Caucasus Business week interviewed Natalia Zueva, founder and director of PR Office GE PR and Events Agency, where she talked about her profession, first job and shared her experience in Public Relations field.
Who are you, by profession?
I am a journalist by profession and I hold an MA degree in journalism. Initially, I was interested in this field, but over the course of time, I realized I had given my best in this field and moved to the PR field. I keep close ties with media field and I appreciate my former colleagues. Although, I do not regret this decision.
Your first job place.
I started my first job at the Caucasus Press news agency. Later, I worked for many other media agencies – radio stations, TV stations and so on. In total, I have worked in the journalism field for 9 years.
Current job place and position.
After the journalism field, I entered the PR direction by working for several companies. Before opening my agency, I was working jointly with a professional PR manager, Tornike Guruli, at the Sarke advertising holding. Seven years ago, Sarke suspended operation and I founded a PR Office, GE PR agency. Ever since, I have been leading this company. However, our company is not confined solely by the PR field. We also organize events, provide branding jobs, technical support, content packing to Fourchette. We also own suitable equipment with numerous professional staff and so on.
Your first success.
Both small and big successes make me happy. I treat both small and big projects with equal determination and responsibility. I really like achieving success and this inspiration strengthens me. The more business, the more I do. And I never get tired.
Projects that you are proud of even today
I have been and will be always workaholic. Before the birth of my Daughter, I treated my projects like children: I cared for them, gave them tremendous importance, and was proud of them. Even today, I maintain this attitude. It was very interesting to work with British Burberry. It is not easy to satisfy their standards. They are very meticulous. When they entered the market and when we were getting ready for the store opening ceremony, we showed them the DJ equipment two weeks earlier. Even the USB connectors, organized the test panel of the buffet, determined the exact distances between canapes, serving platters, the colors, shapes, and structures of the speakers. They requested for the cables were to be invisible everywhere. So, we put them into special panels and hid on the whole territory of the store. They have their standards in the PR field too and we have followed and satisfied these standards.
Field, where you would never work.
I deliberately do not work on PR of political parties. For many years, my team and I have been assisting only business companies to promote their activities. In these cases, it does not matter whether the company is a famous European clothing brand that we inaugurate with solemn ceremonies or a corn and grain field (where, we had presentations in rainy, muddy and burning sunny weather). We are able to implement projects and PR campaigns in all regions of the country.
What makes a person successful in the PR field? Besides knowledge, what special features are required?
You should be disciplined. Day and night, you must think and work hard without complaining to overcome all difficulties. Intuition and instinct are also very important. You should be resistant to stress. You may be an educated person, but it is important to realize that it is impossible to treat different projects identically. It is always necessary to demonstrate new ideas and channels of communication. Lately, old regulations and traditions have lost importance. The internet and social networks have made a revolution in this field and changes continue through an intense regime.
Is it possible today, in Georgia, to meaningfully study PR? Or is international knowledge and experience necessary?
As I have previously mentioned, we have very a good specialist and trainer in Georgia, Tornike Guruli. He is a very successful PR manager with a European education. He continuously works on his personal growth and his lectures are very popular. Therefore, I believe interested individuals in this field can receive valuable knowledge and experience from Tornike Guruli.
Is PR field perceived and understood in Georgia in its classical form?
The classical form of PR has changed significantly – the digital platform has made a major part of old tendencies questionable. Technology is developed quickly. Previously, it was sufficient to just be involved in media. However, now, if you ignore the internet, this signifies you do not exist in business. Today, innovations are spread every second. The working process has been accelerated, while, several years ago, information was sent by fax. The field has developed and changed dynamically and quickly. Therefore, even leading PR specialists find it difficult to make forecasts about the form and future of the PR field.
Some specialists say that the PR field is disappearing. Others view the changes more optimistically and say that PR has a future even though everything is changing shape, including the communication with reporters, the selection of communication channels and the form of a press release.
It should be noted that something that does not change the interests and visions of clients will not be represented in the best way.
How easily do you manage to settle critical situations? Do these situations influence the quality of your working process?
Critical situations are the norms of a company. You should always be prepared for critical situations. The most interesting example from our experiences was the restriction of the Askaneli Brothers brandy in Russia. We promptly organized a news conference, invited specialists, competent bodies and arranged a media tour to the plant for emphasizing the quality of beverages. We showed the laboratory, the production process and explained the strict and multilevel controls our products pass. We also wrote about obtained awards. Thus, timely reactions are required in critical periods, accurate messages should be spread and clear plans should be submitted. Frequently, critical situations create opportunities to direct the business to desirable directions and stress main values of the company or product.
An interesting episode from your life (business) that has changed your lifestyle.
This may be strange, but the negative periods of my life were very interesting. I thought everything was over, but something good was starting. 7 years ago, before I established a PR office, I was working for two companies in a high-paid position. One day, everything changed. I got into a road accident in late August and I lost both job places in 3 weeks. Suddenly, enormous problems began erupting . Therefore, I founded a new company in two weeks and became a VAT payer in two months.
I also had a very negative experience when the buffet company was late for one of the events. Therefore, I decided to organize this service too and currently, our company is able to organize a buffet for 400 people. Additionally, I had an interesting case when my one-month son had to spend the whole day at the event. We organized a visit of an official delegation of an Egyptian company interested in the tourism sector development in Georgia. We also arranged a news conference, then a meeting with travel agencies and a gala supper at one of the hotels. My baby was there the whole day in one of the suites. Secretly, I would leave news conferences and meetings to feed him and care for him.
If not this profession, where would you work?
– I would be somewhere close to this field. I would communicate with people and would be in the center of events.
What are your strong suits, as a a businesswoman?
– It does not matter whether your are a man or woman – both of them must do things well if they love business and want to be successful.
What benefits do you receive from your company? What makes it interesting for you?
I am a very happy person because I get to do my favorite work. I like it and I never get bored because all projects are different. I really appreciate this.
What creates a major discomfort in your job?
Companies that do not clearly know what they want. Simultaneously, they do not trust you and end up making you lose time.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
It is clear that the agency will not exist in this form because communications develop quickly. However, but I definitely know that I will be very active all my life and will do what makes me happy and brings benefits.