Ketevan Galumashvili who has 19-year working experience in various fields in Georgia, talked with Caucasus Business Week about her career path and peculiarities of communications and public relations.
Working in PR field does not enable to relax and we remain in the regime of permanent development, learning and gaining experience. This is not an easy way. At the same time, this is a certain stimulus for me, because I always strive for personal perfection.
-Which media outlets do you follow?
-Following media and having knowledge of peculiarities of media outlets is a necessary component in the life of a PR manager. My job inspires me to stay informed about current developments, novelties and tendencies. Business Radio is the best business informer while traveling to my office from home. This radio station provides a lot of interesting news and competent information.
A major part of our society receives news on current developments mainly from the social media. I am not an exception either. Even more, I spend a major part of daytime at social networks. I actively follow several internet portals. Naturally, I also watch TV programs, especially news programs.
-Talk about the difference between PR and advertising.
– This is a disputable issue and a subject of continuous discussions. I do not know why these two directions are compared to each other? They are absolutely different fields and they should not be identified with each other. At the same time, even if we maximally differentiate Advertisement and PR directions, they have certain points of contact anyway.
This is a sophisticated issue and therefore, I prefer to talk about my attitude to them. Naturally, this attitude is very personal and intimate.
Before coming to GEPRA, I had worked in various fields and offices, both in state and private organizations on various positions: I used to be manager of client relations, quality manager, chief social agent, expert of licensing and accreditation manager, staff selection manager and so on. I have taken efforts everywhere… I have a 19-year working experience!
I have worked for one of the leading advertising companies as an advertising agent, then as a projects manager, a manager of clients relation and a quality manager. However, advertisement is not mine.
GEPRA – I have been working on the position of a PR consultant for 10 years. This is quite different experience, other relations and other competences. Working in this field enabled me to evaluate my potential impartially.
Working in PR field needs much energy, frequently, night work, even on weekends. As a result, person becomes stress-resistant and tough.
If you once enter the PR world, then it is difficult to abandon the field… The same happened to me – I cannot renounce it! I believe I have selected the right path.
-Would you name the best period that you take pride in?
– My job at GEPRA covers diverse and different directions and is full of challenges. Working in PR field does not enable to relax and we remain in the regime of permanent development, learning and gaining experience. This is not an easy way. At the same time, this is a certain stimulus for me, because I always strive for personal perfection. This includes irrational expectations and standards that I set to myself and that are combined with intense activity, unlimited efforts for overcoming obstacles.
-Which of your campaigns was the most creative and efficient?
-Forest Week is the most important project. It is my authorial project. I have worked on ideas, slogans, content and implementation ways. Forest Week was implemented by order of the Caucasus representation of WWF.
As part of Forest Week, we have also shaped Association of Environmentalist Journalists with the aim to ensure right communication and popularization on environment protection issues.
I would also name social virus campaign – Air on Sale. Objective of the campaign was to halt environment pollution, ensure forest preservation and reduce air pollution.
Besides sensitive themes such as environment protection, I have a different attitude to this project, despite I have been an author and organizer of other similar creative and large-scale projects (Marneuli Mrinades and Jams Festival, Margebeli Holding Agricultrue Tour, Natakhtari Lemonade and Beer Tours and so on) At this stage of my life, when I was facing serious problems, I had to make this project in crisis period. I put huge efforts in this project and I loved it like my child and saved it. In short, this project is an absolutely different feeling and emotion…. I love it!
-How do you integrate social media with PR?
-Along with Internet development and growth in quantity of Internet users, the role of social media rises more and more. Important feature that differentiates social media from traditional media is that its main part is created by consumers.
Information dissemination process has been simplified. Moreover, social media enables interaction. Users are able to express their opinion on products and services, while business sector receives information on the consumer’s attitude and this enables to improve products and services.
We are able to talk with the audience through social media like a friend, we are able to understand their mood. Public Relations is also a permanent and purposeful communication, this is a dialogue between an organization and a person and target audience, that is directed to satisfying bilateral interests.
-How would you present the results of your work?
-When you are fully involved in the working process and make accents on valuable implementation of the project, make right assessment and analysis, control the implementation process – Believe me – desirable result is guaranteed!
In any organization, control is an inseparable part of the management activities and its importance is indisputable. Control is an objective necessity. It enables a manager to control comparability of the organization activity with determined norms and standards and receive information on reasons of the results upon completion of the work.
Control over the working process is also necessary for feedback and this factor determines efficiency of the working process.
Feedback from clients, management, colleagues plays a key role in evaluating the working results. Feedback ensures necessary information and motivation for planning the further working process. Therefore, I am always ready and open for evaluation, including negative and positive ones.
-What would you do if a client or manager disagreed with your PR strategy?
-When preparing a project offer, I collect information on the customer’s objectives and tasks in advance, analyze general tendencies and market ratio, its peculiarities and competitors. When all aspects are analyzed and substantiated, consequently, this is a commencement of efficient strategy.
To be true, I have not faced similar radical objections in practice. Maybe because I perform much more job and work at initial phase than a PR consultant needs. This is my personal feature – maximalism and perfectionism. This factor is frequently misused in Georgian reality (my ideas are often stolen). In short, when there are similar «objections», we correct and make certain changes to strategy and project offers jointly with clients.
-What would you say about your team members? What is their role?
-I can say that today I have been working with the team that gives a key priority to devotion, hardworking and purposefulness. All new projects that we develop jointly brings a pleasant and responsible process. We teach each other, assist each other and we grow in this process.
Successful projects of all our colleagues teach others and they become examples for us, to a certain degree.
-Describe a time you trained or mentored a colleague. What personal features are required in similar situations?
– I will unveil that I am a labor organization psychologist by profession, to be precise, human resource manager. I have certain experience in selection of staff and providing consultations. I am also a certified trainer in communications and have experience of participation in various trainings.
As to my experience as a mentor, I have been GAU PR School projects mentor for the past 3 years. Jointly with other members of GEPRA company, I work on various presentation themes with the PR school students, on shaping communication strategy and preparation-presentation of project offers.
Like any other fields, the position of a mentor requires certain professional features. The key factor that determines quality and success of a presentation project is related to the person of a mentor, his/her professionalism – knowledge, skills and personal features.
Knowledge of teaching principles, group management skills, ability of peaceful, comfortable communication with people, listening and clear transmission of information – these are important characteristics for a mentor. A mentor should be able to create necessary emotional mood and teaching motivation in a group.
Besides professional experience, PR school has introduced me to many interesting people. This is a very friendly and diverse relations. PR School means relations!
-What’s interesting about our current PR work? What would you improve?
– This field does not enable to make a break, stand on the same place. You are in continuous passion, searching process, development and action process, always mobilized and concentrated. In short, you are always ready!
There is higher demand for business and political PR. Despite this, PR field is a growing segment. I think that the healthier competition between companies, political bodies and the more they realize the importance of reputation, the more the demand for high-qualified PR specialists will increase. And they will not seek any fresh-baked PR agencies, as it happens today.