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Staying Away from Political PR: Interview with Teona Baghdavadze

Caucasus Business Week offers you an interview with Teona Baghdavadze, Founder of Key Communications PR-Consulting Company, where she talks about her education, work experience and shares pieces of advice for younger generation coming to public relations sphere.

Teona is a quite prominent PR specialist in Georgia, and has worked for several local companies, she is actively involved in activities concerning Social Responsibility.

What is your profession?

I hold a MA degree in social studies. Previously, this direction was united into the journalism faculty, but a year later it was transformed into the faculty of social sciences. In Italy I graduated from Media Management School. Later I was interested in PR issues. I have passed many trainings in this direction, including in London. I have also passed George Washington University courses in projects management. This profession assists me  in my activities very much.

What about your first job?

I got my first job at Mze TV company. I started as an intern. Then I left for Italy for my studies. Having returned to Georgia, I started working for Aldagi insurance company.

1.5 years ago I left stable job and now I manage my own PR-consulting company of Key Communications that serves about 20 medium companies in terms of selection and implementation of communication strategy. I am the company founder and executive director.

You first success.

In general, PR is perceived as a magic stick  resolving all problems with company reputation. However, the reality is different. PR management cannot be confined by only one person and one team. Therefore, I think all projects that I have implemented in collaboration with the company management  turned out very successful. I can name Beeline company  that reached much success when I was working there in stable regime. PR was one of the decisive instruments in this success. In that period this mechanism promoted the company reputation and even today Beeline maintains the image of one of the most growing companies in Georgia.  I have cooperated with many major companies in terms of consulting. A major part of them are my stable partners and I am proud of this.

Project that you have implemented and are proud of.

 I am proud of almost all projects. Georgian Glass Company is the recent one and I have been cooperating with this company for several months. I think this is one of the interesting companies. Moreover, inauguration of Biltmore hotel was also very good experience.

We have also conducted energy efficient campaigns jointly with USAID. I would also name Castel projects, for example, appearance of Kaltenberg beer on the Georgian market. McDonald’s project is also worth mentioning.  As part of social responsibility campaigns, we have cooperated with enterprises, where persons with disabilities make handmade products. We have assisted them in sales of these products in McDonald’s network. This was a good case for other countries too. I believe we can be proud of the achievements we have made in a short period.

The field where you would never work.

My activities are  diversified and they frequently comprise such aspects as the company’s social responsibility, management of reputation and risks direction. I believe there are many interesting fields for me in this direction. At this stage, I prefer to stay away from political PR.

I have received interesting offers, but I decided that I was not ready  to take  decisions for specific realities and to ignore those initiatives that I want to implement.

What factors make a person successful in your field? Besides knowledge, what special personal characteristics are required?

First of all, this is a desire to listen to different people with different visions, but today it is very difficult for us to act in this way. It is difficult to consider the relevant issues and problems from their positions. Tolerance is one of the key values for me and this value is necessary that a person  get established in this field. Ability of making creative and smart decisions is of crucial importance.

PR is considered (fairly) one of the stressful professions because it depends on external factors. It is very difficult to determine human behavior in advance. Therefore, ability of keeping good relations with various types of people assists me very much to attain success in this field.

Is it possible today in Georgia to study PR technologies very well, or international education and experience is necessary?

This field is being developed very dynamically. I believe our task is to create academic expectations (who act in this field). Some persons manage to do this better, because they work in this direction more, some have less capabilities. However, I do believe that PR as a standard of communications art, should be still developed in Georgia. It is necessary to make mixies in our country.

Is PR perceived and understood in Georgia in its classic essence?

Media has lost the influence that it had a certain period ago. In Georgia, commerce organizations that were restricted to demonstrate AD materials in television space have to resort to creative PR decisions. In this situation it is frequently difficult to draw line  between PR and marketing and they are perceived as a joint discipline and communication.

Interesting episode from your business life that have changed your life.

It is not easy to name such an episode, because I have been working in this field for a long period and everyday life enables me to perceive this profession better and in more different ways than the day before. During this period I have better got acquainted with people,  their psychology and I think everything is ahead and this is only commencement.

 Without this profession, who would you be and where would you take efforts?

I have thought about this frequently, but I find it difficult to answer this question. I think I would work in fields related to media and communications. I am interested in social psychology very much. I frequently perform as a lecturer in various directions, but this is not my true purpose at this stage.

Currently, I plan to engage in more international projects to make sure that my knowledge will promote me on international markets too.

 Where do you see yourself after 20 years?

I will be still young after 20 years and I see myself in this field again. However, my favorite expression is: «Life has better fantasy than you”. I belong to that category of people who do not miss chances somehow. I think the main charm of the life is that you receive chances of which you have never dreamt. Therefore, I never set long-term plans for my life.