Tag Archives: communication

Sponsored journalism – always dishonest and lacking in integrity?

In Sweden, and I guess elsewhere as well, there’s an ongoing discussion about sponsored journalism and that it’s dishonest to the readers. But is it? Can it even be that it is more honest?

We all know it – good journalism cost. It’s that simple, and more and more we’re getting used to “free” journalism, so it’s harder for the traditional outlets to finance their business. I put free between brackets because there is no such thing as free, sooner or later someone must pay. But I’m more discussing integrity here. Because there is a sense that sponsored journalism lacks integrity and only exist as a kind of infotainment. This time around it was a piece on the Swedish radio about one major Swedish newspaper that had started a co-operation with an auction house and thanks to that was able to offer high-quality articles on the art market. The sponsored journalists did not hide under which circumstances the articles have been produced. In other words it was clear that the content is produced in collaboration with this auction house. The radio journalists approached the subject under the assumption that sponsored journalism is dishonest and lacking integrity, and that “their” type of journalism is so much better. But “their” journalism is state sponsored through taxes, so how free is that? It is perceived so because we don’t see the direct relationship between the funds and the result, but is not only a perception? Can’t it be that sponsored content is much more honest and show higher integrity because the sender is (or at least should be) clearly identified and I as a reader know this? If I know that an article on pain management is written by pharma company producing a certain pain remedy I take that into account when I read the text. When I read a text by a journalist specialised in pharma I can’t be sure of the sources, and as a PR with a fair few years of competence in working with the press under my belt, I know for a fact that “sponsored” content i.e. successful pitch, is not unusual.

Can it be that openly sponsored journalism has higher integrity than we give it credit for? What say you?

The Thank You letter after an interview – how to formulate?

After each interview I send a Thank you letter thanking the interviewer for their time, re-connecting to some of our conversation and reiterate my interest in the role and the company. I usually also try to say that I’d do well in the role by some additional thinking e.g. a short strategy for communications, PR or Public Affairs or whatever the role is about. The question is should I do that or should I just keep the letter short and sweet?

I’m just asking because once a recruiter gave me some coaching before an interview and I mentioned that I planned to bring a presentation with me. The interviewer cautioned against it because since we didn’t know what the turns the interview would take and if I then left behind something that had nothing to do with the actual discussion I would be remembered by that rather than what I wanted to be remembered by.

With the Thank you letter I of course have a better situation since I know what we discussed so that part is easily managed. But there is still a lingering doubt that I’m wearing a bit off the best route. Why could it be a bad thing to show that I can do the job? Because what I show might not be exactly what the hiring company is looking for and then this will be what I leave behind and my efforts to further display my competencies will then simply be the stumbling block that takes me out of the race.

What say the recruiters in my network? What’s the best way to pen a Tank you letter?

European Commission’s communication failures

In March 2012 I had some points about what I consider an epic failure of the European Commission in the area of communication: Another epic fail in European Commission communications, https://goldkom.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/another-epic-fail-in-european-commission-communications/

It created a bit of a stir, but seeing that we are speaking about the European Commission the majority just yawned and went on to other matters. Understandable.

So judge my happiness when I see this article in New Europe’s printed version, www.neweurope.eu “Europe’s costliest failure.”

What language do you speak?

Do you know what a badger is?[1] Or a ball park figure?[2] A happening time?[3] The formation?[4]

Brings me back to the question – which language do you speak? The question isn’t altogether unfounded… we can conclude that much of the on-line conversation today is conducted in English. Yet for a majority of us English is our second or third language. And I speak from experience. In spite having lived in English  for the past 20 years, it still isn’t my mother tongue and there are quirks that will never be ironed out. E.g. do you sit in the shade or shadow? one quality I’ll never get when speaking a second or third language is the relaxation I get when speaking Swedish. I sometimes get together with my Swedish friends in Paris just (only?) to speak Swedish, we can read last weeks newspaper out loud just to hear and speak Swedish and it is immensely relaxing.

Functioning in other languages than your mother tongue also cause moments of misunderstandings, unintentional and often funny, but still. For me it is very often as simple that I just don’t understand. It took me a good number of years and several raised eyebrows before I got it that when an English man says “I hear you”, he roughly means “I couldn’t care less.” For years I was convinced it meant I actually was heard – and, what more, listened to.

Today the question is even more pertinent taking into account that a 23-year-old German bike lover has more in common with a 64-year-old Chinese bike lover than the German neighbour. Well, actually it isn’t even a question of language – it’s a question of communication. But as long as we get across and we make ourselves understood is correct language of importance? Or is it a difference between “official” texts e.g. public blog posts and private chatty Skype messages? However, today when “e-reputation” is paramount is a private text ever private? Are my language quirks charming trademarks or do they make me less credible as a communication professional? Should we be so perfect in our language use that all the kinks are ironed out? Or should we all speak some kind of mushy middle-ground language version of whatever language we are communicating in without embellishments? Or not even embellishments, more like correct language. Already that I perceive correctness as embellishments shows how I’ve deteriorated.

So today when story telling is on everybody’s lips and mind the question is what language do you speak?


[1] Badger, not the wonderful character in “Wind in the Willows” but a person that use a badge to get into the office

[2] Still not certain but I think it has something to do with baseball. Like Babe Ruth. Sort of. I think.

[3] Chinglish for event. Rather sweet if you ask me.

[4] Formation is frenglish for training. Training in French is ”formation” and since the same word exists in English French often assume it means the same thing in both languages. A more educated person than  myself told me instances like these are called false friends.