Maxim Behar: " A person's image can be justified on the grounds of their abilities, achievements and public interest"
Maxim Behar was interviewed by Maritsa newspaper on PR techniques in politics and social media practices in business. The PR expert also commented on nowadays influencers, maintenance of good reputation and communication barriers for modern leaders.
- Your latest book The Morning After is a guide for modern leaders. What is the most important rule you recommend?
This is a rule that I have been repeating for years, and it is over the years that it has become more and more relevant - the worst decision is better than no decision. Or - make stock exchanges, adequate and brave decisions, they may not even be so adequate or so brave, but make them quickly and take the risk. Time is very dynamic and as long as business leaders or managers are hesitant or trembling of doing something or not, anything will get better. This is guaranteed.
- You have a short formula for a successful modern person - the Three S’s Rule - speed, simplicity, self-confidence. Why do you think these are the most effective elements of success?
The speed is clear - quick solutions, fast communication, timely reactions. Today, no one can wait anymore, every second, at least when it comes to communications, is priceless. In today's world, however, in which we are all literally flooded from morning to night with all sorts of information, we need to have the right senses to prioritize things, even to simplify them, knowing what we should focus on. Otherwise we make chaos, from which we can hardly get out. And finally - self-confidence, which I had to put first. I don't know a person who has succeeded, if he doesn't have the self-confidence to handle things, to succeed. And since we started with the Three S's, in English they sound like this: Speed, Simplicity, Self Confidence.
- You believe that success can be achieved by climbing a steep ladder, not using an elevator. What helps you climb your ladder and keep you going up?
Hard work, a lot of experience and learning every day… In my business I have always relied on my team and my colleagues. We have actually climbed the ladder together, and we continue now, which positions our company as one of the best in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe.
The main thing in "climbing" is perseverance and we absolutely know the goals we want to achieve. Otherwise, the chaotic ascent of this or that ladder, earning some money from somewhere seems to me a complete waste of time. I work in the company I created 26 years ago, and I'm acting as if I just started and I have to put some effort and prove myself to my bosses. It is true - and my team, but every hour of my day is dedicated mainly to my clients, or more precisely - my bosses.
- What is your explanation for the lack of prominent leaders today? Do we need such figures in the foreseeable future or does the invasion of social media make this impossible?
One of the huge reasons, probably the main one, is that only fifteen years ago, political leaders were formed mainly through the media. Now the real leaders have completely lost interest in the media, as they own their own media – social media. Most recently, Elon Musk, the founder of the innovative Tesla campaign and many others, closed his global PR department with the words: "Why would I need media connections, when I have my own media that no one else in the world have - Twitter account with 29 million followers… “. And he's right.
I know that you are actually asking about political leaders and it is the power of social media that is still related to my answer. It gives such power and influence on business leaders that even people who can hardly succeed in anything are already interested in politics. But there are leaders who run successful businesses, who offer innovations, create successful teams and surprisingly succeed even in conditions of crises and market challenges. It is social media that allows real business leaders to speak out, but also political leaders to show what they can do, and in very common cases, what they can't do.
- Can the wave of influencers be defined as the undisputed authorities for the next decade?
It depends on what you mean by the word influencer. When it comes to attractive girls who have several hundred thousand followers showing off their beautiful bodies, I don't think it's likely to happen. Rather, they work mainly for advertising campaigns for mass-market companies, and sometime for more luxurious ones. And that's where their influence ends.
True influencers are those who have achieved something unique, innovative and thus set an example to many others to achieve just as amazing things. In Bulgaria, these are people like Vasko Terziev from Telerik, Plamen Rusev from WebIt, Svetlio Nakov, who created the private university SoftUni, a huge number of software specialists, artists like Georgi Gospodinov and Stefan Valdobrev, like Donnie and the wonderful Neti, like Teodor Ushev - nominated for an Oscar, and Mitko Marinov, who even won one, the outstanding pilot Mario Bakalov, the singers Poli Genova and Ruth Koleva, whose music is listened globally…
If I continue I will not have enough pages of the respected from me a newspaper. The ones I listed above, and many others, are in fact the influencers of our time, the ones we not only have to follow, but really have far more followers than the glossy beauties on Instagram, who I also respect very much.
- Have politicians in our country learned to use PR techniques successfully? Do we have excellent students?
No, politicians in Bulgaria and worldwide do not need PR consultants at all. They are most often used by politicians to teach them how to behave in front of a camera or how to structure their sentences correctly. In general, working with politicians, from my point of view, is a rather ungrateful endeavor, and it seems to have nothing to do with real business. We all see what is happening around us - among politicians we have excellent students in terms of stupidity, incompetence, even arrogance. Their system allows it, unfortunately. Business has a much greater need for good communication, and any self-respecting and professional PR expert should understand this well. However, if a politician decides to use the help of a PR, he needs to accept anything he says unconditionally, as if you go to the dentist. There you open your mouth and follow his instructions without expressing any personal believes…
- What can't the best PR do? Do real stars need an image maker?
My long experience in this profession have taught me that there are no impossible things. Well, I can't make the lazy one work hard , or make the intriguer an useful part of a team. However, when we talk about creative achievements, innovation, modern communications - all this can be learned, experimented, upgraded…
Really I don't know who you define as a "star". Pop singers, folk singers… My God! I listed the stars in one of the previous questions, without being exhaustive. They do not need PR consultants, because their very creativity and business achievements speak to the public loudly enough even without intermediaries or consultants. A person’s image, which is based on his personality, shows what he can do and achieve, what he gives back to society.
- How to deal with fake news? Is there a recipe?
There is. If a fake news seriously affects the reputation of a person, company, family, it should already be subject to the Penal Code. I have been saying this for years - fake news must be criminalized. There are different and many opinions on this issue, mostly - what is fake news, whether a news can be a little fake or very fake, or whether a news can be considered as fake if only one sentence or one element of it is not true… This is a very serious problem and Bulgaria can be a leader in the new and modern legislation. You just have to gather media experts and good lawyers with an innovative vision and work out a project. Sooner or later this will happen, it will happen somewhere in the world, but it is better to happen now. Until then - everyone should read carefully and not trust anyone. And most importantly – we have to be careful what we share on social media, because we are all in danger of inadvertently becoming spreaders of lies and slander, untrue things.
- Social networks and technology have changed the world - billions of people already have media access. Who dictates the rules of the game today?
All of us, several billion people around the world who have media access, dictate the content of world information. The rules of the game try to control the boards or the executive boards of these social media, at least as much as they can. There won't be many revolutions from now on, there will be a boom in visual communications very soon, instead of talking on the phone, we will only communicate through video, and then everyone should be careful how they dress up, which will result in escalation of the fashion industry. The next sharp rise will be with opticians and eyewear designers. Soon the screens of our phones will be built into glasses and then everyone will wear glasses instead of checking their phone each minute. And everything you can read there will be written on the glasses. But these are rather evolutionary and technical elements, as a consequence of the Great Technological Revolution, whose undoubted peak is social media as we know it today.
- What important lesson can we Bulgarians learn by the Republic of Seychelles?
We can learn priceless lessons, such as calmness, honesty, accuracy and a lot of positivism. Two weeks ago, we had parliamentary and presidential elections. You can't even imagine the incredible British type of transparent order, including constant reports of actions in each section… The newly elected President, Wawel Ramkalavan, dedicated the first 20 minutes of his speech in gratitude to incumbent President Danny Faure, who are both part of very different political parties, quite opposite on many issues… In short - British order and French finesse. What is now completely missing in Bulgaria.