NATALIJA RACKOVIĆ, General manager V+O Communication: Communication That Counts

The dynamic, fast and challenging environment has pushed us as well to constantly grow, develop and move boundaries of professional communication. The great privilege is that we were not alone on this path, but we had the opportunity to develop together with some of the largest multinational companies.

V+O Communication has been operating for 10 years in Serbia. How did it look like in the beginning and what has changed in the field of communications and PR from the time you started, right up to now?

— Viewed from the civilization point of view, 10 years is a negligible short period of time. However, in the field of business, including communication, a lot has changed. If we start from that, 10 years ago, certain industries did not even exist, and add the new communication platforms that were developed in this period, we become aware of the dynamics in which society, and thus communication, are changing. Although the essence of public relations has actually remained the same, what has changed is the environment in which we operate, communication channels and speed of message transmission to target groups. The media image has also changed a lot, as today we have a
situation where citizens are getting more and more information through the online portals and mobile phones. Ten years ago, social networks were just at the beginning, and today they are a very important channel of communication. From communicating something to someone, we came to the point that the interaction with the target group is what distinguishes today’s communication. To keep with up with all these changes, public relations had to find a way to adapt.

What are the trends in the communications industry in Serbia today?

— Keeping in mind market trends, companies will be increasingly interested in a holistic approach to communications, ie having agencies such as V + O where they will be able to get a 360 ° service in one place. On the other hand, digital will continue to occupy an increasingly important position. Some brand new specialist services will become more and more interesting, such as: Employer Branding, as a way to properly position a company and attract the right candidates, but also motivate existing employees towards greater loyalty to the company so that they really want to become company’s ambassadors.

Given the wide portfolio of services you provide, could you tell us which of your services is most wanted on the market today?

— There is no special rule. Some clients need media relations, other public affairs, event management, internal communication, crisis communication or digital. Usually, large multinational companies that have awareness of all communication segments, have requirements for specific PR services. However, we also have a lot of clients that are big and successful companies, and know their business very well, but need PR expertise to advise them on what is best approach for them. Our task is to first define, together with the client, what their goal is and what are the
challenges they are facing, and only then suggest what forms of communication would give results in a given time period. This very often means for us to delete the borders between certain services and to combine them to achieve a synergistic effect and to ensure that key messages reach our stakeholders.

In the last years you have done a lot of socially responsible campaigns. How do you get the campaigns and what determines the success of a campaign?

— A good idea, clear goal setting, careful thinking and planning, extremely good execution and precise measurement of success parameters. Of course, if you add the team of professionals, i characterized by the passion for communication, success is guaranteed.

In addition to undoubtedly great success, a decade of work and business puts ahead of one agency great challenges as well. What are the challenges you facing today and how do you see the development of V + O in the future?

— There are several directions of V + O development in Serbia. First, in cooperation with our home agency in Greece, we are working on the introduction of an entirely new segment, which will bring creative approach to an even higher level. First of all, this will relate to event management, where we have a rich experience in Serbia, because in the last 10 years we have had the privilege of organizing more than 1,000 different events: from the opening of factories, to big events in the central city squares and promotions in shopping malls. Then, we will continue with our HR partners to raise the Employer branding service to a higher level. We are working on a service, with a specialized IT company, that does not yet exist on our market, referring to the possibility of using new platforms and co-creation in the field of improving business and communication through continuous monitoring and precise analytics that can provide much valuable information on further directions of the development of the company. We are also working on the introduction of new products and services, or the improvement of the satisfaction of employees through their greater involvement in the process of creativity within the company itself.

This year you celebrate the jubilee under the slogan “Make it count”. When looking back, what is “counted” in the operation and existence of V + O Communication Serbia, that you are particularly proud of?

— The beauty of communication lies in the fact that you really have the power to do something good not only for the company’s business but also for society as a whole, and that’s what we are particularly proud of. If you succeed in inspiring, moving and motivating various stakeholders like we did through the campaign we have worked for the European PROGRES, where, over seven days, more than 1,000 rural women come to a preventive medical examination and as a result we potentially saved 100 human lives… If more than 400 young people find employment two months after the workshops that you have organized with your partners in the Youth Empowerment Campaign “Coca-Cola Youth Empowered”… If you have helped hear the opinions of different stakeholders when passing certain laws… If through the project “Future #for5” (“Buducnost #za5 “) you have inspired young people to stay in Serbia and pushed them in obtaining greater inclusion in various forms of non-formal education … If you have contributed to the introduction of primary waste separation in Arilje, which will be expanded to entire Serbia, and in less than three months, through carefully planned communication, the percentage of collected waste is twice the average compared to the the level of Serbia … Then you certainly know that you are part of the communications that count. The communications that have contributed to making our society a better place for all of us.

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