Rodrigo Capella: How does public relations work in Sweden? What kind of job does public relations do?
Jerry Silfwer: “There are several kinds of public relations agencies in Sweden. Some are campaign-driven agencies focusing on events and publicity, but most are strategic agencies involved at the executive level.”
Rodrigo Capella: What is the new PR’s trend in Sweden? Is totally different from the traditional public relations?
Jerry Silfwer: “We’ll, it’s all about social media these days. But the problem is that those who have a solid background matched with years of experience in public relations often times don’t know jack about social media. Still, their agencies sell social media workshops and strategies, even though they don’t know what they are talking about.
I know lots of senior public relations professionals that have no presence on Facebook, that don’t read blogs – and might never have posted a single tweet! It’s like doing publicity work without ever having to pitch a journalist or going to a client meeting without knowing if they are featured in today’s paper or not. They should be ashamed, really.
On the other hand we have a lot of social media channel experts. They know everything about the latest update from Facebook but they don’t know jack about public relations. They often think that having a creative presence is the key to success, when rather it’s a question of organisation and strategic long-term management.”
Rodrigo Capella: What kind of work does the Sweden’s public relations does in social media (Twitter, Facebook, Orkut etc.)? Can you give me an example?
Jerry Silfwer: “Everyone is basically selling everything these days, but the success cases are still few. Still, it a market designed for public relations activities. Swedes love to engage with brands and the blogging community is quite influential.
The need for creative fireworks is rather low, since few people want to be talked at — instead they want to be talked with, which makes this a perfect market for public relations activities.”
Rodrigo Capella: In your opinion, does traditional public relations have the same power as public relations in social media? Or the work in social media has more power than the traditional public relations? Why?
Jerry Silfwer: “First and foremost, I think it’s important to acknowledge that these bubbles correlate very well with each other.
Still, if you have a news item, you’d better approach the news media. If you have a social object, then you’d better leverage social media. News media (which includes some blogs, too) are driven by news, while social media is driven by engagement.
So, how powerful your spin will be basically depends on what you have to pitch.
Which is more powerful, then?
Well, traditional news media is still a force to be reckon with when it comes to setting the agenda. But when it comes to driving influence, nothing beats social media. I think companies need to leverage both.
Sure, social media can be used for agenda-setting as well, but you then need for your message to go viral, which is very hard to guarantee. And you can use traditional media for driving influence, but that is equally difficult.
If you have something that can make the traditional news, then you should use traditional media for sure.
But instead of trying to get the news media to write about your company with weak stories, it’s way better to listen to what people are saying about your brand or your industry in social media, and then dedicating resources for connecting with them.”
Rodrigo Capella: Do you still work with the tradicional press release? Does the tradicional press release works? Why?
Jerry Silfwer: “Yes, the press release is still part of my toolbox. It’s a mediated message with a timestamp and it can serve several purposes in the digital realm.
The difference is that there were only two choices earlier — either you push it to those you think might be interested, or you spray-and-pray. Today you have a third option — you use the inbound effect by posting your release intelligently in your own channels to allow people come to the release instead of the other way around.
Which to choose?
It’s a simple matter of tactics depending on what message you have to work with (probably it’s better to listen instead of pushing messages!) and what kind of business objectives you’re trying to achieve.”