She is a creative organizer, likes things to be done efficiently and following a specific objective. She considers creativity to be the main differentiation between a good job and an outstanding job. Business Review talked with Cora Diaconescu, head of digital at Tribal Worldwide Romania, about the agency’s, about winning awards and their importance into the agency’s business, social media industry in Romania and many other important marcomm subjects.
How was 2016 for Tribal? What about the beginning of 2017?
2016 was a very good year for Tribal, on all fronts. Throughout the year we had a pitch winning streak that added up to an 80 percent pitch success rate at the end of 2016, followed by a great increase of new business. Our social media team has doubled in size and we’ve added a new service to our spectrum: influencer management. Big brand names have been added to our portfolio: we became PepsiCo’s digital agency, working for “Pepsi”, “Mountain Dew”, “Lays” and “Star”; Danone with Actimel; Scandia with “Pate Bucegi” and Fares. All in all, 2016 was a very rewarding year for Tribal, and the beginning of 2017 followed the same path line. Up until now Lipton and Ariston are 2017 wins for Tribal, we look forward to what the next half of the year has to offer us.
What represented for you and your agency winning Best Use of Facebook and Best Marketing to Youth la SABRE Awards?
For any agency, winning international awards is one of the most rewarding moments. For Tribal it was this, only multiplied by ten. In comparison with other digital agencies on the Romanian market, Tribal is a rather young one, therefore it needs to compensate for the lack of years of market presence and awareness, with enthusiasm and just a touch of extra effort. Therefore, winning at SABRE represented the happiest of moments for us, but also the acknowledgment that the initiation period is over, now we have made it to the “grown-up agency table” and we should act as such.
Did those awards have impact in you winning new accounts?
They helped us in terms of awareness, they opened us some “pitch doors” that weren’t accessible until then. In terms of wins, awards just open doors, competitive proposals and services win accounts. It was no different for Tribal.
What are your expectations for the rest of the year and your main priorities?
Our objectives for the next 6 months are to focus on adding constant value to the work we do for our current clients. Our main priority is to develop a stable and continuously improving partnership with the clients that entrusted us their digital brand image. Our second priority is to keep our work fresh and up to date with all the digital environment changes. When it comes to social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, they are constantly shifting, adding, updating services and functionalities, it is mandatory for a digital agency to be one step ahead of the industry, so that its clients will be one step ahead of their competition. Also, we are constantly raising standards in terms of client service that is focused more on improving our clients’ digital presence and not just executing campaigns, digital planning that puts in order the whole digital ecosystem and helps creatives with the right digital insights and creative teams that manage to think and create across channels.
How would you characterize the social media industry in Romania and how are you positioning your agency accordingly to it?
It might come as a surprise but the social media industry in Romania is extremely developed compared to many European countries. We recently attended a network conference that approached the social media environment development. One of the conferences’ modules compared all DDB&Tribal social media departments and their activity in 25 offices, our office in Romania was in top 10 most developed departments, not only in terms of portfolio size, but also in terms of services and project complexity. The local market snapshots revealed the fact that Tribal Romania had a service offer and a team size that was closely comparable to those of much bigger and developed ad markets like: Netherlands, France and UK.
What is a client looking for in Romania while looking for an agency to handle their social media accounts?
Client needs are very different when it comes to social media channel management. We have clients that consider their owned social media platform as one of the most important medium in their channel mix, being the only medium where a brand can have an actual, real time conversation with its consumers. While there are other types of clients that consider social media strictly an amplification channel for their ATL communication, a medium where they also post the TVC or the visual of the OOH campaign they have in place at a certain moment. Another type of client is the one that uses their social media account as a call center substitute, focusing very much on gathering feedback from their fans. The social media service spectrum is constantly evolving by offering new features to attract new clients that are willing to invest money into platforms, therefore clients are looking for different things, depending on what suits best their services and products.
How do you keep up with the ever changing technology? Do you have specialized people that work on always being up-to-date with the updates and the new info?
We keep up by reading a lot online, we have no special recipe that helps us be up to date with the ever changing digital environment. I think that our secret ingredient is passion, our team members are passionate about their job, they are constantly striving to become better and better at what they do, they always read and follow trends online, the information they collect and the learnings they internalize they materialize in their day to day work. We always look up to the US market and strive to create campaigns and a work environment like the ones we admire from US agencies. For example, Facebook recently hosted their yearly F8 conference where they announce their plans for their platforms for the next year and reveal new features. Everybody in the social media department was very eager to watch the conference online and send updates to their clients, in real time, while the conference was being broadcasted about how to adapt the communication on the brand social platforms.
How did the idea of creating the hybrid department rise? How is more precisely working? How hard was finding the right people for this department?
The social media department of Tribal has a team of 9 members, who are specialized on: social media strategy, social media channel management, influencer management and social listening. Every social media manager communicates directly with the client for the social media services that he or she offers and works very closely with designers and art directors to develop content plans that consist of posts that can be static, gif or video. The copywriting for the editorial plans is also done by the social media manager in charge. Because of the ever growing workload, we have separated the strategy development service and the influencer management service from the day-to-day work of social media managers. These services are now done by senior specialized team members that are part of our social media department, but work strictly on strategy development and influencer campaigns. Finding the right people is not an easy task, no matter the department. The right people not only have to be very good at what they do but also have the appropriate personality to be easily integrated into the team. We value our team spirit very much and we are always very careful with regards to maintaining our positive vibe.
Did you have an international inspiration of a similar department?
We had no international inspiration for the social media department. We just listened carefully to the market needs and developed a business strategy based on what we anticipated. Together with our previous experiences we matched the strategy with the right people that had the necessary drive and knowledge to transform a project into a great service and asset for our digital agency.
How do you keep fresh the image and the relationship with the long-term partners?
We never take our partners for granted, even if we have a long-term partnership with them, we reinvent the services we offer, our proposals, we constantly work on improving ourselves and our work. In digital you can’t ever not be fresh, your work can’t be out dated because it won’t generate results and everything is quantifiable, the specific of the business forces digital agencies that want to be competitive on the market to keep up.
Can you say that you are already specialized in several fields of activity (such as FMCG, Pharma)? If so, who are those?
We are lucky to have clients from a majority of activity fields on the market, this helps us have valuable inputs regardless of industry. Even if the opportunity occurs to work together with a client from a new activity field, in the first month of partnership we are very eager to learn and understand the business and adapt our knowledge to the specifics of the activity. Fortunately, Tribal’s structure is built on the belief that each team member is an asset that brings a certain specialization to the agency services, and together we cover a large part of the digital advertising spectrum, making us adaptable and flexible.
How do you see inclining the balance of integration – specialized services? Why?
We believe that real advertising people are adaptable, therefore agency structures are also adaptable to market needs and ever evolving trends. Integration and specialized services are not opposable as long as you have an in-agency working department structure and the right people to handle those departments. Senior advertising people and department coordinators should have the ability to understand different specializations, and complement each other all the time. In advertising, excellence can’t be achieved if people are not curious, and curiosity transcends department and specialization barriers.