20 years of Romanian PR: Interview with Sorina Mihai (Porter Novelli Romania)

Newsroom 13/12/2022 | 09:50

Romanian PR’s top accolade, the Romanian PR Award, celebrated 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


“All or nothing” is the motto that drives Sorina Mihai, managing partner Porter Novelli, day–by–day, both in business and personal life. The half-respected promises, the partially accomplished objectives, the half-implemented projects are neither in her vocabulary, nor in her daily routine. Experience showed her that only open-hearted and unquestionable ideas win. She provides strategic oversight to the design and execution of reputation-building and marketing communication programs for both local and multinational brands. My knowledge spans multiple categories, including FMCG, telecommunications, consumer electronics, pharmaceutical industry, banking, and energy industry.


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

The local PR industry is no longer just about media relations: we develop content, we have creative teams, planners and offer services far beyond the PR agency of way back when it all started. Locally, PR is still one of the most conservative – yet stable industry in the communication sector; but the past several years have indeed been revolutionary for our field. Communicators are constantly being challenged by new technologies: the rise of new social platforms and the ever-changing way we use them, the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence and the data-driven demand for new metric modes are pushing public relations into new areas of focus.

How was it when you started? 

First of all, I have to go back and imagine PR without social media and it was often a one-way street, with us disseminating information and no means for the public to easily respond.

Not only did social networks change the way we engage with our societies and the world around us, but they also changed the way businesses operated.

Looking back, the local PR industry was effervescent. People were driven and eager to become relevant and shape the local marcom field.

What determined you to choose PR as a career?

I was lucky enough to find a profession that works for me as a platform that channels both: my enthusiastic and communicative nature and passion for culture and media.

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

I would say the last few years: in addition to the social justice movements, the pandemic and the developing climate challenges, the ongoing transformation has profoundly impacted how we work, when we work, where we work and what is important to us: our purpose.

What were the main changes in the last few years?

Clients are demanding a wider range of services beyond traditional PR from agencies. In order to meet this high demand and growing range of services, it’s crucial for agencies to invest time and energy into creating an environment that fosters both professional and personal growth. Otherwise, we’re at risk of watching premier talent exit our industry.

How would you characterize the industry right now?

There is a growing interest in evaluating public relations efforts with hard data. We might be less concerned with superficial measures like reach and engagement and more concerned with the impact of each campaign’s efforts on revenue. To succeed in this uncharted territory, it is crucial to have honest discussions with clients to determine the parameters of success for each campaign.

What would you change in the industry and why?

What’s good for the community and the earth doesn’t have to be at odds with what’s good for business. There has been significant progress in diversity and inclusion both inside and outside agencies in the past years. We should be committed to the community as a whole and promote diverse narratives. It is paramount we tell our clients to appropriately represent their target audiences, since there will be an ever-increasing expectation from consumers that businesses will be active members of the communities in which they do business.

What were and still are you main goals for Porter Novelli?

In the near future we aim to do more businesses addressing corporate purpose, a sustainability and environment ranks as the most important social issue and ESG is one of the top investment areas.

We aim to explore, be aware, and be open to change with new ways of doing things and new technologies that will help our partners reach their goals. The key to the business I run is adaptability: the faster you adapt, the better your company can help boost the brands you represent.

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

Metrics and data: there is a growing interest in evaluating public relations efforts with hard data. We might be less concerned with superficial measures like reach and engagement and more concerned with the impact of each campaign’s efforts on revenue. To succeed in this uncharted territory, it is crucial to have honest discussions with clients to determine the parameters of success for each campaign.
What are the main challenges right now in your opinion, in the industry? 

Retaining key talent continues to be the top challenge and priority, followed by motivating younger staff and developing junior staff.

How are you surpassing them at Porter Novelli? 

During the past years we invested in the proper people and gave them the freedom to produce, yielding a favorable return. Starting with 2022, our creative department started collaborating with content creators on TikTok and other social media platforms in an endeavor to discover and support fresh and upcoming talent. Bringing in a creator or two early on and having them contribute to the brainstorming process is another way to ensure a successful campaign.

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

There is a lot of agony, self-doubt and hard work that go into running a successful business, but there’s always a collective effort.

Inspiration for me comes from my close team: they teach me that change is the only constant in life. Together with them Porter Novelli Romania has morphed into a PR consultancy agency that touches almost every aspect of business and has helped reinvent traditional communication as we know it.

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