A new edition of PR Forum tool place on Wednesday, March 14th, and brought together speakers and around 300 PR professionals, clients, bloggers and journalists. Because PR felt strongly the economical crisis, it was only normal for the event to capture the interest of everyone that has to do with this industry.
The event started with a panel during which the focus was on the real challenges the industry faces. The speakers that shared with the public their opinions were: Sorana Savu – Managing Partner Premium PR, Bogdana Butnar – Industry Manager Google Romania, Alexandru Paius – Managing Partner Image PR, Vlad Petreanu – Journalist B1TV, Claudiu Vranceanu – Editor-in-Chief Wall-Street.ro and Cristian China-Birta, blogger and founder of Blogal Initiative.
According to Sorana Savu, 2012 started well for Premium PR, with 2 new clients. She explained also that one of the problems Romanian PR industry has is being to opaque, reason for things to stay unseen and to generate “mirages”.
At its turn, Alexandru Paius confirmed that the market is not transparent, saying that “we have a market where little is known about what happens in the agencies”. In what concerns his own agency, he estimates that Image will have a good year in 2012, as it was in 2011 also.
Moreover, Paius said he is optimistic in what concerns the market, as, from numbers point of view, the market continues to grow and agencies are reporting increased revenues. He also said that a sign that the market is doing ok is the fact that there are pitches on the market.
In his opinion, both PR agencies and clients got used to the economical crisis and they are now trying to move forward. Regarding the crisis effect on PR sector, he mentioned that PR is an industry that continues to reinvent itself.
Because PR has strong ties with journalism, the one that always carried and relayed the messages transmitted by the agencies, there were also journalistic voices in the panel.
Sorana Savu thinks, related to journalism subject, that press means more generating content and said she keeps on being optimistic. She explained that, as PR, specialized agencies don’t sell CPM and used their clients to appeal publics that have money and are smart.
Vlad Petreanu, journalist B1TV and blogger, said that that journalism is now heading towards “wild commercial”, with everything and anything just to get ratings and online traffic. He also dismissed any question about printed press, because print was the most affected by crisis; as he exemplified, the highest decrease of printed press because of the economical crisis was, according to a study, in United States.
He thinks that printed press will become a premium thing and observed that nobody really wants to build a serious and reputable media business, because building a media institution with very good reputation takes a lot of time.
Petreanu also said that the decline of the press is also coming from the lack of money. He said that the money problem is one thing that stops journalists from writing quality, well-documented articles because this kind of materials need research and trips that cost money and there’s nobody willing to invest in this medium.
At his turn, Claudiu Vranceanu, said that journalism is nowadays influenced by online, as more and more newspapers migrated in this medium to stay alive. Wall-Street.ro’s Editor-in-Chief also explained that press releases become irrelevant in today’s world, and gave the example of a big Romanian electricity provider that announced important news via Facebook.
In his opinion, PR specialists must understand the media they communicate with.
As discussion migrated towards online and social media, Cristian China-Birta aka Chinezu.eu said that there is reticence in using online to communicate, but there is also optimism. And, considering the situation of the classical press, he encouraged PR professionals and their clients to turn towards social media and blogs because “social media and PR go as good as beer and pretzels”.
According to Alex Paius, the appearance of online and social media represented an opportunity for PR specialists. He thinks social media appeared at the right moment, when classical press was making cuts because of the economical crisis, and represent a revolution.
He admitted that there are still controlling clients that want to double or triple check the materials written by journalists before publish.
At her turn, Sorana Savu said that journalists must be let to do their jobs and thinks that PR must focus on the message, on what it says and on what client says, as PR’s window of opportunity is very small.
Bogdana Butnar considers that press and TV have some metrics and a common language people accept. In spite of that, there’s no way of knowing to how many people reached and/or impressed a PR article published in a newspaper. She said there are conventions: if it appeared in an X number of papers it’s ok, if it has a big distribution rate, is also ok.
Regarding clients’ reticence towards online, Butnar thinks the things aren’t exactly like that, but there are needed arguments and they must know that not all their friends will be exposed to their applications or maybe neither themselves. In the end, Bogdana Butnar’s advice was “Think before you social media!”, as not all the clients might need to direly be present on social platforms due to their object of activity.