Christian Burger, Head of Communications + Marketing
Switzerland is a land with many special characteristics. It is one of the richest, most innovative countries in the world. With over 770,000 Swiss nationals living abroad, it is a major country of emigration – while with more than two million foreign residents it is also a major country of immigration. Its mountains give it unique flora and fauna. It is a direct democracy with a unique dual education system. Though it is home to countless peacemaking organizations, it has nonetheless decided – in the heart of a united Europe – to plough its own furrow.
All these special characteristics – and countless others – require a great deal of explanation, especially for people who are directly affected like Swiss nationals living abroad, expats and immigrants. But the people of other countries who are interested in Switzerland need information too. They want to know what things are really like in Switzerland, why Switzerland is the way it is, why its electorate votes the way it does rather than differently. And SWI swissinfo.ch (SWI) creates understanding that is independent of language and the cultural environment, facilitates pluralistic opinion-forming – and not least it has a voice in a world where the media in many places pursue their own political and economic agendas.
Just as Switzerland and its topics are diverse, so are the readers of SWI and the channels through which they access its content. Headlong technological development has led to a veritable explosion in available content and channels, which differ from one language and cultural environment to another and can change extremely fast. One of the greatest challenges for a small international medium like SWI is to position itself with the right topics in the right place at the right time, and to give its readers a connection to Switzerland and its Swiss subject matter.
This mission was central to our communication and marketing in 2017. Data analyses were conducted to find out which topics are of most interest to our readers, how they find these topics, and what role is played by the changing uses of technology. Data from Parsely, one of the biggest publisher analysts, show that different sources – social media, web searches, apps or bookmarks – are preferred for different topics. On the basis of this knowledge the distribution of swissinfo.ch content was optimized, and new ways were found to create a presence with our readers and to be discovered by them. But it is just as important to give readers the opportunity to establish a simple, direct connection to their subject: for example with newsletters focusing on our core topics, through our app or the corresponding social media channels, or not least even off-line, with SWI being present at the annual meeting of the Swiss Abroad organization.
Only by staying in touch can we present our content to our readers credibly and sustainably, entering into a differentiated dialogue with them. And only dialogue can provide answers to the important questions and create understanding. We shall therefore continue in 2018 to strengthen the connection to our readers, with the objective of making SWI swissinfo.ch everybody's "connection to Switzerland", regardless of language, time and location.