Gabriela Lungu, Managing Partner of The Practice, the most awarded Romanian PR agency, answered a few questions for AdHugger, soon after her agency received three new Gold trophies at this year’s Sabre Awards.
About what happened since the agency started and team members along the time, crisis effects, cost cuts, campaigns bound to be awarded and the start of the day with reading monitoring reports on iPhone and evenings with no talk about work, in the following paragraphs.
Cristina Blanaru: The Practice is active on Romanian market for almost 6 years (actually, 2012 is the 6th). Did you expect the agency to develop the way it did when you started it?
Gabriela Lungu: We just turned 5 years and a half – the company opened for business in November 2006. We had an amazing journey from the launch till today, which surpassed in many ways even our most optimistic expectations.
From our great client portfolio, to the beautiful team we have, the amazing campaigns we do, the awards we win – everything is better than what we hoped. There’s only one aspect that is not quite as we wanted after 5 years – the financial results. Although we do well, we could have done better. Who knew in 2006 that a global economic crisis will start?
C.B.: How many people did you have when you started the agency? How many shareholders back then? What is the situation now? When did you have the smallest and the biggest teams and how many members they had?
G.L.: We started the agency with 4 people, including myself. After 3 months we were already 7 in the office. We grew quite rapidly. Our largest team had 16 people, at the beginning of this year, and the smallest had 4, right at the launch.
The number of shareholders didn’t change in time (we started with 5, we still have 5), but the people changed. At the beginning, there were more people from other Leo Burnett group companies who had shares, now there are more people from The Practice, as we wanted to recognize their importance for the development of our agency and to reward their efforts.
C.B.: How did The Practice feel the economic crisis? How did your clients portfolio evolved during the crisis years? Because I’m sure you had to cut some costs, as everybody had, I would like to know where the cuts were made.
G.L.: We felt the crisis like everyone else – hard times that required wise measures. Luckily, we had quite a “generous” approach regarding costs before the crisis, and therefore we had plenty of unessential things easy to cut when the crisis started.
For example, from the 3 day teambuilding in Venice we did in 2008, we went to having just a one day teambuilding in Brasov in 2009. But we still had our yearly teambuilding!
C.B.: Can you approximate a minimum and a maximum fee for Romanian PR industry?
G.L.: No, it depends on so many factors… There is not such a thing as a small or large fee in itself; you can say a fee is small or large depending on how much work and effort you are required for that specific fee.
C.B.: As far as I know, Leo Burnett Group’s agencies have around 5 entries for this year’s Cannes Lions and I’m sure The Practice works represent an important share of them. Which are the campaigns you submitted? What are your expectations from this year’s competition?
G.L.: The Practice has 3 entries this year, with the 2 campaigns that just won Gold at EMEA Sabre Awards. We hope to win, otherwise we wouldn’t have entered.
For us, participating to Cannes Lions is a huge cost – with the entry tax, the short videos the agency needs to create to present the campaigns… We consider it an investment, so – like with all investments – we hope to have a good outcome. We are the first Romanian PR agency ever awarded at Cannes Lions – as we did it before, we hope to do it again!
C.B.: Internally, how do you pick the campaigns that will enter a competition? What do they have to have to be a runner?
G.L.: We know very well the criteria the judges have for evaluating a PR campaign: first the creativity and the results, then the strategy and the implementation. We use these criteria internally and this is how we decide. We pretty much know if a campaign will be award worthy from the moment we have the idea and we develop the campaign plan. If properly planned around a great idea, a campaign rarely lacks in implementation and results.
C.B.: You received a lot of national and international prizes over the years, most recently 3 new Gold SABRE awards and an Effies to join agency’s collection. How does it feel to have your work appreciated on stage, in front of the peers from other countries?
G.L.: Enthusiastic for all our clients who see their decision of working with us confirmed, happy for all of us at THE PRACTICE, and proud to represent Romania: we’re not anymore striving to reach the international standards of our profession! We arrived!
C.B.: What is the brand you would like the most to have as client? Why?
G.L.: We don’t chase great iconic brands. We do love working for them, we have many in our client portfolio! But we also believe unknown brands can become great with our help.
C.B.: How does a typical day look for Gabriela Lungu? What are the first things you do after you wake up?
G.L.: My typical weekday is very busy, as I’m sure you can guess. I wake up with monitoring reports that I read on my iPhone before even getting out of bed, I do a bit of sport, I’m heading to the office where till 6 pm I usually have lots of meetings – brainstorming sessions, client meetings, financial reviews, internal trainings or fun activities; after meetings, until 8 pm I work at my desk and my computer – that’s the only time I can concentrate without being interrupted by a phone or an unplanned meeting; I try to spend the rest of the evening home, enjoying time with my husband & NOT talking about work. I don’t complain – that’s the life I chose for me and I like it!