Alena Kulenović Delić: Certain piece of news is not for all the media

Meet Alena Kulenović Delić, the PR manager at McCann Sarajevo agency, who, as she says, found herself in PR by chance, but is considered an author of very professionally written content.

About two years ago, Teodora Migdalovici from Bucharest, Ambassador of the Cannes Lions Festival in Romania and a good friend of mine, was in a visit to the agency McCann Sarajevo. Teodora held a one-day workshop for McCann’s staff. I received the announcement of the workshop, and then the text about the workshop. And, to be honest, I was a bit surprised by the quality of the content I received. I wasn’t used to getting such professionally written, content-rich articles from agency PRs – with honorable exceptions. I called Marija Vićić, Corporate Communications Manager of I&F McCann Grupa and asked who was Alena Kulenović Delić? Marija replied: “A brilliant young woman who has taken over PR in our Sarajevo agency. You know how much we’ve been looking for someone for that position and now I think we found the best person.”

Alena Kulenović Delić, PR manager at McCann Sarajevo, as she herself says, found herself in the PR waters quite accidentally, although she admits that nothing in life is a coincidence. She had been engaged in journalism for a long time. She started with internship at Valter Magazine, then came the IFM radio, after which she applied for a job at the public broadcasting house FTV. She worked there for two years in the Jutarnji program, the first post-war morning show hosted by Midheta Kurspahić. She covered a range of fields, including the National Theater for some time, and for this work she received special commendations from the then head of the Theater, Gradimir Gojer. Then Pink BH commercial television appeared on the market. She applied there and landed a job as a journalist. It was her first professional contract. She worked for a few years as a journalist until the need arose that someone from this TV house starts approaching other media with promotion of their overall TV program and content. Lajla Torlak, editor-in-chief of Pink BH at the time, offered Alena the position of the PR manager, which she accepted as a professional challenge.

Until then, she knew very little about PR, even though she studied journalism, but back then there was no PR course there. She started working on PR at Pink BH TV, but she still continued working as a journalist-researcher for one of the most watched TV shows of the time, The Forbidden Forum. Then a new television appeared – TV 1. Alena knew nothing about it, but several people recommended her (without her knowledge). She soon received a call to become a member of the TV1 team. After the interviews, she decided to accept this challenge – to build the image of an emerging news TV channel, although it was difficult for her to leave Pink after seven years there. She stayed with TV1until March 2016, when she moved to McCann Sarajevo, where she took the responsibility of leading PR for agency clients. McCann was looking for a PR person, (Alena got several recommendations), she applied for the vacancy, passed a very extensive procedure that included three rounds of interviews, she did the project that the procedure included very well, and landed the job.

It’s an ideal development path for a PR person. First she worked as a journalist, which means she understands the media, hen as a PR for two TV stations, an opportunity to get into public relations and learn, and now at an agency where she can put all her journalistic knowledge and experience at the disposal of agency clients.

ED: How is the work in a media house different from working in an agency?

Alena Kulenović Delić: I worked as a PR manager on Pink and on TV 1. When you do PR for a TV station, you’re working for a brand – you’re working for a TV house you know well, you know all the staff, all the journalists and hosts, you know the entire programming scheme even though it changes constantly. So, you work as if you have a client. There are no pitches, no sweating whether you’ll pass the pitch or not. When you work on PR for a TV house, then you’te trying to get the cover of a TV magazine when the new programming scheme is launching, you’re doing promotion that will drive the ratings of your TV house, and the ratings drive the marketing budgets that agencies will allocate for you. It’s a great responsibility.

Behind each project in the agency is a new client that you need to get to know. You need to get to know them, their brand, their target group. And you have to justify the budget that the client has allocated for your PR engagement, for the services they pay to the agency, for the goals they want to achieve, both in communication and business sense, and this is the challenge I face every day. Of course, it adds an additional dose of adrenaline and dynamics that I love. It sharpens all of your senses and awakens the highest degree of responsibility and creativity in me, in order to accomplish the task successfully.

ED: What greeted you when you came to McCann?

Alena Kulenović Delić: I was greeted by all the possible clients who then had a contract with the agency. All of them immediately became my responsibility, and new ones came in… The experience in journalism was of great help, because I knew what kind of content the media wanted, in what kind of format, etc. Although it might sound as a cliché, if you don’t go through that school of journalism, and if you don’t master your craft well, it’s hard to be good at PR. Of course, I should also add to this the agency experience in terms of strategy, presentation, market research, etc.

ED: Who helped you the most in the beginning?

Alena Kulenović Delić: Colleagues with whom I shared the workspace. They helped me understand how to make cost estimates, how to make contracts, how to make invoices… so all the operational things within the agency. I think I was quite ready to accept the tasks that awaited me, as well as those that came afterwards. Of course, support from management and colleagues from Corporate Communications did not lack.

ED: Which clients have went through your hands so far?

Alena Kulenović DelićLactalis BiH with the brand Dukat, with which we enter into our third year of successful cooperation in 2019. From the long-term clients we have been collaborating with in the field of communications, PR and CSR projects are DMAlkaloidCarlsberg BH, and since recently Comtrade System Integration and Madi. As far as the PR campaigns for certain projects are concerned, I would emphasize cooperation with UN Women BiH on a global action of 16 days of activism in the fight against gender-based violence, where in 2016, and again in November and December this year, we implemented great national campaigns “Fight violence against women and girls together”.

With our partner agency, Universal Media Sarajevo, we created a very emotional story about a special can of Coca-Cola, which, after 20 years, succeeded in reconnecting Sarajevans who haven’t seen each other in this time. This past week, we also introduced Coca-Cola’s co-operation with EYOF (European Youth Olympic Festival), which will make it easier to revive the Olympic spirit in BiH.

With the Environmental Protection Fund we have promoted the World Environment Day, for WWF Adria we designed and implemented the World Wetlands Habitat Protection Campaign. I also consider important the engagement on the Summit of 100 Business Leaders in Sarajevo and Skopje for this year’s Sarajevo Business Forum, where we provided PR support to the largest business and investment conference from all of our regional PR offices, and the work we did for the Third Balkan Compliance & Ethics Forum, where we promoted eradicating the culture of corruption and other negative business practices.

There were other PR stories for pharmaceutical and cosmetic brands, music projects, such as Sarajevo Big Band, and so on…

ED: Is there something you would love to do, but haven’t had the chance so far?

Alena Kulenović Delić: So far I’ve been doing PR for clients from different industries, and for now I have no unfulfilled desires.

ED: Is PR growing in the McCann Sarajevo in relation to other services?

Alena Kulenović Delić: It’s growing considerably. New clients are constantly coming in. We have good feedback from clients who return to us with new projects. This year I even got some reinforcement. Colleague Nea Manjura has been a part of our team for five months now, in the position of PR Assistant.

ED: What do you love doing the most? What is your “cup of tea” in PR?

Alena Kulenović Delić: It would be socially responsible projects. The Annie Musical and the campaign “Dyslexia is not a disease but a diversity”, which entered the Top25 projects at last year’s BalCannes, were the projects in which I felt good, and which were a pleasure to work on.

ED: So the part of the story that our industry can change the world.

Alena Kulenović Delić: Creative and communications industry can certainly create progress not only in economy, but in society in general.

ED: How do you see the PR market in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Does PR have a chance for dynamic growth?

Alena Kulenović Delić: It can and should develop. The situation is currently a bit confusing. As in the media sense, there is also a lot of PR departments, but we all need to work on quality in general.

ED: How much does PR depend on the media?

Alena Kulenović Delić: We have much more media than we need, and this leads to a shortage of quality. There is also a lack of quality journalists, which may be the result of an inadequate education system. It is also possible that young people have no interest and passion for journalism. I don’t know if they work in the media because they like that job, or just because they have to do something. If you want a good journalist then you have to pay them well, and the salaries in the media are very poor, which is a huge problem for a profession in journalism. It’s similar with the PR. And by that I don’t mean the agencies. The market itself needs more order. As the budgets for advertising decline, so does the pressure on PR grow.

ED: What are your experiences from collaboration with the media, now from an agency perspective?

Alena Kulenović Delić: Mostly positive. My first day at McCann was at the Cannes Lions in Sarajevo event, organized by Media Marketing. Back then I brought the crew from TV1and I was very happy. This piece was broadcast in both Daily News, and in the show Kapital. This support from colleagues I worked with before was very important to me. It was a sign that in 15 years, which I spent in the media, I made good relationships with my colleagues, and with some I even became friends. But this increases your accountability. Regardless how good relationship you have with your colleagues in the media, it is not a guarantee that some PR content will pass if it’s not good.

We nurture relationships with the media, and we develop partnerships because we need each other. We need media space for our clients and media need good content, and that’s it. There’s no great wisdom here. I pay great attention to which kind of content I send to which media. I am very thorough in my selection, and that gives good results. Certain piece of news is not for all the media. Many PRs have the same list of media, and send all the releases to everyone. That doesn’t work. I send pieces that I would publish if I worked in a certain media. That is my primary criterion.

Media Marketing: Could you imagine yourself again in some media in the future?

Alena Kulenović Delić: Never say never. Television has been, and remained my great passion. The job I have in McCann is very responsible, dynamic and creative. McCann offers a very professional, well organized and cultured ambient, in which it is not hard to do your best to be the best. I’ve been part of the team for almost three years, I’ve made good results, and I believe it would be a great mistake to leave everything and go back to the media. No, I’m not thinking about it. There’s still a lot to learn and grow, and develop the PR department along the way.

Media Marketing: What is the first thing that croses your mind when you look back at the last three years at McCann? Is it some project, an acquaintance, some unexpected situation…

Alena Kulenović Delić: There were all kinds of challenges. There were also crisis situations where we changed the attitudes of media towards certain brands. It is a pleasure to be able to animate a large number of media at the press conferences we organize, when the campaigns we do become the main topics in the media, when socially responsible projects result in concrete actions and help the community. These are some things that make me happy. Of course, you should always ensure continuity, which is sometimes exhausting in the long run, but without constant investment in the quality of communication there is no stable outcome. If a client feels that you are devoted to them, and that you give more than 100%, the trust that is the prerequisite of any successful cooperation grows as well.



The original interview is published at: