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Nastya Golovina Dishes on the Good, Bad, and Ugly of PR

Public Relations is a difficult job, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. PR specialist Nastya Golovina is an experienced PR professional that has seen every side of the industry throughout her years in the industry. We sat down with Golovina to discuss what got her into the industry, and why she continues to work in a world that is often so unforgiving.

Grit Daily: You had your own adventures as a professional dancer before embarking on a public relations career. Share those. 

Anastasia Golovina : Yes, like many kids, I started dancing when I was three years old. I started with basic choreography and ballet classes, but it quickly became my passion. 

When I was nine, I was selected for a professional dance band and since then, I was spending five days a week after school in a dance hall. It wasn’t easy, and sometimes the training was quite exhausting, but I got a chance to perform on really large stages and even travel around the country for dance competitions. 

I’ve learned different dancing styles from ballet to Russian folk dance to hip hop and street styles.  During my last year at the university, I had to quit to start my career as a journalist and then as a PR professional. However, dancing has always been a very important part of my life and gave me invaluable experience and skills that helped me later in my career. It made me more confident, which really helped me with networking. I am not afraid to meet and talk to new people.

Dancing taught me how to react quickly, adapt to changing situations (imagine the music is getting turned off in the middle of your performance, or you lose a part of your costume on stage), and improvise. If something goes wrong during the performance, most of the audience won’t even notice. Dancing teaches you to always look professional and positive, no matter what, and make decisions faster. Not to mention that it makes you more creative and boosts your memory: sometimes I would have a one-hour performance with various styles and dancing combinations — and I had to remember them all.

For several years, I’ve been focusing on my career, so dancing took a back seat in my life, but last year I got back into it and started to learn from the best choreographers in New York. COVID-19 made it challenging to attend offline classes, but I’m lucky to have enough space at home to practice with online classes. Interestingly, I’ve noticed a huge uptick in my work performance since I got back into dancing. I’ve realized how much I missed dancing and after all, it is a part of me, and it makes me truly happy. 

Grit Daily: What perspective do you bring as the only immigrant at your firm? 

AG: I’ve started my career as a reporter for one of the largest Russian newspapers and then for Russia Beyond, a media outlet that covers all topics about Russia  in more than 14 languages for international audiences.. I was reporting in both English and Chinese, and that experience gave me a global perspective, especially about business. 

When I switched to PR, I already had some understanding of the global tech landscape, but while working at M&A PR, I gained international PR experience and a chance to work with large global companies such as WeWork, BitFury, RipioCreditNetwork, SingularityNET, and others. I traveled to more than 20 countries at that time, learned about different cultures and business approaches, and met many successful entrepreneurs; many of them later became our clients and friends. 

The experience was invaluable, and I’ve learned how to build successful communication strategies that take into account local perspectives in different countries. However, many companies are still looking to expand their business in the U.S., and this is where they face a lot of challenges. No matter how solid your awareness is in your home market, you’ll need to adjust everything from your messaging to positioning to even target audiences.  This will require some experienced PR and marketing professionals if you want to do it right.  

At Ditto PR, I bring international expertise from working with various companies worldwide: from Russia to CIS, to Asia, to Latin America.  All of these companies hire us to build their presence in the U.S. market, which I really mastered at Ditto. 

It takes time to adjust to a new culture and work environment, but I’ve never felt discriminated against or treated differently despite being the only immigrant at my company.  At Ditto, everyone is challenged every day, and I think this is the way it should be. Being an immigrant is challenging because of the language barrier, but there are many additional layers: different cultural backgrounds, mentalities and traditions and different business and communications practices. However, that has been a great challenge, and I’m grateful for the experience. 


Grit Daily: What’s behind the Ditto PR name? 

AG: Ditto PR is named after our CEO, Trey Ditto. Working at the Associated Press in Dallas gave him an insider understanding of how the media works. He then worked in communications for a governor, U.S. Congressman, U.S. Secretary of Education and countless domestic and international heads of state.

When he moved to New York City, he worked at some of the top PR firms, and after seeing the good, bad and ugly of PR, he vowed to create a company that had a positive work environment and culture and a range of clients that treats the team as partners. Ditto was founded in Brooklyn eight years ago, with a mission of building a better PR agency. 

After working in PR for several years, I realized that this industry lacks honesty and trust. Journalists hate PR people because they bring no additional value; PR people complain about journalists who ignore their pitches and unhappy clients. There was definitely something wrong with the way traditional PR works and I wanted to change it. I’ve always thought there’s a better way of doing things, so that’s why Trey’s approach and values really resonate with me, and that is why I decided to join him. 

Ditto is a great place to work. We have a collaborative team of like-minded professionals and together, we create a workplace that we love and enjoy. Every day, we deliver impactful results to our clients, but we also know how to have fun!

Grit Daily: What’s one conventional wisdom about PR that’s just plain wrong? 

AG: Many people think that the primary goal of PR is “to sell the product,” bend the truth and create illusions. In reality, the purpose of PR and marketing is to shape something that is real. PR professionals create something that doesn’t exist. Our role is to teach companies how to talk about what they’ve already achieved and find the right channels and the right audience so more people can hear about it. PR professionals often educate people about new industries, helping innovations, such as AI or even blockchain, and how to cross the chasm and achieve mass adoption. 

In many cases, there are more efficient tools to increase short-term sales, but PR will help the company build its reputation and trust in the long run. 

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