Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Adnan Arnautlija
One of the winners of the PRO PR Award this year is Milica Stefanović, who recently took over the post of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Director for Sparkling, Central and Eastern Europe, The Coca-Cola Company.
With just a couple of days left until the start of the PRO PR Conference, which will be held from 11 to 14 April this year on Zlatibor, Serbia, we talked to Milica about the brand that is so widespread globally that it can be considered almost “local” in every corner of the world, we discussed Coca-Cola projects in our region, challenges and communication plans for the future.
Media Marketing: Your work was recognized this year with the PRO PR Award. What does this award mean to you?
Milica Stefanović: The award from the colleagues from the trade always carries a special kind of motivation and significance. The public relations industry in our region is no longer so young. We are indeed in step with the world practice, which I had the opportunity to witness first hand during my recent work at the HQ of Coca-Cola company in Atlanta on a global project. Personally, this recognition tells me that long-term work on advancing the profession, either through work in professional associations or through day-to-day work, is recognized and valued. This makes me particularly grateful to my colleagues and friends from the profession with whom I work and grow with in both personal and professional way.
Media Marketing: What are the main challenges in the PR of a global brand when it comes to localizing communication? Where do you see the advantages of Coca-Cola in this sense?
Milica Stefanović: One of the challenges is to overcome the perception that when it comes to communications for a global brand, this implies that localization is an issue.
In fact, only a broad strategic direction is formulated at a global level. The beauty of Coca-Cola, as a company that develops many brands – of which a good part of the portfolio is made up of local brands – is in the freedom to plan and implement activities in accordance with the needs of the local market. So in every country in which we do business, we are actually working fully in line with the conditions, needs and opportunities of the local market.
Also, we are present with production in 207 countries around the world, including the larger countries of our region, so we really consider ourselves a part of the local environment. We develop and implement all our activities accordingly, whether it concerns focusing on the youth, the environment, or supporting communities in which we operate – striving to be fully involved in the life and needs of the environment in which we are present.
Media Marketing: You recently launched the digital platform Coca-Cola Serbia, which is the part of this unique communication of the brand with the local audience. How did the public accept it, and what are your expectations from it in the future?
Milica Stefanović: This is a digital magazine that we want to serve as an opportunity to tell the many stories that are specific for our activities both in Serbia and around the world, and to tell them in a receptive and interesting way. Many times, when we talk about our activities with the most diverse people, we see that they are interested in those activities and they want to know more – whether these are the stories of people we are working with across the country, or the ways in which we encourage each other to be better, or when we want to bring some lesser-known topics and activities closer to our public. We expect this digital magazine to be the place for such stories, for which we always get phenomenal reactions, and until now we weren’t able to communicate them properly through the standard PR channels of communication. As this should not be just our story about ourselves, we are working with a number of great people from the online world and the media world, because we want it to be authentic, and above all a channel of human rather than corporate communication.
Media Marketing: What will be the focus of Coca-Cola’s PR activities in the region in 2018? Are there any trends that Coca-Cola will address this year?
Milica Stefanović: For a brand that is always perceived as global first, and given that we celebrate 50 years of existence and production in the region in 2018, we want to further enhance our local presence and heritage. For years we have been working with domestic visual artists who gave the most popular drink in the world a local make-up, and for the first time we used the traditional techniques of handwork crafts – knitting and weaving through which we created billboards for the purpose of promotion and preservation of forgotten old recipes. For 2018, we intend to stay in that spirit, to put strength and recognizability of the brand to support our talents.
Much of this effort is made up of programs that strengthen our youth. Through several of our programs, we provide young people with the ability to acquire knowledge and skills that will help them gain self-confidence in job search, allow them to get further education or have professional practice in our company. And we do all that in order to make their first steps in the professional world easier, and in order to contribute to solving one of the most serious questions of our society today – the employability of young people.
Media Marketing: Is there a message you would like to send to our readers and participants of the PRO PR Conference?
Milica Stefanović: We are witnessing the incredible pace of change in the world around us, which reflects on the ways, tools and channels that the communication professionals use to achieve their goals. None of us is doing our job the same way we did it five, not to say 15 years ago. That means we have to read, study, and follow what’s going on around us, and keep pace every day. Also, there has been several major shifts and events recently (whether it is the current scandal with online privacy and personal information, or the #metoo movement, or the students against arms movement in the US) which tell us that in this fast progress, we must not forget that, despite the new tools, the boundaries of privacy, integrity, and the principle of not doing to others what we don’t want done to us, will remain true, if not even more important than ever before.