Visibility workshop started with Knowledge, presented by Markku Heikkilä from Arctic Centre.
(All photos by Jonas Karlsbakk, Norwegian Barents Secretariat (NBS))
Barents Cooperation can get more visible inside the Region and on social media
The 25th Anniversary of signing the Kirkenes Declaration and the 10th Anniversary of establishing the International Barents Secretariat (IBS) were celebrated in the middle of January in Kirkenes. A special Visibility Workshop was held to discuss how to get Barents cooperation better known among the stakeholders, collaboration partners, politicians and people living in the Barents region.
The workshop started with some basic facts about where we are now in terms of Visibility. This forum has been introduced now to the wider audience through the web-site, Twitter and Facebook. It was clearly stated by many speakers, that active informing about the achieved results is the key element in promoting Barents Cooperation.
Both National and Regional Chairmanships presented their priorities and goals set for communications. BEAC Committee of Senior Officials' (CSO) Chair Elinor Blomberg underlined, that there is a need now for the development of external communications with clear key messages for different target groups. Young people are of high importance since they are our future decision-makers. Sweden, as the BEAC Chair, intends to intensify this work by arranging several events already in the spring time. Barents Regional Council's Chair Ragnhild Vassvik supported this idea and stressed the need for better communicating success stories.
The Arctic Council Secretariat has been actively communicating the results of this cooperation forum on social media since 2014. Communications Officer Tom Fries described, that during this time, the Secretariat, being also limited in resources, has achieved significant growth in terms of visibility due to regular dissemination of the information about their activity. Tim Andersson, Chair of the international network of journalists Barents Press, and Amanda Åsberg from the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, also presented their methods of attracting people to learn more about cross-border cooperation and the life in the Barents region.
It was very illustrative, that people tend to read more news about new Interns than interviews with high-level politicians! Personal story-telling and practical results attract more readers.
Tom Fries from Arctic Council Secretariat presented social media as a tool to promote Visibility.
Many participants of the workshop shared the same view, that there are good results achieved during the last 25 years in cross-border cooperation and those success stories need only to be communicated to the wider audience. Such unique features, characterizing the Barents identity, as openness and diversity could be better communicated to raise awareness about this cooperation and increase interest for it also in the capitals and outside the region.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media could be better utilized in promoting the positive story-telling especially about people-to-people and youth cooperation, but due to the limited communications resources we will need everyone’s input in this work. At the end of the day it was agreed to unite efforts in making Barents cooperation more known and visible.
Tomas Hallberg (right) moderating the workshop. Here accompanied by Head of NBS Lars Georg Fordal.