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Government Communication

None of us ever work alone or by ourselves. Every government action has results that affect citizens, companies and organizations, society and the international community. Thus communication must be part of every government activity from planning to final implementation.
 
Communication is always a two-way street – the government communicates with the public and takes into consideration the positions of citizens. Our activities are based on respect for the Estonian constitution. We operate on the basis of and in conformity to legislation. As public servants we are in the service of citizens and communicating with them is our duty.
 
 

OPENNESS

  • We understand that a government is an open organization. Any information that is not subject to access restrictions is public. 
  • Being open, we strive to ensure that citizens participate as broadly as possible in exercising the power vested in them. We do not only notify people of government decisions; we help them all take part in making decisions that pertain to them.
  • We initiate discussions in society and take part in them.
  • Being open, we help ensure public checks and balances on exercise of public duties.
  • Being open, we are also open to criticism.
 

HONESTY

  • We are honest in our communications. If we do not know the answer, we admit it and say when we are able to provide more information in response to the query. We also acknowledge any errors we make, explaining why it happened and how we plan to avoid it in future.
 

RESPONSIBILITY

  • In communicating with the public, we realize that we represent our organization, government and entire country.
  • Our country, government and colleagues are all judged on the basis of what we say or do.
  • We release only verified information.
 

COMPREHENSIBILITY

  • Our primary tool is language. We use clear, simple and understandable Estonian. We also consider the ability to communicate in foreign languages important.
  • We try to make ourselves understood by the entire population. We also forward information in a manner compatible with people with special needs.

 

INNOVATIVENESS

  • We are innovation-minded. We constantly pursue development of ourselves, our services and work-related arrangements.
  • Where there is doubt that the principles listed above were followed correctly, we always analyse the situations with superiors and colleagues. We learn from our mistakes.

 

NEUTRALITY

  • We do not interfere in partisan politics.
  • We do not take part in election campaigns. In the run-up to the general elections, we do not forward statements that pertain to the government’s plans for the future after the current period in government. This is to be done by the press representative of the relevant minister’s political party or the minister’s political adviser.
  • We do not justify or support government policies with partisan political rhetoric or talk of any politician as “belonging to” or “being a member of” any political party.
  • We make reference to only the uniform government policy. In explaining government policies, decisions and actions, we describe their essence and explain the underlying fundamental principles.
  • We take a respectful attitude toward all citizens who disagree with the government’s positions or actions. We do not attack the policies of any parties or groups.
 

JUSTIFIABILITY

  • Every government action has reasons and grounds and we know that our obligation is always to state them. We forward to the public information on party policies or decisions in the purview of the government and government bodies. We do not forward statements or comments about parties’ policies, agreements or alleged intentions.
 

RESPECT

  • We remain cordial when communicating with people. We show respect for the people we communicate with. We never speak ill of our partners.
  • We give the benefit of the doubt to the recipient when our message is not understood. We always try to thoroughly understand our partners’ side when listening to them.
  • We know that time is precious. We always try to be efficient in our work and respond to questions not just accurately but also rapidly.
  • We understand that information must be forwarded to all parties equally without favouring one party over another.
  • We protect people’s privacy.
 

COOPERATION

  • In fulfilling our duties, we continually work with other government bodies to ensure that the state is run in a consistent manner. When receiving a query pertaining to another agency, we promptly notify the relevant agency’s communications office. If we receive a query pertaining to more than one other agency, all parties notify one another and discuss the matter with each other.
  • We avoid resolving disagreements between agencies through the mass media. It is not appropriate for the government to contradict itself.
 

Government Communication Handbook

 
The Estonian government communication handbook is a helpful resource foremost for new communication personnel at government bodies who wish to know how to do their job better. It will also benefit senior officials at government bodies who want to organize their agency’s communications better, and for university students who are interested in government communications.
 
The handbook gives a brief overview of how communications are organized at ministries and other government bodies. The topics in the book are based on the provisions of legal acts, the results of government media relations studies and accepted practices. The handbook was compiled based on similar government communications manuals used by the American, British, Finnish and Dutch government.
 

 

 

 

Contact

Government Communication Unit »

Phone: + 372 693 5710, e-mail: press[at]riik[dot]ee

 

 

Last updated: 20 July 2015