Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
Serbian Public Relations Association (DSOJ) six months ago got its new Board of Directors (BoD). Tomorrow (17 May) PRijem reception is being held, a very important event in the framework of the DSOJ, so we tapped the members of the Board to learn something about the activities, the things that have been done during almost half of the mandate and what remains to be completed by December, when the new Board of Directors will be elected.
Media Marketing: DSOJ got a new Board of Directors. Who are the members and where do they come from?
Jelena Šarenac, President of the BoD DSOJ: Since December 2015, the Board works in the new composition. Each of us has many years of experience in communications, but we come from different sectors and areas of business and because of this diversity, we have a better insight into the challenges and potentials of our profession from different angles. Members of the board are Marija Beslać – Nordeus, Dušan Stojaković – Hemofarm, Tamara Koštro – McCann Adriatic, Branka Conić – New Moment, Slavica Civarić Kostić – FON, Department for marketing and PR, Gordana Bekčić Pješčić – independent advisor with a lengthy experience in public administration, and myself, working at Henkel. An important place in our team is that of our secretary, Ivana Mijatović, whose dedication and entrepreneurial spirit are at the core of all our activities.
Media Marketing: Among the members of the new BoD there is enthusiasm and positive energy. We’ve heard that you often meet at informal coffees and conjure all that you should and can do for the public relations profession in Serbia strengthens.
Jelena Šarenac, President of the BoD DSOJ: Our attitude towards the Association is primarily constructive – creative. We want to bring together the colleagues, improve operation of the Association, to connect with colleagues in the region and in the world. We recently applied our Association for membership in the ICCO (International Communications Consultancy Organization), an association of national associations from 48 countries around the world. We were one of the few countries that were not represented in this association with a long tradition. We are working to strengthen our position and profession in Serbia, but also to increase the visibility of our association in the region and internationally. We are happy that some old members have returned to our association, and we hope that there will be even more of them. Our mandate runs until December this year, and we are trying to achieve our ambitions and modernize the association in this period of time. Eight of us communicate almost daily, and, as you mentioned, we meet formally and informally, because when you are working in a good team then you look forward to work.
Media Marketing: DSOJ in recent years went through some kind of crisis ofideas. There were no big moves in the development of the PR profession. What is the program of the new BoD and what is your plan?
Dušan Stojaković, Vice president of BoD DSOJ: The habits and needs of the people are constantly changing; methods of communication are constantly changing; profession of public relations is changing … It is therefore logical that the DSOJ must constantly evolve. The crisis of ideas is in fact a crisis of society, which is trying to discover and learn how to function in an increasingly dynamic sociologic, economic, and communication environment. The thesis that public relations, as such, no longer exist and have evolved into a more complex, layered and wider form of communication, brings with it the need for DSOJ’s repositioning.
The media situation as well inevitably reflects on the state of the DSOJ. The media are at a turning point – they’re suffocating in the outbursts of their own spin sensationalism, but also collective sensationalism, while a counter balance comes in the form of new media, imbued in the form of digital communication channels, which are largely based on transparency. The role of DSOJ, as the only association of this craft in Serbia, is to protect the communication and media ethics, morale and professionalism, above all. In this regard, one of the missions of the new Board of DSOJ is the introduction of certification, which would confirm the expertise of staff from the world of communication, similar to regional and global examples.
The global economic crisis, which is still ongoing in more or less obvious way, took its toll by reducing the budgets for communication, but also lowering investment in the development of professionals. In such a complex and challenging environment, DSOJ strives to make strategic regional connections with similar associations and actively exchange experiences, knowledge and capacities, in order to bring the quality of profession back to the foreground. The first effects of this regional strategic positioning are already visible in all aspects of work and activities of DSOJ, from which members of the association benefit the most.
Media Marketing: What is your first step in strengthening the role of DSOJ in the development of PR profession in Serbia?
Slavica Cicvarić Kostić, member of BoD DSOJ:
Our first steps began on the foundations on which DSOJ was already set up. We continued with the good practice of organizing thematic lectures, workshops and discussions. This year we’ve refreshed them with a new name, How2PR, and we are trying to offer the professional community interesting and current topics.
We put a lot of effort into networking with colleagues and other associations. We have established cooperation with the cultural institution Mikser House, which is our partner in organizing the events of the Association, we are in contact with colleagues from the professional association of Croatia, HUOJ, we’ve joined the ICCO …, thanks to which our members became part of the global society of professional communicators and have the ability to not only use the ICCO logo, but also to follow the online classes by leading experts in our profession.
Media Marketing: For PR agencies and their clients, media are extremely important. How would you assess the current media scene in Serbia and is it, such as it is, supportive of the PR industry?
Branka Conić, member of BoD of DSOJ: Media and PR are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes the differences between us seem larger than they really are, but in fact we share the common goal, which is good, attractive news that should interest the public.
What we as the Association are planning in the coming period is the organization of a common gathering of journalists and PR’s, whose result should be the establishment of closer relations and better understanding of different demands of both professions and establishing some rules in attitude of our colleagues to the media.
Although sometimes it seems that we are looking at a river from different sides, we are the ones who have to make a bridge between our differences, to recognize the similarities of our professions and make this relationship even better.
Media Marketing: Preparations for the annual conference are under way. What is your plan? How do you intend to surprise the PR profession? Can you already announce some participants of the conference?
Jelena Šarenac: For eight consecutive years DSOJ has been organizing an international conference PRilika, which is held at the end of the year. In recent years, some 2,000 professionals from the country, the region and the world participated in this conference. Besides the interesting program, the conference is an ideal time to socialize with colleagues, to meet and establish contacts that will be useful in the future. This year we can announce the participation of a number of interesting speakers, inspirational lectures, best practices and dynamic workshops. Some colleagues from the region have already announced their attendance and we are confident that through excellent socializing and lectures we will get new inspiration and knowledge for our business.
Media Marketing: What would be the results of the new BoD of the Association so far?
Gordana Bekčić Pješčić, member of BoD of DSOJ: In less than five months since it’s been working in the new composition, the Board has been very active. Among the most significant activities the most notable is definitely the accession of the Serbian Public Relations Association to the International Communications Consultancy Organization, ICCO.
Earlier this year, the Board of Directors adopted the new Rules for the awards, which have been significantly improved, and the biggest novelty is the introduction of a new category – communication in public administration, which was introduced with the aim to support and draw attention to communication in this sector as well.
There were three educational workshops, now branded under the new name – How2PR – which were extremely well visited, which is a signal to us that showing good case studies is something that colleagues need.
An open competition was conducted for the awards Recognition of the Year 2016. This year we had a total of 87 applications in all categories, which is a remarkable result, since it’s a record number of candidates in the last 7 years. We are in all-out preparations for the PRijem 2016, at which the awards will be presented to the best in the profession.
DSOJ’s Court of Honor proposed the formation of a Working Group for the development of systematization of PR activities and services, as well as their recommended price list, while the Supervisory Board made recommendations for further action of the BoD DSOJ in order to improve the work, transparency and finance reporting. By the end of the year we are planning a lot more activities, with an emphasis on our regional conference Prilika 2016 (Opportunity 2016) which we are planning for the end of this year.
Media Marketing: Are you planning collaboration with other PR associations in the region, given the activities of regional clients and large multinational companies which are implementing their PR activities across the region? Can national associations, with joint forces, create a more favorable ecosystem for the development of PR profession?
Tamara Koštro, member of BoD of DSOJ: DSOJ is one of the oldest professional associations in the region and as such it has built relationships with a number of relevant organizations in the region. In that light, at the upcoming PRijem, on 17 May, our dear guest will be the president of the Croatian association HUOJ. What we are certainly doing is the continuous improvement of these relations and cooperation with PR associations, both in the region and in the world.
Communications, just as business these days, simply break down the boundaries and conquer vast spaces ever more easily. That’s why our desire is to make firmer connections among ourselves and nurture our profession, just as it’s done by lawyers or doctors for example.
By strengthening the collective status of a profession, you automatically strengthen every individual within this industry, and our desire is that PR and communications in the region, and of course the people who deal with them, take the place in their organizations which they rightfully deserve. Unfortunately, the only two active professional PR associations in the former Yugoslavia are DSOJ, HUOJ and the Slovenian association, but I hope that colleagues from other countries will also get more engaged and that in some future period we can connect and work on building and the preservation of communications. Until then, of course, we will be happy to host at the PRijem, PRilika or other educational programs of DSOJ, our dear colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and together with them learn, discover, experience, share and reward the best of our profession.
How do you see the role of PR profession in the future? How can the Association strengthen it?
Marija Beslać, member of BoD of DSOJ: It’s important to observe our profession as an integrator of different aspects of business, functions and fields – both internally and externally. The time when PR was separated from marketing, HR, Business Development … and vice versa is behind us. Everything is pervasive and provides an important competitive advantage to companies, if it’s done the right way.
The future is quite ‘tangible’, as it’s increasingly turning to experiential, as opposed to merely informative. Quality communication will be the one that is the most immersive, engaging for all the senses and is best associated with our emotions.
Another very important role, which we might have been neglecting for some time, is the internal communication, which, if founded on a sound basis and developed in the same way, has long-term positive effects on the business, retaining and attracting top talent and represents the best base for great company reputation. This is something that no campaign or budget can provide you.