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Helsinki - Finland

Display courts media in Helsinki

Staging a Display media event


Launch of Display through the Information Day :

In keeping with the philosophy of Display, the City of Helsinki wished to familiarise both specialists in the field of environmental protection and the general public with the concept of environmental impacts of buildings.

The primary driver behind this initiative was Ulla Soitinaho, Energy Manager for the City, who had strong support from her immediate managers. Together, they saw the Information Day as an opportunity for the City to promote itself as a pioneer in Finland in terms of energy labelling and energy conservation: No other city has made progress in the area of labelling buildings, and progress implementing the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive was slow. The City wanted to show that it cared!

Project Description

Aim The Aim of the Information Day was to stage a PR event that used the Display Campaign as a powerful, colourful device to demonstrate that Helsinki took environmental issues seriously, and was taking action to raise awareness and to reduce its impacts.

As prerequisites to this process it was important that a few things were already in order:
The Life Cycle Services of Buildings Unit (LCSB), which is part of the PWD-Construction Management Division of The City of Helsinki, made sure it had good contacts and relationships with the personnel in the PWD’s PR department: these people usually have existing relationships with the press, and can provide useful guidance as to whom to contact and how to best convey the message.

The build-up to the event effectively began upon the launch of the Display Campaign in 2003. Since then, little by little, increasing numbers of people have taken notice of, or come across Display and had shown interest; staff from within the LSCB and PWD-Construction Management Division, the Energy Savings Board, Ministries (such as Ministry of The Environment and Ministry of Trade and Industry), local and regional energy agencies, and various associations etc, doing work with energy in buildings. LCSB made sure that people who wrote into the city government showing interest in the project, as well as those LCSB felt should know about it, had all the necessary information made available. In this way key stakeholders were kept abreast of developments (e.g. people close to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor), and progress of the Campaign was secured.


A general information plan was drafted, covering elements such as:

- When the event was to be held ?

Timing can often be crucial to the success of this kind of event, and the team wanted to choose a time when energy saving was likely to be topical. They estimated that the EPBD and the requirement for energy performance certificates would come up for discussion in the spring of 2006. Within this time frame, they were careful to choose a date where the information day would not clash with another event. As it happened, the availability of the main speaker was also a factor.

- Who should be targeted ?

Clearly, it is important to secure attendees that are as high-level as possible – this was made easier as relationships were forged well in advance

- The nature and format of the occasion (i.e. short introduction, followed by cocktail and then more detailed discussion)

- The key messages to combine with Display

- The identification of a keynote speaker (considered profile, popularity, interest, authority)

- Budget constraints

- Consider and identify facilities preferred and available:

Once the main speaker was confirmed, facilities were booked immediately. (This can prove difficult, and it may pay to have contingencies for alternative venues.)


A detailed programme was drafted for the event

A sparkling new Display poster was printed and framed, and a prominent, eye-catching place to hang it was chosen. _ Hanging equipment was installed and a covering for the poster was made (to be removed on the day by the guest speaker).


- Invitations and detailed programmes were sent to guests

- Flowers were ordered (the colours of which compliment the Display poster)

- The cocktail service was ordered. (In Finland at least, if one wants the press or media to attend, it is important to provide something to eat. The media are always very busy and if they know they can eat at the same time as doing their work, they are more likely to attend. Ulla believes that providing food is a courtesy to the media and a small price to pay for the excellent coverage that can be achieved by attracting the right media professionals.)

- Photography was organised

- Press releases were written and invitations sent to the media.

- To see a press release in English, click here

- Personal networks were utilised to stimulate others and generate general interest.


- Press releases and invitations were sent to the media (around 60), requesting that they do not release the information until the day of the event. (All connected personnel also kept event as quite as possible.)


A checklist was used to make sure everything was in order and nothing has been overlooked. The framed poster was hung up and covered, in anticipation of the keynote speaker’s address and unveiling. (This was a device used to build suspense – but not as in a horror movie!) People from the LCSB were assigned various tasks such as looking after particular guests and media; showing them to their places and generally making them feel welcome.

Representatives from Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Trade and Industry – responsible for implementing the EPBD –, Motiva (the national Energy Agency) several building associations, and other high-level officials attended the event. Deputy Mayor of Helsinki Pekka Sauri, well-known throughout the country, delivered the keynote address and unveiled the Display poster. The city also announced that it had set a target to Display posters in 50 buildings by the end of 2006.

_ Feedback from those attending the event was very enthusiastic; people readily understood the intention of the poster and commented upon its eye-catching appeal.

_ The key message of the Day was to bring into people’s consciousness the impact that the buildings they occupy and use everyday have on themselves and on their environment: The implication being that the more that people understand this experience, the more willing they will be to change their behaviour, and expect more efficient buildings from owners and managers.

_ The press coverage was beyond all expectations.

Reason for inclusion as Shining Example This is a Shining Example of how to maximise the impact of a Display event through use of the media


Benefits The information day was an enormous success! Generally these kinds of events attract only one or two reporters and about 5-10 people in Helsinki. In contrast, this event attracted around 40 visitors including TV, radio, and several reporters. The Finnish News Agency took coverage of the Display occasion and distributed it across the country.

Learning points:

- It was noted after the event that more attention could have been paid to the location of the speeches: as these were held in the entrance hall around lunch time, there was a lot of foot traffic by people not connected to the event and this caused some disturbance+

- It was felt that a PowerPoint show running in the background could have been useful to create interest and promote general information about Display, Energie Cities and the experiences of other countries. This was thought of in advance, but in the end there was insufficient time to organise it.


Partnership details Existing relations with key government ministries, energy agencies and other bodies proved central to attracting the right media


Achievments The primary benefit of this event is that now the public and key stakeholders and decision-makers are aware of Display and the certification of buildings: These people will now recognise a labelled building when they see it and, hopefully, will expect to see more of them. This expectation will motivate building and energy managers to improve the performance of their buildings, as labelling becomes more widespread.
Lessons Learned _ Key issues included :
- Planning well in advance of the event
- Ensuing alternatives both in terms of speakers and venue
- Making use of existing networks to attract the right people – including the media
- Creating a ‘sense of occasion’ and ceremony
- This approach to an event could easily be replicated

To know more

Organisation City of Helsinki/PWD-Construction Management
Contact Ms Ulla Soitinaho
Phone +358 9 166 2736

Useful info

Arrangements to visit


Organisation EuroACE
Contact for question on the case study realisation Anson Wu
Publishing date 24/10/2006

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