Ismail Agakishiev: "We need coordinated informational policy to promote positive image of Caspian region"
On November 28, Astrakhan will host international round table "Caspian Region Image: Media, Expert Cooperation, International Projects." Members of the Caspian expert club, organized with the assistance of Russian, Azerbaijani and Kazakh expert centers, will discuss problems of tourism branding of the Caspian region, main principles of cooperation between Caspian media outlets, media projects for the 300th anniversary of Astrakhan province, mechanisms of formation of the Astrakhan region's image. One of the forum speakers, director general of Consulting Analytics PR Holding, Ismail Agakishiev, discussed his ideas in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- You will be one of the main speakers at this event. What topics will be discussed by experts of three countries of the Caspian region?
- Issues of Caspian region's image will be in the focus of attention. It seems to me that this topic is currently at the highest level of relevance. This region has significant resources for foreign investment, but investors may simply not be aware of projects that are beneficial for them. Tourists choose a place for vacation, but they may not even know about Astrakhan - a gem of Caspian region. This is a very interesting contradiction - there is so much information in our age of new technologies that sometimes things are simply lost among others. That is why I would like to discuss how to develop this beautiful image of Caspian region, how to sell news about Caspian region at the round table with our Kazakh and Azerbaijani colleagues.
- What options can be proposed?
- There is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are already high-quality formats that work on this issues. Among them - Caspian publication "Astrakhan 24". Colleagues have a wonderful experience with partners from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. This is information exchange, creation of joint content. Let's study this experience, see in which direction we can expand it, make it better. In Kazakh direction, for example. As far as I know, Astrakhan has more systematic contacts with Azerbaijanin, but there is no limit to perfection.
The image begins with establishment of a clear image of the region - how we want it to be. Before making films, writing books, preparing TV shows, it is necessary to clearly define the idea, develop the image. That's what Azerbaijan did, Maiden Tower was the main symbol of Baku for a long time. Right now it is a central link of all the tourist routes, but image of the city was "updated" thanks to a competent public relations strategy - now there are stable links to the modern appearance of the capital.
In this regard, celebration of the 300th anniversary of Astrakhan province is a good reason to combine three main elements of the image - past, present and future. Great history, modern successes, future aspirations.
It's harder to form the structure of a single image of the entire region. Sometimes the views of Baku, Moscow, Tehran and Ashgabat on this issue may not be the same. That is why we need these common formats like Caspian media forum and Caspian expert club to discuss common problems and find common solutions. In this regard, our Astrakhan partners can count on the support of Vestnik Kavkaza, since our agency promotes "positive stories" about the Caspian region for a long time. Let's do this work together.
- The first stage in the formation of a positive image is establishment of image of this region - this is the job of political scientists and experts. Journalists are working on the second stage. How to resolve the problem of competent coverage of news in the media, when positive news are not in such demand as breaking news with negative context?
- I would suggest to hold a special session at the next Caspian media forum, which would be dedicated to the image of Caspian region and the role of media in the process of its formation. We are ready to share some ideas on this topic with our colleagues. It is very important to focus on those stories that are important for the entire region - tourism, trade, transport, business, education. We need more personal stories about "Caspian successes" on TV and in printed media. Stories about real people are always more interesting than reports about impersonal achievements in the economic sphere. We can make a series of programs about great people of the Caspian region - I'm sure that this topic will draw attention of not only Baku and Astana, but also our partners from Turkmenistan and Iran. But I will stress once again - we need a coordinated informational policy to promote positive image of the Caspian region.