The first thing that springs to mind is – variety! There never is as dull moment and seeing all different nationalities communicating together often in English – which often is not the person’s own mother tongue. This can often lead to many funny situations. Without going into detail let’s just say that the typical stereo typing of countries does ring true. So, yes – the English never directly state what they want but rather imply it (hoping that the person they are targeting also gets this). The Dutch say it as it is and do so in a very loud voice. The French –always polite but need a hundred words to say one sentence. Last but not least the Germans in business are reliable, hierarchical and always come prepared to meetings.
Coming back to international…..
I have worked for several international corporate head offices based out of Amsterdam, The Netherlands for the last 15 years of my career. Namely: UPC, Ahold, Heineken and most recently TomTom before joining TeliaSonera . All these companies have been at different stages in their life cycle – some booming, others being challenged by declining markets. However, the common thread is that all require proactive communications to engage with stakeholders. As the bulk of my experience is in Corporate Communications I can vouch that this takes time but is most certainly well worth the effort. On the whole my key audience is journalists. And I spend a large part of my time liaising with them. The trick as I see it is to see them as an extension of your own organization and engage in them to get your key message across – they can do so in a very compelling manner. As you know – negative news travels fast the challenge lies in continuously getting positive stories out – however small they might seem at the time. Sometimes when you are on the inside looking out what might not seem like newsworthy to you is in fact news to a journalist. By constantly pumping out news you also are in the position to build solid relationships with journalists – which is always a good thing.
Of course the rise of social media in the last five years has not only changed the communication professionals live tremendously but also journalists´. Now more than ever they have to fight for existence as you no longer have to be a journalist to write news. This has led to interesting dynamics as I have learnt that journalists are often keen on writing background articles – stories they can keep for a rainy day. Whereas before the Social Media revolution, journalists had much more of a monopoly and were quite happy to stick to covering the news of the day, as they had little time to dig around for bigger stories. It is exactly these opportunities which are impactful and can help to get your stories out.
As everyone knows, Social Media too is a great tool to engage with your influencers. Challenge though for corporate communications at least is to ensure you stick to quality as opposed to quantity. Often corporate communications departments are stretched for resources and have to do most things in house, including the additional channel of social media. So consider that when you embark on the adventure. It is though a well worth one. Currently, Twitter and LinkedIn are by far the most effective channels for corporate communications.
So does Social Media vary across Europe?
Definitely, in Germany for example Twitter is hardly used, whereas in the UK this channel was adopted right from the beginning. In France Facebook is used in a lot of consumer campaigns whereas in Sweden Facebook is used mainly in a non-corporate sphere. What I do notice is that the differences are getting smaller and my motto is to focus on what we share as opposed to our differences.
Kristina Hunter Nilsson
Kristina Hunter Nilsson jobbar som Senior Media Relations Manager på TeliaSonera.