The President, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs were among the most visible Finns abroad in 2022
The Finnish missions and embassies report that following the application for NATO membership and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Finland’s political leaders featured prominently in the international media. In 2021, it was Finnish athletes who received most mentions in the international news media, but last year President Sauli Niinistö, Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto rose to the top of the list alongside athletes.
The application for NATO membership and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine significantly increased Finland’s total visibility in 2022. According to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs media review, Finland’s visibility tripled in the international media compared to 2021.
The Finland in the World Media report combines observations by Finland’s missions and embassies on the media coverage of Finland with the results of quantitative media monitoring. The review provides an overview of the themes and content related to Finland that made headlines in the international media in the past year.
Finland’s preparedness and defence capabilities were widely admired
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine aroused the international media’s interest in Finland’s views and position as Russia’s neighbour. The war increased public awareness of the long land border between Finland and Russia, and the press reported on the related border control regulations.
The missions report that Finland’s preparedness and defence capability were noted in the media in several countries.
“In the context of NATO, Finland was described as a well-prepared country that is constantly developing its defence capabilities. The media emphasised that Finland’s membership in NATO would strengthen the alliance,” said the Finnish Embassy in Warsaw.
NATO-related news coverage was mainly neutral
The international media closely followed the progress of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership process and, in particular, Türkiye’s demands in this regard. The media were also interested in Finland’s military alliance.
News stories were mainly neutral and based on reports by international news agencies. In the European media, there was an abundance of coverage and the tone was positive. The most clearly negative stories could be found in the Russian and Chinese media.
“Finland was more visible in the world media in 2022 than ever before. This visibility has not only been positive for us, but it has also increased familiarity with Finland. The image of Finland has been renewed by topics related to foreign and security policy as well as the significant visibility of the country’s leaders,” summarises Mikko Koivumaa, Director General of Communications at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
New names among the top Finnish athletes
Sport plays an important role in the country brand and Finland’s visibility in the international media. The Finnish national ice hockey team made headlines in 2022 as it won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics and the Ice Hockey World Championships. The skier Iivo Niskanen’s success at the Olympics was also covered in the news.
Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas was the most visible Finn in 2022 with 189,000 mentions, although his name is more rarely connected with Finland or Finnishness. The Finnish embassies and missions report that some new names also made it to the list of top Finnish athletes. The media followed basketball player Lauri Markkanen’s career progression in the NBA and rally driver Kalle Rovanperä’s historic world championship victory as the youngest driver of all time.
“To Estonian people, Finnish sports heroes are almost like their own, so people were especially eager to follow ice hockey, skiing, motorsports and athletics – sports in which Finnish sportspeople did well,” says the Finnish Embassy in Tallinn.
The exceptional year brought exceptional visibility to Finnish political leaders
The number of mentions of the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the international media increased significantly in a year. In 2022, President Niinistö was mentioned 141,000 times in the international media, compared to 9,289 the previous year. Minister for Foreign Affairs Haavisto was mentioned 8,687 times in 2021 and as many as 53,500 times last year.
Prime Minister Marin was the most visible Finnish politician in the foreign media with 146,000 mentions. A year earlier, the number was 19,594. The application for NATO membership was the one topic that stood out in relation to the Prime Minister’s visibility. The missions also report that Finland received a lot of favourable publicity thanks to the Prime Minister’s female-led government.
The uproar over the Prime Minister’s partying was also noted by the world media, but the news coverage was mainly neutral or positive.
“The fuss about Prime Minister Marin’s partying was discussed on television and radio, mainly in a rather positive tone. Many people said that things must be going well in Finland if such a story managed to create such a fuss.” said the Finnish Embassy in Tunisia about the publicity the story gained.
The media review provides tools for country branding efforts
The aim of the annual Finland in the World Media review is to find out what the world media say when they talk about Finland. The review covered all media, with a particular focus on digital news media.
The report consists of both quantitative and qualitative analyses. The quantitative section is based on global, multilingual data compiled using media monitoring software.
The qualitative analysis is based on the observations made by 68 Finnish embassies and missions. The missions responded to the survey between December 2022 and January 2023.
In addition to the overall monitoring of Finland’s reputation overseas, media monitoring by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is applied in country branding efforts.
“The global interest in the application for NATO membership must now be turned in Finland’s favour, and the opportunities it brings must be utilised both politically and economically,” Director General of Communications Koivumaa continues.
- Finland in the World Media 2022 (pdf)(Link to another website.)
- Country Image Annual Report 2023 (in Finnish)(Link to another website.)
- Press release (13.3.2023) International visibility increases Finland’s influence
Media enquiries and interview requests
- Mikko Koivumaa, Director General of Communications, tel. +358 295 350 427
- Hanna Schneider, Content and Communications Specialist, tel. +358 295 350 551
- The email addresses of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs are in the format email@example.com