Chapter 4 in Serbia is part of the Chapter 4 Group and the exclusive partner of the world’s leading communications network, BCW Global. But that partnership doesn’t bring new clients, rather they do that themselves by nurturing high quality services and constantly developing team members, and through their business focus and innovation
Initially, Tamara and Milena were the only two woman to be co-founders of a Chapter 4 agency. Today, almost 11 years later, Chapter 4 agencies exist in as many as 10 markets in Europe, and half of the directors and owners of these agencies are women.
Chapter 4 is part of the Chapter 4 Group that operates throughout CEE. How much does your exclusive partnership with BCW Global, a leading global communications network, help you in your business?
Tamara: That’s right. The Chapter 4 network was created as an initiative of several colleagues who had previously cooperated across the region. At that time there were four founding countries: Serbia, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Hungary. Milena and I have been active participants in creating the success story of our network from the start and we were the only women to be co-founders of Chapter 4 agencies. After almost 11 years, Chapter 4 agencies exist in as many as 10 markets in Europe, and half of the directors and owners of our agencies today are women.
Partnering with BCW Global means a lot to us in terms of providing the highest industry standards and sharing experiences. This cooperation influences the development and innovation of our team greatly, and consequently the results we achieve with clients.
Contrary to popular belief, partnering with a global network does not bring new clients. We do that ourselves – by nurturing high quality services and constantly developing exceptional team members, business focus and innovation.
Examples of the network’s participation in major regional and global tenders are rare. Today’s clients know that engaging a larger network may simplify the selection process and provide the best price, but won’t ensure the highest quality. What is far more frequent is that clients who are satisfied with the professional support they received on our market decide to contact Chapter 4 agencies in other markets where we operate. That’s how quality spreads the influence of the network.
Our whole team is constantly learning and upgrading its knowledge and skills
You were among the first to bring an holistic approach to communications to our market more than a decade ago. Do your innovative projects contribute to your clients’ results and reputation?
Tamara: Our focus in on how to optimally support clients’ business plans. This very often implies highly specific communication with different target audiences, tailored to each one. Activities based on this principle are, of course, measurable: if we know what we want to achieve, then we also know what and how we can evaluate and measure, directly and indirectly, both quantity and quality.
Depending on the client and the business goal, the focus and target groups change, but the strategy, creativity and innovation, as well as ethics, are constant elements. Our clients know that they can rely on us in this regard, and that each of their projects represents a challenge for us that we approach with great care.
Communication projects are strategically planned and there are no quick fixes. That’s how we achieve excellent results, nurture or improve the reputation of our clients and consequently strengthen our own reputation. There is no better recommendation than a satisfied client and a successfully completed project or a campaign.
How much is your expertise dependent on experts in various fields of communication, and how much on the strength and coordination of the entire team?
Milena: I would say that it is the strength of the team, but also the interests, knowledge and experience that each member of the team possesses. The big advantage of smaller teams is that it’s clear what someone is exceptional at and what they need to work on, and then all challenges are resolved much faster and easier. In order to successfully manage a client account, consultants need to be deeply and broadly into the specific matter and industry. Our whole team is also constantly learning and upgrading its knowledge and skills.
What is it like to work in an exclusively female team? Judging by your agency, the saying “Women are their own worst enemies” is not true, right?
Milena: We are not exactly a team exclusively comprising women, we do have a male colleague who fits in very well. But, yes, during these 11 years of Chapter 4, there have been moments when only women made up our team. It is not so important whether the team consists only of women or not, but rather if there is mutual respect, motivation and a desire for cooperation, learning and support. Maybe women understand each other better because they have similar interests outside of work and become more open in communication. However, we are all colleagues and partners and that gives us stability that also benefits clients.
Communication projects are strategically planned and there are no quick fixes
On what basis do clients select Chapter 4 PR?
Milena: I believe that it is our analytical and tailored approach to each client. The knowledge and experience we have as a team, but also that each employee has individually, regarding market trends, both regionally and globally regarding the industries of our clients, as well as our strategic and crisis communication advisory.
Has your expertise in crisis PR, crisis communication and management come to the fore in the most extraordinary circumstances we have lived under to date, namely the COVID-19 pandemic?
Tamara: The pandemic did not catch us unprepared. We had a certain advantage: crisis communication planning is an integral part of the expertise of Chapter 4. Although no one could have predicted a scenario identical to this pandemic, the very fact that crisis plans existed, and that we had simulations and training with our clients on a regular basis, helped reduce risks significantly, ensuring that timely communication internally and externally runs in a smooth, clear and efficient manner, and thus is able to quickly establish control. That has provided everyone with security and hope.
How do you see the future of communications, given the fact that this global pandemic has changed everything?
Milena: COVID-19 has had a major impact on our lives, both professionally and personally, and has caused a huge shift in the way we communicate with each other. If someone hadn’t understood the term “digital transformation” in previous years, now they certainly do, because we’ve all lived through it in past few months. Also, through constant video calls and increased accessibility, we literally entered each other’s personal lives and that led to more transparency, authenticity and empathy. Looking beyond this incredibly rapid change in the channels, there is also a noticeable shift in the way business leaders communicate with their employees, customers, investors and the wider community. I believe that this will continue to shape our future.