There are people you always find interesting to talk to. Why? Because they are trying to find answers to the most relevant questions. And these answers are based on their knowledge and experience. Kuat DOMBAI, Head of Corporate Communications of the HSBC Bank Kazakhstan and founder of PR-shi Club, is undoubtedly one of them. Following are extracts from our conversation with Mr. Dombai. Some may find them going against the grain, but they will certainly provide much food for thought.
- How would you describe the current condition of PR in Kazakhstan?
- It is probably worth mentioning that generally PR (in its classic sense) in the world died 10 years ago. As an external communications PR are impossible without internal ones, and this understanding came into its management and corporate thinking long ago. Today we can see the Corporate Communications integrating both external and internal communications. Corporate guidelines should be common for both internal and external audiences.
As for Kazakhstan, level of presence varies from company to company. People started realizing how important the corporate reputation and brand are, however, reflection of this understanding in companies' structure is different and often non-systematic. Reason for that is the work assessment system based on the loyalty, not on the achievements of business.
- Let's talk about the business journalism in Kazakhstan. What, in your opinion, has already been done and what remains to be done?
- Well, in my opinion, journalism should change the whole attitude to the press -newspapers are not some kind of 'bum' or a toy in the shareholders' hands, but a company that can and should be profitable. I mean profit based on the circulation and advertisings. Another huge problem is the journalists' literacy - newcomers usually do not want to develop and move towards becoming more professional, and unprofessional journalists with experience think they already know too much, so do not work on themselves either.
- Considering your diplomatic experience, what do you think about the Wikileaks issue?
- It might be an attempt to maximize benefits of the intelligence information. If it is useless to keep it in archives, why not to leak it to 'annoy' third countries? It is some sort of 'preventive' means. Even though leak from a third party is not a know-how, it still proves to work effectively.
- What will be your main memories from 2010? Your victories, discoveries, disappointments, etc.
- The main achievement is realization of the Altyn Kalam literary award. It gave us over 70 new writers, what can be better?
- By the way, could you please tell a bit more about the Altyn Kalam project?
- When we planned to conduct literary award Altyn Kalam - it was challenge from us to the system of a cultural vacuum and 'slavery'. We decided to find real talents and interesting authors, determined by the readers. We did not expect such a wide response from the authors and Kazakh media. The last revelation was the comment made by book's proofreader: "I really enjoyed reading this book! Thank you so much! I am so tired of proofreading all these boring family chronicles"
That's what we want to eradicate. Readers do not need all these family 'shezhire's (genealogy), where everyone is a descendant of a samurai. This culture must be multifaceted, rich in genres.
- What are your personal and professional plans for 2011?
- Carry out the 'Altyn Kalam 2' for the Russian-speaking Kazakhstani authors, and organize a Day of Remembrance and republish "PR without show off".
- What would you wish to our website's visitors?
- I wish them prosperity and millions of readers!