Klaus Meier teaches journalism at Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and researches on editorial management, online journalism and covergence among other topics. With his presentation “Innovating the Newsroom” he gave an interesting insight into his work on newsrooms.
How do you make people trust a country? That is one of the main questions for Frida Roberts who is Head of Communications at the Swedish Institute and responsible for promoting Sweden around the world.
She starts her talk at CSForum14 by explaining why spending money on professional communication for a country is important: “Due to globalization, the competition for attention is fiercer than ever before. It is like a global arena.” Her approach to promoting a country is to not only use Storytelling, but to go a step further and use story doing – “Do good, talk about it and repeat.”
Roberts’ team at the swedish institute tries to stick to their mission statements “Awareness, interest and trust” while promoting Sweden with print and online communication, exhibitions, seminars and more. But to what extent is it possible to actually control brands in today’s complex digital environment? According to Frida Roberts, there has been a complete pattern shift from brand owners to brand users. “Someone once said that brands are a bit like children. You have control over them for a few years but then they walk out in the world and you have no more control over them. I find that to be very accurate.” The key challenge for the communication of the country Sweden and for brands in general is that seven out of ten people listen to strangers when it comes to brands, but only one out of ten trusts the brand itself. So the question is: How can you build up trust and give evidence that your brand is trustworthy? Roberts thinks you have to show yourself vulnerable as an organization. You have to make people connect with your brand, engage in it and you have to reach them on an emotional level. The Swedish Institute used these approaches to launch a one of a kind project: Curators of Sweden.
A unique project
“Curators of Sweden” is the country’s official communication channel on Twitter – it was the first and the most successful project of it’s kind. Before going deeper into what the project is and how they did it, Roberts tells the audience that it was the most intense and frightening experience in her work life. “I learned a lot… the hard way.” The Swedish Institute saw Sweden as open, authentic, innovative and caring – in one word: progressive – and those were the core values that they wanted to represent with their project. The whole concept of “Curators of Sweden” embraced the idea of Story doing as and advancement of Storytelling. The outcome was what was described by Fox News as “the world’s most democratic twitter account”. Every week, a different swedish citizen takes over the official Twitter account and shows his or her life and the way that she or he see their country and the world. After being launched, the project got an overwhelming response: over 65.000 followers from more that 50 countries. People loved it because it was new, unconventional and funny. It was a risk to let non-professionals handle the communication for a whole country, but it also was a vow to democracy and the freedom of speech. There have been controversies, for example after an incident where a curator posted a racist tweet and the media went crazy, and Roberts thought the project would be over. But somehow, the team at Swedish Institute always managed to get it back up again.
Amateur twitterers, professional discussions
The project got a lot of media attention, some thought it was genius and some thought it was insane, and doubled the follower count of @sweden within a month of letting the people of Sweden take it over.
The biggest surprise to some might be that the amateur tweets weren’t too different from what professional communications would have done: a topic analysis of all of 2012’s tweets showed that the topics discussed corresponded to the ones that the Swedish institute prioritizes in its communications as well (tourism, culture et cetera). The project shows that there has been a shift in communications from storytelling to story doing. It was courageous and innovative and has kicked off a global movement: “Rotation Curation”.
By supporting an uncensored dialoge about Sweden on the platform, the Swedish Institute succeeded to show an authentic image of the country. They gained people’s trust in the brand Sweden by humanizing their communication and making the brand vulnerable. People trust people – so you have to make people tell your brand’s story.
“The Curators of Sweden” is an ongoing project and will hopefully stay as successful as it is in the future – and for those who were wondering: Everyone can nominate everyone to be the next curator. A nomination committee chooses someone who is good at social media and tries to keep a certain diversity in its choices. They never have any problems finding the next curator: in Sweden, it is an honour to officially represent the country for a week.
written by Gina Kliche (@hey_gina_k)
Meike Leopold is a consultant for corporate communication. Even though focused on corporate blogs, her workshop was a great blogging 101 and interesting for beginners as well as for advanced bloggers.
Too many people still think of blogging as a hobby and underestimate the complex process behind it. But making a good corporate blog is not as easy as many people think and it is not as cheap as many expect. It requires skilled staff, a lot of time, quality content and a detailed concept behind it. Only then you can succeed in strengthening your reputation, setting the agenda and developing a communication channel with your clients and stakeholders. To ensure all that works out you need to organise the tasks of the blogger team well.
Meike Leopold’s advices for organising your blog content and team:
1. Set quantitative goals, like “During the first six months we want to do two posts per week. During the next six months we want to do two 4 posts per week”.
2. Identify relevant topics for the following 3-6 months.
3. Always look out for chances to communicate with the employees! Talk to people during lunch breaks etc.
4. Detailed planning is important. Who does what when?
5. Organise your content properly. Make sure that you don’t just write your texts but also get your pictures in time and that you can use them legally.
6. Connect your blog with social media.
7. Use SEO.
8. Regular monitoring and performance measurements are necessary.
9. Do regular brainstorming sessions.
10. Stay always open for new ideas.