Issue: Austria’s international reputation
Austria’s reputation has recently taken something of a bashing. This is
as a result of the inclusion in the Austrian government of the
ultra-right wing Freedom Party. It is extremely rare for an entire
country to be on the receiving end of almost universal condemnation, so
Austria’s PR trade association, the PRVA, decided on an almost
unprecedented move: to ’rebrand’ Austria.
Beate Steiner, president of the PRVA and WU commissioner Franz Fischler
launched a communications initiative, ’Keep in Touch - Ne quittex pas’,
as a counter-move to global accusations of xenophobic fascism and as a
result of diplomatic sanctions imposed by the 14 other EU countries.
It aims to maintain and foster discourse between Austria and the rest of
Its prime means of communication is a web site (www.keepintouch.at),
which can be viewed in German, English and French.
The site aims to give the user a balanced view of Austria in context of
its socio-political conditions, presenting the user with discussion
forums and essays by leading Austrian researchers and experts.
The initiative was conceived and set up voluntarily by members of the
PRVA and has been sponsored by various private sector businesses. These
include Alcatel Austria, Interlingua Translations, Kapper and Partner
Communications and Short Cut Internet Marketing. Key areas on the site
are ’Home’, ’About’, ’Facts’, ’Essays’, ’Forum’, ’Contact’ and
One click on the homepage enables the user to read the foreword by
He introduces the concept behind the site saying that ’many wonder how
it is possible that Austria has so few friends abroad’. He posits that
Austria should not evade its history, that it must face up to it and
learn by its mistakes: ’a knowledge of the holocaust makes it easier to
understand why tempting voters with xenophobic slogans is
’Facts’ topics include the 1999 parliamentary elections and national-
socialism. In the ’Essays’ section an article cites and disputes Jšrg
Haider’s assertion that ’the feminist illusion of the self-realisation
of the woman and mother in the career world was a disastrous
In the ’Forum’ section users are invited to discuss current issues. The
question being discussed changes regularly. At the time of going to
press the subject was ’Sanctions against Austria - is there an
Keep in Touch is easily navigated and simply illustrated. The site
provides the user with a wide-ranging source of opinion on the situation
in Austria and clearly conveys that the public perception of Austria
belies the reality.
What remains to be seen is to what extent the site will help overhaul
the country’s reputation.