From icebreakers to basic income – international media showed great interest in Finland in 2018

Every year the Communications Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs organises tens of visits for foreign media and decision-makers. The visits are part of the long-term work on communications and Finland’s country image. They help to strengthen Finland’s political, economic and cultural impact, promote trade and economic relations, and brighten our country image. Visits are organised in close cooperation with other promotion organisations. Key partners include Finnfacts and the City of Helsinki.

In 2018 the Ministry for Foreign Affairs participated in organising more the 30 visits constructed around topical events, attended by about 300 media representatives. The themes of these visits included the Finnish education system, Arctic issues, expertise in the circular economy, heavy metal music, presidential elections, and new cultural buildings in Helsinki. Visitors were also invited to various kinds of events, including Slush, Tubecon and Flow Festival. During 2018 the media showed particular interest in the experiment on basic income, the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats and, the all-time favourite, maternity package.

The visits produced a total of 420 news articles published in foreign media and showcased Finland in 56 countries. The news articles reached an estimated 369 million media consumers. The numbers of articles published were the greatest in Russia, Japan, South Korea, Great Britain and the United States. The tone of the media coverage was very positive: two-thirds of the articles were positive and one-third were neutral.

Almost 800 hits in social media generated by the visits involving the Ministry for Foreign Affairs were analysed, almost 80% of these on Twitter. The greatest numbers of hits in social media came from Lebanon, Nigeria and Japan.

“It is important for the media to hear the stories directly from the Finns, on location. At best the journalist becomes a big fan of Finland, with enthusiasm that lasts for many, many years. However, the visits are not only about presenting a glossy picture of our country, but the aim is to honestly show all sides and tell about the problems and challenges we are trying to solve”, says Eevamari Laaksonen who coordinates the visits at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Besides the visits concerned with specific themes, the team of the Communications Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs participates in organising many kinds of other visits. The most prominent event in 2018 was #HELSINKI2018, with about 1,800 media representatives accredited by the Communications Department.

The assessment of the visits for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was conducted by M-Brain Insight Oy.