Back 2020.08.17

What has been said about Lithuania in the world media over the last six months

Lithuania’s name has come up more than 43 000 times on foreign internet portals and more than 200 000 times in social networks over the last six months. The key fields included governance (domestic and foreign policy), tourism, investment and immigration. Most mentions have been found on the internet news portals of the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia. The analysis completed by the Brand Lithuania Group of the Office of the Government on the presence of Lithuania in news portals and social networks of 13 target foreign countries (Latvia, Estonia, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Israel, Russia, Poland, Belarus) has shown a positive sentiment about our country in the second quarter; with largely dominating neutral or positive tones.

‘The overall flow of on-line texts has come markedly down in the second quarter, so did the mentions of our country, still, due to the proactive communication efforts by the country’s public bodies and Vilnius City Tourism and Business Development Agency GO Vilnius, Lithuania has managed not only to remain visible in the face of COVID-19 through contextual messages but also grab the headlines. We are seeing qualitative changes, as there is a significant increase in the number of mentions of the country on influential and high-reach news portals. It is a positive trend, which means greater digital visibility and the overall awareness of the country’, notes Marius Gurskas, Head of Lithuania Brand Unit.

The analysis shows that the largest number of mentions has been spotted in online news portals in the United Kingdom (9.926 mentions), Germany (9.140 mentions), Russia (7.378 mentions) and Latvia (6.398 mentions).

We have looked into the international feedback on the news about Lithuania in the fields of governance (foreign and domestic policy), tourism, exports, investment and immigration, culture and heritage, population, sports. The largest interest has been attracted by the news about the governance (46.44% of all the news), tourism (16.27%), investment and immigration (14.64%).

In comparison to the first quarter, the second quarter has seen the overall decrease in the number of Lithuania’s mentions on internet portals (26.21%) and social networks (4.86%).

Culture and public campaigns dominate in the positive news flow

Culture has attracted the most positive reviews and feedback throughout the last six months. The Lithuanian culture and the achievements of the country’s artists have enjoyed a considerable coverage by world media, which largely contributes to the promotion of the country. Works by Lithuanian photographers, film and theatre community, musicians and dancers have been most visible in the last six months. Among the most popular, were soloist Asmik Grigorian, theatre director Oskaras Koršunovas, and the godfather of avant-garde film Jonas Mekas. Foreign media has increasingly portrayed Lithuania as an exclusive spot for filmmaking. It has been well witnessed by the critically acclaimed and internationally recognised series filmed in our country: Stranger Things and Chernobyl. The victory of Lithuanian representatives at the Venice Biennale has continued to resonate in the media. The world also spoke about the 30th anniversary of Lithuania’s independence and the 300th anniversary of the Vilnius Gaon. A significant number of positive posts have been generated by the Roop, this year’s representatives of our country in the Eurovision song contest and their success in the alternative Eurovision contests.

Our cultural news dominated the news media portals of Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Latvia and Germany.

The proactive communication by public institutions and Vilnius City and their campaigns in the face of COVID-19 have generated a number of significant positive posts. Although a large part of on-line texts have been focussed on COVID-19, the country’s social and cultural initiatives in response to the challenges of the pandemic have not gone unnoticed.  The Baltic travel bubble has been the greatest hit, having generated more than 1 400 messages, thus potentially reaching 5 billion audience. Vilnius City initiatives also received a great attention: opening public spaces for cafes and restaurants, open-air cinema, face-mask fashion week and others. A considerable popularity has been attracted by volunteer initiatives, tech-solution-based protective equipment, the Coin of Hope, which immortalised communion and solidarity in the face of the pandemic, the Thank You, Lithuania! campaign and others.

Other positive sentiment-generators have been: the campaign Discover Colours You Never Knew Existed by Tourist Information Centre Keliauk Lietuvoje, the international virtual event Fintech Week Lithuania (organised by the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Economy and Innovation, Ministry of Finance, ROCKIT, FintechLithuania and FintechHubLT), first-time Fintech awards. Innovative solutions in the public sector, like the GovTech Lab initiative have been noticed too.

Media Favourability Index: Lithuania enjoys positive media image internationally

The analysis of the information reports in foreign news portals, which rests on the methodologies of the Favourability Index and the Average Sentiment Ratio, has revealed a positive image of Lithuania. The analysis has taken note of only significant and exclusive mentions of Lithuania in the foreign media in the second quarter, which accounted for 21% (715) of all reports analysed.

‘With neutral news dominating (44.1% of significant mentions of Lithuania), positive news (34.69% of significant mentions) however were what had the greatest impact on Lithuania’s awareness and what reached the largest audience. This has largely contributed to the positive image of the country across the foreign media. The number of readers potentially reached by positive messages was 1.7 times higher than the number of readers reached by neutral messages, and 4 times higher than that reached by negative messages. Negative mentions accounted for the smallest share of significant mentions of Lithuania, i.e. 21.21%’, says Jūratė Jazbutytė, Adviser at Brand Lithuania Unit.

Most of the negative-tone texts in the foreign media have been about the effects of the COVID-19. They also included criminal activities of Lithuanian citizens in foreign countries, discussions on the memory of the Holocaust, the planned terrorist attack in Vilnius, the murder of officer S. Žymantas, demographic problems in Lithuania, and Grigeo Klaipėda pollution issue with the Curonian Lagoon. It is notable however that the negative news account only for 9.77% of all the news about Lithuania during the reference period, besides, they are fragmentary and too feeble to significant impact country’s image abroad.

Photo R. Surovec