Ulkoministeriö / Utrikesministeriet

MFA: Survey based on reviews by Finnish missions abroad: Education, equality, and Sanna Marin raised Finland’s profile in foreign media in 2019

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A report entitled Finland in the World Media, based on Finnish diplomatic and consular missions’ reviews of the visibility of Finland in foreign media, shows that Finland continues to attract wide international coverage. The change of government towards the end of 2019 and Sanna Marin’s appointment as Prime Minister attracted exceptionally wide international interest in Finland. As in previous years, other key themes connected to Finland were the education system, equality, and gender equality.

Finland in the World Media is an annual survey based on Finnish missions’ assessments of what content and news attracted media interest in their host countries and what Finnish strengths and weaknesses were featured in foreign media in the year under review.

On a scale of 1 to 5 – from critical to ideal – Finland’s overall media attention score in 2019 was 4.05. The corresponding figures in 2018 and 2017 were 4.07 and 3.96, respectively.

Sanna Marin and equality put Finland in the spotlight

In December, the Sanna Marin phenomenon swept across the international media, putting Finland in the media spotlight in an unprecedented way. In its assessment, the Finnish Embassy in Washington, DC described Finland’s visibility in the United States as follows: “The big news at the end of the year was Sanna Marin’s appointment as Prime Minister – everyone on the street seemed to know about it. Between 8 and 15 December, there were more than 1,500 news reports related to Marin published in the United States. This included all the major media houses in the US, from the New York Times to the Washington Post and from NPR to NBC. Finland’s new Prime Minister also featured on social media and late-night shows.”

The new Prime Minister was prominently featured in the Asian media, too: “The appointment of Sanna Marin as Prime Minister was probably the most significant news about Finland in the Myanmar media; a young successful female politician is held in high esteem here just like in other countries,” says the Finnish Embassy in its report from Yangon.

Laura Kamras, Director of the Unit for Public Diplomacy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, says the survey provides interesting information about Finland’s visibility and, more particularly, the themes that increase Finland’s presence in foreign media. “The survey helps those engaged in country branding work, such as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Visit Finland, and Finnish cities, to monitor the visibility of their long-term media cooperation in international contexts,” says Kamras.

“Last year’s crosscutting theme in our country branding work was equality,” she says. “The fact that equality was the topic that sparked interest in the new government in December confirms the idea that the themes we raise in our country branding work always convey a genuine, fact-based picture of Finland.”

Education and climate action are Finland’s strengths

As in the previous surveys, the quality of education was clearly the single most prominent theme related to Finland in the world media. Finland’s proactive Government Programme with its emphasis on climate action, and Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which kept climate high on the agenda, also contributed to the positive media coverage.

In 2019, Finland held top positions in several international rankings. One of the most closely monitored comparisons was the World Happiness Report published by the UN. According to the Finnish Embassy in Singapore, holding the top position as the happiest country of the world for the second consecutive year further promoted Finland’s reputation. Finland also held top positions in the IMD Smart Cities Index, the Global Innovation Index and the Work-Life Balance Index.

Finland in the World Media looked at all types of media, but newspapers were monitored particularly closely. The information is based on the assessments of Finland’s diplomatic and cultural missions abroad and, for some countries, on outsourced media monitoring. Of Finland’s 89 foreign missions, 75 responded to the survey. A selection of general assessments, the missions’ own views, and direct media citations are presented in the summary.

Inquiries: Laura Kamras, Director of the Unit for Public Diplomacy, tel. +358 295 351 558 or Harri Kilpi, Communications Coordinator, tel. +358 295 351 342.

The Foreign Ministry's email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi.

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