Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
I’ve spent my entire working life in the media. A full 46 years. In high school, even before I ventured professionally into the media, I was on close terms with the media, because I worked as a morning paper boy, and I started the school newspaper I edited. I didn’t need to do it for the money – especially not a job where I had to get up at 04:00 am every morning for four years and go on foot to the printing house, in rain or snow – but the smell of the freshly printed newspaper was enchantingly appealing for me. I worked in radio and in the press. As an external associate I scripted eleven half-hour episodes about skiing for TV Sarajevo, which featured Bojan Križaj, Jure Franko, Boris Strel and the complete demo team of the national Yugoslav ski team which back then was raging at its height in the World Cup. After 46 years I thought I knew everything there is to know about the media business. Today, I am slowly realizing that I haven’t grasped even the basic principles of journalism. The most important thing for every journalist is Information. When you’ve got exclusive information, publish it immediately. Be the first! But I’m starting to keep my mouth shut. I’m becoming a silencetologist. I have information that I can’t publish until some PR person out there submits an official statement, so I don’t “break” the whole thing and make trouble for the people who gave me the information. They ask me not to publish information until it comes “from the top”. Everything is clear, everything has been done, I leak nothing… And these are not half-baked bits of information to publish, but already established news– “but please sit on it until it arrives officially.”
OK, to keep silent about things that smell “yellow”, that’s normal. The mission of Media Marketing is to support the development of the advertising industry, and all the scams and frauds that are only “hearsay” are of no interest to me. Every week I receive half a dozen such pieces of information and they promptly end up in the trash. Market competition is fierce, and many agencies and media use shady means to grab a bigger piece of the shrinking pie, but I don’t want to be part of that game.
Ten days ago I received very exclusive information concerning our region and one of the largest agency networks in the world. Someone from our parts at the top of the world of advertising. “But please don’t publish anything until we get consent from HQ PR.”
Last Thursday and Friday I was in Zagreb as a guest of the Business Café. I was enjoying a coffee with a good friend who told me a very exclusive piece of news about the successful completion of two years of negotiations between his agency and one of the largest global networks. It’s a doozy, but it ended with that mandatory statement: “Please don’t write anything about it, you’ll get it officially in two weeks.”
On Friday morning, a coffee again, but this time with a business partner, who immediately bursts out with: “I have news for you, but it’s not time for it to be published yet, wait about ten days.” The news is really newsworthy, and again it’s about linking up with a large international network.
All three of these news items – which I’m carrying as a great burden, but will not write about because I promised – are very positive for the regional advertising industry. They testify to better days ahead, the arrival of new clients, and better business for all. I’m sure that regional advertisers will also get the message and boldly go forward in their own communications. Advertisers might get it, but agencies, whose primary business is communication, remain its biggest adversaries. They are closed. They don’t communicate. They make it increasingly difficult for us to access information, even though we have never betrayed anyone’s trust. But even the agencies are not so much to blame as my own bloody inclination to compromise. I was asked by a friend, how could I not listen to him? I know, I know, our whole lives consist of an endless series of compromises. But that’s not always the best solution. For me, definitely not, especially in such situations as I have described, which are becoming increasingly numerous, while I’m becoming increasingly obedient. Is it time to say that things can’t go on like this anymore? Or is it time to hang up my boots and say that I am not cut out for this job anymore?
I obviously lack the guts, but my trip to Zagreb was primarily to participate in the Business Café, whose topic was “To have guts”. Two entrepreneurs and I, as guests of Kristina Ercegović, told our business stories and spoke about how you need to have guts today to succeed with your business venture. This drove me to write this article. While I was talking about the incredible things I was willing to do in order to fulfil what I envisaged, the images of my current “silentology” raced through my mind. An hour after the Business Café I was still thinking about it. Why am I accepting compromise today? Is the problem with me or elsewhere? Is the problem with PR, which got three big fat minuses from me this week – in a notebook already filled with minuses for the profession which has assumed the prerogative that no one can publish anything today until PR gives its approval. Every big entrepreneur can decide independently on an investment worth tens of millions of euros, but can’t give an interview without the approval of their PR department.
Hell, even that’s not the problem. The problem is that when PR gets involved (and the bigger the company the deeper the PR entanglement) everything becomes a problem. Everything takes time then, so much time that half-way into it you want to give up because you can’t see the end of this torture. And, in the end, I get answers I might have written myself. All of them use the same pattern, the same form, the same vocabulary, almost the same order of words. The communications industry is not just in financial crisis. It has a host of other problems, but it’s just not aware of them, and it’s unaware of how much these problems are hindering its development. When I was launching Media Marketing five years ago, my idea was to have more and more information every day. To feel the movement within the industry. To give recognition to all its dynamism and creativity. To make advertisers simply want to be part of this story, to invest. That scenario is a no-go. When we ask for information from agencies and advertisers it’s as if we’re pulling healthy teeth without an anesthetic. Sometimes we can’t get a single news item from the big agencies for months, as if they are doing nothing, or are on strike. A campaign starts, it’s seen by a million people, and we still have to wait for ten days for the client to give approval that the campaign has started and to tell us who the people in the creative team were. Everything has already been seen, but there is the fear: “We must seek the client’s approval.” And that approval usually comes when the news is no longer interesting for us.
I will close this article on a positive note. I was impressed by the Business Café. I thought I knew everything about the project because we are its regional media sponsors, but it was only on Thursday night, when I first attended the Business Café, that I realized how large and valuable this project really is, and how much positive energy is created in those two hours. Although it took place on the eve of Good Friday, when many people are already on their way to places where they’ve planned to spend a long weekend, there were 150 SME entrepreneurs in the Spoon restaurant, who had come to recharge their entrepreneurial batteries. To have the guts is an attractive topic, and I hope that the entrepreneurs were happy with our stories. In fact, they expressed their satisfaction with applause and personal thanks after the lecture, and approached us to ask questions and take a joint photo. Congratulations to Kristina Ercegović on the networking. There can be no networking without intense and persistent “working”, and Kristina and her team work really hard on this project. Without compromise! And that’s why I wish to congratulate them once again and say it was a great honor to participate in this project on Thursday night in Zagreb.