Interview with the founder of the PR agency ITCOMMS, Alexander Likhtman
Alexander Likhtman, the founder of ITCOMMS PR Agency , shared his insights with PR.uz on the topic of using trends in PR – why it's important to work with classic tools and whether good PR can save a bad product.
Trends and Classic PR
To stay ahead of the curve, you must know and master the classic tools.
Every year, PR undergoes more transformations. Companies and PR specialists adopt new techniques while keeping pace with digitalization. Consider the impact of campaigns utilizing artificial intelligence.
In my view, staying trendy requires knowing how classic PR operates. It's like this: when you know the rules, you know how to break them. But not knowing anything at all and doing things just because... well, that won't lead to any success. For instance, without understanding how to work with news hooks, it's challenging to prepare a project involving AI that becomes significant news for the media. The same applies to event organization, media communication, and much more.
Furthermore, I wouldn't differentiate between what's more crucial: trends or classics. Both are important. PR specialists walk a tightrope over a deep and perilous river every day. One misstep, one mistake, and it could harm the company. Can we choose just one tool in such a situation? I believe not. It's about balance, the right combination of classical approaches and trends. Only then can we achieve results and successfully traverse from one shore to another without causing harm.
Speaking of modern tools, digital instruments stand out, especially digital tools. They aid in both information distribution and creation. For instance, using analytics tools, you can gather statistics and utilize them as news hooks. We employ this approach not only for clients but also for ourselves: analyzing the information field, creating ratings based on analysis. By the way, I'm aware that colleagues in Uzbekistan practice this approach as well.
360 campaigns also fall under digital instruments. These campaigns cover a broad audience, employing both digital technologies and classical methods. For example, we initiate a series of TV interviews, engage bloggers, and simultaneously run outdoor and targeted advertising.
Of course, I can't skip mentioning artificial intelligence. Major companies like McDonald's and Burger King launched campaigns with creatives generated by ChatGPT last month. It looked fresh and bold, resulting in significant mentions in news and social media. And there are plenty more examples. Some use Midjourney, others deploy their own AI, and some blend technologies, yielding incredible outcomes.
And perhaps most importantly, the "social first" approach when dealing with news hooks and stories. Social media now takes the spotlight, and it's crucial for PR specialists to account for this, adapting news hooks and arranging posts with bloggers and Telegram channels. Even if your material appears in the media, ensuring its presence among opinion leaders and in relevant communities is essential. Ideally, if the news goes viral and sets a trend.
Just like the creators of the "Barbie" movie did – their entire promotional campaign was tailored to the specifics of social networks. Meme templates, image generation services with the Barbie doll, several viral promo videos, and much more.
Can Modern PR Save a Poor Product?
Good PR, whether modern or more classical, can highlight a product's positive aspects and make them the primary criteria for choice and use. However, unfortunately or fortunately, PR is not a magic pill.
If a product is raw, doesn't meet the claimed expectations, or doesn't fulfill its functions, even the strongest PR campaign by the best global professionals won't fundamentally alter the situation and save a poor product.
PR doesn't exist outside the product or the company. It's always a synergy: the product evolves, improves, reaches new heights, and PR supports it, highlighting its advantages and helping increase not only recognition but also the number of clients.
By the way, reverse situations, where the product is good but lacks quality PR, are quite common. In my opinion, that's rather sad. The notion that everyone will find out about a good product anyway is a misconception. Good products need to be spoken about loudly, with heads held high, and given extensive PR support.
How to Determine Which Tool a PR Specialist Should Choose?
The most crucial aspect of PR is the goal. Why are we doing this? For what purpose? Based on the answers to these questions, tools should be selected. Need to boost B2C service sales among a female audience? Showcase the service's benefits through bloggers. Interested in a B2B business audience?
Organize events, conduct research, and prepare corresponding releases.
You can use absolutely any tools according to your preference. The most important thing is to achieve the goal. Events, blogger collaborations, or media placements are merely matters of preference. Both options, and even a third, can be used for different audiences, adjusting the approach and ratios in the PR campaign.
Therefore, the short answer is this: if a tool solves the problem and helps achieve the main goal, it's worth using.
What PR Trends are Currently Observed in Uzbekistan – Classic, Trends, or Balance?
In my view, Uzbekistan currently employs a mix of classics and trends. Press releases continue to be utilized, relationships with the media are cultivated. Meanwhile, there's a strong trend of integrating CSR into PR strategies, and brand ambassadorship is developing. Companies are creating communities, using them for both commercial and social projects. Podcasts are rapidly growing, and brands are readily integrating into them.
In terms of communication channels, there's a focus on specialized media – PR specialists work closely with them. Weekly digest formats are popular in the media, especially actively utilized on YouTube.
Of course, a lot of attention is given to events. I see the activity of colleagues, and we at ITCOMMS also participate in business events in Tashkent. Recently, our Director of Marketing, Elena Lungu, talked about AI in communications at an event by the Marketing Association of Uzbekistan. Colleagues are actively involved in activities: events, contests. Currently, preparations are underway for the 5th Tashkent Advertising Festival TAF!23, and it promises to be very interesting.
How Will PR Further Develop Considering Modern Technologies – Your Predictions?
I am betting on data, and I see PR developing in analytics, audience segmentation, and tailored communications with each segment. In my opinion, working with data and individually targeting different segments of the target audience are areas of growth. Already, PR utilizes analytical tools, but I believe this practice will become ubiquitous in the future.
Especially considering that the world is becoming increasingly digitized, new technologies and services emerge. We will know more about our target audience, and of course, we must use this in PR communications because our main task is to help businesses. An individual approach allows us to achieve the goal several times faster and more effectively.
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