Vyacheslav Zenkovich, the most experienced figure in the Belarusian media market, unexpectedly returned to Belarus last year and opened his own news agency, Smartpress. Prior to that, he successfully worked for several years in Moscow at a top position in the Russian agency Interfax (and even earlier – from 1994 to 2012 – headed the subsidiary of Interfax in Belarus).
What opportunities did he see now in our market? Why did he give up the high salary of a Moscow media manager and go into his own business in Belarus? What should entrepreneurs of our country take into account today when thinking about future scenarios?
About this – in our interview:
About business promotion and monetization
– My publication, the Smartpress news agency, is a commercial project that I opened for my own money. The main source of monetization is not banners, but promotion: the systematic appearance of information about a particular company in the media field. At the same time, I position Smartpress as a non-political publication. I deliberately do not undertake political PR, although such requests are already being received. The editorial board of the agency does not have its own point of view on political issues – we are not for the Reds or for the Whites. We objectively provide and broadcast information from political antipodes, but at the same time we do not supply it with editorial comments. Quote quote – issued. The consumer decides for himself what is closer to him and what he does not accept.
We have no gags. But at the same time, in addition to information, there is analytics, reflections from the first person.
Promotion is not just an article. By the way, the article is not the most popular format in our publication. It reflects, first of all, the opinion of the journalist who wrote it. Willy-nilly, he gives us his attitude.
As for promotion, business promotion services, we have two main formats at Smartpress: news and interviews, when the head of the company talks about his business, the industry in which the business operates, and does it systematically.
My experience in Russia led me to understand the demand for this service on the market. In Belarus, media promotion is still underdeveloped. And it is in vain that many of our businessmen do not attach importance to their history on the Internet. This has not been the case in Russia for a long time. Before entering into a contractual relationship between business entities, admitting companies to the public procurement procedure, special units in state corporations and big business study the players in this clearing. The Internet and the media are monitored to find out what was once written about this alleged contractor. The statements of public figures are being studied: what they said, what they themselves wrote, in what scandals and in what litigations they appeared. Or maybe there was some unpleasant story they had in the past company.
To monitor information in Russia, they use two tools that are not available in Belarus:
1. This is the Scan Interfax system, which belongs to Interfax. It allows you to monitor by keywords everything that was said about any company, person, starting, probably, from … 1989. That is, it captures the era “before Google”. It covers statements not only on the Internet, but also on TV and in the print media – and one must understand that the print versions of many publications, as a rule, are much wider than the Internet versions.
In Russia, Scan Interfax is very popular – this program allows you not to hire special personnel to monitor the data.
2. “Medialogia” – a developer of an automatic system for monitoring and analyzing media in real time. It is a competitor to Scan Interfax in the Russian-speaking market. It works in a similar way. But the difference is that Interfax deliberately does not give access to its closed news feeds of Medialogia. And closed feeds of Interfax account for 10% of the entire news market in Russia.
Therefore, I will emphasize! If you, as a businessman, want to work in Russia, but you have no background, the media did not write anything about you, and you did not show yourself publicly, from the point of view of Russian counterparties, this is more than normal. Before entering into a contractual relationship with you, any reputable organization will ask questions: “Where did he come from? What kind of office? One-day? There is a website, but how can it be that nothing is written about the company in the media? “
I know many examples in Russia, when life forced the business to engage in PR. Sooner or later it will come to us. It is better to quietly, purposefully begin this work now, and not later, already in a fire brigade.
Relations with Russia, risks and opportunities
We are living now in the “era of political turbulence”, when it is not economics that determines politics, but politics that determines the economy and has a strong influence on business. In this era, it is important to keep our nose to the wind – and to understand the direction in which we are heading.
The most cynical people in the world are pathologists and journalists. Therefore, if we talk about my forecasts for the future, then I believe that for business in our country everything will be worse, worse and worse. But! There are things that will happen apart from the political will of anyone. I mean the trend towards closer cooperation with Russia. It’s unavoidable. Whether we like it or not. A business that will make sympathetic steps to the Russian market faster, minimize losses and jump on the train earlier, which may bring it to a bright tomorrow.
I honestly cannot imagine how our companies will be able to work without clouds with the West. The issue is not only in Belarus and in relations between Belarus and Western countries. Look at the funnel Russia is drawing us into – it also has problems with the West.
And what is happening with Ukraine – we expect, God forbid, a lot of blood from day to day. And this will be the last straw that can lead to a complete rupture of relations between Russia and the West. This means that the western market will be closed for both Russia and Belarus. Whether we like it or not, we will find ourselves drawn into this funnel. How long it will last and how hard – I don’t know.
Of course, this break in relations will deal a serious blow to our infrastructure. Most of the roads in Belarus, for example, are being repaired and built with the participation of European money. This money will not be there.
But besides this, supply chains will also be torn apart. For example, if MAN engines are no longer supplied to our territory, then a Belarusian truck with an engine from the Yaroslavl Motor Plant does not enter the EU. Etc. And this is a reduction in orders, unemployment …
Therefore, the business that previously reoriented to the Russian market, all other things being equal, will find itself in more comfortable conditions. I understand: it can be difficult mentally to make up your mind. But we are not talking about politics, not about a personal attitude to events, but about objective trends that need to be taken into account.
Now the obvious vector is to the east. And you need to come up with a topic, jump into this market, advance there, learn to work according to its rules. And this is good news for business. If this vector did not exist, then everything would be absolutely bad, complete hopelessness from all sides.
Watch the full interview on our YouTube channel.
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