Current Affairs and PR Trends in Russia: Interview with Buman Media

Everyone here at Oriella is happy to welcome Buman Media to the network. Buman is one of the hottest tech PR agencies in Russia, based in Moscow. We sat down with agency founder Natalia Bucelnikova to get her thoughts on current affairs, media trends and PR best practices in Russia. Here's the interview.

Q. What is Buman's story?

A. Buman Media was established in 2009, in the middle of the economic downturn. This was a hard time for PR agencies and the market decreased 10x, about 50% of PR practitioners lost their jobs in Russia. Despite the fact that companies had to cut their budgets, they understood the need for efficient PR to survive and show competitive advantage to consumers. Buman Media offered a fresh vision of technology and communication techniques. Today, we have a team of creative professionals offering traditional PR and social media services to leading Russian and international clients like Adobe Systems, Headhunter, Alawar Entertainment, Allied Telesis, JDA, and others.

Q. What are the big stories making the headlines in Russia right now?

A. Over the last few weeks, major newsbreaks in the Russian media have been related to the Russian Parliament elections, which took place on Dec, 4th. The Internet and social networks allowed for the expression of opposing views regarding the leading party United Russia, as well as allegations of violations and fraud during the elections. Massive attention, engagement and discussion of the elections all over Russia revealed social activism of the Russians who want to have an voice in the development of the country they live in. For the PR industry, this has paved the way for more online engagement on behalf of consumer brands, which means budget increases for agencies like Buman.

Q. Russia is being promoted as an emerging market for technology and innovation. What's your perspective from on the ground in Moscow?

A. There have been several initiatives announced by the Russian government to promote Russia as a technology and innovation market. Probably the most famous is Skolkovo, the first Russian science and technology complex aimed at stimulating the growth of technological innovations and information technologies in Russia. The complex, which promises to become an equivalent to the Silicon Valley in the USA, will conduct a significant modernization of the country's economy. However the business community is skeptical about the project due to political involvement, international vendors like Microsoft and Nokia support this government initiative and have already signed mutual cooperation agreements. From a PR perspective, I consider it to be a good sign for international IT companies willing to enter the Russian market, as Skolkovo shows the Russian government’s will to develop the IT market in Russia and attract international investors by offering attractive conditions.

Q. How have PR and communications evolved in Russia over the past few years?

A. The PR market was significantly hit by the economic downturn in 2008-2009, however, this led to certain crystallization of the industry. Only the largest agencies and those offering best cost-effective services have survived. However, in 2010 the Russian PR market grew by 17% and in 2011 the growth continued. Over the past few years we have seen strong interest in digital communications from various types of clients, and I can say that this year even the most conservative ones decided to go online and engage their target audience on the Internet. This year online advertising budgets have outgrown those in the print media and this trend will continue. Metrics have become essential for brand appearance on the web, clients want to know what the audience thinks of their brand, so I expect new analytical services to appear, new platforms will allow even closer communication with the audience, and we will all go online via mobile devices.

Q. What's next for Buman Media and the Russian agency market?

A. Buman Media is currently one of the leading boutique agencies in Russia specializing in the IT market. Our objectives are related to providing world-class services to our Russian clients as well as serve as a reliable shoulder and partner to international companies interested in the Russian market. My great desire is to help our clients’ businesses grow: Russian companies need to enter new markets and develop outside Russia proving amazing intellectual and hard working capacity; as for the international clients – I believe that with our help they will appreciate working in this country by getting plenty of business opportunities and meeting great people.

Q. As one of our newest partners, what appeals to you most about Oriella?

A. I certainly love Oriella because of its members – it’s a great pleasure for us to cooperate with the leading agencies worldwide. Russia is a big country, so sometimes it is difficult to think “out of the box” and look at world trends. For this reason I am excited by opportunities to collaborate with Oriella members and sharing best practices, challenges and solutions, and making this world smaller through communications.

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