Interview With Valentina Drofa, CEO At Drofa Group, About Her Project And Current Situation In Crypto Media
Valentina Drofa, CEO at Drofa Group, Member of the Council on Financial Education and Consumer Protection of CIS, told Blockspoint about her project on PR promotion of ICO startups and explained the current situation in the cryptocurrency media environment.
How did you start working on PR promotion of ICOs?
Our company Drofa PR Agency has been providing services to hedge funds, financial companies, IT projects for more than eight years. I usually say that we got involved into this kind of activity by chance and because our clients needed it. Our customers (Forex companies at that time) got interested in cryptocurrencies after another blockchain expo in May last year. Some of them decided to carry out ICOs for their projects. Thus, in June 2017 we started promoting ICOs for our clients. Very soon our customer base grew.
Which countries do you cover?
It was quite easy for us to do our job, as we have representatives in many countries. Still, we are mainly focused on the Asian market. We have an office in Shanghai, we create content for social networks and websites there. We took the lead in Russia, as we have more than 30 successful projects in this area. Some of our clients needed promotion all over the world, while others were aimed at Asia. Now we can easily assess if a project has a chance to be successful – just because our experience in this field is fairly large.
The whole world is highly interested in cryptocurrencies and ICOs. What do you think of it?
The hype we could see in autumn 2017 has already gone. And it's a good thing. Back then, there were lots of people that quickly created a lending, made white paper and – voilà, job’s done! Now it’s over, and we have a chance to work with interesting projects by strong teams. Maybe it’s a matter of luck, but all our customers are good. Each month we manage about ten campaigns.
How expensive are your services?
Our services cost $150,000 on average. This sum includes promotion services in the base region plus two or three countries. We intend to stay in this market for a long time, so we do our best to get descent feedback from customers. We want to lead in this sphere.
There are many risks associated with scammers. What measures do you take before you start working with a team?
I guess I have good karma. I have never met scammers. It doesn’t take much time to understand what sort of people you are going to deal with. As long as the product is strong enough – everything’s alright. It is also important for each team to have an understanding of technology. You don’t have to rely only on successful marketing. If developers themselves are not able to explain the essence of their project — we will not be able to make good content. There were teams we just refused to work with.
Once I spoke at a conference in Moscow. My slideshow included the image that said, “the fuck-ups you will never be forgiven for”. Below, there was the example of an ICO company that speculated on the death of a well-known Russian stand-up comedian. This caused a storm of criticism. Next day, the team that leaded this project asked us to run a PR company for them. I said no, because I have never had a desire to work with projects like that. It is important, because our reputation depends on the reputation of our clients.
Do you have any criteria for selecting projects?
First of all, we want to have high-quality products in our portfolio. Therefore, we expect our clients to fulfill their promises and to spend raised money wisely.
What is the best promotion strategy?
I believe that this market does not tolerate any frivolous advertising. After all, we work with the financial sphere. The information support of a company should be seriously designed. Virus stories do not remain in the media for ages and do not show people what the project was actually created for.
What happens after the ICO is over?
We can do post-PR. We try to make sure that our customers remain recognizable. It is necessary for maintaining the value of a token in the market. We also have to work with the company’s audience, to conduct webinars, to participate in conferences and forums, to make different kinds of publications and so on. As a rule, after the main phase of promotion is over, all marketing managers leave for other projects. Naturally, it is more profitable for companies to work with us, as the brand remains visible.
Do you use non-standard tools for advertising?
We work primarily on the quality of content, conduct research, write interviews, collaborate with bloggers. This allows us to make publications in famous editions that can attract people. Some projects are easy to promote. For example, we are working with a company that develops VR and offer clients to virtually visit famous museums. Such projects are a big hit at any expo.
Some experts say that ICO may disappear very soon. What’s your opinion?
I do not think so. This market will be active within the next year or so. And then some kind of regulation may be adopted. Anyway, ICO is only 50% of our activity.
Which companies should start ICO?
The teams that create blockchain-based products. If a company has nothing to do with this field, it doesn’t need an ICO whatsoever. Though, it's cool that they think about investments and PR. There were situations, when we tried to talk companies out of ICOs, as that was a bad idea.
What’s the difference between crypto investors and traditional investors?
I rather refer investors who buy tokens to those who trade binary options or Forex. I understand that there is no market of this kind in Russia, and traditional investors are very skeptical about ICOs. In my opinion, the main crypto investors are gamers and traders. This audience is getting smaller.
Tell us about your plans. Are you going to expand your business?
We are planning to explore new segments. Now we are going to open new offices, negotiating with Japanese companies, growing in Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia. Though, we won’t expand the range of our services. It’s really bad when an agency tries to deal with everything at once: PR, traffic, website, design, white paper, etc. We are focused on making good content, and we are definitely responsible for it.
You said you had clients in Asia. But the audience may be very specific depending on the region. How do you personalize content?
Yes, you’re right here. We have a Chinese team working in the Shanghai office. They adopt our content. Chinese people are very cautious about the color scheme — each color does matter to them. So we take everything into account. We have our own PR managers in all countries we cover, and they are well acquainted with the local culture.
Where is your main office located?
The main office is in Moscow. Our company is registered in Cyprus, therefore we have an office in Limassol as well. I have already mentioned Shanghai, there are representatives in many countries. Our agency works across the globe, and our employees have to travel a lot.
It's amazing how fast the world changes, isn’t it?
Indeed. Now it takes a company just several months to develop. Many guys just got lucky and rich with the help of ICOs, it brought them millions of dollars! Just remember the gamers who got hundreds of bitcoins via online games. Now they are millionaires! We got used to the fact that all money in the world belongs to a small number of assorted people. Now we have crypto owners who just outshined them. The world is getting very small. At the same time, everything is developing too rapidly. Nobody can ignore this fact anymore.