/ interview / The Crisis: May Be The Best Time For PR
15 July 2009
The Crisis: May Be The Best Time For PR

The financial crisis on the Ukrainian PR-market has developed a contradictory situation. On the one hand, a lot of customers have cut budgets, while agencies reduced staff. On the other hand, others became interested in PR. Thus, they actively use different methods of public relations. This helped to increase incomes of some PR agencies for the first half of the year. Situation on the Ukrainian PR-industry will clarify Valeriy Kureiko – the President of the Ukrainian PR-alliance, the CEO of Publicity Creating Company.

What are the trends of the Ukrainian PR-market nowdays?

Briefly, there are two trends. Professionals have become stronger, while laymen decay. This is clear in specialized agencies, as well as in PR departments of several companies. The hit of the financial crisis forced several agencies to stay stand-still and to be left of mass-media. In any case, the tactics of “expectation-silence-disappearance” is wrong. But what if some PR managers simply have nothing to offer the customer? .. Well, fans to criticize also disappeared in order to remain on job. This can be considered as an advantage.

But seriously, the processes occurring on the market are much more complicated than it seems. For example, there are different attitudes of companies toward public relations as a tool of reputation management important for business activity. Thus, their activity differs. Similarly, situation of PR agencies depends on positions before the crisis, and how it operates during the crisis. For example, Publicity Creating staked on a PR system and long-term projects - one-time orders are in much lesser quantity. Therefore, breaking of the crisis did not result in reflux of significant clients. While, popularity of the company assisted in resorts from new organizations, which are looking for new ways of development and new partners to implement their objectives.

I believe that the financial crisis, perhaps, is the best time for development of Ukrainian PR-industry.

Usually, "PR-market " is comprehended as commercial public relations for business structures. Don’t you think that such interpretation is too parsimonious interpretation?

PR-market is actually very large. It is really a matter of interpretation because various forms of PR can be theoretically attributed to different types of marketing communications. For example, the advertising industry attributes PR to general communication budgets. A PR-event for dealers, for example, can be reckoned to a "trade-promotion." What about types of promotion for Vitali Klitschko’s boxing match? There is another type of PR – public relations for sports. While, Vitali Klitschko’s interview as head of the faction in the city council can be comprehended as political PR. Singer holds out a charity auction is a social PR or show business PR? The singer - Ruslana was a people's deputy, as well as national team coach - Oleg Blokhin ... In other words, should develop a global understanding of PR as a pervasive technology and a fairly large industry, which is present in different spheres - sports and politics, culture and medicine ... And then the market size of PR, which is variously estimated from 80 to 250 million dollars a year, will be perceived in general as a small figure.

By the way, colleagues in Russia have identified the level of its public relations market in 2008, 2.5 billion dollars, and in 2009 - 1,8 billion dollars. Traditionally, many of the parameters adopted in Ukraine show as 10% of similar indicators in Russia. Thus the Ukrainian PR-market this year will be about 180 million US Dollars.

I think that everyone works on the market they outlined. Some consider the market of 20 million US dollars, other - 80 million dollars. We monitor and evaluate the market of PR-communications since 2002. In 2007-2008 we evaluated the amount of 250 million US dollars. This year - 200 million dollars (ie, the decrease in 20%).

What distinguishes the Ukrainian PR-alliance from other public organizations of the market?

For a lot of years I observe social organizations in the agricultural, automotive, alcohol markets; what authority they enjoy; as well as their media and government relations. Everyone tells about national interest, budgets, lobbying opportunities and leaders. PR is of national interest as it is concerned in communication and cooperation with target audiences. The PR sphere has national cadres, experts, technologies, practices for 7 to 15 years. Opacity of procedures; unspecialized managers in the industry; unpredictable competition among agencies and professionals worse the development of public relations.

Public organization must deal with establishment of transparent rules on the market, promotion of the industry and companies. Members of the organization must themselves acknowledge the benefit of participation in this. For two years we had informal cooperation and six months partnerships with the Alliance, after what we established Ukrainian PR-alliance. During this time conducted 2 studies, 6 events, received hundreds of publications in mass media, new contacts, and interest of clients. We have no fees and bureaucracy - members are united by principles and directions of the organization, while specific projects are funded in equal shares. This is a completely new design for our market and it already shows its advantages.

How do you assess the level of media interest to the PR industry?

To date, more than 80% of information about PR in Ukraine is focused in the Internet. Print media also publish materials, but not as much as before.

Regarding to public comments, I would urge colleagues to think what they say, and how it may affect the further development of the market. For example, if an agency currently has no clients or there is a significant reduction in work – there is no need to generalize it,and to draw such characteristic as a common for the whole market. Perhaps their former clients have chosen a more powerful PR-compan? What will be a client’s opinion, while reading phrases sort of: "reputation does not matter," clients leave PR agencies "," PR market dropped by half,” and so on? Is he going to cooperate? If a PR specialist lacks positive, determination and strategic vision what can he offer to a client?

Customers are interested in positive, development and new tools, while the past is for losers. In fact, during the financial crisis, the market is becoming more high-quality and professional. This is what will be highlighted sooner or later by mass media. Why PR professionals do not appear on the TV show in Savik Shuster? Public relations are actively used by politicians and journalists, but the state has not learned yet to win an information wars.

Recently, Ukrainian PR-Alliance raised the topic of promoting national manufacturers. What role in this process is given to Ukrainian PR agencies?

Ukrainian producers should work with Ukrainian PR-agencies - this is right for all points of view. Nobody understands needs and demands of national manufacturers better than he does (while PR-agency - is a manufacturer of intellectual services). There are a lot of professional PR-companies, which can help to Ukrainian goods and brands during difficult period of time. National manufacturers need to get away from "hypnosis" of network PR-companies, and to consider the specific benefits of cooperation with Ukrainian agencies. By the way, foreign PR-companies in a lot of countries also cooperate with local PR-agencies.

International experience certainly needs to be studied, but many (if not most) of technology in our country are not efficient or are not as effective as on the West. Foreign experts have made some contribution to the development of public relations in Ukraine during early 90th. The time for foreign PR conquerors has ended up at the turn of centuries. Formation, development and mature - are common stages of development for any market. Since 2000, the Ukrainian market began its development as a national component of the global PR-market. We are interesting to specialists in other countries, as a self-sufficient community of professionals.

Who more contributes to the industry – PR-agencies or PR specialists, which work in companies? How will the outsourcing of PR service develop?

Any industry is developed by specialized structures and national companies. They determine the methods, rules, prices, developing industry; while their activity shows importance of their services for clients. Specialists of unspecialized companies are users of services, products and skills of agencies. Although they will always prevail quantitatively, and are highly trained, but technologies and innovations are concentrated in specialized PR-agencies.

Outsourcing of PR services in Ukraine from year to year increases, irrespectively of the economic situation. Outsourcing is a global trend, but the combination of efforts (work by a specialist or department of the company with the involvement of external agencies) is the most effective. Today, a lot of companies that stopped to cooperate with professional agencies and reduced their PR-departments, formed a specific "public relations vacuum.” It can not be filled by one press-secretary, one-time appeals to free-lansers or unspecialized organizations. It is important to revert to the system PR-activities; and to develop strategy and tactics; to become active. It is important to be prepared for the post-crisis realitiy.


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