We’d like to introduce you to some of the people from around the world who make us who we are at Progress. In this post, meet Aneliya Stoyanova, international public relations manager.
Aneliya Stoyanova is a true storyteller in every sense of the word, leading our international PR efforts. If you’ve seen articles about Progress circulating across Europe, Latin America and Asia, she’s most likely the person responsible. She’s been working in media and PR for 10-plus years and has a wealth of knowledge to share.
Want to learn how to craft the perfect story? Read on.
My focus is driving awareness about Progress in EMEA, APJ and CALA through our media relations programs. One of the best things about PR is that no two days are alike. In the morning, I can be writing a news release. At noon, I can be working with our PR agencies anywhere in the world—where we have PR presence, of course. Then, in the afternoon, I can be working with our people team (human relations) on an employer branding activity.
While each day is different, there are a few things that are constant—the amazing people I’m surrounded by, the challenges that keep me on my toes, and the creativity that helps me find new opportunities; not to mention the fast pace of the tech industry. To witness from the first row how technologies are making the impossible possible, helping us all be more creative, productive and inspired and the ability to swiftly adjust to the challenges of our time has been super rewarding.
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PR professionals stay in the background—it’s just how it happens. We are in the middle between what's happening in the company and the media, building a bridge to the public.
And actually, it's funny because several years ago we were looking for a PR intern and one of the questions we asked candidates during the interview was, "Tell us how a certain story appears in a publication. What's its path to being published?" Few people knew the answer that it starts with an idea developed and supported by proof points and examples to be timely, interesting and relevant. It’s a long process, and few people realize the role PR professionals play.
Most stories we see in the media have appeared with help from a PR professional. It’s usually the PR people behind the scenes that transform the complex technical concepts and terms into simple language through examples, analogies and context to make them more comprehensible. Our role is to find meaningful and engaging ways to communicate what we do as a company, how we help other organizations succeed and how we contribute to the industry.
Imagine Progress as a person who has its own identity, voice and friends. We give life to this person—we communicate who it is and what it does, how it sounds and connect it with like-minded organizations and initiatives.
The PR profession has evolved a lot in the past decade. Social media gave everyone a voice, transparency has never been more important, and any information can be verified on the internet in seconds. Everything that’s not true will quickly find its way out and will damage the organization’s reputation.
At its core, PR is about earning and building trust. Many people confuse it with advertising, but it’s not the same. PR aims to engage, to raise awareness and educate, to start and contribute to conversations that are important not only to us, but also to other businesses and the industry. This is important because customers, partners, and employees choose organizations that are trustworthy, credible and reliable.
As a journalism student many years ago, I was once told, “If something—a story, a topic, a question—is interesting to you, it will be interesting to others.” This, plus the question we should always ask ourselves, “Why should anyone care about what I am saying?” have stayed with me and have always been my guiding principles.
While how interesting something is is subjective, it shows that you need to have a hook, something that will catch and retain the reader’s attention. For me, a good story is one that always has a human side, even if it’s about technology. It offers something new—knowledge, answers, inspiration—and sparks an emotion or action. And like traditional storytelling, where it has to resolve a conflict and have a human touch, a good PR story should do the same, appeal to both the mind and the heart.
Even with a product release, the new product resolves something: it brings something new, helps businesses do something easier or faster, etc.
I would say the most important thing for any PR professional is curiosity. To be curious and brave, to learn more, to stay open minded, to constantly try to widen their horizons, to connect unconnected concepts and ideas, to unleash their creativity.
Of course, these are in addition to the well-known traditional skills like writing, working with information, knowing what makes a good story for the media, understanding the business, the industry, etc. But curiosity and having the motivation to go the extra mile is really what differentiates good PR people from the others.
The people, the fast pace and the opportunity to always learn new things. The fact that there's always something new around the corner.
Also, although I’ve been in PR for quite some time now, the power of communication and words—both on an interpersonal and pure PR level—never stops amazing me. Good communication requires emotional intelligence, empathy, honesty and often an ability to express in words what cannot be expressed in words. I always love seeing how good communication opens doors and makes things possible.
If you want to be a good PR professional, learn to tell stories. Do some creative writing for a change, even if you are not good at it. Play with words, describe the details, build the characters. And read voraciously—the media, the classics, the conversations shaping our society, everything. Feel the pulse of our time. Be open-minded, believe in yourself and always ask, “If I was braver, what would I do?”
Next to my laptop at my desk, you’ll see a note with that same question as a reminder to always challenge myself.
Sometimes when I am in a situation and must find a solution where at first glimpse, it seems impossible, I ask myself, "If I was braver, what would I do? What is the best thing, regardless of how possible it is it is not, I think should be done?"
And this really opens an entire new area of opportunities and possibilities, because sometimes we have internal barriers or thoughts that might be limiting. And once we put them away, we can think in a fresh way and come up with new ideas.
I love photography and wherever I go, I always have my camera with me. Photography inspires me to travel more, to meet new people, to chase sunsets, to appreciate light and most importantly, to be present and to celebrate each moment. Photography is also the best way to keep memories. During the first lockdown last year, when we were spending our entire days at home, from time to time I would go through my photos and feel optimistic and happy about the great shared moments .
To get to know other Progressers like Aneliya, read more of our Progress employee interviews here.
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Danielle is a Senior Communications Specialist at Progress, where she is also on the leadership team of the employee resource group, Progress for Her, and an Advisory Committee member on Progress’ Inclusion & Diversity Committee. When she’s not at work, you can find her writing, reading, or acting like a tourist in her own city.
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