WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Willard, a full-service marketing communications firm headquartered in Kyiv, has been approved for membership in the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) by the USUBC’s executive committee.  “Willard is pleased to join forces with the USUBC in an effort to strengthen Ukraine and create greater opportunities for bilateral trade,” said agency Chairman J. Michael Willard.


Willard is engaged in advertising, public relations, government relations, and training work.  It has offices in Moscow and Istanbul in addition to its headquarters in Kyiv.  With the addition of Willard, the USUBC is comprised of over 190 companies and organizations with business operations, investments or other development programs in Ukraine.

Willard said that his agency is the oldest public relations agency currently doing business in Ukraine, and one of the country’s first advertising agencies as well, dating back to 1994. Willard entered the Russian market in 2001 and the Turkish market in 2005.

The company represents some of the largest companies in the region, but also works with entrepreneurial start-ups. “Entrepreneurship is our heritage, too,” Willard said. “At our essence, we’re problem solvers who can develop solutions for any business.”

Willard Advertising works under the premise that the best ad award an agency could ever win would be a graph showing that a client's sales were on the rise.  “That's really the only thing the advertising industry should care about – results,” said Tatiana Spiridonova, president of Willard Advertising. 

“Over the years, Willard has had success in advertising with clients including Kraft, Philip Morris, Danone, Bel Groupe/Shostka, and telecoms like Astelit, MTS, and UTEL.  We’ve worked with Ramstore in Russia, and with System Capital Management and Metinvest here in Ukraine, just to name a few.”

She said the agency has worked with some clients for more than a decade. “That’s unusual in our business,” she said, adding, “I think it speaks equally to the quality of our relationships and to the quality of our work.”

Willard’s work with Kraft has spanned a dozen years.  Notably, Willard re-introduced the Korona brand for Kraft, and made it Ukraine's most famous chocolate tablet after teaming up with Ani Lorak, a rising young singer.  Willard helped make Philip Morris’ Bond Street cigarette brand the No. 1 seller in its category, using vivid images and promotions.  Willard has worked with Philip Morris for 14 years.

Willard teamed up with Danone from the moment Danone entered Ukraine 12 years ago, launching every brand they have introduced to the country until 2009.  Willard became Danone's first PR agency in

Ukraine.  Willard won the Shostka cheese account prior to Shostka’s acquisition by Groupe Bel, and has continued offering winning advertising strategies for "real cheese." 

By design, Willard is both a public relations firm and an advertising agency.  “We believe that the two disciplines complement one another,” said company CEO Olga Willard. “After all, we believe that both advertising and PR are about the effective delivery of messages.”

“Public relations is about crisis management, brand recognition, promotions, and just giving good strategic advice on issues that could become problems that could become crises,” said Roman Diukarev, president of Willard PR. 

“We have handled everything from a major Olympic bid in Moscow to launching telecommunications services in Kyiv. Internally, and through regional affiliates, we have the ability to reach out from the Baltics and Eastern Europe to Russia’s Far East. This helps us to communicate effectively.”

Corporate crisis work is a Willard PR specialty. Diukarev is an unflappable crisis expert, generally considered one of the best in Eastern Europe, and Michael Willard literally wrote the book on PR in Eastern Europe. Willard's public relations practices are located in Kyiv, Moscow and Istanbul.

“For years, Willard has offered the most authoritative corporate media training in the region,” said Scott H. Lewis, the Willard executive vice president who heads training programs offered by the firm. “Eventually, clients asked what other training we offered.” There are plenty of training companies in Ukraine, Lewis said, adding that most buy training packages ‘of the shelf’ and resell them.

“We fill a different niche.  We determine what a client’s needs are, then develop training especially for them,” he said. “We’re the bespoke tailor of the training world.  As a result, our training tends to be more expensive than off-the-shelf courses, ' also the most effective training Available anywhere.”

Willard Leadership Training offers courses in public speaking, presentations, effective writing, and business prospecting and networking, as well as media and crisis training.   
THE WILLARD PRINCIPLES:  MICHAEL WILLARD, Chairman and Chief Imagination Officer

J. Michael Willard has had a varied career as a newsman, a political and policy advisor to U.S. Senators, senior public relations and advertising counselor, an author, a publisher and an entrepreneur. 

Before founding The Willard Group, he was managing director and market leader of Burson-Marsteller's operations in Russia and Ukraine, supervising public relations, research, governmental relations, special events and advertising services.

Since September 2011, Willard has served as chief executive officer of the Kyiv Post, Ukraine’s most respected English-language newspaper. He writes a bi-weekly column, Back Story, for the paper.

Willard has worked in Eastern Europe for 18 years. In 1998, he purchased the Kyiv office of Burson-Marsteller and formed The Willard Group Companies.

In 2001, the company opened a Moscow office and in 2005 an Istanbul office. Willard launched B-M's first commercial operation in Ukraine in 1996, and in 1997 helped lead the Russian B-M team to a successful transition from government-funded projects to commercial work.

First coming to the former Soviet Union in 1994, Willard led B-M's largest government funded project in the region, the Ukraine Market Reform Education Program. During this period, Willard provided counsel to the Bosnian government in Sarajevo on issues not resolved in the Dayton Peace Accords, working directly with the prime minister.  Prior to joining B-M, Willard was president and owner of U.S.-based Willard & Associates for nearly a decade before selling the advertising/public relations agency to his employees.

Willard was director of U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd's Democratic Leader's office when Byrd held that position, also serving in the capacity of communications, foreign affairs and domestic policy advisor for seven years. Joining Byrd's office as press secretary, Willard quickly became a top advisor, traveling with Byrd to visit world leaders in the senator's capacity as an emissary for President Jimmy Carter.

As an advisor to Byrd, Willard organized discussions with TV networks that led to the first televised coverage of the U.S. Senate, and he produced the first opposition party television response to the President’s State of the Union message, a practice that is common today.

Additionally, Willard led various Senate Democratic Policy Committee and intelligence Committee staff delegations to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Panama in the 1980s, meeting with government officials, opposition parties and guerrilla leaders. Wanting to open a business in West Virginia, Willard first returned to the state as Communications Director for then-Gov. John D. Rockefeller IV.  Willard served as a political advisor to Rockefeller in his successful bid to win a U.S. Senate seat.

Prior to joining Byrd, Willard was manager of United Press International’s Kentucky and, later, West Virginia bureaus. Early in his career, Willard was a reporter for various newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Times. He covered civil rights actions throughout the South, and the early lunar shots at Cape Canaveral. Willard first joined Burson-Marsteller in the firm's Washington office, heading the media group and participating with the crisis simulation and media training teams.

Willard is the author of six non-fiction works: Dancing With the Bear: Crisis Management in Eastern Europe (April 2000); The Accidental Headline, a media training book (2001); The Flak: A PR Journey (2003); The Portfolio Bubble: Surviving Professionally at 60 (2005); The Silverback Diaries (on-line, 2007) and The Optimistic Alien (2011). The Flak was released in 2004 in Russian as PRschik (PR man).

In his spare time, Willard is a painter, having held three one-man exhibitions in noted Kyiv galleries.   A native of Vidalia, Georgia, Willard calls Charleston, West Virginia home. He is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in advertising and marketing.

OLGA WILLARD, Chief Executive Officer
For the last two years, Olga Willard has served as CEO of Willard, successfully guiding the agency through challenging economic times for most Ukrainian small businesses and significantly adding clients in public relations and advertising to the agency's portfolio.

Managing a team of 35 in Kyiv and helping coordinate business activities in Moscow, Istanbul and with a partner agency in London, Willard has emerged as one of the leading forces in Ukrainian public relations. An accomplished trainer, she conducts executive training sessions in media, crisis and public speaking training. She is writing a book, The Communications Paradigm, with her husband, Michael Willard.

Willard has worked in the communications sector for nearly 15 years, and joined Willard in 2005 as senior strategic planner.  She has handled accounts in the telecommunications, fast-moving consumer goods, and real estate and hospitality industries.  After beginning her career with a short stint in an American advertising agency, Willard has taken advanced courses in London, Amsterdam, Budapest and Istanbul.


"USUBC is very pleased to be working with Mike Willard, Olga Willard, Tatiana Spiridonova, and Scott Lewis at Willard." said Morgan Williams,  President, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC). "Mike has been an outstanding and very creative leader in the marketing and communications business in Ukraine for over 18 years and will represent Willard on the USUBC board of directors," Williams stated.

For additional information about Willard go to: http://www.twgworld.com/en/.

New members of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) in year 2012 include the following twenty-one companies: Arzinger law firm; Bank Kontrakt; BDO LLC Ukraine; Cub Energy; DuPont Ukraine LLC; Encom Group; EPAM USA PLLC; HPI, LLC; Intel Ukraine; Invenergy LLC; McLarty Associates; NEI (New Energy Innovation); Pioneer Hi-Bred Ukraine LLC; Public-Private Partnership Development Program (P3DP)/ FHI 360; Raven Industries; SC Johnson; Sunrise Agro; TD International; Vanco Prykerchenska Ltd; Willard; and the World Federation of Ukrainian Medical Associations. 

USUBC membership has grown rapidly during the past six years. Membership now stands at over 190. In January 2005 membership was eight; two years later it had grown to 22; in January 2009 it reached 100; and in January of 2011 topped 150. A complete list of USUBC members can be found at: http://www.usubc.org/members.php. For a list of the USUBC board of directors go to:http://www.usubc.org/site/u-s-ukraine-business-council-board-of-directors.