Emma Bengtsson is a communications manager at SVT (Sweden’s Public TV Company) in Stockholm. She’s also a graduate of Hyper Island’s Content Developer Program. We caught up with Emma to grasp what daily life is like working for one of the oldest and largest TV companies in Sweden, diversity and inclusion in the industry, and her learnings from her time on Hyper Island. Read on!

Hey Emma! Please tell us about your current role as a communications manager for SVT and what daily life is like.

As a communications manager, the team, consisting of 13 communicators and myself, market the content that SVT produces, whether it’s a new drama series, a documentary, and the like. SVT produces content about and for everyone in Sweden with the goal of trying to represent an honest reflection of diversity and inclusion. That doesn’t mean to say that everything we produce will reach and engage with everyone. However, it’s always interesting to try to figure out how to and cater for the majority of needs.

My day to day is very varied with lots of movement. The framework of the role is there, but there is so much more to it in between. Earlier this year, I started a project with a colleague to produce GIFs, which would be used to market SVT’s shows in a new and fun way. Previously, SVT wasn’t present on the platform, and we wanted to change that—it’s a huge platform! We also created stickers for Instagram and from April to October, they received 1,9 billion views in total. It’s amazing how a small idea can have such an enormous reach.

How does it feel to work at such a well-known and long-serving company as SVT?

I feel privileged to be able to work at SVT. The company is a part of my childhood memories because my parents would often watch their shows when I was little, and I too would watch together with them and children’s shows. It’s effectively been a part of my whole life and I have an emotional connection to it. SVT is not like the other TV companies: it doesn’t aim to make a profit, and we create great content for everyone, which goes back to my democratic values. We have so much content for such a broad section of people and that’s what inspires me. It’s great to be a part of SVT and build a collective memory for Sweden.

Today, with digitalization there is a shift in how we communicate, not just in the TV industry, but in our personal lives too.

The industry is not static, and it can change overnight. There’s been a clear shift in how we consume information and content—it’s so much more accessible nowadays. It’s not just about having a TV channel or not anymore, there is information literally everywhere. When there is so much content noise—why should people choose you? You need to earn the trust of your viewers. You can’t just assume people will watch you. You have to be smart and always be on your toes. Never settle or get too comfortable. For example, Instagram’s quick answer to TikTok becoming so big was introducing Instagram Reels.

How does it feel about diversity and inclusion in the TV industry in 2020?

Diversity is a very important question to ask and highlight in the field of Communications and it’s something that’s super close to my heart. I believe that you must be humble answering this question, as diversity and inclusion is a very important topic, and I can’t answer for more people than myself. The meaning of diversity and inclusion can represent so many different things depending on who you ask. With that being said, I’ve never thought about my gender in my profession as there hasn’t been any fuss about it. It doesn’t change my role at SVT and it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life. SVT hired me based on my references and experience and what I wanted to do for them, and I’m happy to have that experience. I feel recognized at my job, but not everyone feels the same way out there.

Diversity is a job that is never complete.

In my department, I feel we are fairly represented in terms of gender and age. I can’t speak for the whole company, of course, as SVT has thousands of employees within so many departments and offices. My line managers consist of two women and they are absolutely great. When we bring our different skillsets and combine them, magic happens. For me, it’s more about the individual, and not the gender. I have the freedom to come up with suggestions and no-one will ignore my ideas just because I’m young or female.

Whether you believe there is gender equality or not, you have to always question it. There is inequality even within the definition of gender. It’s not a “yes/no” question, it’s more of a deep understanding of what equality really means. Language, for example, is also a question of equality. It’s very relative. If you compare Sweden to other countries you need to think about many factors – history, economical history of the country, political unrest and so on. It’s dangerous to think that something always is equal. Because how do you know that it is equal?

To reach equality in any sense you have to have the voice to say that something doesn’t feel right.

Otherwise, we will just continue reproducing the same issue. I admire people who raise their voice when they see inequality. People come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives, and their view might not necessarily align with yours. I’m half Korean and I’m super proud of that, and when it comes to inequality, it’s not about my gender, but how I look. I’ve experienced it more in my personal life than at work. It’s important when someone is experiencing inequality, that you acknowledge the way they feel and what they’re saying, regardless of whether you can relate or not. It’s important for everyone going into the industry to be humble to the idea of diversity and inequality.

What are your takeaways from your time at Hyper Island?

I’m still applying the Hyper Island methodology in my work today. One vital tool from the Hyper Island Toolbox that I use every day is reflection. Sometimes, I do it without even realizing it, I guess that’s the effect of doing it continually for one and a half year. I work across different teams and departments, with so many people involved, and to be efficient, I need to start with a clear-headed approach. Now, if I’m stressed, it’s easier for me to analyze how I feel and why I’m feeling this way because I’ve become so used to reflecting. I can also open up colleagues as well if I’m feeling in a certain way. I feel like you connect more with yourself when you are reflecting regularly. Now that everything’s online, it’s so easy to make assumptions. But that also stresses the importance of being nice to each other and providing helpful feedback. You need to vocalize yours needs.

During my time at Hyper Island, I realized that I needed confirmation from other people. I didn’t think that before, but it’s a human need to feel seen and heard. It’s easier to feel good at your place of work when you know what your needs are. Hyper Island is a safe environment, but that bubble breaks in a way once you leave and you need to be able to adapt. On the Content Developer program, we said that we needed to remind ourselves that our clients don’t know how we work and how we talk, and that we have to manage our expectations when it comes to communications and collaborations outside of Hyper Island. It’s important to be able to utilize the tools for yourself—and I use many of them.

My class still keeps in contact with each other. We get together, we give each other feedback, and we are there for each other. This really says something about Hyper Island and the community it creates.

This was not the case with my university classmates. Of course, Hyper Island is not responsible for us keeping in touch, but it provided us with tools, which we utilized and resulted in our class being a super tight bunch. If I was working at a smaller company, I would have tried to teach people more about our methodology, but it’s hard at a large company like SVT. I can also implement some of the tools in my personal life.

What would you say to Hyper Island students looking to pursue a career in communications or TV?

Both the communications and TV industries are huge. Remember this: when you study and work with communications, you are a part of creating a normalization standard in society—oftentimes on a global scale. What you do sends a message both literally and figuratively. When you write a press release for example, think about who you are representing and the choices they’ve made or are making. The communications industry has a huge responsibility because what you produce will reach people. What you do will have an effect on what we see as a stereotype or the norm. Even as student, you must be open minded and aware of what you say and how it comes across, so start now.

If you’re interested in the TV industry, try to answer “why” that is exactly. Are you into producing the content of a show or are you more passionate about marketing it? Why is the industry exciting for you? Answering these questions will make easier to narrow down a career path. While I was doing my internship at this creative agency, I was thinking that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. But then I saw the job at SVT and it all changed so quickly. I can also recommend anyone to get a mentor; it was something we spoke a lot about at Hyper Island; someone you look up to, someone to help guide you, but also someone who you are having a laugh with.

Another big learning from Hyper Island was that you have to constantly re-evaluate your needs and interests. Be here and now. I want to be working at a place that allows creativity and creates space for new ideas. I want to work at the forefront, at a place that is willing to take risks and try different things. Don’t be fulfilled by a title only and try not to stress about the end goal and focus on the journey instead (that sounds very ‘Hyper!’).

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Article updated on: 12 March 2024