Catalan Internationalisation and the media
The 24 October welcomed once more back to the Institut d’Estudis Catalans the 9th FOCIR Conference, this time looking at “Catalan Internationalisation and the media”. The Conference, which welcomed some 70 participants from different associations, politicians and journalists, analysed the main challenges and advantages of promoting Catalonia abroad and looked at the influence of the media.
The programme was divided into three round tables. The first round table was a space to exchange experiences and perspectives on internationalisation within institutional politics and was headed by Jordi Fortuny of the Directorate-General of Corporate Outreach at the Generalitat, with a business perspective represented by Lluís Juste de Nin, CEO of Armand Basi and Aleix Clarió, Head of Communications at the CNJC (National Youth Council of Catalonia) who offered his experience from the world of non-corporate associations. The round table, in addition to other debates, raised an interesting discussion on the two-pronged strategic approach to be established between the two brands of Catalonia and Barcelona.
In the second session, European journalists talked about the knowledge they had about the current situation in Catalonia and how they communicated the events and attitudes of the Catalans within their respective countries. Leo Wieland of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was particularly critical and remarked how the image of Catalonia had been affected very negatively in the international press. Mark Mulligan of the Financial Times, however, advised us to try to counterbalance this effect by positioning Catalonia in the world using positive strategic elements and ignoring negative claims. To finish, Ewa Wysocka of Newsweek Polska called for a closer relationship with Catalan institutions and also recommended improving self-criticism, as often it is the very same people and/or companies who also try to hide their Catalan side.
The final round table consisted of a dialogue between journalists and Catalan organisations in order to try to establish what the challenges are involved in communication policies with organisations working on an international level. The journalists Rita Marzoa, Ferran Espada and Vicent Sanchís all took part in this round table. Strategy, excellence an implementation of new communication plans within these organisations were just some of the resources mentioned by the experts.
The Conference was opened by Mr Àngel Cortadelles (of the Directorate-General of International Relations of the Generalitat de Catalunya), Mr Josep Maria Pons (Representative of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans) and Mrs Mònica Sabata (President of FOCIR). Mr Carles Mundó (Secretary for the Media at the Generalitat) and the President of FOCIR held the closing speeches for the Conference.
The degree of participation, the extremely high level of quality of the speeches and the debate generated around the three round tables should now form the basis for reflection and help us identify our weak points and opportunities for improvement for promoting Catalonia on an international stage. We at FOCIR have become convinced of the need to be more self-critical but also look towards the future, which is why we are now planning new challenges to continue to promote the international work that civil society is carrying out and to help contribute to a better image of Catalonia beyond our borders.