Our biggest advantage right now is the fact that our clients can find all the communication services they need in one place
“There is only talk about what this crisis has brought us. Let’s also talk about what this transition has taken away from us, because that is a very important starting point that has changed everything, including the way we manage clients and the way we communicate”, said Tamara Jokanović, MD at Represent Communications.
What does client relation/management look like today, given that both consumer habits and the way of consuming media have changed? What has the Covid crisis brought?
How we manage clients today in this Covid environment and how we did it a year and a half ago when Covid first hit are two entirely different stories and completely different challenges in management and communications. Eighteen months ago, all we talked about was surviving – literally and figuratively. Today, with everything we know and all the skills we acquired, we are talking about adapting to the market, customers’ and thus clients’ needs. The agency has not been a mere executor of work for a long time, but a consultant in the areas for which it has been employed, and that is exactly what the client wants and expects from it. But we are also not budging when it comes to high standards in executive roles. So, it is safe to say that today’s client-relation requires a multidimensional view of internal and external situations, things, problems and possibilities of a company, circumstances in which we do business and the client we are working with, but also the possibility of a multichannel performance from one place (reduced number of contacts).
How important is it for a client to give the agency total freedom when creating a strategy?
The client will never give the agency free range, because a strategy, especially a communication strategy, largely depends on the set-up of the business strategy and the company’s development. On the other hand, agencies do not know all the details of the business that certain sectors within the company deal with to be able to create the strategy on their own. It is cooperation and creativity between parties gathered around the same goal. Also, multinational companies have a business strategy that they send out from their headquarters and all that needs to be done is localization. So, the key link in the client-agency relation is trust. If there is trust, the client will not hold back or withhold information believing that by that the agency, as its trusted partner, consultant and professional in the area for which it is hired to cover, will suggest what’s best for the situation company is in.
“I believe that if there is trust and belief in “the real thing” the end result cannot be anything but the best one”
But, if the agency doesn’t have the right information, it is the same situation you would have with a doctor or a lawyer…you will not get the right treatment and/or the opposing party will have better evidence which it will use to its advantage. So, I believe that if there is trust and belief in “the real thing” the end result cannot be anything but the best one.
Where are the ethical boundaries of PR and how far-reaching can good PR be for clients?
Ethical boundaries in PR exist, just like in any other profession, but the current communication arena looks like a platform “everything is fair in love and war”, because everyone, and I will return now to my first answer, goes through survival and adaptation. Little is said about the far-reaching nature of good PR. Its true value is seen only when a client is hit with a crisis. Then it becomes clear just how much has the company invested in its image, stakeholders, partners…and even more clearly if it hasn’t.
What are your plans when it comes to the expansion and acquisition of new clients? What services would you highlight?
If we take a look at the current portfolio of our clients, I would say, without trying to sound pretentious, that it holds almost half of the companies from the Serbian market that deal with communication in some way. If we take into account that because of some exclusive contracts we are not able to work with the competition, I will say that there is not much room to expand. That is why we started the transformation process last year, of our services and Represent itself, but also of all the units which operate within the System, and why we introduced new services and products in order to additionally upsell our existing clients and project target those who are not our regular clients. Our biggest advantage right now is the fact that our clients can find all the communication services they need in one place, or what we said at the beginning – one contact point, and thus a better understanding of the client and solving their problems.