Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
In two weeks-time, the central regional event of the media and communications industry, the 20th SEMPL, will begin in Portorož. Apart from its undeniable importance to the profession, SEMPL is also an opportunity for the last meeting of agencies, advertisers and media in the year. That needs to be exploited. To celebrate success, exchange opinions and experiences, gain new contacts and have some good fun.
Valerija Prevolšek, director of Media Pool and SEMPL, 20 years ago, when this success story was just beginning, was still attending high school. SEMPL grew year after year, and Valerija grew in parallel to it, but independently from it. She gained knowledge, completed her studies, grew her ambitions. In 2010, she became CEO of Media Pool, and already the next year she put her name on the first SEMPL held under her direction. This is going to be the eighth time that she takes the responsibility with her team, to raise the quality scale and make an even better event, which she has been doing with each consecutive year. During these eight years, SEMPL experienced its starry moments and validated the decision of its founders to launch it two decades ago.
The last thing that Valerija needed in these final days when she has her plate full of so many organizational and other things was me and my question. Bit we are trying to make a wholesome story of SEMPL. Yet, instead of sending a message “How did you come up with this now of all times,” Valerija replied with her answers the very same day. This is a testimony to Valerija Prevoolšek’s professionalism and everything she does. Here is her story.
Media Marketing: How did SEMPL come to be, twenty years ago, whose idea was it?
Valerija Prevolšek: Many people do not know that the name SEMPL is not derived from the English word “sample” but comes from the original idea of the event: the Seminar on Media Planning. Twenty years ago, festivals were mainly meant for the creatives. The media and people from the media did not have an event where they could learn more about their own business. Thus, among agencies, owners of the Media Pool, an idea was born to educate all those working in media and those dealing with media planning. And so, the first edition of SEMPL took place.
Media Marketing: Have you achieved the vision and goals you set 20 years ago?
Valerija Prevolšek: From a narrowly focused Slovenian media planning seminar, we grew into an important regional conference bringing global trends to our media, marketing and communications. Without any fake modesty, I believe I can say that no one from the team which created the strategy of the first editions of SEMPL, had the vaguest idea of one such niche-oriented event ever turning into such a major driver of the development of our profession. Knowledge and education have thus far remained the primary pillars of SEMPL.
Media Marketing: SEMPL started its life right on time, exactly when major changes started to unfold in the media and communications industry. The program of SEMPL has always kept up with the time and the trends. How did you manage to provide topics and lecturers which were in line with the changes in the industry?
Valerija Prevolšek: It is really not hard to follow the trends today. Marketing is increasingly intertwining with creativity and technology, leadership skills are set in the forefront etc., so the topics keep on offering themselves as on a conveyor belt. Of course, it takes a lot of time, patience, creativity and resourcefulness to come in contact with good speakers whose fees are acceptable to us.
Media Marketing: What do you consider to be the greatest achievement of SEMPL, its most important contribution to the development of the media and communications industry of the region?
Valerija Prevolšek: It has succeeded in positioning the gaining of new knowledge, as an equal to entertainment and socializing. Also, our region and SEMPL are promoted around the world as an excellent destination for conferences. I believe we bring a lot of information and trends to the region each year, and when it comes to the contribution to the industry – those who are in this business much longer than myself could talk about that with a lot more credibility.
Media Marketing: Is SEMPL established in the region as the main event of the media industry, or does more work need to be invested in order to “awaken” the region when it comes to new trends?
Valerija Prevolšek: It is always necessary to work on development and progress. SEMPL is extremely recognizable, every year it gains further importance. Nevertheless, I am sure that there are still many possibilities around us which can be utilized and many people whose attention we need to turn towards us. Either because they still haven’t opened their eyes or because they deliberately keep looking to the side.
Media Marketing: Looking back, what is it that first comes to your mind: some event, a guest speaker, awarded campaign…?
Valerija Prevolšek: I will never forget when futurist Daniel Levine caused real panic among our team in 2014 because there were not enough many seats in the hall. It was then that I became aware that persisting on a high-quality program paid off. Shed Simove was the first speaker who really “stole the show” and introduced the star-speaker format at SEMPL. We never had such a fun and crazy speaker till then and I believe that he will hold this primacy for a while. Next, I remember to cry of joy by Vesna Beganović from Sarajevo’s Via Media agency when I informed her that the first Golden Sempler is coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina. I could go on with this list but absolutely nothing surpasses the pride and joy we feel as a team when we sit down in Bernardin, weary after the whole event, but aware that we’ve succeeded again.
Media Marketing: Do you feel a mild stage fright ahead of this year’s jubilee SEMPL? It is a grand jubilee indeed and I am sure you wish for it to be the best conference so far. The best party as well, of course.
Valerija Prevolšek: Mild stage fright? Ekrem, you have to be joking ? To be better each year, raise the quality of the program to a higher level, improve the entertainment and satisfy our extremely demanding audience… and all that with a limited budget. My pants have been shaking since the end of last year’s SEMPL. Of course, this is a positive stage fright, an adrenaline which slowly reaches its peak because SEMPL is almost here, it’s just around the corner.
Media Marketing: Let’s finish the jubilee story. During these twenty years, you have had partners, sponsors and friends who were by your side and supported SEMPL. Who would you like to thank on this occasion, who deserves your special attention?
Valerija Prevolšek: First of all, anyone who loves SEMPL in any way. As visitors, sponsors, ambassadors… They are too many to list them all. Then, Marketing Magazine, with which we have been cooperating for the past eight years in the organization. Obviously, we have found the right formula for success.
Media Marketing: You are the Director of Media Pool and head of organization of an event beneficial to your competitors. How do you succeed in reconciling these two things?
Valerija Prevolšek: It’s true but, you see, I’ve never thought about it that way, so I have no idea how to answer this question at all. SEMPL is a conference of all and for all. Everyone is welcome, all those who have something new and trendy to say can step onto the stage. And anyone who earned the credibility within the profession through their work, can sit in the jury. No matter which company they belong to, what are their budgets and whether or not they are competing for the same client. That’s just how it is for me.
Media Pool is a company backing SEMPL fully. With knowledge, finances, staff and support from owners who have never asked me to make SEMPL a positioning tool, a fight for clients, a service promotion or anything similar. They never interfered with with my decisions nor in any way conditioned me on how and with whom I should collaborate. I am extremely grateful to them for this. The fact that SEMPL is as successful as it is, certainly is the best promotion for Media Pool. I even wish SEMPL to be useful to everyone, including our competitors, which means that we do a damn good job at it.
Media Marketing: How many entries will compete for this year’s Sempler awards?
Valerija Prevolšek: More than 90, from six countries. This means that we have surpassed the last year’s number of entries and that Sempler is becoming an increasingly desirable and recognizable award in the region as a whole. I’ve already looked at all the entries and I have to say that a hasty battle and a difficult job for the jury lay ahead.
Media Marketing: Can this year’s SEMPL, in honor of the jubilee, break the record in the number of delegates?
Valerija Prevolšek: It can. And it will!
Media Marketing: The stars of the global media communications industry will arrive in Portorož in a bit over ten days from now to share their knowledge and experience with SEMPL’s participants. Whom do you personally most look forward to, who is your greatest success this year?
Valerija Prevolšek: The greatest success is certainly Peter Hinssen, the star of world’s stages and one of the best futurists in the moment. After him, I also look forward to Lon Safko, David Brier and the enchanting Emma Winchurch-Beale. I am curious, of course, to see what the representatives of the global corporations, Viber’s Atanas Raykov and Facebook‘s Rustam Ziganshin will reveal to us.
Media Marketing: What will the entertainment be like?
Valerija Prevolšek: Exclusively for Media Marketing, I will disclose that DJ Kenny Carpenter, a world-renowned DJ and producer known for being a long-time resident of Studio 54, a famous Manhattan club visited by stars such as Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Liza Minelli, Freddie Mercury, Iman, David Bowie and many others, is coming to SEMPL’s POP till you drop feat. Kurzchluss party. Those who delight in the audio-visual scene will be spoiled by the multitalented artist Berin Tuzlić with Sarajevo’s futuristic electro music project dRUMELODY.
Media Marketing: Who provided the biggest support this year, who are the sponsors of SEMPL?
Valerija Prevolšek: For the greatest support I have to thank the amazing Futura DDB who takes care of our visual identity – their team really doesn’t run out of great ideas. We have strong friends in Luna \TBWA and their OMD agency. Dali Bungič has provided us with a young and talented team for social media communication and digital strategy. The third agency that we are grateful to is Futuristic Marketing, led by Jak Gornik. With their help, we will take the awards ceremony and the entire entertainment to a higher level. Then there is the Serbian Pristop, who takes care that the media in Serbia write about us a lot. It’s a lot easier to work with such strong outsourcing teams. Among the biggest sponsors are, like the few recent years, Pro Plus and Planet TV.
Media Marketing: Your last call to those who usually decide to come to SEMPL in the last minute and thus put a dot on this year. This is, indeed, the last chance this year to meet people from all over the region in one place.
Valerija Prevolšek: That’s right. Portorož will truly see the best SEMPL so far, presenting global trends and bringing together experts from across the region. I do not think any serious agency and company should afford the luxury of not sending at least one representative to SEMPL. Exceptional discounts for everyone coming to SEMPL for the first time are still available. Everyone else can also find an acceptable offer.
You are all invited to Portoroz!