When the chief public relations strategist for the international PR firm The Publicity Agency in the United States arrived in Astana, Kazakstan, he expected something very different than what he saw.
“I did a lot of reading before I visited. But still, sadly, I had the wrong impression of Kazakhstan,” says Glenn Selig, whose opinion is often sought by top news organizations. “I was thinking more Borat than a city capable of being another Dubai in terms of development and business epicenters.”
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the 2006 British produced film that became a pop culture hit, features a mock outlandish Kazakh reporter, is basically fiction but for whatever reason the impression of Kazakhstan and its people stuck.
After lamenting the situation upon returning from Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital city, Mr. Selig had discussions with Elvira Raziyeva, his business development executive at Selig Multimedia, Inc. (the parent company of both The Publicity Agency and the press release newswire and content syndicator PR NewsChannel), who hails from Kazakhstan.
Ms. Raziyeva, based in Philadelphia, and who’s responsible for creating business opportunities for the company in Kazakhstan and Asia, Middle East and Europe, encouraged Mr. Selig to “work his magic” to influence how Americans view her country.
“Elvira is a wickedly smart and a tenacious businesswoman,” says Mr. Selig. “She not only encouraged me to do something but actually inspired me to put our creative team to work to help Kazakhstan, her native country. She loves Kazakhstan and she finds it sad that most Americans confuse it with other former Soviet countries or only knows about Kazakhstan from Borat.”
The movie Borat premiered more than a decade ago, and even as Kazakhstan prepares to host EXPO-2017, one of the world’s biggest events on sustainable energy, there are intelligent, well-traveled Americans like Mr. Selig who can’t seem to forget the character Borat and continue to equate him and his shenanigans with the Republic of Kazakhstan.
“Mr. Glenn had the inspiration for doing something to help Kazakhstan lose the image of Borat and he shared his ideas with me,” says Ms. Raziyeva. “It’s unusual for a company to undertake something like this on its own. But Mr. Glenn is extraordinary. So I simply encouraged him to do this for my country. And I am so pleased he agreed.”
Mr. Selig and his team came up with the grassroots image campaign that includes a video, articles and social media called #kazakhSTANDING STRONG, which will launch this month. To demonstrate his seriousness, Mr. Selig sent a letter to Erlan Idrissov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
“I have freshly returned from a business trip to Kazakhstan, where I witnessed the intrinsic beauty of your country and experienced firsthand the warm and welcoming nature of the Kazakh people,” Mr. Selig writes in the letter to Erlan Idrissov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. “It was a profound experience that presented in such stark contrast to the image I had conjured in my mind of Kazakhstan.”
Under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev the Republic of Kazakhstan is thriving. Today the Kazakhstan’s economy is the largest of all the Central Asian states.
Kazakhstan will play host to ASTANA EXPO-2017 next summer—an event that’s expected to attract more than 100 countries around the world to focus on innovation and sustainable energy.
“Kazakhstan is honored to be the first country in Central Asia and former Soviet Union to host EXPO,” says Yerbol Shormanov, Deputy Chairman of Astana 2017. We are working hard to make EXPO in Astana an event to be remembered!”
ASTANA EXPO-2017 has received little or no exposure in the United States and North America.
Mr. Selig says the mini public relations campaign is intended to finally undo some of the damage that lingers from Borat. It is called KazakhSTANDING STRONG.
“I hope it will go a long way to change people’s minds about the Republic of Kazakhstan. It’s really a beautiful, rich and progressive country.”
For information, and to follow the progression of the KazakhSTANDING STRONG campaign, please visit http://thepublicityagency.com/kazakhstanding-strong/.
SOURCE: The Publicity Agency
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