Monitoring and Analysis
What is Switzerland’s image abroad and how can it be nurtured and improved? Successful communication abroad requires a precise picture of how Switzerland is perceived in other countries and where its strengths and weaknesses lie. The legal mandate of Switzerland’s communication abroad requires the observation and analysis of the perception of Switzerland’s image abroad, as well as the early detection of potential crises so to allow responding in good time and taking appropriate measures for communication.
Perception of Switzerland in the foreign public
Switzerland’s image in the broad public abroad is generally positive. This is confirmed in various image studies and reputation indices such as the Nation Brands Index. Traditional aspects such as the Swiss landscape and quality products have a positive and lasting impact on the perception of Switzerland among the general foreign public. Well-known stereotypes such as the Alps, watches and chocolate are positive factors, too.
In addition, Switzerland’s strengths include good governance, political stability, the close relationship between citizens and politics, its high quality of life and a pronounced awareness of the environment. Switzerland also scores well in the fields of education, research, health care and transportation. Swiss personalities from the worlds of sport, culture and entertainment also have a positive influence even if overall Switzerland continues to have quite a low profile in these areas.
It can be stated that the influence of the “traditional and tourist Switzerland” on perceptions is closely correlated to geographical distance and the level of general knowledge of Switzerland in the public. In countries far away, for instance in Asia or Latin America, the perception is more positive than in our neighbouring countries where image studies indicate Switzerland’s strong association with banks and terms with negative connotations such as “tax haven” or “cherry-picker” (in the EU). These associations appear in some extent in the general public but much more among foreign opinion-makers in politics, business and the media.
Switzerland as mirrored in the foreign media
In contrast to Switzerland’s positive image in the general public, a more critical picture is to be found in the foreign media. Compared with its size and international importance, Switzerland has a relatively high profile in the foreign media. This has increased in the recent past in the context of various financial and tax issues, public debates on the issue of foreigners, as well as the ongoing strength of the Swiss franc in the light of the European debt crisis. As a result of this, the tone of media reporting especially in our neighbouring countries has become noticeably more critical.
In contrast, there is reporting to a more limited extent on themes which have a positive impact, such as the stability and competitiveness of the Swiss economy, innovative political approaches to health care, energy, the environment and research, and direct democracy.
Instruments of analysis
In implementing its legal mandate, Presence Switzerland develops and operates a number of analytical instruments for preparing the strategic foundations of Switzerland’s communication abroad, identifying priority themes and channels of communication, together with the early detection of image crises.
- Image and perception studies
PRS regularly conducts image and reputation studies for the purpose of measuring the perception of Switzerland in the general public and with opinion-makers, working closely with Swiss and foreign scientific partners. On the one hand, these studies involve quantitative assessments of Switzerland’s image in the general public of selected countries obtained by means of representative and standardised surveys. On the other hand, studies are conducted through qualitative interviews to analyse the perception of particular themes in more depth.
- Media monitoring
Presence Switzerland operates a permanent software-based media monitoring which covers both the classical leading media of the most important countries from a foreign policy perspective as well as new media such as blogs and social net-works. The results of the media monitoring are published regularly as analyses with recommendations and are subsequently integrated in Switzerland’s short and long term communication abroad, for instance as weekly reports, quarterly and annual analyses, thematic and geographical in-depth analyses.
As a centre of competence for monitoring and analyses, Presence Switzerland advises other federal agencies on questions of Switzerland’s image and communication abroad and produces analyses as required.