Gorkana meets… Emerging Europe

Andrew Wrobel, head of editorial at Emerging Europe,  talks to Gorkana’s Ben Spencer about the online publication’s focus in terms of content and audience and its special projects, including the upcoming report on Belarus.  

andrew wrobel 1

Andrew Wrobel

Emerging Europe publishes reports into the CEE Region; what sets the portal apart from an editorial site?

Emerging Europe’s mission is to contribute to the region’s growth. We do this by promoting discussion about the 23 countries across the CEE region. They might be at different developmental stages, but they all share the same communist heritage and all offer a wide range of business opportunities.

For us, promoting discussion means that we analyse, comment and, most importantly, engage national and international institutions and businesses in that discussion. So when we talk about a specific country or sector, we invite the most relevant opinion leaders and decision makers to share their various points of view and experiences, thus painting an objective, relevant and multifaceted picture. The CEE region is our area of expertise, and we are constantly building our network of contributors and partners at a governmental and corporate level.

Tell us about Emerging Europe’s readers.

I would actually like to mention two audiences, which naturally overlap very often.

The first group is our constant audience. Every month our content reaches over 35,000 individuals and organisations through the portal, social media channels and a monthly newsletter. About 80% are located in Europe and North America. They are businesses, governments, international organisations, NGOs, universities and business-oriented individuals.

The other is what I would call a laser-focused audience, which is activated whenever we run a special report. Currently, we are doing Emerging Europe Outlook on Belarus 2016. In this we are gathering thought provoking, highly relevant and insightful content that has been created both on our own, and together with key stakeholders related to doing business in the country. They are: national businesses and authorities, international organisations and foreign investors already operating in the country, as well as institutions and firms who have not yet talked about Belarus. They all have their own audiences and act as multipliers, so the audience that is interested in that specific report will grow exponentially.

What does a typical day look like for you?

One of my tasks is maintaining relationships with key stakeholders in the region so I usually have plenty of meetings, which I really enjoy. Another major task is overseeing the editorial process, and also writing my own pieces and doing interviews. This takes a lot of time, especially if you want to produce a well-researched and analysed story that is rich in comments and data.

Talk us through the categories on your site.

In our special reports we offer a broad overview of a location, industry or topic. This is where we invite key stakeholders to join the discussion. If we discuss a location, we often transfer the discussion offline.

Last spring we launched Emerging Europe Live, which is an interview with a special guest and a studio discussion on a CEE-related topic. The first episode was about the development of the outsourcing sector in the region and was widely quoted by the media, and watched over 40,000 times. The next episode will be about insurance. Now, we are about to launch the Emerging Destination programme, which will be a video report of a location.

Apart from that, we run a special Made in Emerging Europe section, where we discuss successful businesses that originated from CEE, from global leaders to innovative start-ups. We also publish interviews, video reports and analytical articles.

How is the editorial team structured?

At this point our editorial team is not big. Because we are based in London, but cover Central and Eastern Europe, our writers and editors are both in the UK and in the region, and I currently oversee the editorial team both in the UK and on location.

What is your relationship with PRs like?

I have been a journalist and a media coach for over 15 years, and I have always believed such contacts are necessary and mutually beneficial. I have always tried to maintain good relations with PRs. Both journalists and PRs have their own objectives and responsibilities so, for example, if I am asked to send quotes for approval, I do that. In return I can be sure the person on the other side will, for example, help me find an interesting interviewee when needed.

What are your top three tips for PRs?

I definitely have more than three, but I will focus on Emerging Europe’s experiences.

First of all, think how relevant the press release is before you send it — we are based in the UK but we cover the CEE, which means UK-related topics are hardly ever interesting for us unless they refer to the region. Yet, because of our address, we get plenty of emails about the UK.

Second, try to build a relationship with a journalist and learn what they need, rather than sending them a bunch of press releases. If they say a certain topic is not of interest; don’t call them again about the same thing.

Thirdly, we are often invited on press trips. If we take part in them, which is not frequent, we like to take a TV crew. However, the majority of participants are press journalists. The needs of a multimedia crew and a press reporter are different, and we need to rearrange meetings in order do an interview on camera, or else keep everyone else waiting — which results in a very unhappy group!

Finally; how has your career in journalism and your role as a media commentator/ panellist helped you in your current role?

Our key objective is to trigger discussion about the CEE region. Both my experience in business journalism, which focused on the region, as well as my appearances are helping us achieve that goal. I want people to know about Central and Eastern Europe and make them see that this is a varied region where everyone can find opportunities. There is plenty to improve but, for me, that’s the beauty of it. You get to be part of the change.

  • Andrew Wrobel is head of editorial at Emerging Europe. He is a business journalist and reporter who specialises in the Central and Eastern Europe region.
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