“Stop acting as an accessible support function”

© Malin Strandvall

February put Sweden on the map again. And for positive reasons, as an important research study (conducted between 2014-2018) by the Department of Strategic Communication at Lund’s University was published: “The communicative organisation”. With over 8,000 respondents participating in a quantitative survey study as well as 170 individuals in the qualitative part of the study – the large amount of empirical material makes this study unique within the current field of communication research.

I’ll be honest with you: since I graduated and got my Bachelor in Swedish and Communications Management 2014, I haven’t exactly cared so much to stay in touch with the academic area or what’s been going on over there. However, when I noted this research report last week I figured that now would probably be an excellent timing to try and stay updated. Perhaps the same goes for you too?

If that’s the case, then just keep reading and you’ll find a recap of – what I thought – were the most interesting parts from the study, as well as some thought and reflections of my own.

First things first though. Yet another report? What’s the report about and what’s the rationale for investing so much time into researching communication? Shouldn’t there be more than plenty of material available already?

Apparently not.

According to the authors, so far, there have been few other research studies within areas such as strategic communications, corporate communications and organisational communication with the corresponding amount of empirical material (data).

Eleven Swedish corporations and organisations, among them furniture giant IKEA and construction company NCC, to name a few familiar names, have participated in the study. Thanks to the large amount of empirical data collected, the authors says it’s now possible to contribute with more ”nuanced knowledge about progress, shortcomings and challenges in the communication practices at our workplaces”. Also: It should be pointed out that the project has not only focused on communication managers and their view on things, it also included co-workers’ and managers’ perspectives.

The authors adds that a lot of studies within strategic communications tend to focus only on one group at a time.

The report is structured around seven ways of creating a “communicative organisation”. In this post however, I will not be including all of them. Rather I’m interested in continuing on some of the discussion topics raised in the report.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the most interesting findings!

 

Finding: Difficulties explaining and measuring the value of communication

© Malin Strandvall

If you’re working within communications, it probably doesn’t come as any surprise that communicators are struggling to explain the true value of their work and how it contributes to the organisation’s success to their co-workers. Still, only 10,4 percent of the respondents in the survey rated measuring and evaluating their efforts better as the most important improvement area, furthermore – only 0,6 percent of respondents said that they were also actively working on it.

Let’s pause here for a while. I have no reason to doubt the researchers, however, as I’ve got my own background mainly in listed companies I couldn’t help but wonder what these numbers would have look liked, had there been more listed companies involved in the study? Perhaps I would have been one among those 0,6 percent had I been in the study as well, as I don’t really recognize that lacking of measuring and following up on things.

On the contrary. I think this is instead something that we communicators tend to do a little bit too much sometimes. A lot of times there just too much focus on quantitative data instead of applying a quality focus. Obviously, this is just my personal opinion and experience of things. But going forward, I still hope we’ll see studies involving more listed companies as study objects, in order to gain further understanding.

One of the reasons I’m writing this is that already when I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis, I was annoyed by the large academic focus on researching municipalities rather than private companies. Obviously, it’s harder to gain access to private companies in order to conduct research, but in case we’re looking to find deeper knowledge and applicable models forward, I still believe we have to broaden the scope.

 

Finding: Future challenges

© Malin Strandvall

Which strategic areas are the most important from now on and until 2021? The following were listed:

1) Build and maintain trust

2) Link together the organisation’s strategy with its communication initiatives

3) Manage the digital development

Apart from the three topics mentioned above, the researchers also stresses the importance of these aspects:

  • new communicator roles and demands for increased competence
  • paradoxes and tensions
  • digitalization and artificial intelligence
  • reflection and further learning in order to reach excellence

 

My reflections on the findings in the report

 

Reflection: on roles and “mainstreaming” content….

© Malin Strandvall

As could be expected, several of the “normal” challenges we’ve already heard about a thousand times of course also popped up here: Managing digitalisation and AI. Time will have to tell what happens here, but one interesting aspect that I thought worth spending some time pondering about concerned several new communicator roles.

Obviously, for anyone working in or with communicators, that challenge is already here. Working on the inside can be frustrating. Especially if you work together with a counterpart (or parties) that does not understand the differences of different roles and responsibilities. Personally, I’ve thought a lot about how everything is talked about as content these days. Please read that the right way. Talking about content is of course nothing new to anyone of us anymore. That’s not what I’m getting at here.

However, the problems arise when we tend to start talking about EVERYTHING as content, regardless of the underlying communications discipline.

Let me give you an example of how this can be problematic. Let’s say organisation X has a problem. The root of the problem is not really a communications problem, but communication will still be an important part of that organization’s efforts to solve the problem. Organisation X gets to work and starts pumping out information. However, as they are lacking in certain important competences, the nature of the material that comes out may perhaps only be in the form of content marketing.

Nothing wrong with content marketing of course, that is, when that is included as one part of an integrated plan. A plan that also takes into consideration the challenges of working with complex targets groups, for example investor relations. You simply can’t provide a potential investor only visionary market plans and colorful press images, you will have to add much, much more substance, numbers, proof points and results.

I fear that by only talking about “content” as we tend to do these days, we are more and more missing the important and underlying knowledge areas. We’re more and more forgetting about the different roles and competences required, the ones that are absolutely crucial in order to actually create and produce the content later on.

 

Reflection: The draining power of “invisible” work

© Malin Strandvall

One of the findings discussed in the study was that as many as 60 percent of managers and 25 percent of communications themselves thought that too much resources were invested into communication, in relation to the actual results.

Considering that the study also found that managers and co-workers mostly thought of communicators and their competence from a technical perspective (communicators work with digital channels and media relations) perhaps these numbers are not so surprising.

A simple analysis from my perspective is that a contributing aspect here most likely must be the difficulties of measuring all of the invisible work that is put in during a normal day as a communicator. For example: continuously managing and coordinating projects and activities is a typical example of a task that nobody would ever expect to take so much time. Yet, it’s something that all communicators do. When its functioning, nobody thinks about things being ”managed or coordinated”. As soon as the project management fails however, that’s when the pure value of those invisible efforts are shown…

Supporting, educating and coaching managers, management and other co-workers is another invisible aspect. There are lots of “invisible” requirement put upon communicators in organisations. A problem here is that sometimes these working norms are so familiar to us that we don’t even realise our own behaviours. To this, I don’t have any solution to present, but as always, insight is the first step towards changing. 

In combination with a work sector that is not always aligned with reality. I think we also ought to talk more about roles. Roles and work processes will always be integrated to some extent of course – but if you are hiring someone to write, but in reality the conditions at work are such that this person instead ends up coordinating things non stop, then that is of course where part of the desired results end up too.

Conclusion

How are we supposed to solve these issues then? The authors does not claim to have all the answers of course, but at least leave us communicators with a good piece of advice: Be in charge of the communications development and stop acting like an accessible support function!”.

Have you read the report? If so, what did you think about it? Did you agree with the findings or do you have completely different experiences? Would be interesting to hear your thoughts!

 

/Malin

PS. In case you want to read the study and learn more, you can find all of the material (in Swedish) on the Swedish Communication Association’s website: https://sverigeskommunikatorer.se/fakta-och-verktyg/forskning/kommunikativa-organisationer/

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Don’t underestimate the power of your ”invisible” channels

Customer events are an often forgotten, almost invisible communication channel. In the digital era we’re all living in and navigating through right now, it’s easy to forget the most powerful tool and channel of them all – the personal meeting.

Last week I had some interesting discussions with a prospect and we ended up talking about the impact of events. It’s not the first time, neither will it be the last time I’m talking about this topic, because it seems it’s a never ending discussion. Or to be more to the point: what the actual value of hosting an event is.

Good example of a successfull customer event: American Express inviting their customers to Stockholm Fashion Week. Photo: Johan Sjöberg

It’s understandable though, as hosting events won’t always get you those immediate results you and your team might be dreaming about. Most likely – you’ll receive lots of soft values, while the digit version you’re longing for might be delayed for quite some time. In my experience, a lot of times this is what makes people, also us communication professionals, forget about the importance of including the personal meeting into the calculation as well. In case you’re in the middle of finalizing your communications plan for 2019 right now, don’t forget to include customer events and personal meetings with your stakeholders in it!

Lacking inspiration? Tired of trying to come up with practical ideas?
Search no more! Here’s three ideas for your meetings this year:

  • Arrange a tour or a road show – this might of course sound a little bit cringe, but please keep reading. A lot of time, your audience might very well like the quality of your products or the level of service your company provides. However, the reason that they still don’t give a damn about your various ”professional” initiatives is just that. It is too professional, and not personal enough. In case you are in a spokesperson role in business today, you’ll need to shift your perspective on things and be prepared to be available not only 9-5, but also during evenings and weekends. You also need to be prepared to share at least something about yourself that will make people relate to you somehow!  Arranging a tour or a road show is not only a great way to gain experience, get lots of opportunities to gather valuable content for your continuous updates but most of all: you will get the opportunity to meet and greet with the people. You know, the audience you think you know. As you will understand as soon as you meet them though: No, you don’t and that’s why you need to get out of the office every now and then.

 

  • Provide actual value in conjunction with your event – on a low budget? See what kind of games or mingle activities you could try to squeeze in before or after your event. Remember: most of your customers/visitors/audience are obviously not coming to your event just for the pure fun of it. They want to leave and feel smarter in some way, whether it would be by connecting to someone new, learning something useful or perhaps just receiving a useful giveaway. Today, I visited Stockholm Fashion Week. At the moment, I have no connections whatsoever to that event, but one of my business contacts had gotten tickets through his American Express membership. I thought this was a very nice and inspiring perk that they arranged for their customers. Including not only the fashion show, but also drinks and mingle opportunities with lots of interesting people, this was also a great example of an event that really provided value in several ways for us guests. Way to go American Express!

 

  • Engage and include your audience as co-creators – nowadays, there’s lots of great apps that you can use in order to quickly create collective, graphic material, such as Menti for example. If possible, try to engage with your audience already a couple of days before your next event in order to prepare relevant (and good looking!) infographics, data charts that you can use in your presentation. By including your audience as co-creators, they too are more likely to share what they created with their network.Also: do engage with them while they are visiting you! Put away Instagram and focus on the human in front of you instead. Encourage your audience to tag you in their updates and make sure you do stop by their accounts to leave a like and a kind comment if they do. (You would think that this is common sense already these days, but unfortunately, for a lot of corporations it’s just not). Practice what you preach and do remember that you just never know whom you migh end up working for or together with in the future. Remember that in order to receive, you have to give as well.

PS. These are just a couple of examples of what might be good to do or bear in mind when you’re planning your trust building activities. Feel like brainstorming more about what could be done to improve your activities this year? Please feel free to get in touch.

/Malin

 

 

 
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”You’re never gonna feel like it”

I’m no huge fan of inspirational speeches. The cynic in me often find them either too general or just extremely naive. However, for whatever the reason: I tend to make some weird exception for Mel Robbins. In case you’ve missed it and are in a state of January procastination right now, watch Mel’s talk on ”How to stop screwing yourself over”! Even though I’ve already watched it, I like to get back to this session and remind myself of the fact that motivation only takes us so far.

At the end of the day – discipline is truly what matters. Being a highly sensitive person is often an advantage to me. Except when it comes to discipline on those difficult, unfocused days that I go through too. I’m constantly working on learning to close down my feelings when it comes to pure execution. Constantly working on that old Nike thing and just ‘doing it.

Don’t get me wrong: I get a lot of things done. I am doer, without a doubt. It’s just that my own internal working process is probably so much harder than it would need to be sometimes, due to all of the introspection and analyzing my brain loves to dive into if not restricted!

Today has however been a splendid Saturday. I got up early to deliver on a deadline without any overanalyzing whatsoever and all of a sudden I found myself in that fantastic state of mind when both productivity and creativity flows! I love those days. I was done with my articles rather quickly, then enjoyed some time to summarize  thoughts from a meeting earlier this week and circle back to a contact as promised. I’ve also had time to tick of both a meeting and a webinar from my to do-list, thus I have to say it’s been a great working day.

I have yet to get back to my promised blog post about goals for 2019, but in case you wonder about this pretty random blog post: writing and updating more spontaneously this year will definitely be among my goals!

Initially when I started to blog again, I was very much influenced by my previous working position and sort of lost in my old way of ”corporate thinking”. I had some grand idea that this would indeed be an extremely professional blog – just pure communication topics and professional matters. I guess it’s easy for all of us to fall into that trap, however, having had some time to reflect and evaluate, I realised that I will indeed be making some changes here! I will still strive for writing posts on interesting matters within media, communications and writing. But in order to keep up my own spirit and drive to do that, I can’t be deadly serious/on professional call 24/7. It’s just not who I am or how I typically behave.

I don’t want to turn this blog into a collection of anonymous articles and updates without a soul. Thus, this year I’ll also allow myself creative times to just post spontaneously about a bit broader scope. Hope you’ll still like it here and whether it’s big or small ideas: do let me know if you’ve got any wishes or suggestions for future blog topics. Just drop me a note: malin@ambaurora.se and I’ll see what I can do!

 

/Malin

 

 

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Breakfast seminar: Digital trends 2019

Constantly learning new things is something I continuously strive to do. Luckily, here in Stockholm there’s always numerous events and breakfast seminars you can sign up for. This morning I visited a breakfast seminar at digital bureau Cloud Nine which focused on the the digital trends that will affect us in 2019.

Cloud Nine’s David Aler took us through a very interesting and fun seminar. Without further delays, let’s dive straight into some of the trends mentioned and the key takeaways to bare in mind this year!

 

Trends – key takeaways

Trend – Subscription on demand
This trend should of course not come as a surprise to anyone, but our behavior of paying monthly for the subscriptions we like to have (Netflix, Spotify et cetera) still remain strong. This is mainly driven by our need for convenience. There’s also an increasing number of personalized subscription services, here in Sweden services as Linas matkasse or Glossybox are typical examples of this trend.

Also: it looks like we’ve got some good news for the newspaper industry as well, as David mentioned that between 2017-2018, the number of digital newspapersubscriptions almost trippled.

 

Trend – IoT and GDPR

I know – I’m tired of hearing IoT and GDPR too! However, we’ll just have to get used to it, as there are still lots of practical (not to mention ethical!) questions popping up as the IoT trend continues to evolve. All the data sharing – Google and Mastercard anyone? – that takes place can of course be scary as we as users and individuals loose control of a lot of integrity aspects, but it should also be pointed out that IoT also brings us useful products.

Did you for example know that nowadays there’s such a thing as smart diapers as well? Let’s not get into more details about diapers in this blog than we need to (!) but in short: this diaper senses when the diaper is done with its mission and then gives an indication so that the parents know what they need to do…

Previously, we’ve spoken about IoT as in ”Internet of things”. In the future, a more realistic scenario is that we’ll use ”The intelligence of things” instead, as AI is integrated into the calculation as well.

 

How to handle….

So how do you handle these trends then? Especially as some of them might indeed be tricky to keep up with, given the rapid technological development. David shared some tips on this too:

Trend: Data

– Be transparent with how you’re handling your customer data. An interesting case here is H&M and how they’re currently adapting their stores locally by using big data
– Show the customer that the customer gains more on his/her data than your company does
– Cut down – don’t collect more data than you actually need
– Fix your forms now (GDPR is coming for ya….)

 

Trend: Voice search is increasing

Whether or not you have started to use voice search, you’ll have to be prepared as your stakeholders soon will be using it. Here’s some practical things to think about when you write for your web or app:

-Write your preambles as if they were ”featured snippets” (position zero)
-29 words or less are common answers to voice searches
-Bullet lists and structured content = exceptionally good
-Think about the difference between spoken and written language

Last but not least, some candy for all you fellow aesthetic nerds out there – Pantone 16-1546 TCX! Yup. This is the color of 2019 according to Pantone. Google it and let this beautiful coral red tone seduce your senses for a while before you head back to work 😉

 

/Malin

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Fuckups, insights, growth – 2018 in review

You might argue that the last thing the world needs is more blog posts about 2018. I won’t hold that against you. Still, I love to read and take part of other people’s dreams, ambitions, fuckups, lessons… So just when you thought you couldn’t stand one more, sorry, but here it comes –  yet another introspective blog post about 2018. Bon appetite!

First things first: why on earth would anyone share personal things about and around their business? Online? For the whole world, haters, prospects and current clients to see? Isn’t that a bit over the top, you know, acting like an attention whore? That’s of course one way of seeing it. My perspective is quite different.

I believe that by sharing experiences, whether they’ve been good or bad, you’re not only becoming more human in other people’s eyes, this is also an essential step on your own learning curve. It’s easy to celebrate good days. The flow days. Looking into the mirror and dealing with the consequences of your own daily habits is, well, quite different. Much harder, nastier. There’s no place to hide. There’s nothing to do – except looking at the evidence of what’s in front of you, what you created and learn from it.

Secondly, by sharing your experiences you’re also becoming more approachable to people. For me, this is an essential, not to say crucial, part of running a business. Nowadays, as services, products and prices may seem similar, what becomes your USP is YOU. Like it or not, you’ve got to work that to your advantage. All business relations need to start somewhere. And honestly: how many of yours started in a strictly business setting? No? Didn’t think so either. Twitter, Instagram, connecting over silly memes? Probably more like it!

Ok, so now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s move on and see what went on during my 2018!

 

2018 – what happened?

In order to understand part of the events, a short recap is a must: during autumn 2017, I had a burnout. While still on sick leave in the beginning of 2018 I decided to quit my job. I had a good corporate position, but it was in what unfortunately had become an unhealthy work environment. Although there was a lot of anxiety, thoughts and “what if’s” involved prior to making the final decision, I just knew there was no going back for me. I was done with that part of my life.

And so I resigned during sick leave. I would definitely not recommend anyone to copy this concept of mine, as it certainly adds to your blood pressure and stress levels. However, sometimes you’ve just got to jump to move on. I chose to jump this year.

I’ve rehabilitated and worked hard on rebuilding both my mental and physical strength again after my burnout. Needless to say – this is not a process which you can put a beginning or and end to. It just is what it is. For me, an important part of my rehabilitation is not having to hide it. I’ve had my burnout. It was bad. It will forever be a part of me, but I’ve moved on. I am still actively moving on everyday by making small, sometimes tiny, steps and changes forward into a new direction.

2018 was also the year when I acted upon an old dream of mine and started my own business as a communications consultant.

Insights:

  • “This too shall pass” will sometimes be exactly what gets you through the day
  • I still suck at simply asking for help
  • Complete honesty is a scary, risky, yet also one of the most rewarding business tools

 

2018 – what about the goals then?

  • Attend a “start your own business” course, then register and start my own company
    check!
  • Create a new communications platform for myself as a business owner – check!
  • Rehabilitate myself back to “work mode” by Q4/2018 – check!
  • Extend my network and preferably also make sure it includes new and/or different sectors than just the “ordinary” communications/pr/finance crowd that’s already in it – check!
  • Writing – this was really a topic of its own (which I will get back to later on) but in short, my writing goals looked liked this:
    -start blogging again – check!
    -contribute as a writer for an external website as well – check!
    -regarding topics: stay my own lane, even if it would be very uncomfortable on certain days, also dare to share personal things in order to grow as a person – check!
    -focus on finding interesting and developing writing assignments for Ambaurora – check!
    -attend and complete a screen writing course for the pure fun of it – check!
  • Photography:
    -buy a “real” camera – check!
    -leave for a week’s photography travel – check!
    -receive my first revenues as a photographer through iStock and Printlercheck!

Pure photography assignments is currently not something I’m offering within the scope of Ambaurora’s service. However, as I’m a keen photographer, I think of photography as a way of slowly creating sort of a “passive income” revenue stream for myself. During my spare time, I’m often out capturing shots and as the raw material needed is already there for me to work with, the next step to start selling images is not that far away.

 

Fuckups and lessons learned

  • Challenging my comfort zone is still a necessary evil. Note to self 2019 though: think about when and where I choose to do this. Not everyone will get it and yes, I’ll most likely be perceived as a weirdo a lot of times during next year as well. Be prepared to deal with those emotions.
  • Numbers aren’t my favourite thing. Leave it to my CFO. No “challenging” myself regarding this area. Just stay away and let the professionals handle it.
  • Trying to do everything at once: resign, mess with Försäkringskassan, start your business while in the middle of exhaustion, going through therapy. Yey! We’re gonna party like it’s ya’ birthday….! 2019 will be all about doing ONE THING AT A TIME.
  • Therapy – feels like a huge cost but when you start perceiving the effects from it it will still be the best investment you ever made

I will stop here for today. However, if you’re into goal-setting and planning your year ahead in a structured way as well – stay tuned, as my next post will be about setting goals for 2019!

 

/Malin

 

 

 

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6 copy newsletters that will sharpen your creative flow

Everyone does it. (No, not THAT, you pervert). I’m of course talking about “steal with pride” and and avoiding to invent the wheel every time you get caught in writer’s block.  

Whether you’re already an awesome communications professional or just a fellow language nerd trying to spark your creative juices and writing flow, here’s 6 newsletters on copywriting that you should add to your subscription list!

Photo: color image of binoculars and a beach view illustrating the blog postPro tip from yours truly before we get started: if you’re using Gmail – mark up all of your copy newsletters with a suitable label. Mine are simply marked up immediately with “Copy & writing” and let me tell you – do this and you’ll never need to search for that “good tip I read last week in some newsletter” again.

(And in case you wonder: no, this update has got nothing to do with Google, apart from the fact that I just LOVE Gmail’s organizing features with all of my Virgo heart, thus can’t promote it enough! That’s all).

Ok. Enough with the chatting now.

Ready for some proper newsletter tips? Here we go!

 

Gill Andrews

Action-oriented, direct, competent and sarcastic – what’s not to love about Gill Andrews? Ironically, I can no longer remember exactly when and where I came across this German powerhouse, but her newsletters certainly does the trick for me and I dare say you’ll also want to get up and get your professional shit together once you start receiving them. Subscribe for valuable tips and tricks on reviewing and improving your website as well as on writing better web copy!

 

Copyblogger

Ah well, a blog called Copyblogger on writing better copy, what a no brainer! Right? Maybe. However, ain’t nothing wrong with an occasional no brainer every now and then as long as it does what it should. And that’s exactly what these Copyblogger newsletter updates does for you, as they provide smart and snappy tips on writing copy, grammar and various language related topics + also some deeper insights every now and then.

Yes, you’ve probably heard of lots of the tips plenty of times before but some things can’t just be repeated enough. Subscribe and you’ll see it for yourself.

 

Exclusive tip for Swedish writers: Språkkonsulterna

Unfortunately, this newsletter is only available in Swedish but for those of you who live and work in Sweden – it’s a must read! What’s so unique about this newsletter then? Well, perhaps it’s just the pure beauty and simplicity of daring to pick one subject and stick with it. No trying to squeeze in 50 sub topics on marketing, growth hacking or cheap PR tricks here, just pure semantics and grammar porn! Whether you’re fully focused on mastering the beautiful Swedish language to perfection or just want to step up your game: ”Språkbrevet” is the newsletter for you.

 

Kate Toon

Sydney based Kate Toon is an experienced SEO copywriter/SEO consultant. I came across Kate for a while ago and since then, I’ve come to highly appreciate her witty and informative newsletter updates. Thus, highly recommended reading! While you’re still in the mood, please also take a couple of minutes to read this excellent post on that never ending discussion on how long and how often you should update your blog…

 

Mike Long – Mike’s Weekly Writing Tips

Let’s talk about Mike, baby! Seriously though, you need to add Mike’s newsletter to your subscription list. Do it now. I love these weekly updates – always insightful, sharp, yet eloquently put together with heart and soul. Yup, we could all need some more of Mike Long’s writing in our lives.

 

Mattias Åkerberg – Please Copy Me

I once worked with a colleague who had some (according to me) weird ideas about how to handle relations and the competition out there. Sure, I offer my writing services as well (as you probably know by now if you’ve read my blog for some time!), however, I’ve always liked to apply a “dare to be compared” perspective on my working life.

By that I mean that I think that instead of going for backstabbing or trying to just promote oneself, good things happen when you’re also able to see the greatness in your fellow industry colleagues! Gothenburg based copywriter Mattias Åkerberg is definitely one of those great industry colleagues that inspires me.  We’ve never met, but I have a deep admiration for his writing and how he’s built his own platform. Good news as well: shortly, he’ll also start his own newsletter (in English) on UX writing. Don’t miss out on any updates – visit him and sign up!

 

/Malin

 

 

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Lär dig att köpa smartare kommunikation

Är du i skriande behov av kompetensförstärkning eller avlastning när det gäller företagets kommunikation? Tycker du att det är besvärligt att få ner formella krav, önskningar och behov i en begriplig brief för att kunna upphandla en extern konsult? Här får du tips från insidan och konkret hjälp att komma igång!

Foto: färgbild med textruta "Hur du köper smartare kommunikation".

Under mina år i näringslivet har jag fått en bred erfarenhet av såväl att köpa den här typen av konsulttjänster som av att vara en del av den sålda konsulttjänsten. Idag vill jag därför bjuda på en del smarta knep som gör dig till en bättre och mer rutinerad beställare.

Tipsen här nedan skapar inte bara förutsättningar för ett bättre samarbete med din kommunikationspartner. På köpet får du också en kompetensutveckling för egen del.

 

Din checklista för smartare kommunikationsköp

 

  • Skriv en så detaljerad uppdragsbeskrivning som möjligt!
    Fundera igenom hur rollen eller uppdraget som du försöker tillsätta egentligen ser ut. Är det verkligen ett heltidsuppdrag eller rör det sig kanske snarare om sporadiskt behov av avlastning? Går det att specificera ungefär hur många timmar per vecka eller månad? Om behovet är stort – fundera även igenom om det här är ett uppdrag för en specifik konsult eller om det kanske är klokare att ta in flera stycken med olika specialistkompetenser.

 

  • Är det verkligen du som ska beställa?
    Är du behörig att beställa kommunikationstjänster? Det vill säga – har du tillräcklig kunskap om området för att veta vad du ska fråga efter? Är du den bäst lämpade hos er att sköta kontakten med konsult eller PR-byrå eller finns det någon annan som borde hålla i dialogen? Ovanstående frågor kan vara känsliga att ta upp, men bör funderas på internt innan ni kontaktar extern partner. Saknas kommunikationskompetens helt i ditt företag? Var då tydlig med det i dialogen och be motparten att vara medveten om det i offereringen.Ett typexempel på var det kan gå fel är till exempel försäljningschefen som plötsligt utan tidigare erfarenhet ska köpa och utvärdera PR- och kommunikationstjänster.

 

  • Våga prata pengar!
    Betalningsvillkor och faktureringsmodell är mycket viktiga områden i upphandlingen. Är ni ovana köpare, be konsulten att inkludera olika varianter på betalningsalternativ som kan bli aktuella. Att en konsult ibland föreslår vissa uppdrag på löpande räkning handlar inte (nödvändigtvis;-) om att mjölka din budget. Står du i begrepp att inleda ett långsiktigt samarbete kan det tvärtom vara ett oerhört bra sätt att jämna ut fluktuationer i kassaflödet genom att använda löpande räkning och kanske en á conto-modell. Att komplettera ett löpande-upplägg med takpris ger ofta en ökad trygghet som kund.
     
    Vanliga betalningsmodeller när du köper kommunikation kan till exempel vara fastpris för tydligt definierade tjänster, vare sig de är av mindre karaktär, som att skriva ett pressmeddelande, eller lite större som att reglera en månatlig kommunikationssupport upp till en viss summa.

 

  • Hur sker rapportering och avstämning?
    Definiera hur rapporteringen ska se ut. Hur definierar du och din konsult att samarbetet varit gynnsamt? När har ni lyckats? Beroende på verksamhet kanske det i vissa fall blir relevant att titta på resultatmål medan det i andra fall kanske är klokare att fundera på effektmål som exempelvis

    • att uppnå ökat antal följare i sociala medier
    • att hemsidan efter uppfräschad text ska generera flera leads
    • att ha fått en viss mängd publicitet i lokal, regional, rikstäckande eller branschinriktad mediaGardera, avdramatisera och professionalisera genom att också klargöra hur ni ger varandra feedback som samarbetspartners längre fram i arbetsprocessen. Då slipper ni att skruva på er när något skaver och föreslå ett utvärderingsmöte.

 

  • Använd sekretessavtal!
    Råder minsta osäkerhet om vilken typ av information som konsulten kommer att få ta del av så skriver ni givetvis ett sekretressavtal, ofta kallat NDA som är den engelska förkortningen. Ett sekretessavtal höjer nivån på samarbetet och visar att ditt företag sätter ett stort värde på sin information.

 

  • Glöm inte IT-riskerna!
    Dagens snabba IT-utveckling påverkar i högsta grad. Cyberangreppen ökar, framförallt mot mobila enheter där mycket av arbetet sker idag. Var inte naiva! Det kan hända er också. Tydliggör därför i avtalet – INNAN samarbetet inleds – på vilket sätt dokument ska sparas, delas och vilka säkerhetsrutiner som gäller.

 

Fler tips om smart upphandling hittar du också till exempel hos Sveriges Annonsörer, PWC och Sveriges Kommunikatörer. Gäller det en offentlig upphandling har även PRECIS (Föreningen Public Relations Konsultföretag i Sverige) tagit fram en utmärkt guide för hur du går tillväga.

/Malin

 

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I redaktionens papperskorg kan ingen höra dig skrika

“If you can’t explain it simple, you don’t understand it well enough”. Uttjatade ord, men ack så aktuella. Att nå ut genom kommunikation har aldrig varit enklare – att tränga igenom bruset för att faktiskt engagera din önskade läsare är något helt annat.

Foto: en färgbild på sopkorg fylld av refuserade alster. Plågsamt ofta noterar jag pressutskick med hög risk för att reta gallfeber på mottagaren. Dessutom på grund av misstag som enkelt hade kunnat undvikas med bara lite research, grundläggande kunskaper om journalistik, samt gärna även en dos av det berömda sunda förnuftet.

Här hittar du en lista över de fem vanligaste tabbarna du bör låta bli. Spar gärna ner den tills nästa gång deadline-stressen flåsar dig i nacken!

1) Inget nyhetsvärde
Företaget eller organisationen som du företräder har i grund och botten ingen egentlig nyhet som ni vill nå ut med. Att ni t.ex. lanserar en ny webbsida eller att er webbsida nu finns tillgänglig även på språket X eller Y utgör inte material för ett pressmeddelande. Lär er att tänka som en journalist – var, när, hur, varför och vem.

Var hårda mot er själva så ökar ni relevansen av er kommunikation när ni faktiskt har en riktig nyhet att nå ut med.

2) Ni behärskar inte formatet för ett pressmeddelande
Ett pressmeddelande är ingen annons, inget blogginlägg eller en debattartikel. Pressmeddelandet bör alltid vara formulerat i ett sådant format att en journalist utan onödiga korrigeringar ska kunna klippa ut er rubrik och ingress och göra en begriplig notis enbart på basis av den. Rubrik och ingress tillsammans måste framföra ert huvudbudskap samt givetvis besvara läsarens “what’s in it for me?”.

Den här punkten är kanske en av de allra viktigaste, och även en av dem som det slarvas allra mest med! Låt oss därför stanna kvar här lite och kika på några kontrollpunkter som du kan ta för vana att gå igenom innan du skickar ut dina pressmeddelanden:

  • Rubriken – är den tydlig och slagkraftig och sammanfattar nyheten på ett sätt som även en person utan förkunskaper om er verksamhet kan förstå? Är det faktiskt en rubrik och inte bara en överskrift av texten? Ett viktigt obs: företräder du ett mindre känt varumärke och är osäker på tonaliteten – ta hellre det säkra före det osäkra när du formulerar dina rubriker. Kreativa ordlekar som kanske fungerar ypperligt för välkända varumärken som Nike eller Apple kan landa katastrofalt när de kommer från en okänd källa och riskerar att tolkas helt ur sitt tänkta sammanhang. Undvik. Sakligt och kortfattat är aldrig fel.  
      
  • Ingressen – i ingressen sammanfattar du kärninnehållet från pressmeddelandet på ett kort och kärnfullt sätt. Du bör hålla ingressen till max två-tre rader. Har ni mycket och viktig information som är svår att sålla i – gör upprepade korrekturrundor. Börja med att slakta onödiga adjektivfraser och subjektiva bedömningar.

 

  • Längd och genreformalia – ett pressmeddelande bör aldrig överstiga en A4. En enkel och funktionell mall du kan utgå ifrån kan se ut ungefär så här:
    →rubrik
    →ingress
    →ett inledande, slagkraftigt citat från sakkunnig talesperson
    → kortfattat faktastycke som belägger talespersonens citat på lämpligt sätt och med fördel sätter er nyhet i ett större perspektiv
    → avslutande citat från talesperson
    → kortfattad, praktisk information som t.ex. informerar mer i detalj om när läsarna kan förvänta sig att produkt X kommer att vara tillgänglig, hur ni i bolaget förväntar er att tidsplanen för projekt Y kommer att fortlöpa o.s.v.
    → kontaktuppgifter till pressavdelning och talespersoner
    → om företaget (“boilerplate” som det kallas på branschspråk): kort om er samt länkar till pressrum och webbsida.

 

3) Språk- och grammatikfel
Slarva inte med korrekturläsningen. Vet ni med er att ni kommer att sitta i processer sent på natten så se över och hitta en rutin för “four eye principle”, så att den som ytterst sitter och ska skicka ut pressmeddelandet har tillgång till ett par extra ögon. (Ni kommer att tacka er själva när ni upptäcker den där extra nollan som slunkit med).

 

4) Intervall för utskick
Allt är inte ett pressmeddelande. Spar pressmeddelanden till de händelser som verkligen är en nyhet. Exempel på nyheter:

  • Förvärv
  • Nedskärningar
  • Större produktlanseringar med ekonomisk effekt på verksamheten
  • Rekrytering till nyckelpositioner som vd, styrelsemedlemmar eller personal på ledande befattning.

 

5) För många kockar involverade
Vem äger egentligen skrivprocessen i er organisation? Bortsett från viktig faktagranskning bör ägandeskapet över pressutskicken alltid ligga hos er kommunikationsavdelning. Släpp kontrollbehovet och lita på att dina medarbetare kommer att involvera berörda personer internt när det behövs.

Behöver du hjälp med att se över och skärpa till era pressmeddelanden är du varmt välkommen att höra av dig.

Lycka till med era framtida nyheter!

 

/Malin

 

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Print is dead. Long live print!

Print is dead. Media is dead. Journalism is dead. Nobody reads printed editions anymore. Right? Or is it really that bad? Perhaps not! This morning I visited a breakfast seminar which certainly awoke some hope for a brighter future for print products.

Photo: black and white product images of the magazine "Försvarets forum"

Despite the strong photograph on the cover of the magazine, it’s the typography that first caught my eyes. It’s delicious – functional with great readability, yet so attractive, soft and inviting. Simply irresistible. Oh, by the way. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, perhaps now would be a good time to add that both typography and graphic design are old and nerdy interests of mine. Thus the strong need to dive into these kind of details.

Having cleared that out, let’s get back to where we were. Swedish content agency Make your mark and their client Försvarsmakten have been nominated in The International Content Marketing Awards (CMA) for their staff magazine “Försvarets forum”. This is the third consecutive year in that the magazine has been nominated in the CMA.  

Photo: color image, close-up of the magazine "Försvarets forum"

On a breakfast seminar this morning, Editor-in-chief Fredrik Helmertz and Art Director Markus Hillborg talked about the working process behind the magazine. It’s been a long time since I last felt so eager and inspired as I did after this seminar! Few things are as interesting and amazing (if you ask me) as when you manage to combine great journalism with well thought through communication initiatives, graphic design and photography. And talking about photography: Fredrik Helmertz also touched upon the subject of newspaper photographers during this morning session. Needless to say, working conditions for professional photographers have been been rough during the past few years, with lower budgets for photo materials and so on. However, turns out that at least “Försvarets forum” is one of few magazines out there that still has its own photographers contracted.

This is probably one of the many success factors behind the magazine as it allows the creative process to take place in a more integrated, long-term and holistic way, instead of “just” buying photos and putting together something hasty.

Photo: black and white close-up from the inside of the magazine "Försvarets forum"

As a lover of both good journalism and printed media, initiatives like this makes me genuinly happy! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for “Försvarets forum” in this year’s edition of CMA.

Nerdy greetings & happy Friday!

/Malin

 

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