors, which makes it impossible to obtain objective information.

The members of the Ukrainian delegation shared the experience of on-line polls from visitors to the court and found that, compared with other participating countries, judicial communication is high and the chosen communication strategy includes the world’s leading trends.

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