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Nils Petter Strommen, Chairman of the Norwegian Communication Association, takes us on an exploration of PR practice in Norway

July 2, 2014

 

Nils Petter Strommen, Chairman,
Norwegian Communication Association

Can you give us an overview on the state of the public relations profession in Norway? How is it perceived and how does practice differ from elsewhere in the world?

It’s a very diverse industry, spanning both the public and private sector. The majority of practitioners are female with an average age of 40 years old. Public sector communicators have been on the rise in recent years, representing almost half of our members. The industry is represented throughout the whole country, whereas most jobs are still found in the capital, Oslo. Practitioners spend most of their time on topics related to media contact, internal communication, management advisory, and digital communication, including social media. The profession still meets with a lot of skepticism, both in the media and amongst the general public. A major task for our association is therefore to talk about the importance of transparency and the value of communications.

 

Norway has always been a progressive country with strong egalitarian and ethical principles. How is this reflected in the practice of public relations, for example, the representation of women in the profession?

 

The representation of women in the profession is high, 65 % of our members are female. It was a shift about 15 years ago, during the nineties, as before that the majority in the profession were men. At executive level, about half of the positions are held by women, which means that men are overrepresented at executive level compared to the representation in the profession in general. The vast majority of the communication directors in both private and public sectors are members of the top management group of the organization and take part in its strategic decisions-making.  However, not all of them are invited to the early stages of the decision-making process, and this could be for more women than men.

 

 

Integrated Reporting and the challenges of leading sustainable organizations will be at the center of one of the parallel sessions at the upcoming 2014 World Public Relations Forum.  What is the Norwegian perspective and experience of these themes?

 

We acknowledge the need for better metrics and framework on PR evaluation. Measuring the impact of communications activities is strongly emphasized in our courses and conferences. The Integrated Reporting term and framework is not frequently used on our stages - yet.

 

 

Earlier this month the Global Alliance held a Global Summit were developments in the area of credentials and accreditation were discussed. How does Norway approach professional qualifications and credentials?
 

 

As opposed to, for example, the British industry, the discussion of whether to limit membership to accredited practitioners has not been a very hot topic amongst members of the Norwegian association. Norwegian practitioners have a diverse educational background with an average of five years of higher education. Their degrees stem from the social and human sciences, journalism, media sciences, economics and marketing. With the rise of PR degrees (mainly Bachelor degrees), we are now seeing more and more PR candidates entering the profession.

 

 

The Norwegian Communication Association represents more than 4000 public relations and communication professionals in Norway. What are the main services it provides to this sizeable community?

 

Training, conferences and networking. We have a magazine about PR and communications with six issues a year. We organize 30 courses and two large conferences a year. Our ten local chapters and the student chapter frequently invite to professional meetings, lectures and networking events.

 

The association also participates in public debate on behalf of the members and the profession. And we regularly undertake surveys and award scholarships to find out more about the profession.

 

 

How does the Norwegian Communication Association relate to the world of academia?

 

Unfortunately, Norwegian universities do not offer a Master’s degree in Public Relation studies as yet, thus resulting in few PhD studies and little academic research within our field. By awarding research grants to students and researchers, our association hopes to encourage the production of academic knowledge about our industry.  In 2012 and 2013 we funded a large-scale research project about the state of the industry in collaboration with The Institute for Social Research and Proba Research.