Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Press release still a main tool for business communicators in Russia

Here are some takeaways from master class for corporate communicators held at Russian Managers Association (RMA) HQ by Alla Nadezhkina, Press Secretary, RIA Novosti:

  • Press release should equal a quality news story. Rewrite it for different media.

  • Press release doesn't have to repeat a company news story and vice versa. Consider comment, statement, blog post, social media status update, and 'do nothing' as alternatives.

  • Companies often mistake corporate affairs for company news. No wonder such press releases often get mistreated by media.

  • Include photographers and artists in your distribution list. Captions to published photos and illustrations can be as good as a news story.

  • Tabloids long for your “no comment” answer. Give them a suitable alternative instead, even if it's just procrastination.

  • Press release should be sent out individually if the cause is worth it.

  • Make sure your press releases travel faster than rumors, especially concerning company's regional or overseas branches.
About 40 communicators from Russia's leading companies and NGOs took part in the master class which was organized within the RMA Committee for Mass Media and Information Policies.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Silver Archer 2011 winners announced in Moscow

It took two full days, 14-15 February, packed with five lectures and 83 public presentations by shortlisted participants to determine winners of the 15th Silver Archer awards in Russia:

Nomination 1: Best Project in Business Communications
70th Anniversary of Joint Stock Company Sibelektromotor, Tomsk
JSC Sibelektromotor;

Nomination 2: Best Project in Social Communications and Charity
“I am grateful for my success to...”
Tomsk City

Nomination 3: Best Project in Scientific Achievements & Innovations
Promoting Tomsk Region as Innovation Center
Department of Information Policy & PR, Tomsk Region Administration;

Nomination 4: Best Project in Territory Development & Promotion
The Names of the Voronezh City
Gennady Shatalov, Voronezh;

Nomination 5: Communications in the Global World
Russia Beyond the Headlines, Moscow
Rossiyskaya Gazeta;

Nomination 6: Best PR Development Publication
Denis Vizgalov, author of the book City Branding;

Nomination 7: Master of PR (suggested by the Expert Council)
Sergey Zverev;

Nomination 8: Person of Distinction (suggested by the Board of Trustees)
Olga Romanova, journalist and activist;

Nomination 9: Contribution to Cultural Developmeny (suggested by the Board of Trustees)
The “Citizen Poet” project;

Special Prize of the Board of Trustees
The State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM
For large-scale work on restoring confidence in the global nuclear industry after the Fukusima crisis.

Congratulations to all the winners!

UPD: Perhaps, a peculiar feature of the Russian PR market - you don't see any PR agencies openly involved in the winning projects, except for the Nomination 4.

UPD2: Photos from the ceremony can be previewed here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

PR Boutiques vs. Networks: Russian experts have their say

Andrey Lapshov moderated a talk show on PR Boutiques vs. Networks at the RIA Novosti press center in Moscow during the Silver Archer Awards Open Presentation Days on 15 February, 2012. Here are some of the quotes by Russian PR practitioners.

Igor Mintusov: «Networks are better in terms of margins. Their costs are less because of shared knowledge.»

Igor Pisarsky: «Adapting [network's] products to Russia is a tedious process.... Entering a network doesn't prevent fighting for network clients.»

Nastasya Savina: «[PR] Boutiques don't observe common standards. Each one flies their own UFO.»

Miсhael Maslov: “In the West the top-20 is all network agencies.... A [network managing] man from Pittsburg unlike the same from New York doesn't understand at all things could be different elsewhere.... The network brought 2% of business in 2011.”

Natalia Mandrova: “Network agencies have to fight for business all the same.... A decade ago private businesses accounted for over half of revenues. Now 80% comes from state-owned companies or state-funded projects.... Network agencies grow thanks to FMCG.”

Lev Koshlyakov: “Working with network agencies is an inevitable evil.... The rotating managers are likely to let you down in the end”.

Alexander Vikhrov: “We have a general [PR] line while the rest is treated like a side dish.... Dozens of agencies serve us, none are networks.”

Irina Kibina: “In my wardrobe I've got the whole range – from designer clothes to cheap t-shirts.... It all depends on what you need at any given time – the boutiques don't carry out of the box solutions.... On the other hand, there are creative people out there with loads of experience that will keep their word.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Novelty media tools for communicators discussed in Davos

Novelty media tools for communicators were presented and discussed in Davos, Switzerland on 10 February during a panel on media communications at the Communications on Top forum. The three presentations on social media, semantic Web, and visualization were done by Jochen Spangenberg, media manager, Nikos Sarris, R&D project manager, and David Lee, startup manager, respectively.

Everybody nowadays seems to be a good expert on media and where the sector is going. In his book called The Dilbert Future the famous comic strip creator Scott Adams, a techie, was quite accurate in describing the present state of media some fifteen years ago, back in 1997.

Remember that golden blogs-free age of corporate email and the luxury of having a company GSM phone? His prediction #52 - and there were 65 of them in the book - went: "In the future , everyone will be a news reporter." That must have made many a reader laugh out loud back then. Adams's prediction #50 stated: "in the future, more people will actively ignore the news because it is irrelevant." Funny no more.

What are the current trends then? Three of the seven trends (15 in all) mentioned at the forum by Rohit Bhagarva fit in very well into the media tools area: #2 Ethnomimicry – Real life inspires products & tools, #6 Co-curation – Curation ads value to the Web, #13 Tagging reality – Everyday images unlock digital content.

This future is here to stay, and we communicators need to understand how the media is reacting to the fact these two predictions have become true and what, if any, are the technological challenges and solutions in the pipeline.

Speaking of the social media usage by the media and individual journalists. The former increasingly use the social media for distribution while the latter – for data collection and feedback. Look at how often news organizations like AP and Reuters update their social media guidelines. This is a good indication of trial and error approach by the media.

Let's consider, the media try and try again, and eventually fail. Now imagine a Web - the World - without the media. Just the press releases, blogs, and user-generated content. What would you read for news? Would you search for the news by combination of keywords? Would you take the results of such search for granted and share them?

Taking your imagination to such extremes is useful if you need to be reminded that communications without the media are doomed.

Now, to the semantic Web. SYNC3 is a Pan-European project co-financed by the EC aimed at creating an sentiment analyzer for blog posts related to news stories. The project features a wide range of universally and well known brands, including Google. The big question here is whether the synergy is worth the co-financing. Let's hope, it is the case.

Text visualization could come in quite handy for us, PR folks. Just imagine, there is a multimedia repository on your corporate website with due keywords and tagging. A journalist writes a story on your company and the visualization tool – Bingo! - helps her to tie in all the proper illustrations, including photos, videos, infographics, and even cartoons to the story. The same tool could be used to illustrate PR releases, using third party multimedia.

Scot Adams's prediction #64 said: "The next 100 years will be a search for better perception instead of better vision." Some 15 years on, it seems we're well on our way there. For the novelties discussed will definitely make us better understand the communication ways and results, not just see them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Silver Archer bridges PR projects in Russia and the USA

On 25 January, 2012 the first ever international Silver Archer awards ceremony was held in Washington, D.C. The ceremony at the Russian Embassy's exquisite Grand Hall gathered a largely bilingual audience of over 80 people, mostly participants in the 19 community and business PR projects, from the USA, Canada and Russia, that received diplomas and prizes for their entries.

Winners were named in each of the five categories of the newly introduced Communications in the Global World nomination:

Culture: Children's Festival of Russian Culture, The Russian American Cultural Heritage Center.

Goodwill: Siberian Heart Project, The Russian American Medical Association.

Media: Web Portal

Business: Communications Support of the Webinon Center, joint project by Target Labs, Inc., and BrandHouse (Russia).

Person of Distinction: Dr. Uli Zislin, Founder and Curator, Washington Museum of Russian Poetry and Music.

The ceremony also featured touching musical performances by Dr. Zislin and by the talented duo of Zlata Lund, director, Russian American Colony Singers, and her mother.

Fascinating Russian-style costumes for the three models involved in the ceremony were created by another diploma holder, Evgenia Luzhina-Salazar.

Nadezhda Yavdolyuk, Executive Director, Silver Archer, and Valery Levchenko, Head of the nomination's Expert Group, were the main hosts of the evening. Inna Preobrazhenskaya is Silver Archer's representative in the USA.

Silver Archer's main activities are scheduled for 14-15 February and will take place at RIA Novosti. Open presentations by managers of the 83 shortlisted projects will help define winners for the awards ceremony. The PR award, largest in Russia, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

The Expert Group unanimously agreed at the shortlist meeting on 30 January to let the Washington's ceremony diploma holder Elena Suvorova-Philips, President, United Russian American Association, include her organization's project The Captain of The Earth in the main judging process. Eight other projects of international to global scale were shortlisted at the meeting.

The bridge between PR projects in Russia and the USA has thus been built. Stay tuned for more!

UPD: And here's a story on the main ceremony's winners.