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PR is The World of Persuasion, Moreover it is an Art

Nino Asatiani, PR manager of Trans Electrica Georgia, talked with CBW about her influential career in public relations field.

I try to learn something new every day, to have a wider access to new and innovative technologies. A person should not be ever satisfied with achieved results.

– Which PR firms do you admire and why?

– PR, as a professional system, was shaped by Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, in the USA. He developed a management system based on practice of psychology, sociology, consumer relations and social sciences. He united two words – Public and Relations to shape a new system.

PR is a unity of several professions with focus on company reputation and popularization, public awareness, establishing positive and long-term contacts.

I believe all projects based on loyalty to consumers and their stimulation are successful projects. I would name Edelman PR Company with about 1 billion USD revenues in 2015. This company employes about 6000 people all over the world.

– Which media outlets do you follow?

– I have been working in PR sector for more than 20 years and my traditional morning starts with media, despite location. I follow almost all media agencies to know what they write, what they offer, what happens in the country. We should know all these aspects, because this knowledge helps us in our business. PR is unimaginable without media. Journalist and media is a bridge between you and audience. I also follow international editions with economic and energy profile, because of peculiarity of my profession.

– Talk about the difference between PR and advertising.

– It is an old formulation: “Advertising you pay for; publicity you pray for».

Key difference between PR and advertisement is that all companies and organizations need PR, not advertisement. Unlike advertisements, PR develops long-term strategies, while priority of advertisement is its laconic and quick effect. PR plans and tries to foresee outcomes, while advertisement is a supplement to PR. Results achieved through advertisements are of temporary character, because the company cannot be considered successful if it does not use due schemes for improving reputation.

It should be noted that both sectors are tightly interconnected with each other and frequently it is difficult to differentiate them.

– What media placements are you most proud of?

– In 205 The Rezonansi newspaper was publishing a series of my articles – About Gas Problems in Georgia.  In that period SOCAR was entering Georgia’s energy market and new relations were shaped in the region. Since 2012 I have been also cooperating with FOR.GE internet portal. I am proud that I had the opportunity to be member of this group that developed Georgian Energy Strategy in 2014 and published it in three languages.

– Describe some affiliate networks you’ve collaborated with and why you chose them.

– At the beginning of my career there was very complicated situation in our country. I started business that was an innovation for everybody. I started with literature xeroxed in a small room and reached innovative technologies.

I started working in power sector in 1997, one of the heaviest periods. I believe PR campaign for reformation of Georgian energy sector was successful.  – PR and communication strategies developed in 2001, acquaintance of energy sector reforms to society.

ERRA and NARUC recognized the communication strategy  developed by me in 2007 for  tariffs determination as the best case and  included it into the teaching methodology of European and the US regulators. The last one was Khudoni HPP PR campaign that was interesting and very sophisticated. I think it is very difficult to ruin 40-year negatives, but it is also very pleasant process at the same time.

– How do you integrate social media with PR?

– Considerable part of PR campaigns is recorded for social media. Today it is the most efficient mechanism of communication that enables to determine target groups and set direct contact with them. Today’s relevant question is whether social media is able to replace traditional media. I think no! Blog post of Facebook or a Twitter status does not suffice, compared to an article or expression in popular and readable newspaper. Social media may be an additional service that strengthens PR.

– How does PR support content marketing?

– Content marketing become actual in 2009, while today content marketing is one of the important tendencies in global marketing.

Content marketing creates and spreads valuable, timely, necessary information for drawing attention of target audience and making impression. Today in this segment info-graphics and video info-graphics are one of the most required components. It visualizes the content. As a result, the content draws the attention of the reader. They easily perceive information and remember it for a long period.

– How would you present the results of your work?

– When you do your best and devote yourself to your job that becomes a part of your life, in this case these attempts justify and bring success. I try to learn something new every day, to have a wider access to new and innovative technologies. A person should not be ever satisfied with achieved results. On the contrary, I always seek novelties every day and try to become more professional and successful.

– What would you do if a client or manager disagreed with your PR strategy?

– PR is the world of persuasion, even the art. I always try to persuade my audience to back my position and acknowledge achievements and success. However, I am also flexible to reach consensus.

If I, as a PR specialist, fail to persuade my client or manager, how can I persuade the society in righteousness of my position? Therefore, when I develop a PR strategy, I maximally try to take into account the client demands, adapt them to the existing reality and harmonize public demands with the company plans.

– How would you define thought leadership?

– Thought leadership is a content marketing form driven by talent, creative capacity, experience that makes your business successful. Our content should be absolutely different and differentiated in terms of thought leadership. However, audience demands to provide best answers to questions, like Brian Rodas who: «You should gain victory over the internet every day».

The very thought leadership makes you a communication leader and you are more active when communicating with your clients and target audience.

– Describe a time you had to manage negative media attention.

– In my biography I have answered a lot of negative media attacks and turned around the situation. I had to treat problematic and difficult projects everywhere, where I started working. PR promotion  of the agreement with Gazprom was the heaviest process in 2003. This was not one specific agreement. This was politics and all parties were trying to make benefit of this situation. However, the time has showed that under this agreement Georgia has received natural gas up to 2016 and the party that fought against the agreement, has usefully used this agreement, because  this was a necessary agreement with quite favorable conditions.

Moreover, quite negative reaction was expressed in relation to growth in gas and electricity tariffs, when we were trying to make breakthrough in public opinion and we successfully managed to change the exiting stereotypes and deliver our messages and opinion  to our society.

– Describe a time your PR communications were misunderstood by your target audience. How did you handle it?

– I remember aggression of target audience in the process of TELASI privatization in 2000 and errors made in the PR communication. However, the problem was identified soon and PR communication was corrected and we received desirable results.

– How have you worked with a team to handle a PR crisis?

– Crisis situation is an inseparable part of Georgian reality. How do I act in crisis period? We develop anti-crisis plan, maximally improve internal communication, immediately gather members of anti-crisis group, improve message boxes, shift accents, prepare answers to undesirable questions, appoint speakers in their directions and carry out media monitoring every day.

Post-crisis working is also very important: evaluation of crisis and analysis of its reasons. Adapting of messages for post communication, post-crisis analysis (what was made correctly and what incorrectly).

– Describe a time you trained or mentored a colleague.

– Mainly, power and economic international companies invite me for conducting workshops and lectures on PR issues.

I was specially invited as a trainer to Budapest for conducting trainings for PR specialists, where I read lectures for developing efficient communication ways and planning issues.

In 2008 I was a mentor for ERRA digital education course for staff of regulatory commission – the topic was: “Principle of Operation of Regulatory Commissions and Public Involvement». I have cooperated with Danish company Rambo for developing a communication strategy for Green Economy project, where I was a mentor and a group leader.

The key personal feature is the ability of efficient transition of knowledge and experience, introducing innovative ideas to colleagues and finding ways for resolving sharp problems. It is also important to have logical mind, creative captivity, analytical mind, ability for easy adaptation and resolving several problems simultaneously.

– What’s interesting about our current PR work? What would you improve?

– I think making accents on details in the most interesting thing in PR. You should be able to guess reaction in advance to your PR campaign. You should improve your skills every day and broaden your knowledge. You should study, write, read, receive pleasure from writing and talking. Those, who are able to make good interpretation, are always able to persuade others.