Making new friends for Finland through international media work

International Marketing and PR trainee Julia Kinnunen shares her top-of-mind thoughts and learnings about international media work after a year at Business Finland. Through her own experience, she learned that Finns are not only the happiest people on earth – but also trustworthy partners who create the building blocks for future happiness.

Since 2018, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world according to the UN World Happiness Report. Photo: Visit Finland / Saimaa Cycle Tours

Building Finland’s country image

The aim of Business Finland’s international media work is to increase awareness for Finland from the country image perspective in earned media. The better Finland and its strengths are known, the more successful Finland and the Finns will be, in many ways.

A strong country image makes it easier to attract international talent and investment. It also improves the conditions for Finnish companies to conduct international trade.

Recent studies show that Finland’s image is positive, but struggles with low awareness. Although the development is going in the right direction, Finland still lags behind compared to its peer countries. Global visibility in earned media is an effective way to raise awareness, as it often reaches large audiences and is more trusted than paid advertising.

In 2023, Business Finland's international media work (excluding travel promotion by Visit Finland) resulted in over 700 media hits with a global reach of up to 1.9 billion pairs of eyes. This was achieved by preparing and distributing press releases, organizing media trips, implementing PR activities around events, and active pitching in selected target markets.

Happiness is hot – and makes us cool

The UN World Happiness Report recently ranked Finland as the happiest country in the world for an impressive seventh consecutive year. This fundamental pillar of Finland's country image is also good for business. The basis for Finnish happiness can be explained by an open and well-functioning society based on trust. Studies show that trust and a sense of freedom contribute to well-being and productivity. When we feel safe and can rely on each other, we are able to authentically collaborate and unleash resources for innovation.

Happiness arouses interest. Happiness is universally relatable. Others want to be part of it. It is a conversation that everyone wants to join. As a small country, it would be foolish to decline such a springboard to global visibility. Happiness is an umbrella message that connects the dots when communicating Finland’s strengths across industries. In Finland, we are not only the happiest people on earth – we are also carving the building blocks for future happiness.

Storytelling with impact

The international media landscape is characterized by being full of news and players competing for the spotlight. Since an organization like Business Finland rarely has breaking news of particular interest to the international media, the content is mainly based on storytelling. For Business Finland, storytelling means translating Finland’s strengths into innovative messages that resonate with international audiences. The focus is crucial: What is the story we want to tell? Why is it relevant?

To participate and succeed in the game, a strategic and long-term approach is required. The focus should be on allocating resources to activities that have a demonstrable impact.

While we want to reach a wide audience around the world, quantity does not trump quality. An article in a widespread media may reach a large number of readers. However, a more in-depth article in a more specific trade publication may be more valuable in terms of reaching the right target audience and conveying the intended message. When measuring impact, it is important to consider the results of the media analysis in relation to the objectives and draw appropriate conclusions.

Even the best story and a perfectly written press release will not guarantee success. Consistency is key – building the story, nurturing media contacts and working with competent PR agencies. A smooth cooperation with local PR agencies in the target markets is vital in creating local news angles, navigating the local media landscape and leveraging networks.

New Friends for Finland

Media trips are known to be an effective way to introduce the representatives of media to a specific topic and to get media coverage for it. Last year, Business Finland organized five media trips for international media: 40 journalists from 11 different countries were invited to deep dive into Finnish forerunner companies, the latest technology innovations and pioneering research discoveries. To date, these media trips have resulted in more than 90 articles mainly in news and business media as well as industry specific trade media, and have reached a huge number of people in different countries.

On top of visiting companies and research centres and meeting with experts, our aim is to provide unique experiences that will leave an unforgettable impression of Finland. Finnish culture, such as culinary and sauna traditions, is an integral part of each trip. Our aim is not only to tell success stories about Finland and try to turn the spotlight on Finland, but also to make new friends for Finland across industries – and beyond. 

Finland has many strengths but together we have the power to change the world. Let us believe in our own story and let us all be storytellers. ❤️


Julia Kinnunen
Trainee, International Marketing & PR Julia Kinnunen