Interview with Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director of Sherpa Communications, Business Consultancy & B2B-Focused Communications Agency in Dubai

Interview with Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director of Sherpa Communications, Business Consultancy & B2B-Focused Communications Agency in Dubai

Dubai’s business landscape is vast and ever-evolving. With multiple nationalities coexisting in this cosmopolitan hub, the need for effective communication that transcends diverse cultures is paramount. The role of strategic communication is inevitable in shaping the narrative and success of enterprises. Amidst many PR agencies in the region, Sherpa Communications stands out with its strategies that help businesses traverse the intricate terrain of the market.

From carving a niche in the competitive MENA to spearheading effective campaigns, Sherpa Communications’ narrative is a testament to the indispensable role of PR in the modern business landscape. Explore the success journey of this leading PR firm in Dubai with Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director of Sherpa Communications.

Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director of Sherpa Communications

Anastasiya’s expertise in the field of PR has a depth of 15 years. Starting her career in an in-house PR team, she had limited understanding of the field. Looking for more challenges, she moved to the agency domain where she gained diverse industry experience. The next major turn in her career was when she moved to Dubai where she had to navigate a unique and diverse market. Despite working with top agencies back home, she had to start from scratch in this new city. However, she was able to offer Sherpa her proficiency and knowledge gained from her previous job roles. She was able to restructure, empower, and support the team along with expanding the offerings of the agency.

Sherpa Communications was born seven years ago with a desire to offer more than existing market standards. Positioned as a boutique agency, they provide refined, bespoke services to clients across industries such as telecom, logistics, construction, and information security. Additionally, the team offers detailed business consultations and actively engages in the process.

By focusing exclusively on B2B businesses, Sherpa has been able to distinguish itself from its competitors. Boasting a diverse clientele, including global multinationals and startups, the agency's unique approach is evident in its tailored solutions for clients that belong to challenging industries such as construction, logistics, healthcare, and emerging sectors like blockchain, metaverse, and esports. With their first client from the satellite telecommunications sector, Sherpa exemplifies their fearless approach to pushing boundaries.

In the rapidly evolving world, crafting communication strategies for sectors like blockchain, healthcare, and esports poses unique challenges. The emerging industries are experiencing changes that would typically span decades in just a few years. Speaking about how the team constantly adapts to changes, Anastasiya says,

“The secret of success for us is a constant upskilling of the team. We provide ongoing, constant training for the team, believing in upscaling, reading laws, and learning a lot about the industries where our clients operate.”

This constant upskilling of the team is a result of acknowledging the fact that people form the core of any operation. She also mentions how the team gains the latest insights from their clients helping them to have a better understanding of the market dynamics. This enables them to provide effective business consultancy to their clients. By prioritizing continuous learning and development of the team, Sherpa is able to stay at the forefront of rapidly evolving sectors like fintech and smart mobility. The agency embraces a culture of upscaling, providing mentorship, and guidance from day one.

In an era dominated by digitalization, Sherpa Communications adeptly blends traditional PR practices with cutting-edge digital tools to elevate brand visibility and impact. The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone realize the critical importance of online presence. Anastasiya emphasizes the role of effective tactics encompassing classical PR, digital marketing, and SEO. Sherpa strategically implements these techniques in their PR campaigns for clients, helping them to secure high rankings in Google searches, influencing their online results and overall brand positioning. This integrated approach contributes to the augmentation of brand value rather than just existing online.

The MENA region's diverse language and cultural landscape demands a nuanced approach. With the UAE being home to more than 200 nationalities, the agency recognizes the need for a deep understanding of the market and local knowledge. Given the stark differences between markets like the US or the UK and the MENA region, Anastasiya highlights the importance of strong local expertise. She continues,

“We spend a lot of time training our team and providing media training to clients to ensure culturally sensitive communication."

Sherpa invests significant time in training its team and providing media training to clients, equipping them with the necessary insights into the local media landscape and the do's and don'ts of communication in this market. She also advises PR agencies from other markets to avoid rushing into campaigns as strategies that work in their home countries may not be effective here.

The digital era was able to cause a shift from the notion that PR activities cannot be measured. With the agencies now embracing the digital landscape, Sherpa employs a comprehensive approach to measure the success of its strategies. Anastasiya explains,

"There are a lot of metrics available to assess the effectiveness of each campaign, such as market share, competitor analysis, tone of voice, and coverage results. Digital PR campaigns are effective for clients to be ranked high in Google search and build higher brand value."

For PR agencies, it is important to understand how consumers use keywords in online searches. Leveraging digital SEO teams, automation processes, and analytical tools, Sherpa Communications is able to ensure a data-driven approach to campaign evaluation. She also shares that one of the key elements in obtaining optimal results is to integrate PR tactics and strategies. The agencies should focus on adjusting and refining the campaigns based on real-time data insights.

A crisis in industries like FMCG, healthcare, and aviation affects a wider community and can be felt much faster. Recognizing the swift and far-reaching impact of such crises, the agency emphasizes the necessity for advanced planning. Anastasiya explains,

“Advanced planning involves analyzing potential scenarios and designing communication tools for a quick response."

This involves a meticulous analysis of potential scenarios that could pose risks to a client's business. Sherpa’s proactive approach ensures that they are well-prepared to navigate crises and provide quick responses when working with new clients.

Anastasiya recounts one of the most impactful campaigns done by Sherpa Communications that transcends beyond numerical values. Faced with a distress call from a client seeking funds for a life-saving cause, Sherpa embarked on an unconventional and unpaid awareness campaign. There was skepticism from the journalists as it was a formidable challenge to secure 8 million dirhams in a week. However, through strategic media engagements, they were able to collect the funds and save a life successfully. Anastasiya recollects,

“It was not a paid campaign, but the most important thing was that we could help save someone's life. It shows that being in this profession, we can make a change for someone on a daily basis."

Anastasiya urges startups in the UAE to initiate strategic communication and PR tactics right from the outset. Often, businesses seek PR support after being in operation for several years, but starting early can significantly accelerate growth. With effective PR, the growth plan envisioned for 12 months can be achieved in just six months. This is because PR plays a pivotal role in building brand awareness, establishing business value, and attracting investors and customers. Regularly updating websites and social media is crucial, and individual profiling of leadership is equally significant. She asks the startup founders to prioritize personal profiling to enhance brand visibility drawing the examples of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs and how the public associates their brand to their names.

Looking towards the future, Sherpa Communications anticipates the unpredictable nature of the business communication and PR landscape. Embracing each day as a new challenge, the agency emphasizes the need for constant adaptation in a world where events in one part of the globe can swiftly impact their clients.

As the world is shifting towards online space, Anastasiya advises businesses, especially those still operating offline, to enhance their visibility through websites and social media. She highlights that strategic communication is a powerful tool that should be applied early to shape a positive brand narrative. She urges businesses to take control of their communication to influence results, as the alternative is leaving it to others to define their narrative.

Anchored in experience, innovation, and a commitment to making a positive impact, Sherpa Communications continues to scale new heights in the dynamic world of B2B PR and business consulting.

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