Population: 1.32 million
Monetary unit: Euro
Capital city: Tallinn
Major languages: Estonian, Russian
Major religions: Christian
Ethnic composition: Estonians, Russians
Age breakdown: Not available
Life expectancy: Male: (2010) 70.6 years Female: (2010) 80.5 years
Education: Not available
Urban/Rural split: 69.5%: 30.5%
Income per household (USD): 15,200 per annum
Broadband internet users (%): Not available
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
Estonia has benefitted more than most from its membership the EU and from its relentless pursuit of pro-business economic policies. It joined the EU in 2004 and GDP grew by an average of 8% a year between 2003 and 2007. It was badly hit by the global financial crisis with GDP falling by 14% in 2009 but it has rebounded strongly, joining the euro in 2011 and enjoying GDP growth of 8% in that year.
PR first reached the country during privatisation in the 1990s when foreign investors came to bid on state-owned resources. For many years Estonian business saw PR as only relevant for the public sector and for state-owned businesses, and latterly for those private firms listed on the Tallinn Stock Market. Industry insiders report that this is now changing, with smaller private firms beginning to recognise the role PR can play in helping them achieve their marketing communication goals.
Aune Past is a Lecturer in public relations, organisational communication and reputation management at the University of Tartu, Estonia, as well as the co-founder and president of the Estonian Public Relations Association (EPRA). She says: “Despite being a relatively small market, Estonia benefits from having many highly educated PR professionals.”
She goes on to point out that this is attracting the attention of global PR groups. “As well as many small boutique agencies that have one or two high-level professionals, there are now a good number of big international and national agencies. This is reflected in the ongoing shift from simple PR to broader communication management.”
Not everyone agrees. One agency boss says: “Most clients see PR as something they need in a crisis, or on an ad hoc basis, rather than a core strategic activity. Where they are developing is in their use of social media. For many it is a way to get a quick and direct relationship with consumers of their goods or services.”
Most though are optimistic for the future, believing that Estonia’s small, youthful population has a bright future. Another agency boss says: “The majority of PR spending comes from local businesses and organisations, acting locally and determining their messages, strategies and goals locally. Another strength is that we are a young nation. Just as Estonia managed to skip cheque-books and immediately adopt cards and internet banking, so our PR industry has managed to immediately consider social media an integral part of media – we did not have enough time to get used to non-social media.”
The main print titles are daily broadsheets Postimees and Eesti Päevaleht, tabloid Õhtuleht, weeklies Eesti Ekspress and Maaleht, and business daily Äripäev.
Key broadcasters are the Estonian Public Broadcasting, Kanal 2, TV3. In terms of online media, most point to the news portal Delfi.
Many local firms have in recent years produced good results through their investment in PR: local energy firm Eesti Energia; telecom operators EMT, Elisa and Tele2; and banks such as Swedbank and SEB.
On 16th June 2012 Estonia gained its fifth Guinness World Record when in eight hours, 412 employees of SEB composed the largest mosaic picture in the world made entirely of coins. A bank card was depicted on the coin mosaic. It was an achievement and an image that made headlines across the country and the region
Multinationals have also made their mark. For example, at the EPRA 2012 Awards Samsung picked up an award for its involvement in the Estonian Cup cycling series, an involvement which helped boost participant numbers by 8%.
Major agencies in Estonia include Edelman affiliate Corpore, Burson-Marsteller affiliate Hamburg, Idea, KPMS, Powerhouse, Cohn & Wolfe, Meta Advisory, JLP, and Hill & Knowlton