EBBE COMMS - Young people, perspective of PR profession in B&H

A few weeks ago you had the opportunity to read about a successful team of girls standing behind the Shush-Mush blog. Accordingly, we are continuing with the entrepreneurial stories, and this one is about another young, successful woman who runs a communications agency.

Ema Bukovica holds MA in Communications and is Director of the Communications Agency EBBE COMMS. For many years she worked as a freelancer in the branch. She established the Agency by recognizing and having in mind two things: clients’ need for cooperation with the legal entity issuing the invoice, and the fact that our market is very much looking for professional services in the field of communications.

"In addition to basic PR services, EBBE COMMS aims to help customers understand better of B&H market, to create and/or adapt their communication strategies to this market, to help them organize events, create and distribute media content, and so on."- says Ema.

In today's digital, visual and online world, public relations represent an extremely important link. We asked Ema about the importance of PR in business development, and whether everyone really needs PR.

"Maybe you could have heard a saying that what did not end up in the media seemed like it didn’t happen at all. This is the main concern with which our clients approach us. They work very hard on their projects, but they feel that this hard work has not reached enough people, has not reached their stakeholders. The need for promotion is almost an elementary segment in most businesses. And then, when you think there is no need for PR, your competitor will have it, and they will create a public impression that they exists on the market, and you don’t. I recently met a gentleman whose company produces e-banking software which is sold only to banks. After telling him what we at EBBE COMMS do, in a split second he replied: "Ah, we do not need that!". I laughed and asked him if it would be harmful or useful if some, let’s say, written media published an article on the quality of e-banking services of major banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He immediately raised his eyebrows to my question. Although his main clients are banks, it does not mean that the opinion of end-users of the services will not affect his business. The status of his clients (banks) gained by that article will directly reflect the quality of his services. So, PR is a very broad term when it comes to the means of promotion, and there is almost no business that doesn’t need PR.”

Bearing in mind that, amongst other things, the mission of the Foundation 787 is the support of women entrepreneurs, we were interested in Ema’s experience of being young female entrepreneur in B&H.

"I have to be honest and say that before starting this company I did not go a priori with the mission to be an entrepreneur, but to do what I like and what I’m good at. Entrepreneurship came as a prerequisite and the surroundings in which I managed well relatively quickly, because I surrounded myself with people from whom I could get useful advice and guidance. I would say that being an entrepreneur in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a big challenge because our country is full of absurd bureaucracy. Monthly and annual expenses, the costs of maintaining the company together with taxes and various additional fees, are relatively large. I get jealous when I hear someone somewhere in the United Kingdom started their company in a single day and spent at least five times less money than I did here. On the other hand, I would not want to discourage anyone who wants to start their own business. Nevertheless, there is pleasure when you are the owner of your time and the results of your efforts, and when you know that your wage contributions are paid by you only."

Despite many challenges, Ema dared to start her own business. She told us what kind of support and motivation she had for entrepreneurship.

"In addition to my job, there are a number of other things I enjoy privately with my family, so this freedom of having my time fully at my disposal was a major factor in deciding to work for myself rather than for someone else. The beginning itself was probably waiting for my more mature phase in life, the phase when I felt ready for this challenge. Although, I have to admit that I had been reading literature about entrepreneurship, legal regulations and I had attended numerous online courses and had listened to various lectures that helped me in forming an entrepreneurial way of thinking. Having your own business is definitely different than going to work where you have no other responsibilities than your profession. Working time is only fictitious, but the sense of responsibility and the constant need to check what is happening is almost impossible to control. The reason why I’m saying this is because, in my case, the drastic change happened in my everyday life, so I had to seek support from my family, friends and surroundings. Mostly, I got the support from all of them, but what motivated me the most was a talk with my father Sabrija in a very difficult moment. He advised me to be “my own boss”, and to not even think about ever giving up on my dreams. I believe that he wasn’t even aware how much that conversation meant to me and how much it pushed me forward. There is also a golden list of friends that believed in me from the very beginning. I am extremely grateful to them."

Ema's advice to young people who want to become entrepreneurs?

"I suppose it is useful that young people who want to engage in entrepreneurship know clearly what they want to do before they set up a company. Firstly, they should set up a platform to work on, inform their friends, colleagues, and generally make a contact list of people who will get informed about their company. These would be some prerequisites because once the firm is registered, the month becomes too short and the date for the payment of expenses comes too fast, so if your first incomes are not there, the beginnings may be relatively difficult. However, my advice to them is to always strive higher. If they cannot find their role models in their surroundings, they can start looking for them under an “international umbrella”, because the world is full of brave, smart and capable people who are ready to share their experiences in order to motivate others. Comfort zone is never a solution to success. Surround yourself with positive people who will inspire you, because a good idea is priceless. Be persistent and focused. Your efforts will certainly bring good results, and then you will soon be proud to realize what you created. By yourself."

The Agency is organizing a seminar on "PR and Online Business Marketing" on February 24th. What is it about?

"We are aware that many companies need PR, but it is difficult for them to opt for the engagement of a PR agency, because these engagements are either short-term or they cost more than companies can afford at given moment. EBBE COMMS has prepared a comprehensive agenda for seminar participants to learn how to properly understand PR, how to use basic PR tools, why PR is important for business, and how they can help the organization they’re representing. We received significant number of students’ applications for this seminar which makes us extremely happy, because it shows the need for younger colleagues to enrich their knowledge gained at the faculties."

In the field of communications, like in any other business, ongoing education is very important. Ema thinks that the PR is a profession in which education should never cease. She believes that good PR will follow the public's interests and find the right media to address them: "We are planning to hold a module on the new trends in the PR during the upcoming seminar, in which we will make a parallel between the PR activities that Alison Theaker summoned in her book "The Public Relations Handbook" in 2004 and the activities that are being used today in the world in 2016."

At the end of a pleasant talk, we asked Ema if PR is a prospective profession in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Unfortunately, PR as a profession is not sufficiently recognized, and is being underestimated in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the situation is definitely changing. The specificity of B&H is that we have a large number of media on a relatively small territory, which makes the relations with the media a very complicated business, because journalists are being changed and replaced too often in the editorial offices. These relations have to be renewed. Therefore, it is important for companies and institutions to have a person who is professionally engaged in communicating with the media and the public on a daily basis, which indicates an increasing recognition of PR as a profession. And, when it comes to the amount of work and whether it's widespread enough, like in any other business, it's important to point out the need for product or service and opportunities will eventually come."

We wish Ema a lot of success at the upcoming seminar and in the future work. Until the next meeting we are following www.ebbecomms.com