20 Years of Romanian PR: Interview with Raluca Zamfir (RAN Communication)

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 22/11/2022 | 13:23

Romanian PR’s top accolade, the Romanian PR Award, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year as a daring and stubborn project that has managed to bring together under the same rooftop communicators, valuable competitors, enthusiasts, and hundreds of PR professionals. Business Review started a series of interviews with top PR personalities that have been working in the industry for more than 20 years and that made a big impact on it. How it was and what is expected from the next chapters, you are about to find out.

By Romanita Oprea


To open the series we have Raluca Zamfir, managing partner RAN Communication, a brand and communication expert with in-depth knowledge and expertise across a number of sectors in the communication industry. With specialties such as Branding and Identity, Marketing & Communications, Global Brands’ Strategy, Public Relations, Digital marketing, Media buying and planning, BTL, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Sponsorships, Crisis communication, Internal communications, Raluca Zamfir opened up to us about her career in PR from the first steps and up to today.


How would you characterize the evolution of the Romanian PR industry?

The Romanian PR industry is such a fast-growing and changing field, it’s based on such dynamic narratives and it is influenced and affected by what’s going on in other major fields.  All significant changes that hit our clients immediately impact us too. This being the context, we’re definitely very flexible and active, so is the industry. We’re also very creative and spontaneous people in the industry with high adaptability skills.


How was it when you started?

I started out in PR about 25 years ago. It was the golden age of faxes and landlines; we used to send out invitations via mail or fax, something unheard of today.  We started the workday with a daily press review for the upper management. Back then there weren’t any agencies to do that work. Whenever I tell this story my younger colleagues are really amused. Nowadays it’s extremely easy to communicate; everything seems to be a few clicks away. It’s clear that technology has completely changed our lives and how we communicate and address each other. We are less formal today.


What determined you to choose PR as a career?

I studied banking and was more than ready for a career in the field when I landed my first job interview with the BRD team. However, they saw something different in me, my very active inner self, the one who couldn’t settle down and do a routine job. So I was offered a job in the Communication department and that is where it all started.

My first year in PR was dramatic. There wasn’t a day of the week that you could not find me multitasking. It was overwhelming. But to survive, and more importantly thrive, in this industry, I’ll share the advice that I got from one of my mentors: You have to just dive in and learn as you go. That is, learn as much as you can, get your hands dirty, and don’t shy away from asking questions. I remember that in my first year I hardly spoke during client meetings. I feared my ideas might be rejected or that I would say something stupid. It’s only later, through experience and with help from my mentor, I realized there is so much cutthroat competition in the industry that every idea is welcome.

So, PR is not a  typical 10-to-6 job and I like that I don’t have a fixed work schedule. It’s a match made in heaven, I was made for a PR career, I am an active person, I love tackling new projects, and taking on new clients, I have no problem adapting to new situations, I am extremely flexible and I do well in crises. Nothing can put me down. I always find the resources to try again or just start over.


What were its most interesting years, in your opinion and why?

Every decade is interesting; there’s some significant change every couple of years, internet, social media, communities, and the pandemic. I was there to witness all these changes. If I were to choose the most interesting couple of years it would probably be the rise of social media and how it shaped our jobs and tailored our services. Everything we do is so specific to each social channel that it has completely transformed the way we package the message.


What were the main changes in the last few years?

The PR field is certainly different than it was in 2019, and it will change even more by 2025. The pandemic has changed everything – the norms, routines, and expectations that governed the way we work were turned upside down and we’re all in the process of trying to navigate the new normal. 

The increasingly remote workforce of media outlets has made it difficult to connect with the right person to pitch over the phone, and in-person networking opportunities are only now making a comeback.

The transformation of PR during the last years is linked to current technological trends – among other things, digitization, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotization or automation – which either directly influence the performance of the PR profession as such or increasingly become the subject of activities being created.

Another challenge for PR professionals is communication with journalists, respectively with creators of media content that virtually can be anyone, thanks to modern technologies and online community platforms. PR specialists face the question of how to establish and grasp cooperation with influencers or vloggers, for example.

Today more than ever, consumers expect to be treated as unique individuals. In parallel, the historical reach and influence of mass media continue to decline as audiences shift their attention to their favorite social networks. Given these growing trends, personalization and message relevance play increasingly important roles as consumption habits (and demographics) shift toward distributed platforms and channels where consumers are actively seeking relevant, interesting, and engaging content that matters to them. As a discipline, I hope this reality focuses us on thinking critically about earned / traditional media and how best to engage audiences by orchestrating complex programs, mapped to customer-centric journeys (e.g. experiences) across an evolving mix of digital experiences and channels, at scale.


How would you characterize the industry right now (creativity, budgets, strategy, etc)?

Working in the communication industry is becoming more challenging and demanding. We are faced with more responsibilities and heavier workloads as well as increased competition and a more complex media landscape.

As many companies had to reduce budgets because of the pandemic, PR agencies became more inventive and more creative. What seemed impossible to us a few years ago is being achieved today. The area of ​​online communication has developed a lot; consequently, the market of influencers has grown strongly, what seemed something exotic a few years ago is already a job in itself.

Necessity is the mother of invention! This year has put pressure on everyone. We have all had to flex and pivot and respond to the opportunities in front of us. So, we have to be more inventive telling client stories and being seen and heard.


What would you change in the industry and why?

I think that the players in the PR industry should communicate constantly and move things. The biggest challenge is to educate the whole market, not only the communication specialists but also the top management of companies. The evaluation of PR work and at the same time the drive for its continuation is not only a list of performed activities but also a comprehensible presentation of their specific impacts on the functioning of the client’s company, which deepens mutual understanding and partnership cooperation.


What were and still are your main goals for your agency?

Continue to grow and absorb more digital and video capabilities, to be the best option for our clients, give the most, tailor services and deliver impactful campaigns. We take pride in doing a meaningful job with direct and visible results that help our clients grow their businesses. And growing my team and our skills.


What changed through the years for you and your perspective on PR? Why?

After 2020’s massive shake-up, followed by a still-unpredictable and capricious 2021 and a looming recession in 2022, PR pros across all industries have had to adapt, evolve, and pivot to satisfy upcoming PR trends get their client brands in the spotlight.

A lot of things have changed, the most significant change being triggered by technology and the rise of social media, at first as alternative channels. These are now integrated channels, part of our mix of services, you can’t go without, and social media is a must nowadays. The PR market grew accordingly and diversified.

There are options for everyone, be it big companies, smaller ones, entrepreneurs, or freelancers, the market can offer personalized services. Storytelling persists over the millennia but modern technology is the fire around which we are now figuratively sitting and communicating.


What are the main challenges right now in your opinion, in the industry?

Unfortunately, the lesson is that the unexpected can hit anytime so we’d better be prepared for the worst but hope for the best.

Today the audience is changing – the rise of Gen Z has led to a change in platforms (from traditional media to Tik Tok) as well as priorities (from the “me, me, me” message to social justice). The PR industry will have to adapt to these changes with authentic content that engages this new generation.

We need to evolve beyond the traditional way of thinking and change the mindset about what PR is and what it can do for a company. The old adage, “the medium is the message,” no longer fits today’s communications. It’s ultimately up to the audience — what they want to consume and how. As we look to return to “business as usual” in 2022, successful communications plans that deliver meaningful outcomes will be those that focus on telling stories in the right channels.

More than ever, new forms of media are emerging from podcasts to digital publications to streaming video content. “Traditional” media is still very important for the overall brand awareness but more than ever these newer forms of media are making a big impact.


How are you surpassing them at Ran Communication?

We work incredibly well together and that makes the team great. We’re always there for each other no matter what. Plus we’re excellent at what we do, we love our jobs and that is visible in the results our clients get.

The challenge now is more business as usual. Finding the right talent that aligns to our values of – energy, passion, respect, loyalty and collaboration; onboarding new clients and sticking to the growth plans.


What still inspires you and gives you drive and joy in PR and why?

Almost 25 years in and I’m working just as hard as I did the day I started. But you also have to be nimble and willing to shift with the times. If you get pigeonholed into only excelling at one thing, you may not be able to keep up with the fast-paced world, especially in the media.

No day is the same. One day you could deal with a product launch, the next you could deal with bankruptcy, develop a research survey or pitch an executive on TV.


Raluca Zamfir’s best year in PR so far and why

My best year in PR is definitely the current year. I love challenges and I am a real team player. Each year is special and feels like my best year, though the best is yet to come, right!

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