Finland’s Foreign Ministry will launch a promotional drive on the ‘ThisisFinland’ YouTube channel featuring ten young Finns with something to say about the country. The ministry reckons it may be the first time a similar body has handed over their official account.
Finland’s official promotion body is taking a new approach with its YouTube channel by handing it over to ten young experts in the medium. They will produce their own videos with just two stipulations: they have to be in English and in Finland.
ThisisFinland, which operates under the Foreign Ministry, thinks this could be the first time a country promotion body has allowed guests to run its YouTube channel, although the move draws clear inspiration from neighbouring Sweden’s bold use of its Twitter account. The Swedish Foreign Ministry handed that channel over to ordinary Swedes for a week at a time.
Finland’s YouTube stunt is a little different. All of the video makers involved already have successful YouTube accounts, so it is not a complete stab in the dark—the ministry has some idea of what they might choose to do with the platform.
Their chosen starlets currently make videos about makeup, fashion, nature, BMX biking, video gaming, dance music and prank calls, among many other topics.
According to the Director of Public diplomacy at the ministry, Petra Theman, it’s a necessary step to take.
"The idea came about when I realised that a 43-year-old aunty type like me was not the right person to make content for this target group," said Theman.
Part of her work is, she says, to promote Finnish values and strengths. One of those is openness, which the campaign aims to demonstrate under the tagline “things you should and shouldn’t know”.
"It’s a risk, I have to admit," said Theman. "If they go too far we might have to discuss things, but I’d rather start with the attitude that we trust them."
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."