Category Archives: Blogg

After careful consideration….

When job hunting, this is an automated message we’ve all received and we know that those words isn’t the beginning of a new and fruitful relationship. Fair enough and not that much of a problem; an organisation should recruit the person they believe can do the job.

No, what bothers me is the time lapsed between the application and this answer. Yesterday I submitted my CV to a large company for a Communications Director position. I immediately received a confirmation that they had received my application. And 32 minutes later I received this follow-up message:

Thank you for your recent application to XXXX.

After careful consideration we have decided not to progress with your application at this point in time as we have identified candidates that more closely match our requirements.

Please continue to review our current opportunities on the careers page of our website at xxx, to ensure consideration for future roles.

Thank you for the interest you’ve shown and may we wish you every success in your search for a new role.

Yours sincerely,

XXX Talent Acquisition

Really? My application was carefully considered for the whole of 32 minutes. And that during a time of day when not many are at the office. How careful can you be in 32 minutes? Personally, I not only find this behaviour unprofessional I also find it rude.

I understand we all play the Taleo guessing game and unless my CV doesn’t contain the correct key words it won’t show up. But I would advice the responsible managers to programme an automated timer to the answer and hold it for 24 hours. It would at least make you look minimally professional.

 

Google’s Tribulations – Déjà-vu all over again…

By now it hasn’t escaped many that Google’s UK boss Matt Brittin didn’t know his own pay when asked in the cross party hearing about Google’s UK tax polices. While it must be a nice problem to have, that’s not my gripe. Nor am I discussing the tax deal whether it was fair or not. But I wonder about why Google seemingly doesn’t seem to see the PR snafu in this story. If I headed up a company and a senior company representative floundered like this at a question and was called “evil” on camera I’d definitely consider that as something of a [minor] PR disaster.

The whole thing reminds me painfully about the SOPA hearings, the same thing there – the IT industry at large sent one lawyer that like the Lone Rider faced a committee of hostile Senators and even more hostile pro-SOPA representatives. And if companies like Google hadn’t shut the Internet down for a day, SOPA would have been introduced there and then.

I so surprised every time I see this happening. One of the biggest companies in the world and they behave worse than a start-up managed by a 20-year old from Mother’s walk-in closet. It’s like Google don’t care about their reputation. Or does Google think that their reputation is so good that they are impossible to harm? Or that because they of their size and market position have nothing to worry about? I find their arrogance amazing. And what more I find their attitude to me as a customer demeaning. Look at the situation – Prime time TV and one of the main star actors doesn’t know his lines. One can argue that Mr Brittins salary wasn’t the subject of the hearing, but he should have been prepared. I feel a little bit insulted on behalf of my métier, weren’t we (and I speak about PR and Communications practitioners) involved in the preparations? Or did Google didn’t feel it was necessary?Where we involved, but not listened to? Did Goole think that this was purely a fiscal question? And that once the deal with the UK government was closed, that was it? No repercussions? No questions asked? And what more, why seemingly no preparations, foresight or strategy from Google’s side?

As said, Google’s tribulations and floundering – déjà-vu all over again…

PR’s and journalists – are we really that unprofessional?

Our level of professionalism is something I query every now and then. In particular when it comes to what is called “press contacts” in my line of business.

Let me explain with an example:

I am at interview (always there it happens) and the prospective employer asks me: Whom do you know at FT/the Economist/Computer World… (just pick your favourite news outlet).

The thinking being that as long as you know a journalist at these outlets your news will get printed. Seriously? Are we that unprofessional? Are journalists? Personally I am convinced that if a piece of news is of interest for that outlet, or rather its readers, it will get printed whether I know that journalist or not. OK, I understand that from a purely human angle it is easier to speak with, and listen too, someone you know – at least in a professional capacity – than a complete stranger. After all we’re only human, but evaluating if content are news worthy or not, surely that’s independent of personal ties?

It is my job as PR/Communications to explain to the eager person on my side of the fence that Yes, this is a completely new product it is of interest. No, bug fix number 1055 is not of interest even if it took you six months to fix it.

And I remain strong in my belief that if I indeed get to “know” the journalist, the outlet and its readers i.e. understand what triggers them and what they find interesting in what I might provide them with they will listen. Maybe not publish, I get that, but at least listen.

I must say that I find the approach above deplorable and unprofessional both concerning us as PR/Communicators and concerning journalists.

Or am I naïve?

Martin Schulz, European elections and Social Media

I found this excellent blog post ”What Happened During Schulz’s #AskMartin Chat 0n Social Media” that discusses certain aspects about Martin Schulz’ chat #AskMartin. The chat took place May 19 and is a part of Mr Schulz bid to the post as President of the European Commission. Actually this is a post nor he nor his competing candidates actually will be elected to by the EU citizens since the Commission, including its President, is agreed by the European Parliament. So in itself it’s a strange situation.

As much of this election campaign this event was rather discreet, in fact the chat was a complete surprise, I only noticed it when RTs started to appear in my feed, and I concur with the critics that the answers were few, far in between and bland. Fine, he got 1 700 tweets during the hour allotted to the Twitter chat, it goes without saying that no one can answer that many answers at least not over the course of an hour. Still the answers that were given could have been more poignant.

But as Mr Ricorda rightly points out in his post, there are technical limitations to how many answers you can provide. But what communications strategy doesn’t take that into account? I must say from my angle it seems like Mr Schulz team had a brain wave:

We must do something with Social Media! Twitter! He should Tweet. That will make him stand out as a cool politician. And German (German since EP elections still are national) twitters is a really interesting demographic group. And properly managed we’ll get a really good reach.

I can hear the applause.

More than any other tool in the communications mix, technology is a factor in any Social Media strategy and if not managed properly you will end up like Mr Schulz, kind and well-meaning, but a bit lost in [Social Media] space. Technology has to be taken into account and managed. Questions like:

  • Can others in his entourage answer tweets while keeping the authenticity?
  • Can we continue to answer questions even after the chat is closed?
  • Can we create a pop-up page on the campaign website and answer the questions by grouping them in themes?

There are many other questions to be asked and answered. But as long as there is a sense of no one even thinking about the basics before organising an [on-line] event like this it will only be considered as a well-meant measure that got botched.

Recruiters – a Thank You letter to copy

Yep, I applied for a position with Levi Strauss & Co. and got a letter back. True, in reality, I am none the wiser if my background is what they are looking for, but at least they communicate in a nice way. It isn’t so difficult to write something kind to an eager applicant. Like they say in the end of the letter “We try to treat other like we like to be treated ourselves” so simple and so difficult. Finally, they acknowledge something that so many seem to forget – any applicant is also a customer and stakeholder.

While the style of writing might not suit all companies/organisations in all industries, the approach certainly does and I personally would love it if more could take heed. Or maybe this is standard and I have just been unlucky with the companies I have applied to.

We were in your situation once, wondering if our online application made it to the right folks at Levi Strauss & Co. – or ended up in a digital black hole, never to be seen again.

 Rest assured, this email means we received it. And we thank you for letting us know that you want to join our team.

 As you can imagine, we receive lots of applications and resumes every day, from applicants around the world. As a result, we’ve had to automate the process. For instance, if you reply to this email, no one will see it. Sorry.

Here’s what we promise, though. Our team of talent scouts will review your credentials. If your background and skills match the qualifications for one of our open positions, including any particular position you’ve applied for, we’ll contact you. If there’s not a current match, your resume remains in our database. And we regularly check that database against new open positions.

We love our fans – be they consumers or applicants like you. And we want to treat you the way we’d want to be treated.

Thank you,

Your Friends at Levi Strauss & Co.

After careful consideration….

That is a message we’ve all received and we know that those words isn’t the beginning of a new and fruitful relationship. And that’s fair enough and not that much of a problem, an organisation should recruit the person they believe can do the job.

No, what bothers me is the time lapsed between the application and this answer. Friday I submitted my CV to a large industry association for a Communications Director position I immediately received a confirmation that they had received my application. And 15 minutes later. Yes, you read correct fifteen minutes I received this follow-up message:

Thank you for your recent application to XXXX.

After careful consideration we have decided not to progress with your application at this point in time as we have identified candidates that more closely match our requirements.

Please continue to review our current opportunities on the careers page of our website at xxx, to ensure consideration for future roles.

Thank you for the interest you’ve shown and may we wish you every success in your search for a new role.

Yours sincerely,

XXX Talent Acquisition

Really? My application was carefully considered for the whole of 15 minutes after which I was considered too light. How careful can you be in 15 minutes? Personally, I not only find this behaviour unprofessional I also find it rude. If this is an automated answer based on the fact that my CV doesn’t have enough of the keywords the recruiting team are searching for, programme an automated timer to the answer and hold it for 24 hours. It would at least make you look minimally professional.

 

Few public leaders understand the power of social media

This article on Forbes Nearly One Year After The Start Of Arab Uprisings, Few Arab Leaders Understand The Power Of Social Media made me curious how governments are doing here “at home” in Europe. I found the article in the twitter feed of Matthew Fraser, @frasermatthew.

We are after all seeing a raising citizen engagement in many countries over the world and in any case it is always in any government’s interest to communicate with its citizens. But maybe it should be even higher in times of change. Today with Social media communication is easier than ever before. Only I find that if governments actually do use Social Media it is one way only and it is rare that the citizens actually gets to interact with their governments. In fact I haven’t found any proof where interaction is the ”normal.”

According Jared Cohen, Google Ideas, we currently see two systems in the midst of a noisy transition, where one is physical and dominated by states with the traditional division between state and power and the other is a rival system that is virtual, cross-national and dominated by citizens.

Cohen believes that these two systems will eventually find a way to exist side by side and that there will be a sort of checks-and-balances situation where we still will have a system based on states but with a higher interaction by its citizens.

Anyway, this prompted me to make a very non-academic investigation about the status of a few European countries. I have studied the Prime Minister home page of the following countries and noted if there was a link to Twitter. And when I mention the name of the Prime Minister this often refers to the actual office as I do understand that it is rare that the Heads of State engage like this with their constituencies – although from a credibility point of view it wouldn’t hurt them if they did.

United Kingdom: PM Cameron tweets under the profile UK Prime Minister, and rather actively too. Although Cameron seems to like Social Media only when it used to push information not so much when it is used to interact. And he certainly shows a lack of intellectual honesty in his actual approach to Social Media. He cannot on the one hand praise Social Media and the role it played in the Arab spring and on the other hand demand higher control of the same Social Media when it is used to create the same upheaval in the UK.

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t tweet, however the spokesperson Steffen Seibert is Twittering and answering tweets, actually only one of two (the other is Latvia) that seems to interact. I did think that countries going trough a crisis would jump on the possibility to communicate with their citizens, if nothing else to try to avoid violent demonstrations.

At the Italian Prime Minister home page there is no trace of social media interaction. However the Greek Prime Minister is Tweeting and quite intensely too as is the Portuguese Government.

For a while I was hopeful about the Spanish Prime Minister as the website showed logos from all the major Social Media networks – but I was quickly thwarted in my enthusiasm – it was only to share the wisdom of the prime minister, not for him to communicate with is constituencies. In particular seeing that Spain gears up to national elections tomorrow (Sunday 20 November) one would think that interaction with the citizens might be of interest. But in all honesty, this might be from the Socialist Party since it is not the office of the Prime minister that is active in an election campaign.

I did have my hopes up about the Nordic prime ministers, we’re after all know as being forerunners of the civic inclusive society; small countries with a flat administration and early adopters when it comes to technology, surely there in the high North we would have seen the light – but alas, Norway and Denmark is a desert when it comes to social media.  There were a few blogs found on the Swedish PM home page but no links to Twitter nor to Facebook. Although there is the possibility to send a mail to the PM’s office. And at least in Sweden public officials are legally bound to answer any communication from a citizen.

The Finnish government is a light in the dark – they even have a page called Government and the social media

France – interesting enough the first link that came up in my search was to Priceminister, but the French Prime Minister isn’t tweeting. Although they do have a good social media approach and the eager user can download various apps which helps the office of the Prime Minister to push information.

In Poland the Prime Minister is tweeting and rather intensely too. Estonia has a tweeting Prime Minister but only over 300 tweets. Latvia is interesting, the PM is tweeting and as far as I can understand interacts with the readership (at least re-tweeting other tweets). The neighbour Lithuania tweets but shows only little over 600 tweets.

In a sense I can see why a government can be hesitant to use e.g. Twitter as a way to communicate. Even if the information we publish on Twitter belongs to us, we have given Twitter the right to use this material pretty much as it chooses. And therein lies the age-old conflict between being public and open and (private) censorship. While I do believe that any government by default can release much more information than currently is the case I do realise that the fact that you don’t know where the released information will end up and how it be used can be a difficult question to manage [for a government]. But with a smart Social media policy this might  be solved. While I overall find it’s better to communicate than not to communicate I realise that some national questions are of concern for national security and can’t be e.g. tweeted about.

But I am nevertheless convinced that a public leader that is smart about Social Media and considers it as a way to interact with its constituencies – and I mean interact – not just push information will win in the long run. And what more if the public leader really listens and adapt and adopt while not loosing sight of hers/his ideological beliefs  s/he might also be considered as a great leader.

True listening tends to do that with you.