Viktoria Zakrevskaya, Partner of TRUMAN Agency
Viktoriya, the scope of TRUMAN Agency is much more complicated than, for instance, of regular PR agencies. What education did you get? What skills and knowledge have been useful at your current position?
Thanks for not asking about the scope of our work and what exactly we do. The one and only more or less fair answer would be that we translate from corporate language into human one. In crisis management it is essential to comprehend a certain situation, view it in as many angles as possible. We have to know the nature of the client’s problem, whose interests it impacts in or out of the country, whether there is a chance for a consensus, how to influence the balance of power in the system to our advantage, who plays against us on the other side, what features they have on their hands, etc.
In fact, any strategist is searching for answers to these questions: starting from the head of an international organization to a stakeholder in the building market. Therefore, I don’t think that my modest degree in Social and Political Sciences is a key to success. I got education in Belarus, Lithuania, Denmark and got working experience as an analyst, but … I also know colleagues who have succeeded in risk management with both great American business education, and with Soviet technical one, and even those who barely graduated from high school. Or rather, the school barely got rid of them. Preferably, it is important to be curious and genuinely interested in life and people.
How did you start? Tell us about your first job and career path.
I earned my first money selling apples from a neighbour’s garden. I remember that I got enough for one serving of ice cream, and that caustic sense of resentment toward my senior “colleagues”, who controlled the negotiations with the acceptors. They convinced me that the share of 5% is better than 10%. So, when I was 7 years old I’ve learned the concept of interest, and understood what is the benefit of persuasion.
Since then I have worked as sales manager, journalist, translator, analyst, PR-manager. Even though it didn’t seem like that at those very moments, but I can say for sure that there was no day wasted. In dealing with risk anything could be helpful, even recalling a good joke.
Tell us about the most curious case of TRUMAN Agency. What tasks stood before the agency, how they have been resolved?
It’s been only a year of our agency as an independent unit, and the most interesting cases are now in their active phase, and therefore are subjects to non-disclosure agreement. Nevertheless, we can say that all of our customers come with a problem that is to some extent the problem of their reputation. Those are people – the owners of companies that are faced with the fact that for different reasons the world is not waiting for them and their acquired capital. Those are companies, suffering from lawsuits, faced with the fact that nobody cares about their brilliant legal position. Those are innovative new companies, who can’t break through to the hearts and minds of investors capable of helping them realize their wildest ideas. Large manufacturers who are faced with the adverse effects of the introduction of new technical trade regulations also come to us seeking for help. In all these cases, our task is to convince the relevant parties that it is beneficial both to them and society to support our client’s position or an entire industry.
Tell us more about «Ukraine’s foreign policy audit. Index of relations». How long do you carry out this study and what are the dynamics of this index?
This idea, I owe it my colleagues from BISS (Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies). That it exactly where I realized that index of “cooling” or “warming” of bilateral relations is an intersting format, clear to the general audience and the media, both in Ukraine and abroad. However, what I got to know from my Western colleagues from the sphere of journalism, from practicing business consultants and politicians is that Ukraine was and remains obscure and little-known country. That is why we decided to make analysis on Ukraine, and promote information on what’s going on both in Ukraine and abroad. In October 2016 we launched pilot issue of report on Ukraine together with the Institute of World Policy (IWP), who have been carrying out Ukrainian foreign policy audit and making remarkable recommendations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years. We will present our joint product each quarter, so we can talk about the dynamics only next year.
What tips from your own experience would you give to the readers?
As a professional in communications I know for sure that giving advices that are not asked for is not only thankless, but even harmful. Therefore, I would rather avoid answering this question, but I will gladly answer any questions of EBA readers. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org