Business Spring 2016: organization and comprehensive support of a business forum as part of the annual day of Russian entrepreneurship
In 2015 entrepreneurs appeared pessimistic about the future of the Russian economy. Among the main problems they named a limited access to financial resources and business coldness connected with excessive bureaucracy and insufficient commitment of the local government to small and medium-sized businesses. At the same time in Moscow the total amount of support in the field of public and corporate purchases equals more than RUB200 billion, and there is a broad range of implemented programmes and taken measures that ensure financial support and business stimulation. However only few businessmen in the capital know about these opportunities.
The Moscow Department of Science, Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship and the Russian Non-Governmental Organisation for Small and Medium Business “Opora Russia” organized the Business Spring 2016 forum on the day of Russian entrepreneurship. The forum gave the city a chance to create a platform for an open dialogue conducted between the business and the authorities on equal terms and to show the potential for the entrepreneurship development in Moscow.
In this respect, the agency had the following goals and tasks:
To ensure the possibility of an informal dialogue between business owners and the city authorities.
To boost the trust of the Moscow business community in the forum and to encourage entrepreneurs to participate in it.
To heighten the awareness of entrepreneurs of the existing measures and programmes created by the Moscow authorities to support the business.
The agency had to overcome such main communication barriers as the pessimism about the future of the business in Russia and the sceptical attitude to the forum resulting from concerns that it would be just another event for appearances’ sake where officials would not listen to the opinion of businessmen.
The strategy was based on the idea of changing the event format and creating a “reverse forum” where speeches would be given not by officials, but by entrepreneurs. This shift of focus made the forum a platform for a dialogue conducted between the business and the city authorities on equal terms and it gave them the opportunity to openly discuss the current economic situation, to sound the existing problems and to begin jointly looking for solutions to them.
Tactics, creative solutions
In 2016 the pessimistic economic scenario did not come true, and the low economic activity gave way to a recovery in the business environment. Business spring began. This image became the base for the creative concept of the forum that was reflected in its title (“Business Spring 2016”), the colourful visual presentation and the principle of the business programme preparation.
Lilac was chosen as the main symbol of the event to underline the connection of the forum with the life of the city and to enhance the feeling that a new stage began: lilac bloomed in May when the forum was held, and its flowers with five petals symbolized good luck.
March-May: a communication campaign.
Announcing advertising campaign
The following advertising tools were used to ensure a wide coverage of the target audience just before the forum:
direct mailing of invitations using the base of Opora Russia and the businessmen base of the Government of Moscow;
outdoor advertising in the centre of the city to inform citizens of Moscow and the Moscow region about the coming event (more than 120 advertising surfaces);
advertising on the main business radio (Business FM) to inform the Moscow business community about the coming event. The main emphasis was put on the advantages entrepreneurs could get if they attended the forum (more than 40 broadcasts);
online advertising to broaden the coverage of the target audience on the most frequently visited business and news websites, such as Kommersant.ru, Ria.ru, Vedomosti.ru.
Interaction with the press
The following key approaches to interaction with the media were selected for determining the existing communication barriers:
Work on the success stories of business owners taking part in the forum. In the course of the announcing campaign the agency team selected the most outstanding and unusual cases of the forum participants which were then presented in the media.
Initiation of comments, interviews with the key speakers about the current agenda, key trends and the problems of the entrepreneurship development in Moscow helped to keep the target audience interested in the forum and even heighten this interest during the entire announcing campaign.
Creation of a pull of business, social and political editions including over 1000 target contacts.
Media partnership. The forum was supported by 28 major federal business, social and political media companies, including RBC, Kommersant, Vedomosti, Gazeta.ru, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, RIA Novosti, ITAR-TASS, radio stations Business FM, Ekho Moskvy, Vesti FM, and TV channels Channel One, Russia-24, Moscow 24 and so on.
Creation of a media centre at the forum. A media centre is a special business zone with all the necessary equipment, a high-speed and stable Internet connection and screens displaying a live broadcast of what is happening in the hall. Journalists learnt about all changes in the business programme in real time with the help of an audio reporting system and special information screens.
Individual approach to journalists. Each journalist at the event had a specially developed programme which corresponded to their interests and preferences and comprised information on speakers, business sections and exhibition stands of the highest importance for the journalist. SMS messages were also used to inform about organized media scrums.
May 26 — Business Spring 2016 Forum
The forum business programme contained six business sessions formed on the basis of the analysis of the most popular topics among business owners: “Innovative production: technologies, staff, infrastructure”, “Finances and the business”, “Working on government orders and purchases”, “Innovative service and the service sector”, “Tourism. Domestic tourism”, “Public catering and the food industry”. That day a number of agreements were signed which covered the creation in Moscow of a new technological park, a research and practice laboratory for the development and testing of software and technical solutions in the field of healthcare services and telemedicine, and launching of a transparent mechanism of financial support for manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises.
Open dialogue between the authorities and the business. Unlike other forums, the main speakers of Business Spring 2016 were business owners who received a chance to share their stories of success and misfortunes and to discuss the current problems. And more than 45 representatives of the Moscow authorities, including Sergey Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow, and his deputy Natalia Sergunina, Oleg Bocharov, Head of the Moscow Department of Science, Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship, and his deputy Olga Rogova and many others attended the sessions as listeners.
Exhibition “Made in Moscow”. Over 60 local companies got a chance to demonstrate their goods and solutions to a vast audience. The exhibition also included stands of banks and public organizations allocating budgetary funds, as well as service centres for the business where entrepreneurs could get expert advice.
Events for future entrepreneurs. The VDNKh territory was equipped with a special zone with free entry for young entrepreneurs and their parents. During the whole day children and teenagers could take part in business games and workshops (“Form an Idea to Production”, “Enterprising Inventors”, “Brain Download”, “Commercialization of Engineering Designs”, “Vertical Take-off”, “Digital Home” and “AVIACMIT”). They could also watch a scientific show, visit an interactive zone for research and development works, take a career guidance test and get expert advice on the future career path.
The forum was attended by 2700 guests (KPI — 2000 guests), including Sergey Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow, and his deputy Natalia Sergunina, representatives of the Government of Moscow and other public authorities, representatives of Russian and foreign business associations, entrepreneurs and experts from Moscow.
The forum exposition comprised over 60 companies (KPI — at least 50 participating companies).
The programme for children “Young Entrepreneur” attracted more than 800 children and over 100 adults.
The coverage of the announcing advertising campaign exceeded 5 million people.
The results of the work comprised more than 230 original publications and news items (KPI — 100).
47 city and federal media companies visited and reported on the event. Among comments on the event: “It is great that the city organizes such events where the business and the authorities listen to each other and together strive to find solutions for raising funds for various industries. Major banks are also interested in supporting the business.”