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The New Ideas in Business Reflected in “The Global PR Revolution”

Sources: Interview for the broadcast "Multimedia" with host Daniel Nenchev on Bulgaria ON AIR TV

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Now we will discuss the new ideas of Public Relations with the PR expert, Mr. Maxim Behar. Hello, I am very pleased to meet you!

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- Likewise, good day!

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- You recently wrote a new book, “The Global PR Revolution”. In fact, you have discussed with many experts like yourself in the PR world, a key question - How do smart leaders succeed in the transformed world of PR? Now we can try to answer it in this television interview for our viewers.

Those who want the complete story should read the book. First of all, let us begin with your personal history. You started in journalism, but you switched to PR.

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- Yes, I started in journalism, naturally, before that I worked for 5 years in a factory as a locksmith. I studied abroad - one higher education, then another one. Afterwards I started as a journalist. It was really interesting as a profession. I created, along with several other people, the “Standard”

newspaper many years ago. The reason I parted ways with journalism was remembering one phrase from Winston Churchill - “One can accomplish a great deal with journalism, but one must know when to give it up”. That was the actual cause that made me quit.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- But why did you really leave?

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- Because I wanted to do something more interesting, something innovative, and I just decided to give it a try and see if I can handle with it. That was 25 years ago. The company I run - M3 Communications Group, turned 25 a few weeks ago. I’m pretty happy that we’ve always worked very hard and

I am going to answer your question right away - How smart leaders succeed in the transformed world of PR? Only with innovation, change and a fierce desire to leave your comfort zone and being able to do new and interesting things and providing them to your customers.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Yes, this is an easy answer, however, when we put the talk of PR in the context of a truly changing media, the changing communication environment which is extremely intense and, in fact, about 20 years ago, it changed radically with the innovation you are talking about. A disruptive innovation, one

would say. Something that radically changed the way we communicate at all - the emergence of the smart phone, of the social media. How did your profession change then?

 

Maxim Behar:

 

-This is not an easy answer. Being able to succeed in a super dynamic world where every day is already a closed page. Not yesterday, but at the end of the current day, all you have done is an old story. You expect to get something new or move into a completely new communication or media environment. It is not easy at all - you need a very good education and reading, reading, reading every day. You have to follow all new trends that are emerging not only in our business but also in the media, because the changes that I call a revolution in our business, have come from shifts in the media. The most important factor that turned the world upside down is the change in media ownership, because 10-12 years ago, the people who owned the media were called publishers. Publishers had televisions, they had newspapers, they had radios - they could control them. Now everyone is holding a media in their hands. Of course, this increases the responsibility of each of us to a great extent, because you need to know how to operate with this media. I would say the basis of this change is the sense of being ethical and moral in the media you govern. Following the ethical rules very strict will not allow you to think for a second about posting fake news. This is the truth of our business. Of course, it applies to anyone who has media in their hands. In business, this is really important. The publicity has also experienced a major revolution. Only 10 years ago, the public figures were politicians, TV hosts, show stars and athletes. Only these 4 categories were well-known, practically no one else was public. Now everyone can be popular.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Wait a minute, we mixed things up a bit. You talk about ethics in an environment where there is traditional media and new social media. For a journalist who follows certain kind of code of ethics in the Bulgarian media, a person who has integrity and is a professional, it is much easier to follow these rules. But how do we educate the people who, as you already said, everyone nowadays can operate with a media - to be ethical, to check the information, not to mislead the public, not to react emotionally. It is impossible…

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- It is possible but will probably take generations. 100 years ago Henry Ford introduced the car, then called ‘The Ford Quadricycle’, and said, “This will be our future”. Many people said, this is ridiculous, this is not possible. What if a tire cracks, or the gasoline runs out? Or maybe the engine fails, or it

hurts a person and causes an accident? It is the same with the media nowadays. Yes, there is a risk that many individual users would use these medias and even unintentionally creating fake news, although this is becoming less and less accidental. It will take generations, upbringing, attitude towards the media, attitude towards the written text, attitude towards publicity. No one was used to this publicity. Billions of people around the world were not used to this publicity and suddenly they have a personal profile, no matter in which media, and they start writing what they want and millions of others read them. This is a process that should make people free and responsible in this environment. On the other hand, it may be a bit extreme, but I mention it in the book - I think that creating fake news largely damages the image or creates problems for other people. I believe this should be criminalized in some way.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- I agree.

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- When you write fake news, you damage the business and the people suffer. You should face court. It is the same as car accidents – the people who cause them, go to court and are held responsible for their actions.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Yes, let us give examples from your book. Here you tell a lot of interesting stories about big companies or institutions that made mistakes and suffered from accidents afterwards. This is a situation in which experts show professional reflex and create PR - the so called crisis PR. Would you mind telling us about some of these interesting examples you give in the book?

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- Of course, they can be seen in the book. I have dozens, dear God, hundreds of examples in my business, in my daily work, working for companies that are very sensitive to crisis management. I think this is one of the great advantages of PR field these days because one of the peculiarities of the change in our business is that on a global scale, there is a very rapid unification of the three components of public communications – advertising, digital media, and PR. This union in 10 years will be one single business. There will be no advertising agencies or PR companies, digital agencies. There will be one place where customers will receive service. Throughout this union, a battle is waging of who will run this new business. Of course, I also say mention many times in the book that we, the PR experts, will manage the future business for two reasons - we can handle crises - there are many valuable examples here in Bulgaria. Even though the PR is a global business, it also possesses a really strong local dimension. On the other hand, when clients have problems with their brand, their presence in the media, especially social, they do not go to the advertising business, they do not go to the digital business. They come to us because we have one key advantage - we are masters of content. Our business is content.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- However, the content should come to us afterwards. So if there is a place to promote this, if there are reasonable people, it reaches the audience. I would like to discuss the important trends related to the future of PR. For example, according to the 2017 Global Communications Report of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, digital storytelling comes first in the future of PR - social listening, social purpose and, of course, the big data - the analysis of big data goes in the loop after each of us in the digital environment, the online environment where we live.

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- This is the content I was talking about. We call it storytelling. It has evolved over the last 10 years in our business. Going back to the definition I gave to the term ‘PR’ in my book, I listed all the definitions that went through my head and wrote them down. The last definition I have today is telling the truth so that people can understand it. The key words here are truth and understanding. When people perceive you, this is a good storytelling. Bottom line is that the news we create, the content we create, should be understood by everyone. Since the media is different, we should have completely different capabilities. For example in Twitter you have to present information with 140 characters that I have previously written in 2 pages in my times as a journalist. Now with 140 characters, you have to say the same thing. President Donald Trump, at the White House in Washington, has shown that he can do this, and this has, of course, attracted many other leaders over the past 4 years. Long before Donald Trump used Twitter, we all did our best to tell in these 140 characters the exact, clear, understandable truths our customers need to learn. By the way, one of the elements of this revolution is understanding the difference between languages. We use one language on LinkedIn, a completely different language on Facebook, we use a contrasting language on Twitter, we use different images on Instagram.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Youtube is already another territory.

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- Youtube, of course, with the videos. When we understand the different languages of various medias, I reckon that the business is becoming more accessible and easier to manage.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Alright. You have interviewed and communicated with many PR experts in the world. What did you learn from them? What is the most valuable thing they have shared in this book?

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- They are my friends. These are 100 people from 65 countries. As you already know, I was president of ICCO for 2 years and these are the people I have met in their countries or in various forums – Davos and many other interesting places where we talked about PR. I have studied in depth the whole history of publications on PR. Maybe I have 250-300 books on this subject in my Kindle. I have never seen such a global survey of 100 people from 65 countries. Practically, this is the whole world brought together in a book of opinions. About 80% of them agree that a revolution is happening in our business. The other 20% believe there are huge changes, but these are evolutionary changes. Of course, each country has peculiarities. In China they reflect in one way, but in a completely different method they comment in Korea or Botswana, Albania, Canada, Australia, everywhere. The great advantage of the book is that it makes an overview on a global level and when one wishes to see the changes in our business around the world, he can read the opinions of PR experts country by country.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Finally, I will allow myself to quote one of my favorite authors I have found over the last 10 years - Eric Weiner, The Geography of Bliss. Great writer, journalist, traveler.

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- It was an honor for me that my friend Eric wrote a recommendation for my book. He asked to see it before it was published. He called and asked me – “Do you want me to write something about it? I am very impressed.”- That was one of the big surprises for me in the whole process of writing the book.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Here I am going to read it - “The world is changing. Social media is gathering more people together and at the same time separating them. It is difficult to judge what to believe and who to trust, especially when it comes to PR. I tell you, trust Maxim Behar. He mutes the noise and amplifies the signal.” Now, finally, let us broadcast such a message. How do we mute and how can we amplify the signal when we want to broadcast a valuable message?

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- It’s clear that from my meetings with Eric Weiner, I found out the truth about muting the noise, because there is a huge uproar on social media right now. You can read 1 million things that don’t interest you at all, but since you’re reading it on your Facebook wall or your subscriptions everyday, this cannot be avoided. In my opinion, one has to have a very clear and focused goal of what he or she wants to do in social media. For example, when you buy a newspaper you cannot read all of it. When you watch TV, you cannot watch television 24 hours a day. Similarly, time spent on social media, especially Facebook, which is the most popular social media in Bulgaria, has people pour out absolutely all kinds of feelings and experiences, things that do not interest us. That is why we must have a very precise choice of what to read, how to read it, and, of course, to eliminate the noise,

as Eric calls it, and most importantly not to be influenced by people we would never seek advice from.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- Yes, one of the most enjoyable recipes for signal amplification and noise reduction is reading books. Thank you very much!

 

Maxim Behar:

 

- Yes, thank you! Good luck on the show! Reading books is a huge activity! I advise everyone to spend as much time as possible with books.

 

Daniel Nenchev:

 

- “The Global PR Revolution”, Maxim Behar. Good luck with the book and to you!

 

Watch the full video here

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