“The pandemic has shown how interconnected the worlds of traditional media and social networks are,” says Filip Hrubý, spokesman for Česká spořitelna

Česká spořitelna’s external communication team proved that it has long been at the forefront of Czech PR and, for the second time, it has found a place on the podium of the Speaker of the Year Award. This year, companies have had to deal with many unprecedented situations and PR teams have passed an incredible stress test. As part of the Press Spokesperson Award, the speakers’ approach to the current coronavirus crisis was also evaluated. Filip Hrubý, spokesman and head of Česká spořitelna’s external communication team, was therefore asked in an interview how he perceives the winning of the award this year, what the pandemic has changed for external communication and what plans they have for the future.

This year, for the second time, you managed to win the award for the 3rd Best PR Team of the Year. This year was certainly very unique for Česká spořitelna and it was necessary to communicate many unprecedented situations. What does the award for the Best PR team of 2020 mean to you?

Journalists decide who wins the Speaker of the Year Award. It is therefore direct feedback from one of the groups of people with whom we primarily work. In addition, the evaluation is not distorted by the jury, as is the case with other awards. In the context of the past communication year, which was very extraordinary and demanding, the award is of course pleasing to us all the more. It is confirmation for us that we managed to succeed despite the complicated conditions. On the other hand, everyone had complicated conditions.

Did your work change in any significant way for you in 2020?

As in many other areas, the pandemic greatly accelerated digitization and the speed of work. It has shown how interconnected the worlds of traditional and social networks are and how important it is for communication in them to take place in parallel. The strength of the brand’s speakers and ambassadors, in our case Tomáš Salomon and Daniela Pešková, who just started communicating a lot on social networks this year, also showed. Paradoxically, this was not in connection with the pandemic but just before it, which turned out to be great timing. When the pandemic hit, Tomáš and Daniela were already working on LinkedIn and Twitter and we could effectively exploit synergies between their personal and corporate profiles. Reactions during the pandemic were rapid and very emotional, especially during the spring. So it also helped that we were able to communicate through two ambassadors, both in speed and in the quality of communication and emotionality.

The field of PR has developed quite a lot in recent years. Where do you go for inspiration and how do you keep up with new trends?

The answer is again social media. Thanks to social media, one has inspiration always in front of one’s eyes. Whereas in the past, when communication took place primarily in traditional media, one had to look for inspiration more, because even if I watched traditional media, one could not adapt them as much as is possible today with social networks. Most people who work in the field of PR and external communication use their social networks professionally, have them adapted and follow the brands that they consider inspiring.

Do you have a brand whose communication you follow a lot?

Of course, there are a number of those brands. Recently, e-shops and especially Rohlí have been very inspiring.

You have been using Monitora at Česká spořitelna for about a year. How do you work with it?

I value three things the most. The first is that the platform used by Monitora is very user-friendly, especially compared to the platforms we used before. I feel that Monitora has no competition in this respect now, which is definitely good for Monitora, but at the same time my comparison is a bit unbalanced in this sense. As for the customer friendliness of Monitora, in my view, it clearly leads. The second benefit is customer care. The approach to the client is very flexible and very human. The third factor for me is the connection with social networks, thanks to which I can watch social and traditional media in one application. This is very useful for me.

Lately, our field has been talking a lot about connecting with social networks. The concept of social listening is appearing more and more often. How do you work with that? In your opinion, does social listening belong in PR?

Yes, definitely yes – at the moment we want to move from the passive use of social listening tools to a more active one. Of course, we have many years of experience and strategies for active social listening within the COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT of our profiles.

For a long time, however, we only passively monitored the management of reputation and conversation in the online space and outside our profiles on social networks – we communicated only in the event of a more serious situation. Then we entered the conversation and solved the ad-hoc problem. We chose this method because, in most of the online space, you do not have the option of verified communication as a brand – you do not have a chance to say “I am Česká spořitelna and I think that …”. On the contrary, there is room for so-called ‘trolling’, i.e. almost anyone can pretend to be Česká spořitelna.

That is why we have long been more passive in entering discussions, and now we want to change that and proactively enter into conversations outside of our profiles, for which Monitor will help us a lot, even with the risk that there is the possibility of the aforementioned trolling. So next year we definitely want to move towards a more proactive approach.