Started just over two months ago, The Village Ukraine reaches a wider audience than expected at this stage, with its stories aimed at the responsible urban consumer.
The Village brand first appeared in Kiev a few years ago as part of The Village Moscow, but stopped publishing regularly in 2013.
Advertising agency Zdatni bought the national franchise and recently opened up shop again in Kiev, with a small team focused on producing a guide designed to be read by conscious consumers who live in the city.
Speaking at the Lviv Media Forum in May, editor-in-chief Andrii Bashtovyi described their content as “service media”, having a certain number of tasks to perform and meeting specific demands from the audience.
Choosing the stories the small team covers can be a delicate balance of economics. As a city guide, The Village covers coffee shops, restaurants and cultural events, but also topics that will affect a small percentage of its readership, such as the change of a bus route.
The Village Ukraine is currently funded through advertising, with native advertising making up the majority of its revenue, supplemented by display advertising.
“We are trying to build a team in which all the skills will be used as much as possible. Everything should be optimised because we're a business, we have no chances to make a lot of mistakes.
"If we'll be spending too many resources we'll die in a few months or in half a year, so that’s why we have a pretty small staff,” Bashtovyi told Journalism.co.uk.
The staff counts two news editors, three writers (including Bashtovyi), a photographer, a producer, and an illustrator and a designer working on the website as a content manager.
They allocated a small budget to Facebook advertising in the first month, setting aside $150 with the aim to refresh the existing page for The Village, which sat dormant with no reach.
“Our idea is that our marketing is our content, everything is there. If we are providing high quality content and people need this content, we are good.”
The Village Ukraine reached its audience target for the first three months after its first month of existence, posing some problems for Bashtovyi, who has not yet had the time to establish a process within the existing team that can be replicated in The Village’s offices in other cities.
The core audience it is designed for, Kiev’s responsible urban dwellers, is estimated at around 300,000 people, although it is hard to calculate exactly. The next step after reaching their target was for the team to expand to different cities, but Bashtovyi is doing this cautiously.
“We need to grow but this growth should be quiet, because there are a few media outlets in Ukraine which were growing too fast on social media and that's why they weren't able to create a community. There was no high quality discussion because they were growing too fast, with marketing and not organically.”
The Village is planning to expand to two more cities in the summer, Lviv and Odessa, taking on pairs of reporters who will cover stories from the new locations of interest to the audience in Kiev.
“Talking about the management of the team, three months is enough to build all the media processes inside, but we took all these people in the first month. The logic of growth [says] we need to go somewhere else, to other cities, but I had no three months to build the editorial processes, so that's why I am trying to slow down.“
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