On the frontlines in Ukraine: Communicating in the fog of war

Julia Petryk on Smoke Signal Podcast

Most PR practitioners are used to managing issues. In fact, many thrive most when they are in the midst of a major crisis. But what about war? That is the situation that has faced Julia Petryk, Head of PR at MacPaw, since Russia invaded Ukraine at the start of 2022.

MacPaw, is a software development company that has apps installed on one in every 5 Mac computers worldwide.  It has 30 million users and 500 staff with its headquarters being in Kyiv, Ukraine.

“PR as a business function is so critical and when you’re facing difficulties like a war it is becomes so obvious…. I would like to inspire others –even though they may not work under such stressful conditions – that PR does matter.” 

Creating the PR Army

The Ukrainian PR Army was formed on day one of the invasion with the single aim of using our weapon for fighting for truth – the word. Since then it has been fighting against Russian propaganda, fighting misinformation and fighting for truth.

“With the PR Army we found the most effective way of fighting for truth is by giving access to the truth – through eyewitnesses, and through experts.”

Working from the bathtub

During air raid attacks, Ukrainians are advised to go to a bomb shelter. If it is not possible then they work in hallways or bathrooms – as they don’t have windows.

To bring much deserved attention to this stark reality faced by Ukrainians today a mock creative agency has been created – Bathtub Creative as a communication campaign to raise awareness and funds.

The power of purpose

Julia is working under such stressful conditions yet maintains motivated to do so much because of an underlying alignment of purpose in what she is doing.

“I am doing everything that I do for my very selfish goal that my grandchildren have the option to live in Ukraine. I want to preserve my country for future generations for the future. It really drives me and gives me so much energy.”

How can we help? 

Julia calls any and all help appreciated. She urges people to check out the Ukrainian PR Army and the Bathtub Creative website, visit the MacPaw Foundation and if you can donate time, expertise, money – resources are desperately needed.

And here is a very heartfelt thank you from the people of Ukraine 

Published by Paul

Paul Cheal is an experienced financial and corporate communications leader with over 20 years’ experience working with Australian and global brands to build and protect their reputation.
He is a former journalist and an experienced academic, having been a casual tutor and lecturer at University of Technology, Sydney, teaching PR and communication to undergraduate and post graduate students. With a Masters of Public Communication from UTS as well as a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), Paul is passionate about Public Relations, this podcast is an opportunity to speak with key practitioners, academics, leaders and influencers from across the profession.