Gorkana meets…Finanzen.nl editor Leon Brandsema
Tell us more about the launch of finanzen.nl and the merger with the Dutch business and finance platform Z24.nl. How did this come about?
finanzen.nl is a collaboration between the German finanzen.net – Europe’s biggest stock market site and part of Axel Springer – and the Dutch publishing company Z24 Media. It used to be part of Z24 Media’s platform Z24.nl, but this is now transformed into the recently launched business platform Businessinsider.nl.
Z24 Media has experienced many changes in a short amount of time. This has been quite hectic, but also a fun process. A lot of preparation went into the launch of finanzen.nl, such as translating sections of the website from German to Dutch. Until the very last minute, we were making adjustments, so it was pretty awesome when it finally went online, also because we are really happy with the look of the site.
How do you source and select the information published on the site?
To write news articles, we make use of a feed that contains mainly international (English) news. We draw inspiration from this for the pieces we produce on British and American stock news. On the other hand, we also use data from our own resources on finanzen.nl, such as real-time stocks, historical stocks data and research from analysts.
How is the editorial team structured and how does a typical day look like?
I work full time in the office together with one other freelance journalist. One of us starts early in the morning to catch all the news that is available from before the stock market opens. Another freelance journalist joins later in the morning and works until the Dutch market closes. Work is partly dedicated to processing news from Dutch news agency ANP, and the rest of the time is spent on creating our own content.
Who reads finanzen.nl?
It is difficult to precisely define our readers, but they usually consist of men, slightly older, with an interest in investing and generally have a hefty wallet.
Tell us about your journalistic career, especially moving from sports to finance?
(Laughs) Yes, that has been a remarkable step! I started as an intern on the sports desk of the Dutch regional newspaper De Stentor, where I later worked as a freelance journalist.
Just by applying to different job openings I landed a job covering insurance at Assurantie Magazine (am:). I did not have a specific ambition to become a financial journalist, even though I’ve always had a fascination for numbers, but after a while it started to grow on me. The fun part is to learn as much as possible about an unknown territory. Over the two years, I started to feel quite at home in the insurance industry.
Eventually, I was approached to help launch finanzen.nl and I was excited to also learn at a fast pace about the insights of the stock market. I still have a passion for sports journalism, but at the moment I enjoy working in the financial world.
What is your relationship with PRs like?
I can often build good contacts with PR agencies and spokespeople. This becomes more natural when you are working in a certain sector for a while. It is important to both understand and respect each other’s role, that way you can build a good relationship.
What are your top three PR tips?
Be relevant: don’t just randomly shoot ideas or stories to a journalist, but go for quality instead of quantity. This way, the journalist will take you more seriously if you pitch an idea.
Don’t act overly friendly: like I said before, understand and respect each other’s role. I know that you are approaching me to request attention for a client, but to me it is more important to find out if what you offer is a good story to cover. To me it doesn’t matter if we get along well or not, it remains a ‘business’ proposal.
Give a bit of space: if a journalist has had an interview with a client, don’t turn this interview upside down and overcorrect it for no particular reason. Pick your battles; choose a couple of points you would like to see differently and leave the rest. This way, there is a greater chance that the journalist will be more receptive to what you wish to see differently.
How do you make use of social media?
My Facebook account is for private use; businesswise I primarily use Twitter, which I use for three things: to share own content, to gain inspiration for news items by following interesting accounts, and finally, to market myself a little. I see LinkedIn as an online cv, which I don’t actively use.
And finally, what is the most memorable story, that you have reported on?
From a financial perspective this was the news about the offer of the Dutch insurer NN (Nationale Nederlanden) to buy its industry rival Delta Lloyd. My knowledge about the insurance industry combined perfectly with my newly gained knowledge about the stock market, made it possible for me to write a couple of nice items about this.
A bit less tasteful maybe is the piece that I wrote about a local amateur football player who got a yellow card for urinating in public. Apparently he couldn’t hold his urine anymore during the game and left the pit. I had a slightly uncomfortable interview with him about this incident and we added a fantastic photo of him and a tree as though he was taking a leak against it.
- Leon Brandsema was interviewed by Gorkana’s Anna Masuku