Empowering Women in PR: An Interview with Emma Sargsyan

14 mins read

Welcome to PRNEWS.IO! As part of our ongoing project, Her PR Journey, we are excited to share interviews with amazing women in PR. Today, we are thrilled to introduce Emma Sargsyan. With over 15 years of experience in PR, communications, and event management, Emma is a personal branding evangelist, a crisis consultant, and a speaker at the D&AD Festival. Let’s dive into her inspiring journey and insights.

Emma Sargsyan: Transforming PR in Armenia

Navigating the PR Landscape: Emma Sargsyan's Professional Journey

1. Could you please introduce yourself and share a bit about your professional experience in the fields of PR, communications, marketing, and event management? How did you start your career in this industry?

My name is Emma, I have been in the PR and communications industry for quite a while now. As a first-year student at the Armenian State University of Economics I fell in love with marketing and from then on I had my decision that my career would go in that direction. I started working quite early, and my first steps were in communications and PR. From then on, all my activities and work were directed towards bettering the communication industry in Armenia, bringing the best practices to my country, and making sure that the industry and professionals get the credit they deserve.

After some experience both in Armenia and abroad, I decided to take the game to a new level, and a bold decision for that time as a woman in Armenia – I registered my PR and event management agency – Saege Consultants. 

2. You are one of the youngest Armenian businesswomen. Have you faced any challenges or biases as a woman in this industry? What role do you think women play in the PR field today? 

In my opinion, women do not get full equality in their profession nowadays. And no matter how hard we try, this is an issue not only in Armenia, but worldwide as well. In Armenia, though, I have had very different experiences. A male-dominated industry greeted a young, ambitious woman both, strangely supportive and painfully discouraging. On the other hand, the role of communications, outsourcing activities to a company, and hiring PR professionals who would do the job was something very much underestimated in Armenia. Big businesses did not want to spend money on comms, small businesses did not understand the importance of the communications efforts. Hence, we have a situation, where you have to convince the potential client, that they DO need the services not because it is you, but because the right communications are one of the keys to their success. 

Very often than not, companies refer to professional PR and comms agencies only when things have gone terribly. These and many other issues we had to solve, stereotypes we had to break to make sure that the market was developing and growing. 

Crafting Success: Emma Sargsyan's Insights into PR and Event Management

3. You are the founder of the marketing and event management agency Saege Consultants. Could you tell us about the key services you provide and share some successful case studies?

Saege Consulants is a full-service PR, communications, and event management agency specializing in 3 main directions – Communications and PR – all types and sorts of communications, including crisis communications, crisis prevention, and management. We provide full SMM support and media relations for companies in Armenia and beyond. 

The second big branch of Saege Consultants is Event Management – from small conferences to big festivals – Saege Consultants is organizing full-scale events from A to Z. We plan, and execute the most complex events, and have been mastering event management for the past 10 years. 

The third component of Saege PR is personal branding, about which I will speak separately. 

4. Personal branding is one of your focus areas. Why is this aspect so important for professionals and businesspeople in today’s world?

I am now writing a book which is called “PR is Dead, or how we shift our focus from promoting goods and services to promoting people”. The book tells the story of different people and takes the readers on the journey of characters in building their own brand. The characters are real cases from our experience, and with the different scenarios, I show how it is possible to promote people. 

Back in 2014 when we first introduced the service, it was not popular and neither people trusted that this kind of service could work. However, our first client in Armenia, who decided to trust us with his personal brand, became the walking promotion for the service. For a very long time up until now, personal branding was not popular unless it was to be done in the frames of a political campaign, or a big businessman. 

Gradually it became obvious, that having a well-established personal brand and working towards the image of a person, be it a successful businessman or a politician, is crucial. Hence, as time passed, the service became more and more popular. 

Today we have many people realizing that building and having a strong personal brand is crucial to their success, and those people are ready to pay for good quality services. However, what we need more today is a bit more education and awareness raising as to what is a personal brand, how and when you should engage in it, It is crucial to understand that building a strong personal brand is a matter of consistency and strategy. Sometimes people would take what is easy and decide that it is the best way to promote their brand, but it may do more harm than good. 

In general, the area has developed much ever since, but still there is a lot to do. 

From Student to Industry Leader: Emma Sargsyan's PR Success Story

5. You are also the co-founder and director of the Yerevan Outdoor Advertising Festival. Could you tell us more about this festival and its significance for the advertising industry?

Yoaf was founded when we as a bunch of professionals suddenly came to realize that the advertising in Armenia had a lot of place to improve. In situations like this, exchanging experience and exploring the best case studies from the world and approximating it to the Armenian reality has always proven to be the best solution. More often than not, bad visuals and in general bad advertising comes from both sides – the client – who intervenes much in the work of the agency, and the agency, which sometimes gives in to the requirements of the client and produces low-quality advertisements. 

It was decided, that we, as professionals in the field, shall change this reality and Yerevan Outdoor Advertising Festival was born. Top professionals from all over the world visited Armenia for a series of masterclasses both for students and professionals. Apart from the masterclasses and talks, the award ceremony was also one of the keys of the event. Advertisers from Armenia would submit their works for 10 categories, and the world-renowned jury – people that are also judges in top festivals of creativity like Cannes lions, D&AD would award them the trophies for Yoaf. 

The festival took place till 2019, and then, when COVID hit the world, we had to pause it, after COVID Armenia stuck another disaster- a war with Azerbaijan, and for some years we were unable to resume the festival. Nevertheless, we are planning to restart the festival this year with a bigger span and scale. 

6. In your opinion, what makes an effective PR campaign successful? What are the key elements to consider when planning one?

Each PR campaign is different in its execution and efficiency. One strategy will be great for one company and disastrous for another. In my opinion, the main and the most important thing is to make sure we are planning thoroughly, and each detail is taken into account. The most common mistake that agencies make nowadays is using the one-size-fits-all approach. Even if we are working in a similar area, creating a strategy from scratch is always useful. Another big mistake is the lack of communication with the client. Making expectations straight is the key to a good campaign. 

For me, a good PR campaign is always the one that I enjoy doing, something that aligns with my expectations, values and principles. The campaign that I enjoy crafting is always the best one and vice versa, the campaign that is against my values can never be good enough. That is why it is important to be able to say no to something that you are not going to enjoy. As the saying goes – find what you love doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life. 

7. How do you evaluate the role of articles and publications in the media as a PR tool? What advice could you give on working effectively with the media?

Mass media has always been and will always remain the key component in PR. Hence, in my opinion, a good article is worth 10 good social media posts. One and only advice is not to underestimate the role of publications in the hype of TikTok and Instagram. Times will change, hype will pass – publications will always remain cool. 

Articles for Talent Visa

8. Could you share examples of successful PR cases or campaigns that impressed you with their creativity or effectiveness?

There are many campaigns that I like and appreciate personally. If I had to mention 2 – one would be the Lego MRI campaign, and the second one, I think you will agree with me is the Dove Selfie talk campaign

Pioneering PR in Armenia: Emma Sargsyan's Journey

9. What role do social media play in modern PR and marketing strategies? How have they changed the communication landscape?

Social media has become an inseparable part of our lives, hence they play a crucial role in PR too. Social Media management has become a tool for PR in and of itself, hence it is hard to underestimate how important it is. Social media is useful if you know how to use it, have a clear strategy and know how to reach your best results. However, if you do not have the right strategy, all your efforts will not yield to a proper result.

10. In crises, PR is often critically important. What key advice could you give on managing communications during a crisis?

One and the most important – HAVE A CRISIS PLAN. The crisis is not an IF, it is a WHEN. Any business at some point will face a crisis, hence, better safe than sorry.

Second – be open, honest, and communicate with the media. Your right communication is one of the secrets of getting out of a crisis with minimal damage. 

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