Chairman and Chief Editor
Bedour Ibrahim

This year the report examined the role of “soft power”


Wednesday 15/March/2023 - 04:18 PM
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·       Top five most digitally visible cities are London، Paris، Madrid، Istanbul and Rome

·       Research finds direct correlation between digital visibility، ‘soft power’، and foreign direct investment

·       Return of in-person events post-pandemic led to boom in digital content in cities

A return to live events in 2022 saw London and Paris cement their top positions in the fifth edition of Europe’s Most Talked about Cities، an annual ranking of the digital visibility of Europe’s top 60 cities by communications consultancy ING Media.

Europe’s Most Talked about Cities provides a unique insight into which cities are garnering the most attention and profile، as measured by social media and online news mentions. It is designed to help city policy and place makers understand how online presence impacts a city’s brand and investment prospects.

This year the report examined the role of “soft power” for the first time، revealing a direct correlation between a city’s soft power status and its digital output. Soft power، which was measured based on the influence of culture، travel، education، diversity، and environmental credentials، was found to have a positive correlation with a city’s digital visibility and investment prospects. London and Paris came first and second for digital visibility and soft power.

Flourishing tech hub

For example، Berlin's impressive soft power ranking of 3rd is due to its flourishing tech hub and reputation as a modern history hotspot. The city performs strongly across all soft power index categories، especially in areas such as world heritage sites and Michelin star restaurants. This boosted Berlin’s overall cities ranking to 4th.

Rome’s soft power ranking of 7th is due to its huge number of international visitors and UNESCO world heritage sites. The city’s ability to attract tourists with its historic cultural attractions is a clear USP، ranking 3rd in number of soft power conversations across our 60 cities. Rome places 3rd in overall city rankings.

Similarly، Vienna's soft power ranking of 12th can be attributed to its impressive strength in arts and culture، showcased through over 100 museums and galleries. Additionally، the city is home to some of Europe's top universities and has a large international student population of 30%. Vienna places 6th in overall city rankings.


Key findings include from the report، covering all of 2022، includes:


·       The return to events and attractions saw a 13% increase in online mentions across Europe’s top 60 cities.

·       London tops our digital visibility ranking for a fifth consecutive year. Also leading our soft power ranking، the city outperforms all its rivals by cultural measurements and number of visitors. It also comes top of FDI and City Prospect rankings. Foreign Direct Investment figures sourced from FDi Intelligence's European Cities and Regions of the Future 2022/2023 and City Prospect rankings sourced from Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2023 report.

·       Nordic cities increased their visibility by talking about their energy security and strong clean energy credentials، with Stockholm (+20)، Copenhagen (+3)، Helsinki (+3) and Oslo (+2) all ranking higher than in 2021.

·       Glasgow’s digital output returned to a more familiar ranking position after its boost from COP26 – revealing the true power of global events.

·       Cities can outperform capitals’ online presence، with Istanbul outperforming Ankara and Porto beating Lisbon.

·       London leads ING Media’s inaugural soft power index، followed by Paris، Berlin، Madrid and Stockholm.

Soft power asset

·       Some cities are talking more about their soft power assets than others – cities competing for investment must close that gap to attract capital. 

Damian Wild، Managing Director at ING Media، said: “Digital visibility is an increasingly important influence on attracting investment، businesses and talent whilst developing a city’s reputation. This year’s research shows that increasing your digital visibility leads to tangible benefits for your city’s brand. Whether this is elevating your soft power profile or increasing your overall draw to investors – what is clear is that effective communications strategies are fundamental to a city’s growth story.”

ING Media is the leading communications agency for the built environment، which has worked with cities such as Helsinki، Porto، Leipzig، Turku، Enterprise Greece، Cardiff Capital Region، West Midlands Combined Authority، Glasgow، City of London and the Key Cities and Scottish Cities Alliance networks. ING also works with major developers، architects and other place makers to effectively communicate their stories by linking digital visibility into a wider communications strategy.