Icelandic tourist council recently launched a national campaign promoting the the country as a safe travel destination following a significant drop in tourists after the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull.
Log on to Inspired by Iceland and you will find more than just guidance on how to get to the volcanic island. Prominently displayed on the homepage are links to Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, viral videos, documentary shorts and a live web casts from various tourist attractions in Iceland.
Councils websites tend to be staid, unexciting places, so to find these connections to social networking-sites comes as something of a surprise. These innovative web efforts are at the forefront of the council’s campaign – whose aim is no less than to change Iceland’s image. They are supplemented by creative integrated initiatives, which are promoting the country in a new, more positive light to a global audience, more used to hearing about the country in connection to the global financial crisis and more recently a certain volcano that grounded airplanes all around the world.
In order to have the greatest impact on perceptions of Iceland, the council has highlighted the positive and focused public-relations efforts on the many fields outside of politics: such as architecture, the extraordinary nature, music scene etc. Not only targeting the major broadcasting media, but the many new-media channels too.
The strategy, seemingly simple, is working; most effectively in cyberspace due to the work of the Brooklyn Brothers, who say it is “designed to get fans of the country to go online and inspire tourists to visit Iceland this summer”
The work is open-source, and transparent – as it has to be, to engage a younger generation. Iceland is experimenting with what works, and encouraging interaction. With over 33,000 friends on Facebook, and 1,500 followers on Twitter, the numbers logging on are respectable, but not massive. However, what is happening on Google is noteworthy. Previously, if you searched for Iceland on the search engine, the vast majority of articles would be negative. Now you are more likely to find positive depictions of the country.
The real results of the campaign will perhaps not be seen for years. Rebranding a country can take over five years or more. It involves more than just generating more positive stories about Iceland. The process has to be both internalised and integrated. The Icelandic nation must share in and believe in what is being promoted, and all consulates must ultimately communicate one unified message.