Aeris PR Founder and CEO Katerina Antonova leads an agency specializing in boosting brand recognition for tech startups in various regions, earning respect for her innovative approach to merging technology and communication.
Antonova is a seasoned global PR consultant renowned for her expertise in industries such as AI, AR/VR, fintech, and martech. She also passionately supports female entrepreneurs through her international Womenpreneur club.
We caught up with Antonova to get her take on the future of comms pros and the evolving communications industry.
What book, podcast or other media do you recommend to other comms pros?
Let’s start with books. My first recommendation would be “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. As communication pros, we always strive to carve out messages that are memorable, and this book analyzes why certain ideas become everlasting while others don’t.
The second book I want to recommend is “Building A StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller. Today, in the age when we are bombarded by new information almost every minute, it’s important for a business to have a clear and compelling message in order to cut through the noise. To achieve that, one should learn to simplify what they are trying to say. This book helps with that.
As my third recommendation, I’d go with “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger. It’s a good match for my first recommendation because this book explores why some products and ideas go viral and how a business can leverage these insights.
As for podcasts, usually I turn to “The PR Week” for industry-related news, trends overview, and interviews. I like “The Art Of Charm” for valuable tips and tricks for efficient communication that are helpful in both personal and professional settings. I also like “How I Built This” with Guy Raz. It’s not strictly about communications but these interviews with entrepreneurs can offer valuable lessons on branding, messaging, and storytelling.
In addition, I’d recommend listening to TED Talks. A lot of them are about communication, storytelling, and media, and they can spark inspiration.
What’s your favorite tool you use regularly for work?
I use a set of go-to tools on a regular basis, each helps me with particular tasks. Zoom allows me to communicate with my clients and my team. In both cases, these are people who are situated in different countries and constantly travel, just like me. At Aeris PR we all work remotely and our clients are tech companies from the US and Europe, so video calls are the most efficient means of communication.
Dilims is another app that helps me with communication with the clients and the team. It allows keeping track of office hours in various time zones and finding overlapping slots for meetings with people working within them. Also, I intensively use Notion as a space to store information and a tool to share it with others and Miro, an online whiteboard that is great for collaboration.
These may not be exactly tools for work, but I regularly use apps for meditation in order to recharge, regain focus, clear my mind, and keep anxiety away. I think they help me to work better and avoid burning out, so they are important too.
What excites you most about the future of communications?
Recently there were a lot of technological breakthroughs that are changing the landscape of media in particular and human communication in general. First of all, let’s take one of the most hyped-up topics of the present – artificial intelligence. It’s fascinating to see how AI helps speed up some communication-related processes. For instance, it can pretty efficiently compose drafts for emails, presentations, social media posts, and other texts.
Secondly, it’s very likely that at some point in the future AR and VR are going to be a common part of communications. Those technologies are already used quite widely, and a communication expert should consider incorporating them into their strategy when brainstorming. Maybe, now it’s not in such a high demand but things are changing fast in this day and age. So, it’s better to think about it now.
What communications challenge keeps you up at night?
Honestly, I don’t experience any trouble with sleeping at night. Firstly, I do my job thoroughly and fairly, so my conscience is always clean. Secondly, by now, I’ve learned how to take control of stress with the help of meditation and yoga. These two things have incredibly boosted my ability to keep calm.
In general, I prefer to keep my focus on things that get me up in the morning because my work drives me and gives me energy. Sometimes, though, if I travel late at night or move to a different time zone, I may work late in the evening or even during night time. I travel a lot and my team and clients are all in different time zones, so work keeps me awake at night from time to time.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?
At Aeris, we are always ambitious. We are constantly trying to surpass our client’s expectations by helping them to get published in the top-tier media outlets that are almost impossible to get into. It’s always a challenge but an exciting one. We enjoy it.
Also, we mostly work with early-stage startups and it has its challenges. Above all, we are very flexible and adaptable. For instance, we had a client who decided to slightly shift and broaden the positioning of his startup and alter its strategy after three months of working with us. Our team quickly adapted to that by crafting a new PR plan for the upcoming three months while keeping some bits of the previous plan and merging them with our new ideas organically.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
There’s a lot that I’ve learned through the years that I’ve been working in the field. Probably, the best piece of advice would be to always keep in mind where you are going and why, meaning that you should always remember your goals and values and check from time to time if your current trajectory is well-aligned with them. And, of course, you should never forget to enjoy the journey.
Another useful piece of advice would be to never stop learning. There are some universal lessons that we all have to learn while growing personally and professionally. There are some things that you have to learn depending on your background and the path that you’ve walked up this very moment.
For an entrepreneur and a leader, it’s important to learn to delegate and trust your team, to avoid the desire to control everything all the time and micromanage. By the way, going back to the question about sleeping at night, learning these lessons also helps to decrease stress and sleep well.
Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.