1 February 2016

Five Trends That Could Disrupt Russia’s PR Market In 2016

By Arina Khodyreva, Director, Technology + Digital Practice, Moscow

1. Virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) has landed and is here to stay.
Does it work?
Russian companies are already getting in on the VR market and, after winning a Skolkovo innovation contest, local firm Fibrum is now selling its VR helmets on top global marketplace AliExpress. Mobile operator Beeline has already used VR helmets to engage visitors at a tech exhibition and Yandex used VR helmets for rides on its Yandex.Taxi service.
What’s next?
Brands using VR in their marcomms strategy? Maybe even a product announcement in VR?
2. Native advertising

Banner ads are dead. Tell your story in an engaging way!
Does it work?
Meduza, the emerging Russian online media site, has been pioneering the native advertising format through partnerships that create interesting, engaging and useful content for readers. Check out how Meduza worked with Tinkoff Bank and, by adding some black cat gifs (a sure fire hit online!), created a really fun story that is essentially just an advert.

What’s next?
Close engagement between brands and editors/journalists to shape truly interesting stories for readers.
3. Speaking the right language

Your customers are normal people – don’t use corporate lingo or complicated technical language. Keep it simple!
Does it work?
Yes. Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, cuts through the technical details to communicate clearly with its audience. See how it introduced smart banners – instead of diving deep into ad terminology, it simply said:
“Yandex has started testing smart banners. These are ads with dynamic content shown based on a user’s interests. For example, a banner might show a photo camera to one person and a coffee machine to another”.
Simple, right?
What’s next?
Brands will start being recognized for the language they use in communicating and this will become more of a “brand feature”.
4. Conversing with brands and bots

Brands need to be where their customers are – there’s no use doing an interview in Vedomosti when you actually just need to speak to your customers directly through a messenger like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. All hail the rise of conversational commerce!
Does it work?
Yes. Brands are already embracing the power of bots, such as top Russian bank Sberbank, which recently launched one on Telegram.
What’s next?
WhatsApp numbers instead of call centers? Tech support through Facebook Messenger?
5. Community-generated content

Brands are embracing the awe-inspiring potential of creative communities and having consumers tell their brand story and experience themselves.
Does it work?
Russian airline Aeroflot invited Instagrammers to its training center in a very successful campaign (check out #trainingaeroflot) that told the company’s brand story in a great way and reached an audience of 2 million+.
What’s next?
We expect to see more global and Russian corporate brands collaborating with creative communities on popular visual platforms such as Instagram or YouTube to generate brand content. The result will be better quality content and greater audience reach, given that some bloggers have larger audiences than some media outlets!
Whatever 2016 brings, it’s clear that the winners will be those who embrace new technologies, trends and opportunities to truly engage with their audiences and stakeholder groups.