The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) and SWI swissinfo.ch

A summary by Ariane Rustichelli, Director of the OSA

On 18 August 2017, the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) and SWI swissinfo.ch (SWI) signed a new partnership agreement. The purpose of this document, which replaces all pre-existing contracts, is to strengthen the natural synergies between the two institutions in the years ahead.

Although the two organizations differ in legal status and in their respective missions, each addresses itself to an audience sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Switzerland”. In other words, our close on 780,000 compatriots who live abroad. In the case of SWI, Swiss citizens living abroad, though a priority, are not the only audience catered for, while the work of the OSA is devoted exclusively to this demographic.

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad is a private foundation which represents and defends the interests of Swiss citizens throughout the world. Its role in speaking up for the “Fifth Switzerland” is recognized by the federal authorities. It also performs other tasks enshrined in the Federal Constitution (Art. 45 bis). For instance, the OSA is required to “strengthen the bonds between Swiss people living abroad with one another and with their homeland”, a duty which it carries out by offering a wide range of services. These include the task of keeping Swiss expatriates well informed, so that they can maintain a strong link with Switzerland, exercise their political rights wisely, and be aware of their rights and duties as citizens.

While the priority of SWI is to provide news coverage on an ongoing basis, “La Revue Suisse”, a magazine published by the OSA six times a year in five languages, focuses on in-depth analysis. The kinds of information provided by the OSA and SWI are therefore clearly complementary. Working together to facilitate exchanges at editorial level was therefore a natural development.

But it was also a question of sharing our respective expertise in response to a major societal challenge: the fragmentation of the traditional readership. Nowadays we no longer address a monolithic audience. This is mainly because of changes in reading habits, affecting the form, content and medium of communication. A further factor are ever more restrictive budgetary constraints and increases in the expenses associated with the new information technologies. The aim then is to diversify the content to match the different distribution channels, especially the social media, while at the same time cutting costs. Certainly a tall order! To become more “agile” while maintaining high quality standards, it is vital to strengthen existing partnerships and establish new ones.

On behalf of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, I would like to thank SWI most warmly for the long and fruitful cooperation we have now enjoyed for more than fifteen years. Trust and mutual respect have always been the cornerstone of our partnership. And thanks to the new synergies we have put in place, we are able to respond to the transformations of an ever more complex society, in which the expectations of our target audiences are increasingly diverse. There is no doubt that, as a result of our cooperation, a virtuous circle has been established, whereby we shall each be strengthened.

Ariane Rustichelli

Ariane Rustichelli has been director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) since 1st January 2014.

After graduating from the University of Neuchâtel in Literature and Human Sciences in 2001, she gained further degrees in History of Art, History and Journalism.

In 2014, she was awarded an EMBA by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland (HEG ARC, Neuchâtel-Berne-Jura), specializing in leadership in innovation and sustainable development.

She began her professional career in 2001, working for the watchmaker Longines, as assistant to the Communication Director. From 2002 to 2006, she was curator and project manager at the Cabinet des Estampes of the Swiss National Library. From 2007 to 2008, she worked freelance as a consultant in cultural strategy and communication. Finally, in 2008 she began working at the OSA as manager of the Marketing and Communication Department.