Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
Although better known to the public for her musical performances, her appearances on the marketing scene, which are equally characterized by her commitment, zeal and energy, definitely deserve attention. After graduating in 2006, her first professional engagement was in one of the leading agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Supermarket (part of the Fabrika agency), where she currently holds the position of Account Manager. As her work entails involvement in almost all the agency’s departments, Mirela has a thorough knowledge of how each area of the agency operates, but also how to run them at full capacity and coordinate complex projects.
Communicative and eloquent, Mirela clearly defines and presents the goals and objectives of a project, and her positive energy has a motivating effect on the people around her. Engagement and chatting with her is bi-directional, making her accessible and open to communication. In unpredictable situations where general rules and solutions often do not apply, she demonstrates creative thinking, resourcefulness and rapid decision-making. Some projects involve short, almost unrealistic deadlines, but Mirela plans her time well, which, combined with her dedication to her work, always results in meeting the deadlines of the tasks at hand.
MEDIA MARKETING: You have two very demanding professions: you work as a manager and a musician simultaneously. Each of those passions demands one’s whole being and time. How do you manage your time? How do you organize your day?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: It’s amazing what you can do in just one day, if you plan your time well. Last year I enrolled in the Business Academy and was worried about having time to study and learn with all my other obligations. I convinced myself that it was possible without too great an effort, and that it only takes good time management. Sometimes I even plan in minutes. From waking up early and going to the gym, to long hours at the agency, I still get to do a recording or an interview, visit friends and finish the day in front of the computer, preparing for exams. And at the end of the day I’m not so much exhausted and tired as I am proud and pleased that I was able to do everything I wanted.
MEDIA MARKETING: You have been in marketing for almost ten years now – or more precisely in the Fabrika agency. How does someone who graduated in Comparative Literature and Librarianship end up in this profession? It must have seemed temporary in the beginning. What is it about this industry that has attracted you so much that today you can’t imagine a change?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Comparative Literature studies give a broad education, applicable in various fields, especially when it comes to cultural institutions, media and jobs in the field of communications. I think the knowledge I gained at university is very useful in the work that I do, because I learned to think in parallel, to observe situations from different standpoints and to be open to a variety of possible developments and outcomes. I like this work because it constantly sets new challenges, new situations in which I need to play my part well. Considering that advertising agency clients are individuals and companies engaged in completely different sectors (from the arts and music scene, and areas as diverse as food, pharmaceutics, oil, banking and the IT industry to small and medium enterprises, educational and sports projects), it is clear that every job finds you facing a new and different challenge.
MEDIA MARKETING: What were the greatest challenges for you in the very beginning?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Understanding the complete process of creating a promotional campaign and, in general, understanding the network of relationships and functions that this activity entails. It’s not something that you can simply sit down and learn. It’s an empirical process through which you mature, slowly you gain understanding and through time you focus on activities that best suit you. It’s interesting how our abilities crystallize through work. You may not know how you operate under pressure, with whom in the team you have the best collaboration and in what kind of situations, how you deal with deadlines, until you experience all that.
MEDIA MARKETING: And what is your greatest professional challenge today?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Learning new skills and taking greater responsibility. Given that we live in a time of constant change, pushing your own limits through learning and adapting is inevitable. And stagnation is simply unacceptable.
MEDIA MARKETING: Does marketing offer an individual enough space for improvement, or is it like every other industry, chewing up everyone who enters its mouth?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Personal development is an individual thing. If we want to become good and better at something, there is always a way to do that. There are countless different online courses, training, tutorials through which we can learn so many things. Even for free. At any time, we can monitor what’s going on in the world, the current trends and innovations etc. Today we have a whole world of knowledge served to us on the palm of our hand. We can find everything out without moving from the couch. If we feel cramped in the job that we currently do, if we think we’re going round in circles and are not making progress, that should motivate us to seek inspiration elsewhere, to find and propose a new idea to our team or client. Whether the idea will be realized or not is irrelevant. We will learn something new that will maybe encourage us to a new way of thinking. But also to motivate others. “Be the change you want to see.”
MEDIA MARKETING: Who are the people from this industry who inspire you with their knowledge and achievements?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Although I had an immediate answer to this question, I thought about it a little, trying to think of anyone else I know with similar traits, so I didn’t just end up praising my boss and colleague. But really, sincerely, I don’t know anyone with whom I could compare such a complex person, with such inestimable qualities and skills as our Bojan Hadžihalilović, creative director at Fabrika, and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. Bojan always has inspiration, motivation and a brilliant idea. He’s involved in virtually all the projects that we do and always has time for each of us, whatever it is. Regardless of all his obligations and the general madness, Bojan finds the time to come to every event that we do, to be involved in every presentation that we prepare. He just storms into the office and says: “I have seven minutes. Tell me, what can I do? Does something need to be taken somewhere, brought from somewhere? Does someone need to be called? Give me a task!” When we tell him we don’t need anything and that everything is under control, he still checks again: “There must be something I can do. Are you hungry?” His phone line is always busy, and you’re really lucky if you can get hold of him on the phone. He’s involved in a variety of projects from the world of culture and art. He knows all the people and places, he follows all the events. Bojan is cheerful and positive, no matter what kind of problems he is solving. He’s always busy, but always has seven minutes to devote to you with his full attention, even when he’s in a great hurry. Sometimes I think that Bojan’s day lasts 45 hours. Looking from the outside, it seems simply impossible for one person to do so many things in one day, to be in so many places, to deal with so many projects, and to bring a breath of positive energy, inspiration and innovation into each and every one. And what’s best of all, Bojan is a simple man, a true friend full of joy and love who is universally loved by everyone and from whom everyone always learns something. He is truly a unique person.
MEDIA MARKETING: How does the knowledge you gained at university influence your work?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Comparative literature teaches you philosophical and critical thinking. It taught me that all things are connected (philosophy, religion, politics, sociology, psychology, art …) and that nothing can be taken in isolation from the context. The same is true of life and of marketing. The more facts we take into account when analyzing the potential consumer and the closer we get to him, the more precisely we define him and create the offer best tailored to his needs.
MEDIA MARKETING: And your experiences and schooling in music?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Being involved in music has helped me to get almost completely rid of stage fright in public appearances, to gain extra confidence, which is very important in business. I’ve also learned to negotiate costs and conditions for concerts, and not be ashamed to insist on being paid on time. Previously I was embarrassed to negotiate fees. As soon as someone started wailing about their low budget I would believe them and try to be accommodating, often at the expense of the band’s earnings. But when those who whine fail to fulfill their agreement and somehow trample on your good will to accommodate them, then you realize that you have to play it differently. This experience is very useful in business today.
MEDIA MARKETING: What do you like the most in your job? What is the thing that makes you eagerly approach every new working day?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: The worst punishment for me would be to not have to do anything. I think that even if I was financially set for life, I would still get up in the morning and go to work on something. I don’t feel comfortable when I waste a day, without doing something useful. I rejoice in every working day simply because I love my job and my colleagues. I feel very comfortable spending my time in such an environment.
MEDIA MARKETING: And what is on the other side? What are the obligations that make you not want to get out of bed in the morning?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Deadlines! Something needs to be done by tomorrow, and you haven’t even started yet. And to add to that, it’s a cold, gray autumn day outside. Tuesday… The horror! :)
MEDIA MARKETING: Two global scourges for this industry happened almost simultaneously. First was the economic crisis which we have already mentioned. The second one relates to social networks. They have changed journalism, almost obliterated print media and are threatening TV. Marketing didn’t go unscathed either.
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Adapt, adapt, adapt! Marketing Darwinism, adapt or you’re gone. It is human nature to resist changes because we’re afraid of the new and unknown. The personal computer entered into use only thirty years ago, and today the world couldn’t function without it. Smartphones and Facebook didn’t even exist when I was in college (or at least they weren’t common around here), and now I am the first who could hardly do without them. The other day a friend of mine said that in some Scandinavian countries they are abolishing handwritten work in schools. Children no longer need to write by hand. It’s better for them to learn quickly, blind typing on the keyboard. It’s always like that. We gain and lose a lot with changes, but we simply need to accept them and adapt to them.
MEDIA MARKETING: Fabrika, as an agency, was among the first to recognize and incorporate digital technology in its business. How much presence does digital technology have in your work today?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Fabrika and Supermarket have been engaged in digital advertising for some years now. We manage the official Facebook pages of our clients, we create Facebook, Google, YouTube ads, we design and implement a variety of online promotions and campaigns, from the “buy and win” concept to app development. Two colleagues from Supermarket recently became certified specialists for GoogleAdWords. We always strive to be better and to move forward.
MEDIA MARKETING: Of the projects and campaigns you’ve done so far, which one do you remember as special, which one was your favorite?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: I like creative, unique campaign concepts. I’m happiest when a client comes with a request for, say, the organization of an event, and says: “I want you to let your imagination run wild and offer us something different.” To be honest, it doesn’t happen very often, but still, there is room for fantasizing here and there. I like to organize events, devise entertainment programs, decorate spaces, design invitations and come up with accompanying stories for the events.
MEDIA MARKETING: It seems that you truly love life and use it – or live it – to the maximum. Your job in marketing wasn’t enough, nor the music along with it. And even Business Academy online wasn’t enough. Along with all that there is fitness. We really need to ask: a) Why fitness? b) When do you get to do all of that? and c) Is there any other passion in your life which we don’t know about?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: That is how I maintain balance. Exercise frees me of negative energy, stress, fatigue, seasonal viruses. It restarts the body. It’s a habit like any other. Luckily it’s a healthy one. I do however have some bad ones… ;)
MEDIA MARKETING: Your sister lives in New York. It would be interesting to compare your experiences.
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Yes, my sister Ema has lived in New York for seven, eight years now. It’s interesting that she often compares New York to Sarajevo. She says that New York has something of Sarajevo in it and vice versa. I don’t know if it’s a matter of nostalgia or something else. But once she told me an anecdote on the subject. She said: “My colleague and I went for a drink after work. We come to this bar, and there is no room. We go to the next, we don’t like it. We proceed to the third, but the people there are lame, in the fourth the AC is too strong, we don’t feel like going to the fifth one. I catch myself standing in the middle of Manhattan, as I used to stand in the middle of the Ferhadija, mulling over how come there is no place to have a drink here.” The fact is that, wherever you live, you create your own microcosm of sorts, your circle of movement and your everyday life in which things become boring, and it seems to you that you have no choice and that it would be better if you were somewhere else. And it’s actually not like that.
MEDIA MARKETING: The year 2015 and all that it brought us. That is the question. This is the future they were telling us about: smart drugs, electric driverless cars, intelligent apartments, cheap and easy trips, solar energy… Where is man, and how can he find a bearing in all this?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: It sounds like we will soon atrophy completely! But it is possible that, as a result of all these changes, we will actually begin to come back to ourselves. Maybe we will start to turn to that within us more often, to think more and deal with ourselves more. This trend has already become a reality in our country. More and more people are into yoga or other physical activity. They go to nature, read books on self-awareness, they seek answers and happiness in themselves, in other people, in nature. I think that’s the right road to the deepening of spirituality and tranquility, towards the preservation of real human values.
MEDIA MARKETING: And how do you see the future of advertising and PR?
MIRELA LAKOVIĆ: Through PR we build a brand. Through advertising we keep it alive by constantly reminding people of it. Both are, therefore, necessary communications tools in this industry. However, it seems that in a time of overabundant advertisements, PR is gaining importance because it uses a less intrusive, closer and more targeted approach to communicate a product / service. If we think about it from our own standpoint, we would admit that we are also more susceptible to and trusting of the comments and recommendations of our friends and relatives when it comes to buying a particular product, rather than deciding on our purchases based on advertisements seen on television. We read blogs and PR stories and invariably check the customer comments below the advertised product. We remember the socially responsible activities of a brand, and always place more trust in the voice of a satisfied or dissatisfied consumer than in the voice of an ad. But, to be honest, we also remember creatively designed ads that stir emotions within us! On the other hand, the transparency of social networks has turned communication into a double edged sword. We are able to communicate directly to each individual of our target group and to adapt communication (as well as the product / service) to their needs, but it takes only a single negative reaction from any one of those individuals to shake the confidence of other consumers and to bring the status of the brand into a crisis. Communication is no longer one-sided and general, but transparent, detailed and very sensitive. How much has been invested in the campaign no longer matters as much as how creative and innovative its design is, or which communication channels have been selected. I believe that PR is gaining in importance and that creativity in the manner of communication provides the only possibility to gain the attention of consumers. In this business we must always think ahead; look for different, new solutions, try new things and be willing to take risks.