– To communicate how the Institute is a relevant actor in a highly competitive international environment is of increasing importance, says Mikael Johnsson, the Institute´s Strategic adviser.
Communication, and a wish to communicate more clear and professionally outside and inside the Institute have been on the wish list for the management of the Institute for the last years.
Since 2010, the Institute has updated its graphic profile, developed a new website and in various ways increased its visibility and outreach in Sweden as well as abroad.
– I think it is great to be part of telling the world what important work we are doing, says Mikael Ohlsson who a year ago left his position as program associate to instead work with the graphic profiling of the Institute.
– Perhaps we were a bit too shy before? he adds.
– Communications is not only about visibility, it is ultimately about a more effective organization, says Mikael Johansson who together with the rest of the management team has been behind recruiting a Communication Manager (namely Helena Thorfinn, also writing this article) to the Institute.
– We want to confirm our position as a leading actor in human rights today, thus this is a strategic and necessary step to take.
Helena Thorfinn has worked for Sida for twelve years as a Policy Advisor, and before that as a journalist at daily national newspapers and television channels in Sweden (SVD, TV4, SVT). She has also built initiatives at Sida around Communication for Development in Bangladesh, and holds MAs in both Human Rights and Communications. She is also a fiction writer.
– I can see direct links between communication, human rights and results, comments Helena Thorfinn. There are two levels we need to build communication at the Institute. One is linked to our external profile and outreach; how we appear in the media, how our partners and potential partners view us and what the public think about us. This is obviously linked to future funding and various strategic decisions that are pending, and is tightly embedded into the discussions about the Institute´s future choices.
– The other way where communications is of vital importance is internally, she continues. Communications can help to build the Institute as a smooth working entity, where various departments coordinates their actions well and pull in the same direction and where field offices and HQ share the same vision.
But, as Helena has experienced elsewhere,
communications is also a method in itself, today often used within an international development context.
– Through strategic communication within projects and programs they can be strengthened and deliver better results, says Helena. Communication is about efficiency, transparency and accessibility – all integrated parts of human rights.
A communication plan that involves both strategies has recently been approved by the Director, and contains various activities and steps that hopefully will be noticeable internally and externally during the year.