Nordic communicators are lagging behind journalists in use of social media

PR practitioners and professional communicators at organizations and businesses are often experts in building good relations with journalists and other influencers that can help get their messages across to the target audience. Reading and monitoring traditional media has always been an essential part of the daily routines of PR professionals, we need to know who says what and where. With the strong growth in comsumption of social media, one would assume that most communicators had started to use social media by know, but according to a survey by Cision, there is still room for improvement.

Cision conducted a survey of journalists and professional communicators in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden about their attitudes to and use of social media. The survey revealed that journalists are becoming heavy users of social media such as blogs and micro blogs (like Twitter), especially in Sweden. As many as 42% of Swedish journalists and 26% of Danish journalists read blogs daily. In Norway and Finland the figure is slightly lower, 19% and 16%, respectively.

53% of Swedish journalists read blogs for research and 28% say that they blog as part of their work.


Twitter is a lot more popular among journalists in Norway and Sweden, where one in four read it daily (27% and 25%). In Finland, only 4% read micro blogs daily.

17% of Swedish journalist write on micro blogs daily. When asked “how do you work with micro blogs?”, 36% said that they monitor what is written, 36% follow interesting people, 25% publish news, 21% build relationships and 21% read for research.


Among communicators, it is more common to read blogs in Sweden and Denmark, at least on a daily basis.


Communicators in Sweden and Norway are the most frequent users of Twitter.


If we compare the use of blogs and Twitter between journalists and communcators in each country, we find that a larger percentage of journalists read blogs on a daily basis. This is quite interesting because it could signal that journalists are better connected to the blogosphere than professional communicators. And if as many as 53% of Swedish journalists read blogs for research (35% of Danish and 33% of Norwegian journalists) then communicators probably should put even more focus on building relations with bloggers.





Journalists are also more frequent readers of Twitter than communicators, with the exception of Finland. If for example 50% of Norwegian journalists read micro blogs at least weekly, why are only 32% of communicators doing the same? Shouldn’t they be out there to monitor and connect with influencers on Twitter? Well, I think so. Fortunately for communicators, there are people that they can turn to for advice, namely PR consultants (yes, people like me…). It turns out, not very suprising, that the individuals that uses social media most often are PR consultants. 52% of Swedish PR consultants read blogs daily, 50% in Norway and 35% in Finland (not enough responses in Denmark). As many as 61% of Norwegian PR consultants read Twitter daily, 34% in Sweden and 17% in Finland.



Footnote: The report Cision Social Media Survey 2010 can be downloaded here.

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Canada and Sweden most giving people in Haiti earth quake

This is a neat way of illustrating data. It’s an illustration that David McCandless did for UK paper the Guardian and it visualizes how much individual countries have contributed to the Haiti relief. Canadians were the most giving people, based on how much they donated per person on average. Sweden is second, followed by the other Nordic countries Norway, Denmark and Finland.


The entire data set can be found here.

Footnote: I don’t think 2.51 USD is that much to brag about really. I think we could have done better.

Image credit: mkandlez

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Time for a new job – I’m joining Sermo


I don’t think there has ever been a more exciting time to be a communicator than now. New tools and patterns of behaviour emerge every day, propelled by new digital technology. For example, Google today launched their Real-Time Search which includes live search results from Twitter and Facebook, which clearly demonstrates the deep impact of micro blogging and status updates on the way we consume information.

If you’ve followed along this blog for the last 6 years (almost), you wouldn’t be surprised that I think the future of PR lies in being able to integrate the new digital environment into the overall communication strategy. And to be able to continue to develop and to work even more focused with client on projects within digital PR, I am happy to announce that I will join a small niche agency called Sermo Consulting.

Sermo are specialized in online corporate communications and are 10 consultants in Norway and 5 (with me) in Sweden, making them a force to be reckoned with in the Nordic online PR business. I will be joining i mid-January and hope that I will be able to continue to work with interesting clients and projects with a focus on social media.

Photo credit: anna_t

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Nude photos on Norwegian Army social network

Last Sunday I blogged about Futurebook, a social network built by the the Norwegian Armed Forces to recruit 17-year olds. Futurebook added 60,000 17-year olds to the site without asking for their permission, and most of the information on the site was fake. According to an article in, it cost the Army 285,000 NOK (50,000 USD) to build the site. asked a spokesperson at the Army why they did not use existing social networks.

– The reason we built the campaign site was to be able to control the information. At our site, the members cannot publish information. The only thing they can do is ask questions about the Army, said Trine Jungeling.

That sounds like a completely backhanded approach to the whole idea of a social network, which in my view is to let members interact and co-create content. In other words, the complete opposite of being in control.

Futurebook has created a lot of negative reactions and the latest kerfuffle revolves around the fact that some 17-year olds have been greeted by nude photos when they logged on to the site. On Pia Mari Aune’s wall, photos of naked men had been posted (see photo at displaying their rear ends as they walk through a forest.

– If they wanted me to spend a year in the army before my studies, they failed, she said.

But Per-Ivar Norman, chief-of-staff at Vernpliktsverket, the National Service Administration, defends the pictures.

– The pictures show an activity that may happen when you are out practicing. To take your clothes off may be needed in situations where you for instance have to walk in water or mud. It is a way to practice.

That may very well be the case, but was it necessary to post photos of men’s butts on a 17-year old girl’s profile page? As seen in the article on, there are also topless photos of girls on Futurebook. The reason for these photos is quite unclear.

The site will be reviewed by Datatilsynet, the Data Inspection Board in Norway, which said that the approach to add young people to the site without their permission and then populate their friends lists with real people, with real birth data, was disrespectful. Datatilsynet even said that there is a real threat they could close the site down.

I find it quite ironic that the Army wanted to control the information on the site, perhaps so that none of the teenagers posted offending photos (?), and then they are the ones that add photos of nude butts. Bizarro world, anyone?

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Norwegian Armed Forces build network of 60,000 17-year olds without permission

The Norwegian Armed Forces have launched a Facebook-like social network to recruit 17-year olds. The site called Futurebook is made up of 60,000 members that the Armed Forces added to the social network without their permission. The 17-year olds recently received a mysterious letter in which they were invited to some sort of fictitious reunion party. Among other things, the letter that promoted the site stated that “There are thousands of new photos published and maybe you’ve been tagged in some of them”.

The letter included user name and password and once the teenagers logged in to the site, they found that they already had a profile with their name, birth date, location and a friend list of about 20 people, but all other information was fake. Even comments from friends were fake:

“Anyone going to Roskilde this year? Had been cool with a camp for people who actually know how to raise a tent”.

Even the friends lists are populated with friends the teenagers don’t really know.


As you would expect, this creative idea didn’t sit very well with the target group. As one mother told

– They steal your name. On other sites such as Facebook or Nettby, you would be thrown out for posting a fake profile.

Then she sums it up perfectly:

– We try to teach our kids that they should be careful online and then they get this thing thrown in their faces. It looks like they’ve published the profiles themselves but at the bottom in tiny letters it states that this is fictitious, says June Beth Rovik.

Based on the comments about Futurebook on Twitter and on blogs,the site seems to create a significant amount of negative reactions. Many react to the fact that birth details for example are published and open for all members to view.

In my view the campaign certainly did start off on the wrong foot by registering 60,000 teenagers without asking them for permission. There is enough pressure on teenagers today to manage their identity online and keep unwanted photos and comments off the net. The Armed Forces and their advisors should probably benefit from reading a few books by Seth Godin, the father of permission marketing. Among other things, Godin writes:

“Real permission is different from presumed or legalistic permission. Just because you somehow get my email address doesn’t mean you have permission.”

Just because the Armed Forces could buy the personal details of all 17-year olds in Norway, doesn’t mean that they are entitled (morally) to hijack their identities and then post it online. That’s not the right way to create positive associations to a brand or organization.

Godin again:

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”

Creating an opt-out social network just seems to be a really really dumb idea, especially when the target group is teenagers.

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News sites or ad sites?

It is well known that newspapers have a hard time charging for online content. So advertising is of course a vital part of the business model for the web sites of traditional newspapers. But the question is if ads are taking over the entire sites of the dailies? See below the screen shots of four of the leading Nordic dailies: Dagens Naeringsliv (Norway), Jyllandsposten (Denmark), Berlingske Tidene (Denmark) and Aftonbladet (Sweden). You can hardly determine what the breaking news are by looking at the screen, without scrolling.





Updated: The explanation can be found in this graphic of the state of online “journalism”.

Update 2: Kenneth Lay Milling follows up and looks at several other Danish news sites and concludes that in general 80-90 percent of the screen is covered by ads.

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