Strategic Communication Concepts Delivered With a Smile

This winter term, Master students of Public Relations and Digital Marketing at HMKW worked on a strategic communication concept for Amazon in Berlin.

Amazon Development Center Berlin, Germany 

Amazon has been firmly rooted in Germany since 1998. The Company is not only delivering packages to customers throughout Germany, but also research and development in Germany, the largest of them in Berlin. In Berlin alone, more than 2,000 employees have been working since 2011 on artificial intelligence, automated translations or the improvement of services such as Alexa, Audible, Amazon music, or Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

After a briefing by Amazon, the third semester students, under the guidance of HMKW’s Prof. Dr. Christian Möller, spent their semester researching Amazon’s current situation and developing strategic communication concepts for corporate citizenship and outreach activities. Eventually, this week, they had the opportunity  to present their concepts to the Amazon Communication team at one of their offices in Berlin.

Here are some pictures from the presentations: 

  “The concepts and presentations by the students were very professional and highly relevant for our corporate communication work here in Berlin”, Amazon spokesperson Silke Goedereis said. “I was impressed by the student’s ideas, creativity and the maturity of their concepts.”

Master students of Public Relations and Digital Marketing at HMKW

These photographs were taken by Prof. Dr. Christian Möller. 

Justice For Syria

A short movie by Lukas Kolig, Celia Penning, Laura Bohorquez, Erasmus Kalenga Hamunjela (MA PR & Digital Marketing), produced as part of the module Media Production, with lecturer Patrick Baab.

The Background

This investigative report is based on the story of Anwar al-Bunni and how a chance encounter in a Berlin grocery store helped bring about a historical trial, on German soil, against Anwar R. and Eyad A., for crimes they committed against humanity on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria.

Anwar al-Bunni is a Syrian lawyer and human rights activist, who was arrested and charged in his home country Syria in 2007 for disseminating false information about the Syrian state. After serving five years, he decided upon his release from prison to flee to Germany in 2014.  In Berlin, in an incredible twist of fate, Anwar al-Bunni happened upon Anwar R. in a grocery store right next to his refugee home in Marienfelde.

Anwar R., who worked for the intelligence services in Syria, is the man who al-Bunni alleges abducted him in front of his apartment in Damascus and interrogated him in prison. He was part of the Assad regime in Syria, from Branch 251, who allegedly oversaw the murder, rape and torture of at least 4,000 people. Also part of the regime was Eyad A., who arrested people at protests and brought them to Branch 251. Both men flew to Germany in 2011 and 2014, and arrived in the same refugee home in Marienfelde as Anwar al-Bunni.

After the encounter in the supermarket, Anwar al-Bunni started working together with state prosecutors collecting evidence of the crimes against humanity committed in Syria. In large part thanks to his efforts, Anwar R. and Eyad A. were finally arrested in 2019 in Berlin. 

The steps involved

The goal of this investigation was to create a report around the story of Anwar al-Bunni by finding out how Berlin became a battleground for the fight against humanity crimes in Syria. There were many steps involved in bringing this report to life. The first step of the report consisted of a detailed fact sheet about the protagonists and the war in Syria. From this a hypothesis was formed, which needed to be tested by carrying out interviews with the most important protagonists in this story. In order to do these interviews, first the sources to contact potential interview partners needed to be collected and divided into victims, neutrals and responsible people. The most important interview partner was  Anwar al-Bunni, as well as Syrian activists in Berlin. After setting up the possible sources, the questionnaire was developed for the interview partners. In the last step, the outline for the visual and production-related inquiry was decided.

The biggest challenges

Some of the biggest challenges we had to overcome in conducting this report was the fact that this was a very sensitive topic. It was hard to find interview partners and also find questions that wouldn´t trigger them. Another challenge was that there had already been many reports about al-Bunni. So we didn‘t want to copy all the existing ones and had to come up with a new angle. Additionally, it was a big challenge trying to secure interview partners, especially from the legal side, since the trial was still ongoing. And finally, there were many organizational and technical challenges in organizing shooting locations, a functional timetable, and working with the equipment without any preexisting experience.

To watch the full movie, follow the link below:

A Guide To Journalistic Writing and Practices with Andrew Curry

A blog by Maria Chotou

Berlin based journalist Andrew Curry has more than 20 years of experience reporting from five different continents. In his eyes, he feels very privileged to get to ask questions and share stories as a journalist. His reporting agenda is diverse and impressive. He regularly writes about science, archeology, culture, politics, business, and even cycling. Curry has written for a wide variety of publications, from Architect and Bicycling to National Geographic, The New York Times, Rouleur, and Wired. He is currently a contributing correspondent for Science magazine and also a contributing editor at Archaeology.

Since October 2021, he has been teaching the module Journalistic Writing, together with Dr. Martina Kohl, to students attending the Masters in Digital Journalism at HMKW Berlin. Curry aims to provide students with the key concepts of journalistic writing and reporting, from the basic elements of a news story to pitching, reporting and writing. His reporting principle is that there is no one correct way of writing a news story. Instead, he encourages students to tell readers in a news-y way about who was there, what they said, why it was newsworthy, where and when the event took place, and what the audience reaction was (the so-called essential five Ws).

As a kid and university student, Curry lived in California and Washington, D.C., where he used to bike around a lot. Still today, he perceives cycling as a symbol of relaxation and inspiration. It helps him think and enter a different mind space. Cycling in Berlin radicalized him and made him aware of traffic, dangers and other aspects that need to be improved in the urban space of the city. Cycling is a precious time for the mind to zone out.

“One of the great things about cycling is the rhythm of the year: The ride that leaves me barely able to climb the stairs afterwards in March will seem like an easy jaunt in October, when the leaves fall once again, and then winter will come, and the wheels will turn once more,” Curry said in an Instagram post.

These impulses for wandering and mobility but also a sense of time and rhythm find expression in Curry’s curiosity with scientific topics, more specifically, archeology. He did not study history but he was always interested in it and archeology is a big part of history. “It is hard to find news in history. Archeologists make discoveries which are news but the narrative around them is the news story,” Curry explains.

Coming to Germany, Curry thought that he would write about politics. But eventually he developed his interest in science and history and decided to embrace it in his journalistic work, as it requires some background knowledge on the topics, and the fact that science publications actually pay well. “Science reporting is like any reporting,” says Curry. So even if science is not your thing, but reporting is, here is some invaluable advice from Curry to keep in mind:

The Five Ws – Accuracy and Clarity

The goal of the coverage of any event, talk, or speech as a news story is to give readers information about what happened at a specific time and place. Readers need to know the who, what, how, when and why. Who was there? What did they say? How did other people who were there react to what happened? When and where did it take place? Why should we care? News coverage requires close attention to accuracy and balance. The five Ws are the most newsworthy elements of a report and will keep the facts straight.

The Headline

The key point of a headline is to say what matters and tell the readers briefly what the story is about. Ιf you had to imagine that you knew nothing about the story, what information would motivate you to read more about it? What is the information that will catch the eye? Being conversational is very important. You are naturally trying to communicate with others after all. As Curry says, avoid quotes, colons and journalese.

The Lead

Τhe structure of the lead varies depending on the content, purpose and audience of the story. There are certainly different ways to start a story and the lead will set the tone, mood and direction for everything that follows. If there are no unanswered questions in your reporting and the ultimate goal of accuracy and clarity have been achieved, an emerging lead that reflects your story will appear.

The Nut

News stories often follow the inverted pyramid structure that weighs facts according to newsworthiness based on the journalist’s judgment. The nut is the main core of the report. It is up to the writer whether the basic information of the five Ws will come before key quotes or after. Key quotes and interesting facts summarize, analyze and give relevant details to the readers. It is essential to get quotes and interview participants for reaction during the reporting.

The Kicker

The kicker is the last sentence of the story and aims to surprise, amuse, get the reader to ponder, -or summarize the story. It can be a quote or a simple conclusion.

Practice and enjoy it

Andrew Curry might consider journalism to be a lucky job, but he would not deny that journalistic writing requires practice and careful analysis. He suggests that reading other people’s work, questioning the way the details have been collected, considering the reader’s interest and the sources is the key to success.

To check out Curry’s recent publications click on the links here: