BR met with Roxana Lupu and Raluca Mihaila, managing partners of Adrenallina, Sports PR & More to get exclusive insights about the agency’s plans, their inspiration and the particularities of this business niche.
The agency offers a full spectrum of communication services strategy and sports branding, as well as internal communication and motivation programs through sports, providing tailor made solutions for companies.
How did you decide to start the agency and why precisely that moment?
Roxana Lupu: It was just the right time. You feel it when it comes, it happens naturally. In all of my jobs, ever since I discovered sports and began to practice it as an amateur athlete, I was trying to find time to include my new hobby. It was difficult. I also felt the need to be closer to everything related to sports. I was already doing that, having a sports site (www.adrenallina.ro), but somehow I wanted to give more of my time and attention to it.
Being close to the amateur sports community, which has been developing rapidly in the latest years, as a sports journalist and blogger but also as an athlete, I discovered so many fundamental insights. Like the fact that sport events need more of a professional communication strategy, or that so many professional athletes need someone to represent them, with media or brands or events, or that brands themselves can relate to sports in their communication strategy and also involve athletes in their campaigns. What better endorser for messages like achievement, success, strength of mind and body, empowerment, ambition to reach a goal, inspiration than an athlete?
So I realized that as a communication professional, in marketing and PR, I have the vision and expertise to do something with these insights. And if this brings me closer to my passion, why not try to do it? And combine sports with marketing communication. And mark a premiere: the first communication agency in Romania dedicated to sports.
Why did you choose that niche? How is your background helping you?
Raluca Mihaila: When you want to try something new it’s indicated maybe to start with what you know and what you like to do. Mix those two, throw some isotonic for endurance and there you have it!
For instance, I am always ready to go on a bike trip or go hiking in the mountains or even why not, to play tennis in the city :-). I am close to sports, I practice sports, so it is something I feel comfortable with.
Also, we identified a need for a professional communication in this area, from all the involved parties: brands, amateur & professional athletes, community.
My background in a top PR agency (10 years) is an asset, of course, in all areas. It taught me how to work, it made me discover my abilities and made me realize what I want from myself and those around me. But, most of all, I am glad that I discovered my passion for organizing events and all the associated turmoil.
So I am anxious to develop and grow our own platform of events, dedicated to the sports community. People are very hungry for information, they have a lot of inspirational experiences to share and we are looking forward to offer them what they need.
Speaking of background, Roxana & I discovered that businesswise we go very well together; not only because we are friends, but also because each of us contribute with her own expertise.
Sometimes, I can’t sleep at night because of a sudden burst of energy and ideas for our business. And I leave a message for Roxana in the middle of the night – how about…? When I wake up I find a reply from her, sharing her thoughts, too. A message sent at 6 a.m., before going to her morning sports training routine.
Did you have any international examples inspirations?
Roxana Lupu: Well, for once, the existence of sports marketing, in Europe or U.S.
The brands communication campaigns that include athletes, and I am not talking just about football or tennis, maybe two of the most visible sports worldwide. We can take a look at athletics, gymnastics, swimming, skiing, golf also, and so many others where branding and related communication is creative and very present. Also, all of the world important brands that use sports as a trigger for their messages. In Romania, it’s an incredible paradox: we have and mostly we had so many Olympic and international level performers in so many sports, but still sports marketing is almost non-existent. We need, altogether, to educate the market and help it grow. Yes, we need to create a market.
What is your main goal for the first two years in terms of business, team, clients and projects?
Raluca Mihaila: We started to warm up at the end of 2015, with let’s say reasonable expectations. January came with the first projects, so the recommendations supported us in opening new doors. At this moment, we have clients with flat fee and also project based clients.
We intend to develop different communication platforms – educational events for the community or research studies regarding the sports area.
Our expectations for the end of 2016 include structuring a team, more of flat fee clients, developing our events platform and motivation through sports programs, destined and tailor made for companies. It is a business model that we are testing, and we get so many information from all the actors involved: brands, corporations, athletes, sports federations, sports community, media, sport events organizers. We are opened and eager to make things work. So we will talk less about us and we will do more.
Have you always felt you have the entrepreneurial spirit in you or did it come as a results after years of working in a multinational?
Raluca Mihaila: Honestly, before leaving the multinational I haven’t really felt the entrepreneurial spirit kicking in. But then I wanted to try something new and, encouraged by friends, I went on this path.
And now I feel like I have taken the right decision and it would be very hard for me, now, to go back as being an employee.
I can manage my own time, I can make time for my hobbies & my friends and this is very important for me.
Roxana Lupu: I don’t know if the years in a multinational make you an entrepreneur. Courage, hard work, vision and, definitely, the result of making a business model profitable does. And, probably, more of other things that we will be learning in the process. Because you never stop learning, no matter your expertise.
How do you feel different?
Raluca Mihaila: Being an entrepreneur made me more self-assured and taught me how to harness and use all my skills and knowledge. I reached the conclusion that, until you try being on your own, you never know what you really are capable of.
Of course, you need a backpack of courage and a mountain of optimism & positive thinking. In order to get over the problems, with a useful lesson learned, and especially in order to believe in yourself, no matter what.
Also, I learned a very good lesson – how important it is to associate with people who have the same values as you do, people who inspire you. If you have chemistry with your partner, if you share the same hobbies, believe in the same things, see things in the same way, the business association works like a charm!
Roxana Lupu: More joy for everything that there is to do on a daily basis. More eagerness to work and experiment. More creative. More passionate.
Do you believe that the industry is finally getting back on its feet after the crisis?
Raluca Mihaila: The market is definitely on a positive trend, and especially in the sports communication. The clients understand the need for communicating their brand, their projects, and how important the investment in this area is. Of course, most of the activities are short term planned, everyone is very careful before committing to big, important projects that involve a long period of time.
Roxana Lupu: The crisis is so far behind, that nobody seems to think about it anymore, even though there are some concerns on international markets. Companies and brands seem interested in testing new marketing strategies, but are still careful with budgets. We are now in the first semester and the signal is this: there are lots of projects and there is courage from clients on venturing on new territories.
What are the main PR trends that you foresee for this year?
Raluca Mihaila: The PR follows the same trend as other industries, in some aspects, and one of them is specialization. Expertise in one niche. Sure, we can do everything just fine, but we could do one thing brilliant!
That’s why we shall see more and more specialized agencies, like us – medical, finance, government, sports, the list will get longer, for sure. Of course, you have to know your niche very well, you have to be part of the community, in order to know exactly what to say and to whom, besides knowing how to do it right.
Roxana Lupu: PR bites more and more portions of business strategy and its role is evolving towards advising management for every business move. Social media and its tools continue to become more important in the process of communication. Reputation management will continue to need more valid professionals coming from PR and communications area. Courage and dare will make a difference in communication, just as finding a good story and amplifying it over various platforms.
Adrenallina, Sports PR & More is part of Adrenallina Media, that includes also www.adrenallina.ro, the only endurance sports and adventure platform in Romania, in cycling, running, triathlon.
With an impressive background in journalism (she has been working for Adevarul, Evenimentul Zilei, Realitatea TV, etc. for 10 years and 6 months), Roxana entered the PR world in 2013 as a PR Specialist for Reveal Marketing Research. After 11 months she became Group Communication Manager for Golin Harris / Lowe Group. Ger first experience in marketing was at Brightway Training were she combined marketing and PR. Since October 2015 she handles Business Development for Adrenallina, Sports PR & More and the Managing Partner role.
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Management at the Faculty of Management, Raluca entered the PR world as an Account Executive at Lowe & Partners Romania in July 2004. She remained loyal to the communication group right until June 2013 when she left her position of Senior Events Manager at Golin and became Events Manager & PR Consultant at Miharal Services. During her career so far she has won many awards and accolades such as : (2008 – 2010): Gold (Marketing section) with Rexona/ Unilever campaign, Silver (CSR) with Red Cross campaign, 2 Golds (CSR, Budget – creativity +) with Red Cross campaign, Silver (Marketing) with Johnson&Johnson campaign, Silver (Marketing) with Domestos/ Unilever campaign & Agency of the Year 2010 at PR Award Festival; (2011 – 2013): Gold (Internal communication) with Bayer campaign, Silver (Marketing) with Algida/ Unilever campaign, Gold (Healthcare) with SofMedica campaign at PR Award Festival, Winner (media kit) with Domestos/ Unilever campaign at SABRE, Silver (Small companies) with Red Cross campaign at European CSR Awards.
Since October 2015 she is Managing Partner & Events Manager at Adrenallina, Sports PR & More.
Photo Credits: Cristina Bobe | Haart Studio