Next up in our profile series of our partner founders in the Brands2Life Global Network is Mikael Westmark of Westmark Information in Sweden (and covering the Nordics with a virtual network).
What led you to set up your own agency? I went back into the consultancy world in 2003 after leaving Ericsson – joining my wife’s existing agency was a natural step. She’s a copywriter and founded Westmark in 1995, celebrating 25 years now! Since then, integrating marketing and PR competencies has been key for our company.
What inspires you each day? I think I have one of the best jobs in the world. The need for effective communications of all forms will increase – and working with innovative and leading tech brands not only makes you stay sharp, it is also an inspiration for managing an agency. Just think back when cloud computing, big data and virtualisation were seen as just tech industry buzzwords. Today, they are fundamental to running companies of all sizes.
My own mission is also to help individuals become better communicators themselves. To train them and put the right tools in their hands – and then watch them perform. That’s so gratifying.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in PR since you founded your company? Like everyone else: the digitalisation and transformation of a whole media industry where the old silos are gone and the landscape is more blurred and in constant transformation.
What would you say is your biggest learning from adapting to working during a global pandemic? It’s never too soon to prepare for change on all levels. Do you have a resilient business model that can quickly reshape? Can the necessary talents be found within or outside your organisation when business is booming? Do you have the right set of tools and processes in place to able to focus on your core business?
With more than 30 years in the industry, what is your #1 priority right now? To keep up the momentum and continue to deliver on our strategies. We already have the right post-corona business model in place, but there’s more to do and new things to learn. We also need to keep our consultants engaged and busy – and make sure to focus on inbound marketing and sales activities in times when everything seems upside down.
Where is your company headed over the next 5/10/15 years? For the next five years, Westmark will continue as today: a network-centric hybrid communications agency with a virtual business model, engaging individuals and other companies to form the best team for each client. After that, we’ll see. I expect to work with communications for as long as I can, but I hope to find the right person who can continue what we have achieved so far.
Moreover, where is the entire PR industry headed? The traditional PR industry will continue to develop and merge with other communication disciplines. Data will become even more important, as will the ability to show clear results (“Why shall I pay X dollars for the possibility to be in a printed newspaper, instead of spending the same money on a digital programme where we can see the results in real-time?”). And the agencies that can develop and nurture stories that really affect people will have an advantage.
Why is it important to be part of a global network? I was one of two founders of Hill and Knowlton in Sweden many years ago. I’ve seen the good and bad with that model – and must say that I appreciate working with global independent agencies.
By partnering with best-of breed agencies and agency leaders around the world, you are, of course, in a better position to increase your business. But also to get valuable best-practice insights that in the end will help your own clients.
Name one profile that you follow on social media that really inspires you in your everyday work. I follow a lot of people, but for evening and weekend inspiration, I turn to @jackfrags from the UK. He’s a very skilled gaming YouTuber and expert on Battlefield, Call of Duty Modern Warfare and other FPS titles – and he improves my own gaming skills.
Mikael and his team across Sweden and the Nordics at Westmark are a longstanding Brands2Life Global Network partner and have current and former shared experience with clients such as Rentokil Initial, Rover.com, Tree-Nation, Nest and Anaplan with the wider Network.