Shaping public opinion is a key issue in all democracies, but particularly so in a federal system such as Switzerland’s, with its many channels of participatory democracy. The course’s primary objective is to investigate the details and implications of how public opinion is shaped in Switzerland. We begin with a reflection on the fundamental principles of democracy and the current challenges facing those principles, especially those developing in the light of emerging methods of e-democracy.
We subsequently examine the techniques and instruments necessary for public communication in the era of new digital media. Due to the ever-increasing volumes of information being transmitted, as well as the growing number of communication channels available, the task of mastering communication is becoming ever more complex and requires the use of increasingly sophisticated models and techniques. The sessions devoted to public communication will examine both the types of communication which are important for public administration (institutional communication, crisis communication, internal communication) and the instruments for that communication (public relations, advertising, personal relationships, etc.) We also look at communication by political parties and interest groups, as well as the characteristics of lobbying strategies and political campaigns. This block of sessions also includes a module on marketing for the public sector (place, urban, cultural and social marketing).
Finally, the course looks at the roles and functions of the media (both traditional and new) with regards to its links to the State and state actors. What are the expectations of the media and journalists? What is the margin for manoeuvre for public actors? How can I get my message across? What are my rights with regards to the media? The days devoted to media relations will spend a lot of time on practical exercises (media training) led by a professional.