A brief history of public relations in Romania

The press release

Since 1989, public relations has grown relatively slowly in Romania. In the beginning, as in many developing markets, PR consisted almost entirely of issuing press releases for firms, government departments, or NGOs – charities, for instance. When Chelgate entered the market in 2006, 17 years after the start of liberalisation, it was still the first Western PR firm to operate in Romania. Today, we are not alone, but many rivals operate through local partners or franchises, and do not necessarily uphold global standards in their Romanian practice. Many firms claiming to be multi-national are, in fact, far more multi-local.


In spite of two decades or development, Romanian PR remains in the shadow of advertising. It is typical, especially in consumer markets, to hire an advertising company with a small PR service included in the price – this will offer a press release distribution service, and basic media relations. Whilst many ad agencies occupy glass-concrete-and-steel offices in the centre of the city, PR agencies tend to have lower profiles, and lower turnovers.

This is not universally true. Strategic public relations – working out how a firm does and should manage its relationships with its most important publics, and executing a strategy over the course of one or more years – is very gradually becoming more common in Romania, but few can craft the kinds of complex, effective campaigns that Chelgate works on. Instead, consumer-focused PR dominates, and operates at a lower level. It might offer puff-pieces in the media, for instance, especially in newspapers and outlets that are willing to print copy from PR agencies nearly without alterations – newspapers that, as a consequence, are less trusted by readers. The harder task – of persuading

Price wars

In the Romanian industry today, there is significant downward pressure on prices. Chelgate has met this challenge with flexibility in its prices, and in its working practices, but refuses to cut its operations below a certain level. For our lower-budget clients, we run skeleton campaigns with a smaller staff resource, pared back to only the most cost-effective tactics to meet a client’s given aims.

But our regular clients remain happy to pay a rate above rock-bottom prices. We insist on protecting the quality of our service, simply because we are uninterested in low-price, low-quality delivery. This work is not useful to clients, or stimulating for us. On a low retainer, we do not have the time or resources to work with a client to fully understand their position, to draft messages carefully and professionally, to select the right ways to protect or develop a given relationship, or offer the client the service they really require in order to increase sales or protect their relationships.