The other day, Carl Fredrik Sammeli asked me to push for Prime’s Recruitment Day. Even though I’m happy to do that, I decided to let him work for it a bit first…

Hi Carl Fredrik! Congratulations to winning in Sabre! But I don’t think everyone knows that you were one of the driving forces behind creating the Spinn Awards, the Swedish national PR awards. What are the major business benefits would you say with competing in PR?

Thank you! One of the main reasons we compete is not only so we can benchmark ourselves against other companies, but also to set an internal standard. Our success in this year’s awards will set the standard that we need to improve on next year. It is a best practice platform for internal development; it demands that we keep to deadlines and deliver high quality presentations, which is an important practice for the whole agency, especially the young recruits.

Competing regularly also guarantees that we revise our external marketing frequently. It’s a way of living open source, it not only helps us to win clients and to set our own internal standards, but it can provide inspiration for clients and their internal organization, potential clients, potential talent, teachers and our network in general etc.

The open source model shows our way of trying to create a really long term culture of innovation from within the company that we believe can attract the most talented people in the industry to work with us.

Most Swedish agencies sort of stop being hungry when they reach a certain volume. But not Prime, you guys comes off as being just as aggressive as ever before. As you recently become the biggest PR agency in Sweden, what’s driving you as an individual to keep pushing forward? I mean, you could probably just take a seat at the board, be the chairman of some PR association or write a book or something.

We are totally independent, the partners and employees working in the firm own everything, and our perspective is 20 years long, if not more. It creates a fun and demanding culture where we work together to develop even more demanding work each year because it´s necessary to make it fun for all of us that will remain with the firm for many years.

I like to think I embody this entrepreneurial spirit, where you seek this perpetual growth. A real entrepreneur should never be satisfied, especially in the communication industry when now more than ever you have to reach new levels of innovation.

I think another factor is the way Prime is structured, we have a very flat hierarchy and a culture of meritocracy and this has been a key factor in our success. This means though that I’m involved (as are all our partners) in the client projects and so I still need to have the same energy, passion and hopefully the creativity as the new guys. This company structure has grown organically and I encouraged it, so too suddenly to take my foot of the gas, would be destructive to something I have helped to create. So rather than just sitting on a high stool, I like to lead by example and roll up my sleeves, this is what keeps me pushing forward. I like to say, always proud but never satisfied.

In your opinion, is there something the Swedish PR industry could get better at?

Yes, a better amalgamation of the different services/departments, so for example in Prime I can use the example of public affairs, corporate communication, business intelligence (United Minds) and marketing communication and that we could do more to merge these together. As an industry we also need to be more innovative in the way we run our companies. The PR and advertising industry is not profitable enough and so we need to seek those innovative solutions to make them more so. If you look at Prime, we use innovation as a driving force in the way we run our agency. You can’t just be innovative in your work but also the way you drive your agency.

I’m blessed with having quite a few students reading this blog from time to time. If you could give one piece of advice to any PR student who dreams of a career at an agency? Besides checking out your Recruitment Day, that is.

It sounds obvious, but it can’t be stressed enough, you have to work hard and have passion for what you do. Show your passion in any way possible, if you are passionate about cars, the environment, national politics, hockey or whatever it may be, show it, being passionate about things will help you to niche yourself, something which is important when you begin your career in this industry. It is important to be driven, passionate and ambitious but you must always try and remain humble and avoid becoming fixated on things like prestige or status which are common distractions, especially in this industry. Amazon says Work hard, Have fun and Make history and even if it’s a bit American rather than Swedish or European I still love this type of attitude. If some of your readers want to discuss careers with me please e-mail me at cfs@primegroup.com

I have often times been compared to you (and also Anders Bylund, Hill & Knowlton), but I’ve never understood if this was meant as a good thing or what. What do you think these people are getting at? Are we both career-obsessed men from the north of Sweden, do we look and sound the same or what’s the deal here? Since we know each other, I thought I might get your best guess on this…

Well… My definition of ‘the north’ may be slightly different to yours. I’m from Luleå and my parents are from Tornedalen where we think of Sundsvall as being in the South! The real Sweden starts in Älvsbyn or maybe Piteå. Everything below that is “the south”. But I would have to say it can only be a good thing in this respect, coming from the north of Sweden has definitely given me this hardworking, ‘down to earth’ attitude towards my work and life, as I’m sure it has yours.

I think we’re all real PR nerds, with the same mentality; we love what we do and are passionate about it. In terms of appearance, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you don’t look as old as me or Anders Bylund…