Foreword

Freedom of speech, openness and impartiality are among the core values in Finland’s central government. The media environment in Finland is rated one of the most free in the world.

The fifth edition of the Central Government Communications Guidelines explains the values governing communications, outlines the duties and describes the changes in the field of communications and how these changes impact public authorities. It serves as a basis for different government organisations to draw up their own more detailed communications guidelines.

Openness is instrumental in the daily activities of the government. Open and interactive communications are an integral part of good governance. Reliability is the bedrock of all government activities and an essential asset. Openness and trust go hand in hand. Without openness there is no trust.

Public authorities are expected to use clear, intelligible and appropriate language. To succeed in communications, the message must be comprehensible. Citizens are entitled to obtain public information relating to them in an understandable format.

Public authorities should be aware of the expectations of the public and other stakeholders. Our job is to provide services to all stakeholders with impartiality, and different viewpoints must be duly considered in all communications. Service-mindedness applies to all public authorities.

Communications is a vital part of organisation’s daily strategic activities. It is managed, planned, developed and assessed on a daily basis. Communications is an essential part of everyone’s job. The management in each organisation is responsible for making sure openness works properly, while communications professionals support the management and employees in their communications. These Guidelines are therefore intended for both communications professionals and all central government employees.

Finland is undergoing major reforms in society. To follow through with these reforms, public authorities need to deepen cooperation in communications. Cooperation is also needed to be prepared for unforeseeable situations.  This means that one must be able to react swiftly and flexibly through different communications channels, and often outside office hours. By working together we can pool resources and find new ways of communicating.

The need to measure and assess the impact of communications as well as to learn more about the operating environment is greater than ever before. With this in mind, the next step could be to devise uniform tools in central government for measuring, assessing and monitoring communications. This would provide valuable information on how to further develop communications.

These Guidelines are the product of a working group appointed by the Prime Minister’s Office in March 2016. The publication replaces the Central Government Communications Guidelines issued on 15 September 2010.

Let us communicate together, boldly and openly.

Helsinki, 28 November 2016

Juha Sipilä
Prime Minister of Finland

Markku Mantila
Director General of Government Communications