We were the only women among founders of Chapter 4 agency network

12/17/2020   •   Blog
We were the only women among founders of Chapter 4 agency network
Chapter 4 is a part of Chapter 4 Group that operates in CEE. How much does your exclusive partnership with BCW Global, a leading global communication network, help you in your business?

Tamara Bekčić: That's right. 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 and 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 co-founders of Chapter 4 agencies. After almost 11 years, Chapter 4 agencies exist in as many as 10 markets in Europe. 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 greatly influences the development and innovation of our team, and consequently the results with clients. 
Contrary to popular belief, partnering with a global network does not bring new clients. We do it ourselves – by nurturing high quality services, constant development of exceptional team members, business focus and innovation.
Examples of the network's participation in major regional and global tenders are rare. Today clients know that engaging a larger network may simplify the selection process and provide the best price, but not ensure the highest quality. What is far more frequent is that clients, satisfied with the professional support they received in our market, decide to contact Chapter 4 agencies in other markets in which we operate. That`s how the quality spreads the influence of the network.

More than a decade ago, you were among the first to bring a holistic approach to communications to our market. Do your innovative projects contribute to your clients` results and reputation?

TB: 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 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 is a challenge for us, which 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 of your expertise relies on experts in various fields of communication, and how much on the strength and coordination of the entire team?

Milena Avramović Bjelica: 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. Also, our whole team is constantly learning and upgrading their 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?

MAB: We are not exactly a womens` only team, we do have a colleague who fit 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  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 from which clients benefit, too.

On what basis do clients select Chapter 4 PR? What is crucial - references and experience, or global insights and local expertise, maybe analytical and proactive approach?

MAB: I believe that it is the analytical and tailor-made approach for each client. The knowledge and experience we have as a team, but also each employee individually, about market trends, regionally and globally about 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 in so far, namely the Covid-19 virus pandemic?

TB: The pandemic did not catch us unprepared, we had a certain advantage: crisis communication planning is an integral part of Chapter 4 expertise. 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 trainings with our clients on regular basis, have helped reduce risks significantly, ensure that timely communication internally and externally runs in a smooth, clear and efficient manner, and thus quickly establish control that has provided everyone with security and hope.

How do you see the future of communications including the fact that global pandemic has changed everything?

MAB: Covid-19 has made a major impact on our lives, professionally and personally, and has caused a huge shift in the way we communicate with each other. If someone had not understand the phrase "digital transformation" in previous years, now they certainly did, because we have all lived through it in the 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, more empathy. Looking beyond this incredibly rapid change in the channels, there is also a noticeable shift in the way that business leaders communicate with their employees, customers, investors and the wider community. I believe that this will continue to shape our future.

The interview was initially written for the Empowered Women 2020 addition of the CorD magazine.