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New strategy at international field – Giorgi Oqriashvili

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Giorgi, American awarding of the US congressmen is considered as one of the most important recent events in the relationship with the US. The organizer of this event was your company. Tell us about this project, what happened in America?

– We have awarded the American congressmen, as well as several American public figures from different spheres for special contribution to the development of the Georgia-US relations. Our company – the publishing house “Sakhe(l)ebistvis” established the tradition of the annual award 17 years ago  : we award special prizes to individuals/companies/organizations for their special role in their fields of activities. This year’s award was held within a new media project – Turning Points Georgia, which is the licensed edition of the “New York Times”. It is also called forecaster edition and was published in Georgia and in 26 other countries. The edition collects  the essays of the world-famous leaders, experts and the journalists of the New York, each licensee country publishes it in own language and adds local content, too.

We have selected the Georgian-US relations as the main theme of Turning Points, published in Georgia, which also defined the award format. The Georgian word “მადლობა” is written on the prize of “Sakhe(l)ebi” and this year’s recipients of the special thanks were congressmen, Ted Poe and Gerald Connolly, Co-Chairmen of the Georgia Caucus, military expert Luke Kofi, Paul Crego, the researcher at the U.S. Library of Congress, the Georgian office of the Voice of America, American-Georgian business association. They expressed their satisfaction in their speech during the awarding ceremony and it seems they appreciate this form of expression of gratitude.

– It’s pretty hard to achieve such scales: You’re the licensee of The New York Times, you award American congressmen. In fact, you are the part of the country’s diplomatic success. How have you managed to get to these contacts and these results?

Publishing house “Sakhe(l)ebi”, where I have been working for 15 years is not just a business company, but the organization, which concept, principle of action are: deepening of relations, supporting the policy of culture, implementation of social projects, that are the main tool of these relations,  in short, to give benefits to the space in which we work. I feel awkward saying, but I have to note that the number one media brand in the world The New York Times does not choose its partners by chance. There is a comprehensive media plan behind each license, with all its possible benefits  – I mean the benefits that the customers, in particular, and the country- in general, can receive from these projects. In this case, we should consider The New York Times as the best platform for making the Georgian voice heard in the global world.

Apart from the “Turning Points” we have license on two more media projects – The Big Ideas and Cuba 60 ( the special media project dedicated to the 60 th anniversary of Cuban Revolution). We are also discussing to franchise one of the large-scale, tourism-oriented media projects. It is good that the Embassy of Georgia to the United States has exactly and precisely identified the importance of our partnership with The New York Times and provided significant support for the successful presentation of the Turning Points in America and for the organization of the awards ceremony. Generally, “Sakhe(l)ebi” implements its projects in collaboration with business, but hospitality by the embassy and the support by the diplomatic circles made this year’s event special.

-The main goal of our section is to highlight the personal characteristics of our guests. We want you to talk about Giorgi Okriashvili. Almost all successful Georgians, and not only Georgians, know about you. How do you manage it, what is your personal factor in your success?

– I am lucky by doing a job that allows me to interact with the business world, interesting people. I have studied international relations at the university. In addition to editorial work, I am tasked to gather business people, companies, organizations around specific projects, to give them a well-deserved feeling that participating in this project is useful and exciting in many ways. First of all, the format and concept of this work is itself interesting, making a precondition for success. As for my personal role – I love my job. Partners often note this. It seems that when you love your work and it is organic to you, others notic  and appreciate it. My slogan is : “business starts relationship and you maintain it.” When a new project starts, you often have to make promises to a potential partner. I try to keep all the promises I made at the beginning. So far I can handle this.

-Now, tell us about you, in general…childhood…family

– I was born and grown up in Tbilisi, in Vera district, in the family of many children : I have three  siblings. My father is a restorer, mother- is a chemist. Thanks to our parents, we have the ability of an independent thinking and decision-making from a very early age, for which I am very grateful to them. I always think that my family is my greatest wealth. Wherever I am – whether in Georgia or abroad, I always feel support from my family.

– What were the first steps in your field? What factors influenced you to choose this career path? How did you go through these stages and tell us about the obstacles you have met? How do you solve this problem?

– I started my activities from such an early age, now I practically can’t remind what my first project was. For example, when I was a school student, I published a book – a work on flying animals. Today, I remind it with a smile – friends tell me jokingly that I am the only person who could have been interested in such a strange topic.  I involved many people, including a businessman, in this project. Then I was fond of organizing concerts. In general, I love organizing: it gives me great pleasure when there is the idea and then, this idea is turned into business.

I have organized several music concerts and exhibitions for artists during that period. Then I got interested in advertising and marketing and worked for a couple of years in one magazine, which was one of good magazines of that time, where I gained a lot of experience.

I studied the advertising market, its features and simultaneously, I was doing a practical work, I met people who learned a lot and helped me to gain experience. It can be noted that I did not have obstacles, probably because I think that there are no unsurmountable obstacles. All doors will open if you knock well.

After I learnt about your personality and your work, I found out that you have good event management, PR and marketing skills as well as good skills of project management. Please, tell us what are the basic principles the people, involved in this field, must possess to achieve their goals?   

It’s the most important the people involved in this field to have the feeling that there is no obstacle. Any project is like a human :from the very beginning you should give it the characters that will help project to speak for itself and make it easier for you to manage it. As for events, as you know it, one of the key criteria for evaluating a successful event is the level of attendance. My handwriting, if I may say so, is that every event I organize is attended by all those I consider necessary and desirable to attend. How do I do that – this is a little secret that I will explain in a more interesting way when I publish a book.

Tell us about those three characters that helped you in achieving the success  

The first and foremost feature is the responsibility to keep promises. When I promise a person something, before I fulfill it I get worrying –I try to fulfil my promise exactly. There are many more features, but for me, it comes first: keeping your words. Perhaps, I inherited this character from my father. He is a very principled, responsible person and he grew up his children so. Of course, getting in the right place at the right time is also very important, and I think I’m lucky.

What was the most difficult period in your career, how did you overcome it, what are the lessons you learnt through these challenges?

Practically, I had no difficulties. The only time I found it difficult to make a decision was leaving for America for work: it’s a great chance and if you refuse to use it,  you a commit crime against yourself . But I was still worrying. Luckily, the job contract made it easy: I can be in both countries – America and Georgia for as long as I want- and do my job on both sides so that my stay in that particular place at that time is not decisive. On the other hand, I do not consider it difficult, if sometimes any plan doesn’t work out; I know that I will manage to do it twice better at my second attempt.

What do you consider the greatest achievement in your life?

I feel people trust me – that’s my biggest achievement. I have trust of my family, company, business partners, friends … Everyone knows that I can always put off doing my job and do the best I can for others. I consider the relationship with the Patriarch the greatest achievement and gift of fortune. I know that he will receive, protect and strengthen me in any situation. It’s such a mercy to me.

What do you consider to be the biggest problem and challenge in marketing and PR sphere in Georgia? What would you like to improve? What are the ways of its development?

 Compared to the situation ten years ago – our PR specialists (who came mainly from journalism) have become professionals in a remarkably short period of time. In both fields there is a new generation with good theoretical education, great information. The sharing of experiences will be very important for the future development of this field. All theories are developed based on the practice, and it is likely that in a few years Georgian PR and marketing specialists will have a lot of interesting information and material to exchange and share with each other.

What do young people need to get involved in the field of PR and marketing and have a successful career?  What advice would you give to young people who are just starting out?

They must have a desire, but at the same time, they must realize that this field of multiple attempts. One attempt will never be enough. The failure must strengthen one involved in this sphere and not make he/she to give up. This is the main specification. Success in other professions usually gives one motivation, however opposite is true in this field of activities and therefore, many people give abandon it after the failure. To put it briefly: this job is not suitable for those, who lose motivation after the first and second failure.

What are your future plans? Are you working on any grand project now?

 I will be focused only on the New York Times projects for the next one year. Three media outlets under the New York Times brand are already a grand project. I continue to collect manuscripts of famous people – there are already about 500 interesting texts in my personal collection, and I will probably stage the exhibition of this collection soon and I think, it will be the best exhibition I have ever made, since I have collected unique exhibits.   

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