#HelsinkiSecret Residence – a new way to promote Helsinki internationally
At the beginning of 2016 the #HelsinkiSecret Residence will open in the centre of Helsinki, serving as a base for international social media influencers reporting from Helsinki. The #HelsinkiSecret Residence is an initiative by Visit Helsinki and represents a globally unique form of city marketing utilising social media. PR activities are playing an increasingly important role in promoting Helsinki abroad.
The residence comprises a studio apartment in the city centre that will be open for the entire year, accommodating up to 100 international social media influencers with expertise in tourism, start-ups, education and the creative industries, for example. Bloggers and other social media influencers from around the world can apply to stay at the residence via the www.helsinkisecret.com website, and residents will be selected on the basis of their social engagement rate and reach.
The year-round residence concept for social media influencers could well be a world first in city marketing, as Visit Helsinki is aware of only a few other similar but much shorter programmes. Partners play an important role, as the #HelsinkiSecret Residence could not have been realised without their support.
“In order to achieve visible results, a city the size of Helsinki has to be bold and innovative. We have to try and stand out with create concepts and seek new forms of cooperation with business partners,” says Maarit Pitkänen, Marketing Communications Director at Visit Helsinki.
PR activities an important form of marketing
The visibility that can be achieved through PR activities like the #HelsinkiSecret Residence is considered an increasingly important way of enhancing Helsinki’s appeal in international markets. Alongside international media representatives, bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers are helping spread Helsinki’s story more frequently and more effectively.
“Helsinki’s story is created out of genuine experiences and observations. We want Helsinki to be recommended even more as both a travel destination and as a place to study and work. We expect the #HelsinkiSecret Residence to generate a lot of international visibility for Helsinki in the social media,” Pitkänen continues.
The first residents have already been selected. Among the first to arrive in January will be Jiajia Zhu from China, whose blog is read by almost 900,000 followers (http://blog.sina.com.cn/janne1125, http://weibo.com/janne1125). Among the first guests are also participants from USA and Spain. Over 200 applications from around the world have been received already this autumn.
Interest in the local way of life and slow travel
The #HelsinkiSecret Residence is in line with popular global trends that highlight the local way of life and slow travel. Social media influencers are given the chance to discover the city in their own time and on their own terms, allowing them to live in the moment as a local. The idea for the concept originally came from social media influencers themselves.
“For several years now we have developed cooperation with social media influencers, and we have listened to any weak signals received from them. In this way, the #HelsinkiSecret Residence represents marketing communications service design as its best,” Pitkänen adds.
Visit Helsinki’s #HelsinkiSecret Residence will open in January 2016 in the centre of Helsinki at the address Alvar Aallon katu 3. The main sponsors are the Aallonkoti apartment hotel, Finnair, Visit Finland, Finlayson and Radio Helsinki. Other partners include the University of Helsinki, Helsinki Business Hub, CreateTrips, Pelago, Makia, Artek, House of Marley and ice hockey team Jokerit. Further information can be found on the website www.helsinkisecret.com, which will also serve as the official channel for content published using the #HelsinkiSecret hashtag as of the beginning of next year.
Appendix: #HelsinkiSecret Residence fact sheet (pdf)
Link to related images: http://materialbank.visithelsinki.fi/?cart=1545-jadacjblbi&l=EN
Visit Helsinki is a marketing name used by Helsinki Marketing Ltd, a city-owned company that is responsible for the city’s marketing operations.