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BA (Hons) Public Relations graduate featured in latest 30 Under 30 list from PR Week UK

A greyscale portrait of a smiling man.
  • Written byChloe Murphy
  • Published date20 July 2021
A greyscale portrait of a smiling man.
Image credit: Dima Vasilenco.

During a period of global distance and uncertainty, the ability to build connections has become more vital than ever. In the fast-paced world of Public Relations (PR), brands and organisations have responded to contemporary challenges by reshaping how they communicate with audiences – exploring social landscapes and sparking conversations around cultural issues.

One of the most important catalysts for change in any field can be found in the innovation generated by its early-career professionals. Each year, leading publication PR Week UK celebrates the rising ‘PR stars of the future’ through its 30 Under 30 initiative, which highlights the achievements of high-performing figures in their 20s who demonstrate exceptional skills across a variety of agency and in-house roles. Those chosen for the accolade take part in digital features for the official PR Week website, where they discuss both their career journeys and views on a range of crucial issues. This opportunity not only enables them to showcase their portfolios and current projects, but also raises their profile amongst wider industry networks.

Judged by experts from a range of international organisations such as The PR Network, The Walt Disney Company and Hachette - many of whom were themselves former 30 Under 30 members - the most recent edition of the list featured BA (Hons) Public Relations graduate Dima Vasilenco as one of 2021's most exciting innovators in recognition of his flourishing career.

After graduating from London College of Communication (LCC) in 2015, Dima gained substantial experience at the likes of Edelman and Weber Shandwick before founding his own strategic communications consultancy, Good Advice, which has already begun to expand its scope and presence within international markets.

We caught up with Dima to explore the importance of bringing creativity to professional PR practice, his experience of developing a successful agency, and advice for prospective students who may be interested in exploring their own futures in the field.

A water-colour style graphic printed with the words 'Good Advice' in white text.
Image credit: Good Advice Public Relations.

How did you first become interested in exploring the field of public relations?

I went to art school as a kid, and for me - as for many people around the world with aspirations to study art and design - UAL is a dream destination.

However, in my last years of high school, I started looking for other creative career options, and seriously considered advertising. While doing some deeper research, I learned more and more about PR, and was very interested in what sounded like a job where you have to ‘make people and brands famous’.

I was still dreaming about attending UAL, so shifting my direction from art to PR still meant that I could apply there.

In terms of your practice as a PR professional, are there any particular approaches, themes or areas that you specialise in?

I’ve always been interested in technology, so focusing on PR for technology companies has been a natural choice for me. I’ve been very lucky to work with tech giants such as Google and Microsoft, as well as fast-scaling startups such as ThousandEyes.

Since starting Good Advice, our client focus has become broader than just technology, and also includes the areas of finance, fintech and market intelligence. At the same time, our emphasis on technology continues to run quite deep, and we work with clients in areas like AI, Big Data and Machine Learning.

At the beginning of my career, I was very interested in social media as an element of PR, as well as media insights and analytics. Even though I’ve focused specifically on media relations, these skills were very useful when I started my own agency as we were able to offer these services to our clients.

Being curious in the beginning of your career is very important - and it always pays off!

What inspired you to launch Good Advice, and what do you hope to achieve?

For me, starting my own agency was always a goal. As we all know, luck is when preparation meets opportunity - that’s exactly what happened when I had an opportunity to secure my first client, as well as having enough experience and confidence to manage it.

I'm really aiming to build a major international agency, and to compete with the top agencies I once had a chance to work with myself.

What kinds of clients do you collaborate with?

We work with both fast-growing startups as well as big industry players. This diversity makes our work very interesting, as we’re doing something completely different every day.

Our clients range from companies in the finance sector to AI-focused startups, and they each have their own different goals and priorities. As a result, there’s a lot of strategic planning and creativity involved.

My long-term plan is to keep our focus on these industries, but to diversify our client list as much as possible, as well as further expanding our offering around creative and brand development services.

What are some of the main ways in which you help your clients to overcome their challenges?

When it comes to young companies and startups, we combine creativity and strategy to analyse a business in the deepest detail. We use their expertise along with the most interesting and ‘un-obvious’ parts of their story to amplify their voice in the media.

To do this, it’s important for us to know what’s happening in the media, as well as key trends and discussions. At the same time, it’s important to understand and evaluate our client’s business, then make a connection between the 2. I think this involves an even amount of creative and strategic thinking which makes this process interesting.

Black and red stylised text logo for the PR Week 30 Under 30 listing.
Image credit: PR Week UK.

How did you first find out about the 30 Under 30 opportunity, and how did you get involved?

During my time at LCC, everyone on my course had a student subscription to PR Week. If you’re truly interested in the industry, PR Week offers a great way to familiarise yourself with key people and PR agencies, as well as helping you to generally expand your knowledge.

When I learned about the 30 Under 30 list, being included there became one of my goals. I submitted an application for the list this year as I believed I was ready - I felt that I was at the stage where I’d achieved something that qualified me for it.

How will featuring on the 30 Under 30 list support your practice and career?

It’s essential to have confidence in yourself and what you do. At the same time, outside recognition is very important, as it helps you to set your goals and achieve them. In a sense, you grade your achievements not only by what you have in your mind, but by how others view them. It helps to make sure you’re on the right track – both in your mind, and also in the real world.

Inclusion in the 30 Under 30 list has already opened a lot of doors for me in terms of networking and industry connections, and this year, I’ll also be judging the PR Week Awards, which is a huge honour. It’s surreal to think that I will judge the best work of the most creative people and agencies from around the globe. This is an example of the doors that listings and awards can open for you as a professional.

Why did you decide to apply to BA (Hons) Public Relations at LCC?

I was - and still am - a strong believer that PR is a creative field, and that the best place to study it in London would be at UAL due to its creative environment.

Most importantly, the course tutors and lecturers at LCC were key people from the PR industry who had decades of experience.

What were the major highlights from your time as a student?

I think the best part of studying at UAL is the environment you’re in. You’re exposed to cross-disciplinary artists who you see and build friendships with every day.

While living in Student Halls, my flatmates included a graphic designer, fine artist, fashion journalist, fashion manager, photographer and an architect. You’re not only surrounded by creative people of all sorts, but you also get to collaborate with them throughout your studies, get inspired by what they do, attend a variety of lectures, and explore graduate shows of any creative craft.

Being somewhere like that has a fundamental impact on you as a future creative, and you can definitely see the positive result of it in the way you approach problems and find solutions.

What are your tips and advice for prospective students who may be interested in exploring the world of PR?

Being a student is definitely the best time of your life, not only because of freedom, living alone and parties. When you're a student, you feel invincible, and everyone you know has extremely high ambitions and meaningful goals.

A good example of that is how people approach university assignments. When you receive a task, a problem you need to solve, the solution can be as crazy as you want it to be. There’s no ceiling - the fact that, by default, the solution doesn't necessarily have to be used in real life gives you absolute creative freedom. That’s why the portfolios of university students are the most fearless, bold and creative ones - they have no limits. My key advice is to use this outlook as much as possible. When you’re given a task or an assignment, don’t limit your creativity, and do as much experimenting as possible.

When the majority of people graduate, they feel like they have to build all of their work around client needs, expectations and limitations, as well as the egos of people working with them. 99% of the time, that can bring creativity to zero. Add rent, taxes and all responsibilities of adult life, and, unfortunately, these things can make some new graduates change the course of their careers or settle for smaller goals, so my second piece of advice would be to try to maintain your fearless student mindset throughout your career.

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