The Joy of Achievement and the Thrill of Creative Effort: The exclusive interview with Evgeniya Kuzmina
Evgeniya Kuzmina, partner and director of communications and PR at the SPLASH agency, has made a significant contribution to the industry in the recent decade. In this interview with the CEOWORLD Magazine, she reflects on her career path and shares her insights about achieving success and overcoming challenges.
Q: Please share a bit about your professional journey.
Evgeniya Kuzmina: I chose the PR & Communications field from an early age at university. I got my bachelor’s degree in strategic communications from Moscow State University, and later a master’s in mass communications from San Josè State University.
First, I worked as PR manager for 20th Century Fox projects and later as Senior PR & Account manager at top marketing agencies. Now I am a Partner and Director of Creative Communications & PR at SPLASH agency.
SPLASH is a team of public relations, communications, and integrated campaigns experts. Since 2015, we have been developing successful concepts, strategies, brand platforms, digital campaigns, and events to help companies reach their target audience. SPLASH is more than a sound; it also represents resonance, effect, and sensation. It embodies our entire approach. In addition to being a partner, I held the position of Director of Communications and headed up our U.S.-based office.
Q: What is your primary expertise? And what do you do daily as a partner and director of communications in the SPLASH agency?
Evgeniya Kuzmina: SPLASH is a boutique agency, meaning that my partner Catherine and I are personally involved in every stage of the project’s implementation. But I believe my strong suit is performing creative tasks.
For instance, I develop creative concepts and communication strategies for brands and direct the design of all visual assets produced by my team of graphic artists. I have loved writing since childhood, so I have been involved a lot in copywriting and authoring all materials required for our communication campaigns, such as press releases, catchy slogans, briefs to influencers, etc. I create and curate the proposed strategies for PR campaigns, for instance, by selecting PR channels, media outlets, influencers, and opinion leaders. Working with such creative and unique people is another significant part of my job that I appreciate.
Q: What is the SPLASH team best at? How is it different from its competitors?
Evgeniya Kuzmina: I believe that our significant involvement in every project and working alongside clients are our greatest strengths. In large agencies, owners usually delegate all the tasks to employees, which can negatively affect the motivation of the team and the quality of its work.
Moreover, my partner and I have experience in every aspect of PR & Communications and can help our team when needed. I started in the communications industry from scratch: I was an intern, junior, and senior PR manager. This career path allowed me to become an expert in creating communication strategies and creative concepts for brands, writing texts, art direction, media management, SMM, creating events, influencer marketing, etc. On the contrary, leadership in many other communication agencies specializes in a limited number of areas, such as media management.
At SPLASH, we build a team specifically for each project. We have worked in top marketing agencies for many years, and we have an extensive network of contacts we collaborate with. This gives us flexibility and the opportunity to work with the most talented professionals and ensures that all team members are passionate and motivated by this niche, project, and client.
Q: What was the most significant challenge you faced in your career?
Evgeniya Kuzmina: A career in communications is mostly about people, and we must operate in a rapidly changing and unstable environment. I think every step of my journey was a challenge to some extent. But probably the biggest challenge for me was becoming an agency partner after I was an employee. It instantly caused another level of responsibility and risk. At the same time, it exposed me to many tasks, new opportunities, more freedom, and rapid growth – both professional and personal.
And another major challenge that I should mention is one that I am still overcoming, is opening and developing an agency branch in another country, especially in such a competitive industry as PR & Communications.
But honestly, I enjoy challenges. I firmly believe that overcoming obstacles makes you a better version of yourself and allows you to achieve such heights in your career that you didn’t think were possible in a predictable, comfortable environment.
John F. Kennedy once famously said, “When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and opportunity.” I would like to perceive challenges the same way and turn them into opportunities.
Q: What project are you most proud of?
Evgeniya Kuzmina: I love my job because every project is different and unique – various industries, briefs, clients, and countries. That is why I am proud of all of our projects. But the one that came to mind first was when my team and I were creating the communication platform for Birthright Israel (Taglit).
Birthright is a non-profit educational organization that sponsors free ten-day trips to Israel for young adults of Jewish heritage. This educational trip allows young people to visit Israel and experience all the amazing things it offers. I had a chance to go myself. So, when they became one of our clients, I wanted to use all my expertise and experience in PR & Communications to tell more people about this unique opportunity.
The chance to walk through the picturesque streets of Jaffa and the local antique shops of the Shuk Ha Pishpishim market, climb the roofs of Jerusalem houses and Masada Mountain, taste delicious falafel in Mahan Yehuda, drink tea with Bedouins in the desert, relax on the surface of the Dead Sea and, of course, make new friends. But the most important thing is to get a chance to know your own identity and the heritage of your ancestors better.
Our agency’s goals were to increase the brand’s visibility within the target audience and ensure the growth of the number of young Jews registered for the trip on an official website. Eventually, we developed a communication platform called “The journey about yourself,” created and published several special projects and articles in media and posts on opinion leaders’ social media, and made a video clip for target advertisement.
In one month, our efforts resulted in 1,000 new registered people (5% conversion) to the Taglit program.
Q: How would you define success?
Evgeniya Kuzmina: Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” For me, success is the same thing: it means that you can do what you enjoy doing with whom you want and where you want. To have the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day, knowing that your knowledge and expertise are helping other people and companies, is a valid reward. But most of all, to have the privilege to remain yourself and surround yourself with people who motivate you to become a better version of yourself each day.
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