Global PR Perspective – “Even if it hurts, just write ‘Ikea’ ” recommends Swedish PR expert Jan (part1)

In our international PR series today Swedish PR expert Jan Ståhlberg, shares some insights on current local PR and communications trends in the land of elks and IKEA.

*The series is based on phone or face-to-face interviews and written input, therefore please excuse language mistakes which might reflect foreign language influences.*

1. What is the latest trend (change) in PR you have identified in your region?

Jan Ståhlberg: The PR landscape is in the midst of a strong process of change with many new media, which many companies and organizations have not yet learnt to master. The single most powerful trend is of course the use of social media, e.g. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. However, social media is not a stand-alone PR tool, but often far more efficient when used in combination with traditional PR. Many companies and organizations are still looking for guidelines on how to use and behave on the social media arena.

Apart from this, four strong PR trends are visible:

1) The usability of press releases has dropped dramatically, if they aren’t combined with pitching or follow-up.

2) Media is more and more person-oriented. The use of charismatic spokespeople and/or celebrities enhances the chances of getting the messages through.

3) The Swedish editorial offices have become “anorectic”. Fewer journalists (or temporary stand-ins) have to cover more, and sometime also take on the role as photographers and graphic designers. The journalists tend to spend more time looking for facts on the Internet, and rewriting, than seeking information via other sources. They are also more open for/depending on input from companies – or PR agencies.

4) The boundaries between PR agencies, ad agencies and web agencies are not as rigid any more.

2. How does your agency handle/embrace this?

Jan Ståhlberg: We recommend our clients to embrace a clear strategy for social media and also allocate resources for both proactive and reactive use of the new tools. Social media presence should also be combined with traditional PR. A web-based newsroom – preferably with news, backgrounders, pictures, videos, event calendars, contact details, blogs and with the possibility to subscribe for updates, RSS feeds and links to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. – is definitely recommended.

To succeed in the media buzz, it is important to focus on one single issue at a time and, wherever possible, seek for a personalized angle. We put a lot of emphasis on story pitching for individual journalists, rather that mass distribution. We also focus on cultivating industry spokespeople at our clients, and “domain claim”, i.e. positioning our clients as true market leaders and knowledge sources.

The fact that the journalists’ resources are very limited represents both a challenge and a possibility. The key to success is to, at all times, present pitches and backgrounders of the highest quality. It is also important to note that errors have a long life on the web and therefore keep track of all online coverage, and if necessary have inaccurate information corrected quickly.

3. Can you give a recent example from a project?

Jan Ståhlberg: Once a year our client ISS issues the “Big Property Award” to Swedish students who have written the year’s most groundbreaking thesis on property management. We invented the award in close co-operation with a client, and have been acting as a driving force in the ongoing development of the ceremony. At the award event, which is attended by some 1,000+ participants, the client’s CEO is on stage handing over the diplomas and prizes. Social media and traditional media relations are combined, where we mix exclusive interviews and wide-spread news pitching with Facebook and YouTube feeds. See also www.storapropertypriset.se (Sorry, in Swedish only).

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Next Thursday Jan will tell us why one shouldn’t invite Nordic journalists to expensive dinner meetings and why even well known brands like IKEA should avoid spelling their name in capitals with a trademark sign IKEA® in their media communication activities.

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Jan Ståhlberg is co-owner, Chairman of The Board, Senior Communication Advisor, Media Strategist and PR consultant at InformationsCompagniet. Jan is trained in communications and educational science at Stockholm University, and has worked within communication since the mid 1970s.

InformationsCompagniet are specialists in helping companies and organizations create long-term communication strategies and to implement those through a variety of activities and services including professional PR, communication and event support.  Our aim is to strengthen our clients’ brands and contribute to the development, growth and improved performance. Our customers include both Swedish and international companies and organizations. Through our international partners in GlobalCom PR Network, we effectively work with public relations and communication partners outside of Sweden.  Our Credo – Experience Quality Result.

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