Q & A With Katerina Antonova, founder and CEO of Aeris PR

Katerina Antonova is a well-known expert in public relations and strategic communications. She is the founder and CEO of Aeris PR, a boutique agency that helps tech startups and VC firms from Europe, Russia, and the US to develop brand awareness and increase exposure. She has over 10 years of expertise in tech PR. Also, Katerina is a member of the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) and GWPR (Global Women in PR) community. 

Tell us what you do at Aeris PR, and how are you different from other agencies?

The main difference is that we are KPI-driven. At the beginning of the partnership, we set KPIs consisting of the number of publications we are committed to producing during a certain period. We promise and deliver publications, and we don’t do less than we promise. However, this does not mean that we guarantee publications in any particular media because we are PR, not an ad agency.  Our other strength is that we are well-versed in a number of tech and VC industries, we are a boutique agency and definitely understand relevant markets and our client’s objectives, and that is why we can share their ideas in the right way. Also, Aeris PR is an international team, and we operate not only in the US but in Europe and Russia as well, which gives us powerful leverage because not many agencies do that, especially in the tech field.

What are Aeris PR’s core values, and what do they mean for the agency?  

Transparent communication with clients is ultimately important for us. We establish true alliances and treat our clients as partners, friends even. At the beginning of our partnership, we work hard to fully understand our clients’ business goals, the brand essence, and the founder’s personality.Another value is deliverability. We meet goals set and strive to exceed them. In this regard, I can say that Aeris PR is an agency that really gets things done.

Other than that, we always go deeply into our clients’ activity fields and we try to get the best understanding of their specialization to deliver high-quality publications in top media.

And finally, we value responsiveness and easy communication, so we provide convenient and quick communication to our clients. Making jobs easy for our clients is one of our priorities.

Aeris PR has a wide breadth of clientele, so how do you specialize?  

We work mostly with tech startups and VC funds. Our focus is AI, Robotics, FinTech, Blockchain, MarTech, HealthTech, HRTech, EdTech, and Wellness.

How can startups capitalize on PR?

Of course, there are dozens of ways that startups can make use of PR. Firstly, PR helps show expertise. Public opinions, mentions, and columns in media outlets always mean a lot for any startup.

PR is a heavily important tool to attract investors’ attention: proper media coverage increases a startup’s exposure and can be aimed at getting and staying on the investors’ radar.

Other than that, PR is a great tool to land new talents, and recruiting new high-class team members is often crucial for a startup’s early growth stage.

Not to forget general public relations objectives such as boosting recognition and managing reputation — these are the things that every startup craves.

If a business is already investing monthly in PR, what could best complement it?

Social media are very important in terms of further promoting publications that are initially gained in media outlets. Using them can significantly increase exposure to the target audience and multiply the effect achieved with PR. Not to mention influencer marketing that is essential today for a lot of products and services wanting to stay competitive.

Strong business development and sales department of a company are also important sources of everlasting support for PR endeavors.

What services do you use daily to optimize your PR workflow?

My day usually starts with Gmail, Calendar, Google Search, Google Docs, Telegram, and Todoist. But I definitely use some PR tools, which make my work a little easier. These services are our saving grace! 

Muck Rack is a place where I go to keep up–to–date regarding journalists’ niches and interests. Then, I use Prowly as my all-in-one organizer, and Airtable is the treasury where I keep all my spreadsheets. And none of my texts go sent or published without being checked on Grammarly.  Its Premium version saves me hundreds of hours and dollars.

What are your must-read books in public relations?

This is a hard choice to make from hundreds of books! 

I would definitely recommend Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller as one of the best books on storytelling, which is essential for PR. 

Then, Inbound PR: The PR Agency’s Manual to Transforming Your Business With Inbound by Iliyana Stareva is a wonderful guide for PR agencies.

If you want to learn from the master of pitching, read This is how you pitch by Ed Zitron, one of Business Insider’s Top 10 PR people in tech. Along with it, you can also check out Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan. 

In short, what are some of the biggest PR trends in 2022?

  • Influencer collaborations have never been so important.
  • Shorter pitches – there’s so much data around us, and we need to find ways to stand out.
  • Tighter relationships and pitching expansion across digital platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Slack, Clubhouse, chatrooms, etc.).
  • More seamless PR and marketing merger. These things will work even more closely together.
  • Keep up-to-date in digital marketing to amplify your PR efforts. A holistic cross-departmental approach wins.
  • Personal branding will become even more important as the world is getting more digital each day and online is the main place where we meet each other personally. Everyone needs a digital presence to stay on the radar.
  • Authenticity in communications. The rise of technology sets the need for real human connection in the virtual universe.

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