Going small, reader-centered and practical
It's not a day that goes by that I'm not amazed of how much information comes our way, every minute of the day. You surely know what I mean – too many e-mails, too many websites to follow in order to scan for the essential information, too many newspapers... For us, Romanians, it's sometimes overwhelming. But for the foreigners living in Romania, or for the ones living abroad and interested in Romania, there aren't that many choices when it comes to learning what happens every day in this country. Yes, you can always ask a friend or a colleague, but it becomes frustrating to always rely on somebody else for information meant to help you make decisions. And we're talking about important decisions - business decisions and the daily small-but life-influencing decisions.
Many of my friends are foreigners, some are new to Romania, others have been living here for many years already. I feel their every day frustrations, although many of them have been traveling abroad for most of their lives and know how to handle life in a foreign country. But they still lack a good, well portioned dose of daily information and advice they would understand and use to their advantage. Most of foreigners are used to making friends easily – when you're living abroad, you have to. You also need to belong to a community, stay in touch with others like yourself and expand the circle of friends and business acquaintances.
With these in mind we started this website. We believe in quality, practical content, tailored to the readership. I think many media outlets would get back people's attention if they gave them what they really need. I also believe in small, niche projects, like this one. Too many media outlets are trying to capture everyone's attention,while neglecting the specific needs and interests of smaller groups.
Most of media companies in Romania have been racing towards higher revenues from advertising for so long that it seems some have forgot what this is really all about. And when advertising dried up, they didn't try to see what they were doing wrong and whether they had neglected the editorial product. Instead, they moved to new business models, like selling books and DVDs along with newspapers to boost sales or organizing events under the newspapers' brand umbrella. I can understand the need for models like this and to a certain point it's good they emerged – these are strictly business choices, for the short term good. But media, in my opinion, should be more than strictly a business. And editorial products, more than simply products.
This is why I personally believe it should all be centered on readership and content for longer term benefits. Yes, I might be among the innocents in the world to believe so. But if people recognize a publication as a good source of information, if reading it becomes their daily routine, if they recommend it to others, then advertising revenues will follow. Wait, wasn't this the initial, basic business model? True, advertising budgets are now a far cry from what they used to be two-three years ago. But if you turn to other businesses for inspiration, you will see how they thrive on volume sales. Lower the price of ads but sell more of them, be creative in advertising formats without impacting the quality of your editorial and alienating your journalists, go beyond the traditional group of advertisers you've been talking to a few years ago. I believe this is the model which will pay off on the long-term.
When it comes to readers, I also think they are prepared to pay smaller fees for the information they really need. The move towards paid content, which started at international level, might work in Romania too, sooner or later. Consumers of media products (you and me included) got used to receiving almost everything for free and the competition between media outlets fueled their expectations of getting more news for free. But if publishers put small fees on some of their content and again think 'volume sales', if they balance these revenues carefully with the ones from advertising and don't get greedy along the way, it might work.
We've started this project out of passion. We want to help foreigners in learning more about Romania's business, lifestyle, people, culture and in dealing with the day to day struggles of living in Romania. We're hoping to build an expat community around this project but we're open to local readership as well – it's never late to re-discover your country.
Feel free to send us suggestions about what you would like to read – we're always open to new ideas. Write us even if you are dealing with a problem in or about Romania. We'll try to help out ourselves or find specialists in our network to help you out and then we'll share the solution with everybody in our Advice section. In the end, it's all about you, our readers.
Corina Saceanu, managing editor