Giorgi Avaliani, Head of Public Relations Department of Agriculture Projects Management Agency talked with Caucasus Business Week about public relations and advertising in Georgia and how he handles several projects during his hard working days.
He also shared some of his experiences in crisis situations and named five important components to better explain thought leadership.
-Which PR firms do you admire and why?
-It’s hard to pick the one, I observe implemented campaigns by various companies annually, including Georgia. It’s notable that advertising business is being developed quite fast and this fact is positively reflected for the customers.
-Which media outlets do you follow?
One of the most important things in our profession is to have correct information, if you do not have it, it will be hard to disseminate itself. I would like to underline the word ‘’correct’’ because the media is very polarized and often happens to come across unverified by various media outlets. Every morning, it does not matter whether it is a working day or not, it starts with getting information. I use monitoring platform for the first place. Mobile phone and various online information applications are an integral part of my daily life. In terms of receiving information, social media plays a big role for me, mainly Facebook, because all kinds of media outlets and information are available there.
-Talk about the difference between PR and advertising?
Communication and advertising campaigns intersects often. In both directions it is important to express the main message that you want to provide to your company’s target audience. Public relations may involve advertising campaigns for achieving the set goals. The winner of this year’s Cannes Creative Festival is the outdoor advertising campaign for “Fearless Girl” , which is a clear example of the above mentioned McCann New York advertising agency. To sum up, communication with the public in some cases uses advertisements as one of the tools to communicate with the target audience, and the ad is one of the ways that the company can support to facilitate its short term goals, increase awareness, sales, as well as public relations.
The most important thing to note when talking about PR and advertising is that the first one is free and the second is paid. Let’s start with advertising, what is advertising? The amount paid on your company’s activities, it is fully controlled, what you show and what they say. Advertising creates visibility, potential customers know that you are spending money on your business, advertising is intended for short-term purposes and supports specific products. It is a one-sided communication and applies to emotions and impressions, it has a volatile criterion that measures the results.
As for PR, what is PR? PR is a permanent and intentional bilateral communication and dialogue between the organization / person and its target audience / stakeholders, which aims to meet the bilateral interests. Initiating coverage, oriented relationships and moods, it is used for both short-term and long-term goals. PR invests on values to create an organization’s look for external and internal users. In spite of the difference between the dividing line in Georgia and the PR is not sharp and frequently interfere with each other, we encounter the same content as advertising and PR. Here I would like to quote PR Gurus Robert Wayne, who speaks about the difference between advertising and PR, in a single sentence: “Advertising is what you pay for, PR is what you pray for”.
-Describe some affiliate networks you’ve collaborated with and why you chose them?
For more than 6 years I have been working in agriculture, I did not know anything about this field and it was very hard to work, but over time it changed and I think that I am very lucky to be able to present myself in this agriculture. It is the merit of this sector that I visited all regions of Georgia And got a chance to meet very interesting people, who are living daily labor and reinforce our country.
In recent years many projects have been implemented in agriculture in Georgia, at present the Agriculture Project Management Agency is implementing more than 6 projects. Due to the number of projects and components it was complicated to communicate separate projects with the public. Occasionally the conditions, criteria and the contents were interrupted, making it difficult for the potential beneficiary to see all stimulating mechanisms. Beneficiaries interested in one of the private projects often find it difficult to see other parallel projects and associate with the agency. Despite the fact that it was actively communicated to the Agency / Ministry symbols communication, potential beneficiaries were constantly in trouble during identification of agricultural projects.
Due to the Agency’s strategy, we decided to unite all projects under one goal. The existing projects come in conjunction with each other and complement each other as components of project themselves. Therefore, it is necessary “aggregate agro project” to exist, which gave us opportunity to show common goal and united, systemic image.
Due to the above, the Agency has made a decision to unify all the projects under the Unified Brand (Unified AgroProject). On the one hand, the amendment has been to ease communication with the general strategy of the public, and on the other hand the efficiency of existing communication has increased. This is a union and I think it’s one of the best periods of my career at Agriculture Project Management Agency.
-How do you integrate social media with PR?
Everyone uses social media in my profession, especially Facebook, in order to receive and share information. I’m glad that this connection is getting stronger. For me, social media is a virtual world for various organizations, opinions and services. There you get information about your choice, receive critics, etc. It’s an international service which develops day by day.
-How does PR support content marketing?
Content marketing becomes more popular in digital world. We communicate with public through almost every social network and receive opinion of your company from your audience. Any product/service is being reviewed in digital world. It’s important to show them that we communicate not just in a commercial way. Some other tools are various forums and online editions, through which we share valuable information to our customers.
-How would you present the results of your work?
I think it’s early to evaluate my results. I try to learn something new every day, get more qualified, I never stop and focus on personal, as well as professional development. Never be satisfied with something that doesn’t surprise you day by day.
-What would you consider to be your most creative or effective campaign?
I want to mark out one of the project we started in 2015, called ‘’Plant future’’, it means intensive constructions of gardens. Our aim was resonance campaign, which would stand out and cause interest. We decided to find universal stimulating mechanisms: joy, support, successful future, self-realization, nationality- these are positive emotions, that brings everyone together and simplifies communication with them. Land and agriculture is associated with patriotism and nationalism among people, so we focused on this sense during project. We got 3600 hectare orchards as a result. Entrepreneurs will be able to produce high-quality products, which will be competitive on local market with imported product.
-What would you do if a client or manager disagreed with your PR strategy?
Arguments and discussions are an integral part of the work process, I think you can always find a way out of argumentative discussions. If your cannot persuade your manager, it means you are inconceivable to make it more relevant to your customers. By consensus I think that all the problems can be solved.
-How would you define thought leadership?
-Thought leadership -this is a content marketing form, saying “leader thinking” where talent, creativity, experience is directing. These are 5 components to explain the thinking leadership: Alter: Think creative when sending main message; Overtake statistics: There must be an emotional story that makes statistic stronger. Ideally, creative person that shares a story in non-standard way. Risk: There must be some bold stories; Make information shareable: It’s necessary to analyze what would be liked by an audience, after what you create content. Entertain: It shouldn’t be boring to read, watch, listen stories that you share.
-How have you worked with a team to handle a PR crisis?
In the beginning of each project, we see negative factors that can hamper or harm the company’s activities when you have a situation and know your weak and strong sides, which is relatively easy to handle and solve the crisis.
-What’s interesting about current PR work?
-People and communication with them, this is the most delightful in our profession.