Interview. Sorina Mihai (Porter Novelli Romania): “In 2018, communication should be organic, fluid and closely linked to society’s pace”

Newsroom 24/04/2018 | 17:00

With over 16 years’ worth of experience in the communication area, her knowledge spans multiple categories, including FMCG, telecommunications, consumer electronics, pharmaceutical industry, banking and energy sectors. BR talked with Sorina Mihai, managing partner Porter Novelli Romania, about the agency’s performance last year and plans for 2018, but also about the local PR market and how it fits into the international trends.

By Romanita Oprea

How was 2017 for the agency in terms of turnover /revenues?

2017 was a successful year in terms of turnover and revenue. We grew significantly by extending our portfolio of clients (retail, pharma, utilities, FMCG), but also the range of communication services for our long term partners.

What were the departments that were most successful? What about the least successful ones?

Porter Novelli Romania’s team is structured in departments that work like a multidisciplinary organism: across disciplines and industries. Every project nucleus includes communication specialists from all departments. But there is one new breed of service we dispose of and it’s becoming compulsory in all the projects we undertake. This new hybrid I am talking about is actually a symbiosis between the social media and trend forecasting departments. The result is a keener understanding of the dynamic in consumption and behavior of people in online.

What about the pitches you attended?

We like to be challenged. The funny thing is that I was talking to my colleagues the other days and they were saying how much they like the entire process of a pitch. It’s really a great time to work together, learn and find new means to tackle a PR campaign.

Last year we were selected in more than 10 pitches and the good news is more that 78 perecent of the pitches we have taken part in were a success.

How would you characterize the local advertising industry in 2018 in terms of budgets, campaigns, creativity, etc?

We are hoping to see more and more daring approaches and new alternatives of communication to traditional PR. Looking back in hindsight, I can now state that we have always been ready for a new dynamic in communication and I am proud to say that our agency is ahead of the game.

What were the most important changes & novelties in the agency in 2017 and how did they come to happen?

Evolution was key player during 2017. During the past years we have been busy “redesigning our story”: we have a vision and we work hard to set sail in order to accomplish it. This process meant changing old habits, a lot of analyzing and planning and also experimenting. It all happened thanks to our progressive team and it is the footprint we want to have in our local PR field.

What trends did you notice on the local market last year and how do you intend to follow them /represent them at your agency? What do you foresee for 2018 from this point of view?

In 2018, communication should be organic, fluid and closely linked with the pace of society, addressing both mainstream currents, micro-cultures and emerging behaviors. For us, it is crucial to be culturally aware. The local cultural scene is blooming, and we keep a close eye on inspirational individuals, subcultures, initiatives and communities. You can really see that people are more and more “woke”. Actually, all-over marcomm, both agencies and clients, begin to understand that diversity is more than just a buzz word and it can be translated into relevant brand stories. So, in the next couple of years, we are going to see more campaigns that aim to have a real social input rather than campaigns designed to win awards and also, a stronger link between independent creatives and powerful brands.

What is your goal for 2018 in terms of revenue, but also new clients, employees, etc?

Continue the progressive trend of 2017.

What do you wish for the local industry this year?

Communication is a two way process. So, in order for this industry to evolve, we think dialogue is key to transforming the communication industry into a more powerful and relevant community.

How do you see the Romanian market connected to the international one at this moment?

There are two words that describe the way in which we are perceived by the international community: effervescent and bold. Despite the uncertain times we live in, they call for bold responses, although the process is sometimes rough. But this is what sets us apart, what differentiates us: the bold moves we unlock in order to find new sources of growth. Making the right moves involves using granular analysis to choose the right submarkets and upending the traditional approach to planning by reallocating resources —people, budgets and management — to new areas.

Where is the local industry still lacking and what can it be changed?

I believe social media is still changing the old-school intelligence cycle. If we want to be decision makers, we need to start using rich real-time data and social media to gain fresh strategic insight and tap into it for insights on how consumers think and behave.

As social technologies mature and organizations become convinced of their power, we believe they will take on a broader role: informing competitive strategy. In particular, social media should help companies overcome some limits of old-school intelligence gathering.

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