Definition and objectives

The Swiss pavilion at Expo Milano 2015, a wooden modular house with people standing around it
Representing Switzerland abroad: the Swiss pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

Switzerland’s communication abroad is a part of the country’s efforts to represent its foreign interests by means of public relations methods and tools. Its aim is to promote a positive and nuanced perception of Switzerland abroad and so help the country to safeguard its interests at an international level. Presence Switzerland is in charge of the practical implementation of communication abroad.

Presenting a nuanced and positive of image of Switzerland abroad is not an end in itself but an important instrument for promoting Switzerland as an international location. It has an impact on areas such as foreign policy negotiations, investments, economic, academic and cultural exchanges, and tourism. 

Communication abroad analyses the perception of Switzerland in other countries and uses this to develop appropriate measures and instruments for promoting the country’s image. It is planned and organised in accordance with the Federal Act and Ordinance on the Promotion of Switzerland's Image Abroad and also the Strategy for Communication Abroad 2016–19, approved by the Federal Council on 6 July 2016.

The Strategy for Communication Abroad 2016–19 focuses on 11 key areas:

  • Switzerland’s role in Europe
  • Switzerland’s political system
  • Swiss solidarity and sense of responsibility
  • International Geneva
  • Education, research and innovation
  • Economy and competitiveness
  • Tourism
  • Environment, transport and energy
  • Financial and tax issues
  • Culture
  • Sport

Ensuring that its achievements in these areas are better promoted abroad will bolster the perception of Switzerland as an innovative and competitive nation with a sense of solidarity and responsibility as well as a high standard of living and an attractive business environment.

Instruments of communication abroad

There are two categories of instrument used in communication abroad:

  • those of monitoring and analysis
  • those of information and communication

The instruments of monitoring and analysis make it possible to develop the strategic bases of communication abroad and also to identify priority issues and to take early initiatives in countering crises threatening Switzerland’s image.

The instruments of information and communication transmit specialised contents in an adequate manner, by presenting them in an appropriate form for the target group (general public, opinion leaders or media). These instruments include the following:

  • platforms abroad,
  • platforms in Switzerland,
  • digital platforms and social media,
  • information materials and promotional products,
  • as well as corporate design.

Consistency and networking

It is indispensable for Switzerland to have a consistent communication abroad. This thus put into effect in close cooperation with Switzerland’s representations abroad and in a coordinated manner between the FDFA and the specialised administrative units competent for specific subjects.

To achieve this objective an inter-department monitoring group has been set up. It is directed jointly by Presence Switzerland and the Federal Chancellery.

The remit for communication abroad is defined in the federal act of parliament and the ordinance on the promotion of Switzerland’s image abroad. It consists of the promotion of general knowledge about Switzerland, the presentation of Switzerland’s political interests and positions to a target public abroad and the establishment and maintenance of the network of relations between Switzerland and decision makers and opinion leaders abroad.

In the event of a threat to Switzerland’s image abroad or in a situation of image crisis, it is the responsibility of communication abroad to submit a communication masterplan to the Federal Council.