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Jelena Gavrilović Šarenac, Head of Corporate Communications at Henkel Serbia and Henkel Adria

Two-way Communication Develops Trust

As a global company that’s aware of the value of its brands, Henkel is open to communicating with consumers and partners, while it strives to monitor and adapt to new trends

Speaking in this CorD Magazine interview, Henkel’s Jelena Gavrilović Šarenac, who has amassed vast experience in corporate communications, reveals why the high speed at which information is now transmitted is meaningless without high-quality content, and how traditional media forms persist despite the dominance of online media, as reflected in the importance of synergising strategic consulting, PR work and integrated communications.

You have spent more than a decade and a half dealing with corporate communications at Henkel. How much have the rules, tools, media scene, communication channels and other aspects changed during that time?

— The dynamic times in which we live bring changes to our lives on a daily basis, both privately and professionally.

As such, I have to admit that a lot has changed since I first launched my career at Henkel. I come from the generation that used to use fax machines to send press releases, while today everything in the field of communications unfolds in real time, and that is what defines all obligations and requirements, professional engagements and public expectations. Specifically, the speed at which information is transmitted has become crucial to timely informing, both internally and externally, while news is written in short formats and the attention of the audience is measured in seconds, and all of these changes to our habits aren’t necessarily reflected in improved quality, and maybe even the opposite is the case.

Generally speaking, digital media enable us to take a more creative approach to communication, but also enable more direct communication with our consumers, which we really care about

As a global company, we are open to communicating with both consumers and partners, while we strive to monitor and adapt to new trends in communication. When it comes to the media specifically, noticeable changes are also evident there, and although online sources dominate, the significance of traditional media channels can’t be underestimated.

You devote special attention to synergising strategic consulting, PR work and integrated communications. Could you give us an illustrative example of this?

— Strategic communication is crucial to the successful operations of all companies, and synergising strategic consulting, PR work and integrated communications is essential to harmonising all messages, activities and channels of communication, and adjusting them to suit target groups. This is particularly important because of the need to harmonise topics and priorities with other sectors, due to the long-term planning of all activities. Each form of communication has its own role to play and leads us to our shared goal, which is satisfying the expectations of our partners, consumers and the community in which we operate.

The expansion of social media sites and electronic and digital media strengthens the significance of communication activities and their importance when it comes to preserving a company’s reputation. Does that facilitate or hinder your work?

— Maintaining a presence on digital communication channels is extremely important, especially when it comes to our brands and communicating the innovations they bring. Generally speaking, digital media enable us to take a more creative approach to communication, but also enable more direct communication with our consumers, which we really care about. Henkel, as our umbrella brand, and the portfolio of brands of our business sectors are jointly responsible for maintaining our company’s reputation. We all work together to nurture and communicate the same values, both at the level of the company brand and at the level of activities on individual brands.

We always place the consumer at the centre of our activities, actively conduct sustainable operations and care for the environment. The transparent, two-way communication that’s enabled by social media certainly contributes to nurturing and building trust.

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