Interview with Paata Lagvilava, Head of Public Relations and Media Relations Department of Administration of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Regional Governor.
Why did you decide to enter this field, and what kind of opportunities does this profession give you?
I’ve been actively involved in journalism for more than ten years including newspapers, online editions, and televisions. In 2014, I was offered a suggestion from the governor’s administration to work for them as head of press service. I thought so much about it, it didn’t seem easy. The fields are almost like each other, but there are a lot of differences too. Although, journalist experiences, the knowledge of the needs and problems of the region, encouraged me to take this step. I thought it would be temporary, but now I say that PR is a new opportunity for me – for continuous searching and development. I like this field very much.
What is it necessary to hold a successful communication with public?
To establish successful communication, first of all it is necessary to have communication skills, knowledge and experience. There should be a trust that is not easy to obtain, in order to gain and maintain it, one must work in a complex way, be careful not to say even a slight lie, not to express any indifference and be informative during the crisis. It is necessary to use modern technologies that work very well, we receive a few notifications on our official pages, which we response in a timely manner. Any citizen can write us about his problem besides meeting us.
I believe that in order to achieve the right and successful communication with the public, we should know what we would like to share and which segment to reach. Immediacy, simplicity and creativity makes us memorable and distinguished.
What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
The first and the most important key is to do our highest possible. We should forget about the words like: I will delay it for tomorrow, I will get rid of this issue, I can’t do it, when will this hard day end?! There is no specific time and schedule in our field – that’s why we need to invest our maximum energy in what we do. We should love and enjoy with our profession.
Second: We must determine the aim, learn about the segment fundamentally, and keep our message simple.
Last but not least is managing crisis and take decisions quickly, as response must be relevant and timely at the same time.
What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
In the beginning I wanted to know the crisis and conflict resolution and art of reaction. When entered this field, especially in public service, I thought that the first thing I needed was to react correctly at the crisis and the conflicts, which I believe is not easy, but soon afterwards, I took a lot of things to study, learned and received the appropriate education. But there is still a lot to learn about.
Describe your typical work week.
Generally I do not like the job which is monotonous, that’s why I loved journalism and that’s why I’m working as PR. None of our activities are similar, every day and week is different from one another. We face new challenges, issues and set goals. We live with the rhythm, have to meet the deadlines, we can never slacken. Week starts with planning media activities, reviews. In regard with this, we prepare events, announcements, spread materials to media and public. Although, there are a lot of unpredictable events, that we prepare in a force majeure.
We cultivate various directions during the week, this is social media segment, feedbacks, etc.
How would you go about finding relevant contacts and sources?
First of all, it’s important to have nice personal relationships, diplomatic approaches, maintaining trust and correct management of business contacts. I’ve never had any issue with gaining contacts or sources, as I’ve worked in media for years and had already expanded my acquaintances. More contacts means more opportunities.
What are the skills Public Relations Specialist need?
One must be creative, leader, diplomat, team player and to have crisis management skill along with making decisions fast.
What trait do you value the most in your co-workers?
First of all, responsibility is very important, business can’t be done without high sense of liability. I appreciate, team-players, especially in our field, where more opinions and discussions gets us to a desired result.
What is the best PR practice technology can’t change?
Technology can’t replace creativity, although it helps us to expand opportunities.
What are some of the growing trends in the public relations industry?
Information got shorter, no one has time to read a huge material. That’s why we need to be brief and comprehensive at the same time. Visual side got more important, that is more than a picture or video. This field is dynamic, develops constantly and what’s trendy today, might go up to a different level next month.