Maxim Behar, ICCO President for Chinese PR Magazine: PR today requires immediate and professional reaction

1\You started your career as a journalist from 1981 to 1995 in Bulgaria ,Czech and Poland. How do you think this experience influenced you?

Especially in that time, back more than 20 years ago, this experience was priceless. And the reason is very simple. Traditional media were the only media and also the only “bridge” between our clients and their target audiences. My deep knowledge of media helped me a lot, indeed I started from a intern and grew up to a Managing Editor of the largest private daily newspapers in Bulgaria. This was meaning by default that I knew exactly what is happening in the “head” of each journalist, how to attract the media, how to write news in a way that professional journalists will immediately get them and put in their newspapers or will speak about them in the TV or radio channels. Without this deep knowledge, at least I think now, it would not be possible to make this “frog leap” in business and soon to become the most professional leader in the Bulgarian PR market.

2\In your opinion, with the great changes of technology and media environment, what changes have happened in the PR industry?

Public Relations business is today one of the most dynamic businesses in the world. The reason of the change is very, very simple. For the first time in the history, since this business exists almost 120 years, not only our clients, but also we as PR experts, own media. In the past it has been true true – we were creating our concepts to attract media and to get their interest to our clients and their products or services. But today we already have the media, our clients have them – these are the social media. And from a “bridge”, as I said, between clients and media, now must become managers of social medial we own. From a purely practical perspective this is already a completely different business, which requires different tools, approaches and even professional education and abilities. We should know how to run media, how to write into them responsibly, intelligently and attractively, how to promote them among the readers and – what is most important – how to respond to the online commentary. Because on the top nowadays we do not have a lot of time to react in social media and the faster we are, the more successful the project will be.

3\Could you talk about the key point of doing good PR services?

The three S, formulated by me many years ago are still valid even much stronger now – – Speed, Simplicity, Self confidence. First of all the speed is really crucial and extremely important. Secondly – the world is so sophisticated today, our tasks are so complicated, that we must have very clear priorities and a simple agenda how to achieve them – simplicity. And the third one, which even might be the first one – I do not know a single successful person who achieved anything without self confidence and desire to do the job perfectly and responsibly.

4\How the PR companies keep and promote key competitive strength in the background of homogenization in PR industry?
There is an obvious merge worldwide among the three main key elements of modern public communications – public relations, advertising and digital. In this merge, which even can happen in full much faster than we can expect. Each of those three businesses now claim they will be the leader of the future merged business. I simply believe that it’ll be public relations, not advertising or digital and have quite strong arguments for that. The main point of those arguments is that we, the public relations experts, are the masters of the real content, of the words, of the sentences and namely content these days is crucially important. And more – clients these days come to our office with two main important problems – reputation problems and crisis management. So, I do not think that advertising or digital can handle this, of course that public relations is the business, which can provide these services to the clients with the important support of the creative design (from the advertising) and proper social media promotion (from the digital).

5\In your opinion, which aspects are important in training PR elites?

Teaching them to manage the social media in the right way and to serve the clients 24 hours, 7 days a week. The rest they will learn by themselves.

6\You were announced “Business leader of the year” in Bulgaria in 2016 , and the Global Award “CEO of the Year in the World” in 2015. What’s feeling about these two award?

Often I say  – when you climb a peak you may see anything else then… the next peak. All those awards, which I have had throughout the years brought me new and higher responsibilities, but also the challenge and desire to achieve more new and interesting things. And to stay on the professional top.

7\What’s your opinion about public relations and media relations in future?

They will be more and more dependable on visions and short movies. And what is important – all public relations projects will be soon implemented only live in real time with the means of video transmission. Which will mean another change of our business – we must be ready to react at any second, personally and professionally. By the way – I really think that the name of our business – “Public Relations” is old fashioned and does not respond to the modern times. When the business was launched more than a century ago some 90 per cent of the relations were non-public, but the rest of 10 per cent were public and then the businessmen and politicians started to hire journalists to advise them how to behave with the media… Today all our life is public and to say “public relations” is very similar to say “transparent window”. Soon the name of the business will be different and the closest I can propose or guess now is “Live Relations”. Everything will be based on live social media and handling this communications will be the most difficult task.

8\What’s your hobby in your spare time? Please make a self introduction.

Golf, playing drums, traveling, fitness, reading, reading, reading… In the modern world if there is a day without at least one new interesting article or book, then it is a wasted day. And if I hate something, then I only hate to waste my time.