Anastasia Golovina is a PR specialist with extensive experience in journalism, and financial and blockchain projects. She has managed communications for various blockchain startups, such as Ripio Credit Network, SingularityNET, Celsius and others. Anastasia is the best person to talk to about bringing nascent industries into the mainstream and explaining complex subjects in a simple manner.
In the last month alone, she’s gotten her clients featured in Bloomberg, Forbes, CNN, Business Insider, NY Post, and other media outlets. She now works at Ditto PR, a Brooklyn-based PR agency renowned for its client-focused culture and strong media relations.
- What are the biggest challenges that PR professionals will face in 2021?
Albert Einstein once said, “In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.” If nothing else, that’s what 2020 has taught us. Just as the world went through tremendous, rapid change, so did the media landscape, particularly in the way news is consumed. PR professionals have to adapt to these changes and learn new skills to keep their footing in the media. In 2021, that means being an expert in traditional media relations and in social and digital content marketing, as well as in advertising. A PR specialist should also have a strong understanding of the client’s business and develop a PR strategy to help them achieve their business goals.
One of the main challenges of PR remains the same: breaking through the noise. The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines will take some time, so we should expect the virus to dominate the news cycle. In the first quarter of 2021, there’s going to be more political noise, too. PR professionals have to get more creative and find new channels and tools to reach the right audiences.
Remote work and the lack of real-life industry events has been another huge challenge. But it’s also presented the opportunity of testing various types of online events and conferences. Many agencies, including Ditto PR, have adapted accordingly and now organize online events and speaking opportunities for their clients.
2. How hard is it for an immigrant and non-native speaker to work in PR?
It can be challenging. Besides the language barrier, there are many additional factors: cultural differences, different mindsets and traditions, different business and communications practices. I work with many international clients, and I notice that even though many of them speak a common language, they don’t always understand each other. It takes time to learn and adapt to a new environment and the ways that people communicate. Fortunately, I’ve always been interested in learning languages (I speak three of them) and learning about different cultures, so I don’t mind the challenge.
3. How has the pandemic affected the way you communicate with journalists?
Obviously, you can’t get coffee with a reporter and meet them in person these days. But the pandemic has opened other ways of communicating, and I’d say that my relationships with reporters have improved. The key to success is just to be human. A lot of us are stuck at home alone and craving human connection. My advice is to reach out to a reporter, once a week, and offer to have a virtual coffee. No pitching, just a genuine conversation. These meetings really help to connect on a deeper level.
All of us use social networks more than ever today. I would recommend following reporters on Twitter and engaging them in conversation. Instagram is also a good platform for informal interactions – I often post pictures of my cooking and share recipes with reporters.
All of that helps keep you attuned and connected to journalists. But the most important rule is to be a good source. If a reporter needs help with a story, and you’ve always been a reliable source, they will come to you.
4. How did Ditto PR manage to gain more clients during the pandemic?
I think it’s because we’re always thinking about how to add value to our clients’ businesses, rather than just gaining PR coverage. We define value as the cost of PR and the return on investment.
Our approach to PR is twofold:
First, PR should aim to advance clients’ business goals. In our initial discussions with clients,, we try to understand their present need, whether it’s to bring in more customers, initiate another round of investment, or focus attention on other goals.
And second, we recognize that PR services go far beyond their original scope. As strategic communications advisors, we try to deliver a broad range of output (i.e., media training, crisis resolution, op-eds, events, influencers, media relations).
5. How has pitching changed this year?
A lot of reporters have changed their beat and turned to COVID-related coverage. Some have even changed their industry focus. I know a reporter who used to cover cybersecurity but switched to fintech this year. It’s crucial to have your finger on the pulse.
At the same time, it’s important to be a valuable source for reporters. Provide relevant data whenever you can — it may contribute to a bigger story. Another thing that’s changed this year is that there’s been a greater need for human-interest stories. I think every client has a story to tell, from managing a company remotely to enduring personal challenges during the pandemic. It’s our job to find these stories.
6. Do you enjoy working from home or would you rather get back to the office?
Ditto PR has created a great work-from-home policy and has come up with various office-wide activities, ranging from online trivia to remote yoga and reiki sessions. I’d say remote work has even helped us become more organized.
Nevertheless, I am looking forward to getting back to the office once it’s safe for everyone. We have a fantastic team, and I think that in-person interaction helps us be more creative and develop new ways to succeed in our job.
7. What are three main things international companies should know before entering the US market?
No matter how solid your awareness of your home market, you’ll need to make adjustments to everything, from your messaging and positioning to your selection of target audiences. This will require experienced PR and marketing professionals if you want to do it right.
At the same time, your brand’s relative obscurity can be a significant advantage, depending on how differently you’re presenting your offering in this market.
In most cases, building customer relationships from scratch in new markets is not efficient. Considering partnerships with companies that already have market share and valuable infrastructure could be incredibly beneficial, particularly at the time of your launch.
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