EMJ student comes third at international PR competition

During the last edition of PR Arena, EUPRERA's international competition for PR students, Lorenzo Canu, a first-year Mundus Master's student and future Politics & Communications major at the University of Amsterdam, landed third place together with his team, MVL.

During the last edition of PR Arena, EUPRERA's international competition for PR students, Lorenzo Canu, a first-year Mundus Master's student and future Politics & Communications major at the University of Amsterdam, landed third place together with his team, MVL.

For the occasion, Lorenzo was interviewed by former Mundusian Galia Guajardo, who majored in Politics & Communications at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and currently works as a Communications Consultant at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Hi Lorenzo, let’s start with an introduction.

I am in my first year of EMJ, and I will be a second-year Politics and Communication major at the University of Amsterdam. Next semester I will also do an exchange at the University of Sydney.

After graduation, I would like to return to work in Brussels, where I have already done two internships at EACA and European Schoolnet. I often collaborate with FERPI, the Italian Federation of Public Relations, (with whom we presented a paper on the role of public relations during natural disasters and crisis management in Italy), Corporate Excellence and Global Alliance in translating and disseminating the Global PR & Communication Model. Here is my Bachelor’s thesis on it.

True to the Italian tradition, I like to call myself an "up-to-date communication craftsman": while I agree that staying on top of the latest digital trends, I always try to create high-quality material with due attention to detail.

What does the PR Arena competition consist of? 

The PR Arena student competition was organized by the Education Network of EUPRERA, the association for PR research and education, in collaboration with the European Broadcasting Union, GWPR Romania and the University of Bucharest.

The goal of the competition is to allow students to virtually work together on a challenging PR case for a real client, in this case, the European Broadcasting Union.

Participants were nominated by professors who are members of EUPRERA after an internal selection process. In my case, I had the honour of being nominated by none other than Winni Johansen and Finn Frandsen, two of (if not the) most prominent academics in Crisis Communication.

Prior to the start of the competition, I benefited from two advanced courses on international PR campaigns (taught by Dr. Raluca Moise, University of the Arts London) and international issues management (Dr. Audra Diers-Lawson, Kristiania University College).

What did you present?

We presented Euro Talk-Z, a talk show that combines information, education, and entertainment (the three pillars of the PSM mission). The program brings together educational influencers like Francesco Oggiano present on social media, where Gen Z usually inform themselves, and national singers who have participated in Eurovision, to address issues relevant to younger people.

By featuring issues important to Gen Z to all Public Service Media online and offline channels, we provide a solution for PSM to modernize themselves by looking at their future sustainability.

I especially want to thank our mentor Maria Tataru, Marketing Manager at Autonom Group and Forbes 30 under 30, who followed us throughout the competition.

You study journalism but do a PR competition, how come?

Well, I admit that my heart belongs to Public Relations. I love writing and I see journalism as a future career, but my passion is making connections, even the less conventional ones.

Has it been hard to follow the competition while being a full-time student of the EMJ?

While it was challenging to organize myself with group work, classes, and a part-time job, it was not impossible. However, I would not say to stand out compared to my colleagues: let's remember that many of the EMJ study and work as freelancers. And by that, I emphasize, I don't mean that the program is easy, but rather that the people who do it are real talents (whether they do journalism, podcasting, or video production).

You said you are going to Australia next semester. What are your next steps?

After handing in the Public Opinion and the Media exam in January, I will leave for Australia as an exchange student, thanks to the opportunity EMJ offers its students. Like others in the course, I applied once the program started in September and, after an evaluation by the course board and the host university, I was selected along with my colleague Allegra. I will be studying at the University of Technology of Sydney (UTS), where I hope to get in contact - and hopefully collaborate - with Jim Macnamara, a PR decan.

And the specialisation? 

I will spend my second year in Amsterdam, majoring in Politics & Communication. I am honestly looking forward to studying there. 

Why Amsterdam? And what are you looking forward to? 

Well because you made it (laughs). 

I chose Amsterdam to learn how best to communicate the policies of European institutions to the larger public. Commission, Parliament and Council show their great commitment to publicising initiatives and decisions that greatly improve our lives. It would be an honour to be able to contribute, both by bringing communication closer to citizens and by playing a role in making interest representation increasingly transparent and accountable.

To do this, Mundus Journalism is definitely the best choice to succeed in my goal of becoming a unique political communicator.

PR, Journalism and Politics… what’s the path?

Not sure. I would like, returning to Brussels after the completion of the EMJ, to focus on Lobby and Advocacy. I started to discover this area thanks to an important figure, Vincenzo Manfredi, Adjunct Professor at the Luiss School of Government, and I am curious to find out. Knowing that although used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two, I would like to study their particularities, especially from an ethical perspective.

What is the difference between lobbying and advocacy?

As the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs defines it, “lobbying is an activity or a set of activities aimed at influencing the political decisions made by policymakers”. Instead, as Olaf Hoffjann defines it in the International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication, co-edited by Winni, “advocacy means publicly providing support for some interest, organization, or issue position”.

As the debate about how ethical both are is still raging, I am working with Alberto, Kelsey, Sara and all of The Good Lobby to equalize access to power and allow everyone to gain a seat at the table and make their political system more responsive to societal needs. If you are interested, they organise an amazing Summer Academy in July.

The Good Lobby, PR Arena, Australia: isn't that too much? Aren't you in danger of not specializing in anything? You know what they say…

Jack of all trades?

And master of none, yes.

I heard the saying ends with "but oftentimes better than a master of one." And actually I think if one wants to do communication and really stand out by having sensitivity to the different, one should try different areas.

We talked about your activities outside the EMJ. How do you feel about the program? Have you been active in it? What did you like the most?

I think EMJ is a very good program. Part of the reason I chose it was because of the great reputation that Erasmus Mundus programs have, especially among people with international education. Once I started, I kept hearing how most of my colleagues, whether from Taiwan or Venezuela, had very good comments about the program. For example, I heard that experienced journalists consider this program "the best for journalism in Europe." Hoping to work for the European institutions once I returned to Brussels, I felt it was a must for my education. But fortunately, EMJ is not just about prestige and academia.

For example, it was fun to organize a workshop in the last week of the course together with my colleagues Uliana, Kate and V on Visual Storytelling. Thanks to funds provided by EMJ and Morten, whom I would like to thank, it was possible to invite a Danish content creator, Rune Nissen. Although young, this talent already has international success, and his willingness to come was greatly appreciated. 

Encouraged by the practicality of the courses at DMJX, the workshop was divided between a theoretical and a practical part. In the theoretical part, Rune shared his experience on how to create engaging content to convey news and which software from the Adobe Suite is most useful for journalists. In the practical one, Rune followed us in creating thumbnails, short videos, and other high-attention content, starting with the conception of visual "hooks." To do that, we booked classrooms with iMacs and experimented (some of us for the first time) with Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

I would say that these kinds of events, along with the many opportunities for students to meet, constitute the "social heart" of the program. From watching the World Cup together in some bar in Aarhus to organizing a Secret Santa for Christmas, via the Bluebook, there is no shortage of opportunities to socialize. I often hear, and agree, that this Master's program is made up of the dozens of personal stories of those who study there. People here come from very different backgrounds, and even just spending time together becomes an opportunity to reflect, question and change points of view.


About the author

Born and raised in Mexico City, Galia Guajardo Góngora holds a Master’s degree in Journalism, Media and Globalization with a specialization in Political Communication from Aarhus University in Denmark; and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands (full scholarship awarded by the European Commission). Currently, she is a Communications Consultant at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS). She is an experienced institutional communication practitioner with a demonstrated history of working for international organisations and parliamentary communications (global, regional and at a national level).