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Globally PR Creates Processes and Events Covered by Media Free of Charge, However Georgian Reality is Different

In her interview with the Caucasus Business Week (CBW), media manager of GEPRA, Maia Takashvili describes key tendencies in contemporary media space of Georgia.

Maia analyzes whether Georgian media satisfies international standards, outlines factors that hinder Georgian media agencies to enjoy public confidence, names advantages of content marketing, emphasizes process of integration of media and PR directions and formulates the difference between PR and advertisement campaigns.

-Media is considered to be reflecting public tendencies.  Do you agree with this opinion?

-Let’s imagine the world without media! Have you imagined? This is unimaginable! Media is a trend of the society, where it is shaped and then “tasted”. Only society decides whether media “tasteful” and “useful”. The key principle is – nobody should be “envenomed” by it. In the course of time journalistic requirements will change.  Namely, professional journalists should hold multimedia skills – ability to create materials for media outlets, newspaper, network editions and TV channels.

Those, who produce information of universal character that entirely meet individual needs  – starting from a purchase of food products, clothes, search system (where, what and when) and ending with satisfaction of the demand for security, actual information and self-fulfillment – will grow into a “Global Manager”.

In practice, this may be expressed in a joint search interface – website for searching everything without leaving home, including interesting, relevant, important information items. Several years ago media industry launched development in this direction and this process will be continued for several years.

Which media outlets do you follow every day?

-I have been working as a media manager for GEPRA for 12 years. Therefore,  it is necessary to examine  what is written, what is offered and what happens in society, because all the mentioned information helps you in your business. I mainly look through Internet portals, watch news programs, economic talk-shows. We should know very well how media agencies cover this or that issue, what is interesting for them, how and what information they deliver to the society and so on.

Talk about the difference between PR and advertising

-It is famous that PR technologies were established in the USA in XIX-XX centuries, when business started developing and it became necessary to care for consumers and meet their interests and demands. It became also necessary to develop and sell new products and obtain public trust. In the period, «when we were asleep», business sector representatives decided to develop a new system of management that would make influence on public opinion.

Later, PR development in Georgia started at the end of XX century, when the demand for new business activities arose and only advertisements were not efficient. Consequently, the country started introducing new systems, because PR requires a knowledge of various disciplines such as marketing, advertisement, social psychology, management and so on. Even today, frequently PR is erroneously identified with advertisements. Theoretically, difference is simple: you pay money for ADs, while PR creates process and events that are covered by media free of charge. Georgian reality is different. Namely, Georgian media perceives this moment in a different way or in a wrong way and it is very difficult in Georgia to cover PR campaigns free of  charge.

And again, what is the difference… Theoretically, based on Samblack matrix, it is evident: you buy media time and space for advertisements, while for PR you apply a coverage instrument. Advertisement is mainly oriented on market or sales, while PR is oriented on relations and moods and attitudes.

Advertisements are oriented on short-term perspectives, while PR follows both short-term ans long-term goals. As to Gudarini Matrix, advertisement is oriented on a growth in sales, while PR makes focus on shaping an image of sales promotion. Advertisement gives a short-term effect, while PR brings long-term effects. This difference is hardly perceived in Georgian reality.

-What challenges do you face when seeking media coverage?

-When communicating even with traditional media agencies, PR managers mainly use news, as an instrument for raising the interest of media agencies and ensuring coverage. And we seek media coverage, because it spreads information rapidly and the audience trusts it more. Media has access to a wide circle of society and this coverage is free of charge. This «free of charge» sounds quite unbelievably. Anyway, media agencies have evident desire to cover developments in media, while PR consultants or media managers have to pass quite difficult way to reach this goal: «I will tell the producer anyway, but this is for advertisement and I cannot promise»…- reporters give such answers in relation to invitation to events. It is very difficult for any PR manager to hear similar phrases, because this signifies that the news of your client or important event will not be covered and spread without taking additional efforts. Therefore, we follow strange, Georgian standards when communicating with media. Producers, editors of the issue or editors-in-chief of internet news agencies are another issue. Consequently, along with the mentioned disciplines, we also need to know other skills and human resources – circle of friends in media. We should be able to persuade them  that this or that event is important and they are not of advertising character and so on.

What would you consider to be your most creative or effective campaign?

-I am proud of media editions published by GEPRA. The Real Capital’s 8-page insert for the 24 Hours newspaper was one of them. The edition used to fully reflect the developments on Georgia’s real estate market. It was a new player on the market giving assessments by experts on existing situation, advises on where and how to buy apartments. The edition used to describe  tendencies, new projects and so on. This was a very interesting project. I have learned very much from that project. I realized that not only content was necessary for creating high-quality products. Visual aspects also mattered. In practice, I was taking part in working process  and we used to create high-quality products thanks to joint efforts.

Those, who remember this edition, will agree, that various corporate editions came out after that. As to specific media placements, this was in 2004, pre and post campaigns of inauguration of Mardjanishvili branch of TBC Bank. To be precise, I created about 100 articles and news items on the mentioned issue in that period. This was my first project when working in GEPRA.

-What about your best project or period which you take pride in?

-I am proud of this 12-year period. Each day is different in GEPRA and you have to work in various directions and this is very interesting. As to projects, I would name the Forest Week that we have implemented by order of WWF Caucasus. As part of the week, we also founded Association of Environmentalist Journalists and I am also very proud of this fact.

How does PR support content marketing?

-Content marketing is very favorable for communication with media and companies. Media also supports content marketing. Content article differs from an advertising text, while today content marketing is one of the important tendencies of global marketing. Caring for shaping themes and creative supply of messages to customers is also very interesting.

This is our responsibility. Content marketing creates and spreads valuable, timely and necessary information for drawing attention of specific target audience to make impression on it and to shape  behavior. Today, in this direction, info graphics and video info-graphics are one of the most important components, because they visualize the content. As a result, the  content draws the attention and the customer simply perceives information and remembers it for a long period. Today, consumers give preference to the brands that are maximally oriented on needs of consumers, their interests or entertainment aspirations. Content marketing creates valuable and interesting event for consumers. This is a very interesting «invention».

What would you consider to be your most creative or effective campaign?

-I will repeat that the Forest Week was a very creative one, as well as Marneuli Jams Festival, both in Tbilisi and 10 other regions.

What would you do if a client or manager disagreed with your PR strategy? -I have never shared the opinion that the clients are always right. I always try to confirm correctness of my strategy and to make client or manager revise their attitudes by 80%.

Describe a time you trained or mentored a colleagues What personal features are required in similar situations?

-I have been communicating with GAU Tbilisi PR school students for several years and I am their mentor. This is a very interesting process. You help them and learn from them simultaneously. It is a certain passion to implement a project jointly with them and then to introduce this project to society.