Go Aragón interviews the Communication and Customer Relations Manager of Grupo Avanza, who reviews her career and analyzes the media landscape of the Community.
Ana Rodríguez is the Communications and Customer Relations Manager of Grupo Avanza in Zaragoza, the company in charge of the city’s urban bus service concession. Born in Logroño, although based in the Aragonese capital for some years now, her professional career has allowed her to work as a journalist in various media, both in La Rioja and Zaragoza, and, subsequently, to approach the field of corporate communication with experiences such as the one she had in the Chamber of Commerce.
In December you will be three years in charge of Avanza’s communications, how has this period been?
It has been very intense and a great learning experience for me. In this life you are always learning and, in this profession of ours, constantly. I have reinvented myself several times and this one has been at a different level. I had already been working on the business side at the Chamber of Commerce, which is really a business school because you learn all the casuistry that can exist around any type of company, but coming to work on it ‘in situ’ at a company like Avanza has been like an accelerated master’s degree in many aspects. Of course, in terms of communication, working on customer relations, which is also another of the pillars of my department, but then, little by little, integrating myself into the workings of a company like this one, which has everything. A company that has been operating for so many years, which is also a municipal concession, which adds a greater complexity… it has been very interesting and I am still learning.
You have just spent five years at Cámara de Zaragoza, what memories do you have of that period?
Everything, fabulous. I have incredible memories. The Chamber is something very special, what is done there, people should know about it. Because there is a team that works on multiple tasks, the services provided are very extensive and it is a very beloved institution. Everything comes together, the institutional part, the public part, the training… it is a very varied work, never boring. And to be in charge of communication there, which is transversal to all areas, is a luxury because you get to know everyone. And the number of companies from Aragon that I met. That’s where I realized the cliché, but it is a classic, what a lot of good things we do here in Aragon and people don’t know about it. It is true, what ‘entrepreneurs’ we have here and we don’t know it.
In terms of communication, is it very different for an institution like the Chamber of Commerce than for a company the size of Avanza?
Yes, it is different. The Chamber, a priori, is a beloved institution. It is a different type of communication. Here crisis communication comes into play, which plays an important role. And it is a public service that is subject to a lot of daily contingencies. It involves more stress and, perhaps, a lesser degree of planning. Although planning is very important, you have to be a little more flexible. Yes, they are different points, although what you learn in one is useful in the other.
By the way, you have also worked in journalism for years. Does it change a lot to be the one who asks the questions or the one who has to answer them?
Yes and no. And, of course, it helps a lot to have worked before in different types of media to better understand the needs that journalists have and to transmit that to your spokespersons. You are the person who has to be the transmission thread between the media and management, and vice versa, and try to make that flow as smooth and bidirectional as possible. Knowing what you need, at what time and in what way the radio, TV, the press, a digital publication, a local or national media… having pecked around a bit in many of them, it does help. Everything contributes, I think that, at this point, the profile of a person is being built; everything is a trade.
And don’t you sometimes miss being on the other side?
Yes, if there’s one thing I miss a lot, it’s the radio. Here, in Aragón, it’s something I haven’t done too much, I was occasionally at Aragón Radio, but in La Rioja, it was in Logroño, where I’m from, where I was really trained and I made practically my entire professional career. And that is something that gets inside you and, when I see the media or when we go to a radio station, I feel an emotion… with television, too, but it is so complex… radio has magic and it doesn’t go away with the years.
You have worked for La Sexta, Aragón Televisión, Aragón Radio, El Diario…
Yes, in some cases they have been brief collaborations. In El Diario I collaborated with some reports, in Aragón Radio I did institutions, but it has been great for me, precisely to know how all kinds of media work. And how they work here. You take something from everything, which leads you to the following.
And how do you evaluate the media landscape in Aragon?
It’s very interesting, very broad, very varied and there are great professionals in all of them. I have never had a problem either here or in the Chamber, or when I was working in the media itself. I think it is very mature and that there is a renewal that is being done very well. There have been some very consecrated media, with some very consecrated journalists, who have given journalism in Aragon a renown outside of here. They are people who are retiring, or are devoting themselves to other issues, and there is an interesting change; this is also observed from outside, there are other voices, there are other firms… and this is enriching. The truth is that, as in so many other things in Aragón, journalism should also be one of them. And this is what a woman from La Rioja tells you, who sees it in a different way.
And here, do you already feel at home?
Yes, completely. I’m a maña by adoption. It’s very nice here, the truth is that the city gives you a great welcome. I think there is a lot of similarity between here and Logroño, even the cities, saving, obviously, the difference in size, are similar. They have a center where everyone goes, greets each other and meets each other, there is a lot of street life, despite the weather, which is better there; it rains, but it’s not the same. And there are a lot of Riojans here.
What is the most important thing when it comes to managing the communication of a company like Avanza?
As I have said, first of all, to listen a lot, to learn a lot from what the people who make up the company do, because there are very different areas. A lot of work is done and there is a lot of communication work to be done. So, we have to listen, we have to talk to all the areas, walk around a lot, see what is being done, in order to value it. That, on the one hand. On the other hand, we have to be attentive to the peculiarities of this company. And Avanza Zaragoza is part of a big company, so we have to pay attention to that part of corporate communication that emanates from Madrid, but which also has a bidirectional nature. Zaragoza is one of the main farms and we are very much taken into account. And then there is the city council; we are a municipal concession, we are part as a public service of a municipal approach and it is our main client.
Then, there is also a marketing component that is carried out from this area, from promotional campaigns. And the fourth part is the customers, another part that we have to listen to in order to reach them. The customer speaks to us through the communications they make, the claims, the complaints, but also the suggestions, the comments and everything that comes to us through multiple channels; Twitter, email, the website… all of that has to be listened to as well. And, once you have all that information, you make your own strategy.
For this, the important thing is the team. We have ten people in the area, we are all women and the truth is that they have helped me a lot. I came from outside, I didn’t know the peculiarities of this company or the sector, which has its own thing. There was a lot to learn and the truth is that they have helped me a lot. It is a multidisciplinary team and they come from all areas; they are very diverse profiles that are very good for me to nurture those four necessary parts.
Do you think the glass ceiling still weighs heavily in the field of communication?
I think that in communication, precisely, no. Others have played the role before. Others have played the role before, surely, but right now I think it is not a problem; on the contrary, it is very common to find women leading, more and more frequently. I think that, in communication, yes, and in the media, it is being achieved little by little, the truth is that most of the directors are men, but that is also changing. Before it was unthinkable.
Do people from Zaragoza look for a relationship with the company?
Very much so. Interactions with customers have evolved and have increased exponentially in recent years, because now it is much easier. Before, you only had the telephone, practically. E-mail is still the star. Electronic media, in general, are gaining a lot of ground. And, above all, what we are seeing is a great receptivity on the part of the user.
Off the menu
A place to eat…
La Bamba specializes in gluten-free cuisine.
A corner of Aragon…
Parque Grande, it’s in front of the Chamber of Commerce and I love to see that tower. And Villanúa, which is now beautiful at this time of the year.