‘In the era of global challenges, it is important for PR companies to unite their efforts’
Nvard Melkonyan, one of the founders and the Chairman of the Board of Armenia-based SPRING PR, shares her journey, challenges she overcame & the future of PR in Armenia and the world over
As one of Armenia's first public relations agencies, SPRING PR has broken new grounds and catered to the PR and communications needs of the country. Founded in 2009 by a group of professionals in the fields of Sociology and Communications, it specialises in strategic communications, planning and development in PR, GR, advertising, marketing, branding, mobile marketing services and researches, amongst others, for local and international business.
In a conversation with e4m PR & Corp Comm, Nvard Melkonyan, one of the founders and the Chairman of the Board of SPRING PR, shares her journey, the challenges she overcame and what she envisions for the future of PR in Armenia and the world over.
Touted as one of the pioneers of PR institution development in Armenia, Melkonyan holds a PhD in Sociology. She developed professional standards of public relations for Armenia, and in November 2011, after long negotiations, PR was registered as a profession and added to an official list of professions by the decree of the Government of Armenia. She was the first to design the syllabus for the PR course at Yerevan State University (2001) and due to her continuous efforts, the Master’s degree programme in Public Relations was launched a YSU in 2006. In September 2022, the first Bachelor's programme in Public Relations is going to be launched at YSU. Her areas of expertise include PR, business communications and media relations for International Republican Institute, USAID; Government Spokespersons School, Government of RA and National Assembly, The Center of Excellence of Public Servants, National Democratic Institute, USAID; Children of Armenia Fund, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung South Caucasus, Caritas-Armenia, UNFPA and etc.
What was the thought behind establishing SPRING PR, with two specialists in the fields of sociology and communication?
I remember the days of 2009 very clearly. At that time, people didn’t know much about PR. During our lectures, I would constantly state that Armenia needed a competent PR industry. You could say I was very persuasive as two of my students from different classes, who had never met each other, offered to start a business together with me around the same time.
The mission for both of those offers was to help develop a competent PR field in Armenia. Of course, I obliged. And the three of us would start a company. We felt a huge responsibility as it was one of the first of its kind at that time.
Fair to say that the move was spontaneous and seductive. We had the vision yet the practical steps were still being figured out. However, the determination and the creativity of the team made it that much more contagious.
We have had a long journey together. We failed a lot and we learned a lot. Currently, we are operating as one of the leading PR companies in Armenia due to my brave students who motivated me with their courage. Our clients, who once trusted and believed in us, continue to work with us today. We have a diligent team of professionals who never stop surprising us with their creativity and hard work.
From pharmaceuticals, F & B, and technology to government and cultural events, education and social causes: you have provided all-around PR and media solutions to a diverse range of industries. How do you curate specialised PR strategies, approaches and execution for such a diverse clientele?
Spring PR provides a wide range of services to companies with different specialisations. In these years, we’ve seen customers grow from being small teams to operating healthy businesses and, in other cases, become large nationwide brands. And we have grown with them, making sure they are well-equipped with the right communications team and strategies to help them with reputation management and growth in their fields.
When starting work with a customer, it’s important for us to start the relationship with deep dives into their industries and learn everything we can. While our team is filled with masters of the science and art of communications – we rely on our partners to help us get to speed on their industry, the rules and their goals.
In the end, SPRING is a strategic communications PR company. The core of our approach to every communications campaign is research and strategy.
What changes have you noticed in PR practices over the last five years and what trends do you predict for the next five?
Over the last five years, the use of social media platforms has become more intensive which is a big challenge for PR specialists. Along with the traditional PR technologies, they should use all such modern approaches as thinking fast, reacting fast, making operational decisions (which doesn’t mean quick decisions; operational means on time) and following up on feedback in a very short period of time.
Another challenge is the dissemination of fake news. PR specialists face the challenge of explaining the value and importance of proper PR communications to the world.
Referring to the next five years, in my opinion, the social media platforms will be more diversified and in line with visual platforms; audio platforms will develop. This will be an opportunity for everyone to take the role of media themselves. That means that the spread of disinformation and fake news will be doubled or even tripled. Tendencies to replace real life with virtual reality will become a real challenge. PR specialists will face the challenge of placing effective communications in that chaotic flow of information.
Tell us about your CSR project 'Let's Care Armenia' and its first endeavor 'Let’s Care – World Water Day– Armenia 2012’.
It was one of our first international projects aimed at raising public awareness about the international challenges we face every day. In 2012, we launched a project called 'Let’s Care – World Water Day– Armenia 2012' in cooperation with Demo Production. It was a series of events aimed at understanding the current situation with water resources and related issues in Armenia, as well as at highlighting the main strategic solutions. It’s worth mentioning that our project has already joined the UN Water Campaign and is officially presented in the UN Water Worldwide Events list. In 2017, Spring PR received Communication 4 Future Davos Awards 2017 (held on March 14 in Geneva, Switzerland) for the title "Pro Bono of the Future" for its Corporate Social Responsibility Project - "Lets Care, Armenia!" Pro Bono of the Future" for the company’s input in non-commercial communications and charitable projects.
How do you ensure that Spring PR keeps up with the global PR practices?
Nowadays, in the era of global challenges, it is very important for various PR companies to unite their efforts and we at SPRING PR understand it very well. SPRING PR is a member of the international PR community, organising and taking part in various international meetings and conferences. International cooperation is a good opportunity for SPRING to represent Armenia in various platforms and bring their global culture and work style to our country, having its own input in the development of PR and communications in Armenia.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we held a series of meetings with our international partners about crisis communications. In 2020, in the scope of the International PR Week CIS 2020, we talked with our partners from the post-Soviet area (Raso and Imars) about the necessity of PR companies to adapt to the new changing circumstances of the professional community.
How do you perceive the changes that are constantly at play in the PR/ marketing/ creative industries, especially in terms of the influx of digital and social media, AI, and the Metaverse?
Innovations in technology have always affected how companies market themselves. In the last couple of decades, we’ve seen several waves of new technology that have fully changed the communication landscape. No one can work in PR and be ignorant of changes in how humans communicate.
Social media perhaps has been the most powerful addition to a PR professional’s arsenal. Smart social media communications can give a brand direct contact with the consumer and can help unlock a new level of interaction that was not possible before. However, we’ve seen in the past years how dangerous social media has proven to be with how widespread bots, misinformation and even deepfakes have become.
This is precisely why we’ve invested in acquiring and training top-tier social media marketing and communications specialists at our company.
The best proof of our success is WCFA Davos Digital Award 2021 for our Digital Communication campaign "Milk is Love" carried out jointly with Yeremyan Projects.
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