“PressReader is a twenty year old company,” Nikolay Malyarov, CEO of PressReader International, tells us right off the bat. “We celebrated our 20th anniversary in May of 2019. Three years ago we decided to get into international expansion, and founded an Irish company, which was PressReader International. We formed that company, opened an office, and started the recruitment process.”
“Phase one of that recruitment process was to bring in developers, because PressReader is a tech company – a tech company that connects people with newspaper and magazine content anywhere they want to get it. And as much as we had concentrated all of our development activities in Vancouver before, we wanted to diversify and have our presence in Ireland.”
“We’re now into Phase two. And phase two is what I’ve been asked by the company to take on, which means I’ve moved now to Dublin to spearhead that development.”
Malyarov’s redeployment represents a significant ramp-up in the company’s international intentions. His involvement is hands-on, and he tells me in-between takes that the company is currently looking for strong locally-based talent, should we be aware of any on the ground!
Having previously held the position of Chief Content Officer for the company, Malyarov’s title now reads: CEO of PressReader International. So has physically upping sticks and moving into a new territory – literally in his case – proven to be the daunting logistical challenge that many might envisage?
“Well if we take the logistical elements out of the equation, phase two of what we really want to do with PressReader International is provide a local presence to our partners and our sales support,” says Malyarov. “It’s also to hire the sales teams locally in Dublin as well as in the regions that are reporting to our Irish company.”
“Was it dauting? Certainly, yes you get anxious about these things, right? It’s a challenge. I love challenges, because I think they allow us to be creative, to find new solutions to things, and the biggest challenge for me today is to bring in quality talent for the company: people who understand what PressReader is all about, understand our vision, understand how we build partnerships with publishers and brands alike, how we engage with consumers, and how everything we do goes to the core of bringing quality content to the end-users.”
Ireland is a hugely interesting choice right now, not only because of Brexit and the on-going Apple tax saga, but also because of the significant steps that the country has taken in more recent years to appeal to overseas investment and foster an environment for business growth. So just how appealing a proposition does the country pose as a base for international expansion?
“We’d been courted by a number of countries. There are a number of these foreign entities that are looking for FDI [Foreign Direct Investment], bringing foreign companies into their markets. Ireland was one of them. It’s the Irish Development Agency (IDA), which is well known around the world for bringing quality companies into Ireland to set-up their European operations. That process had started before Brexit, so I can’t really say that Brexit had anything to do with our decision to go into Ireland. But I have to say that the Irish Development Agency really showcased what Ireland is all about.”
“Ireland is about quality workforce, multilingual, diverse – certainly not just the Irish workforce, but you have access to pretty much anyone from the European Union. It’s also a very creative workforce. Ireland has obviously gone through a number of changes as a country, has developed, has had its own set of challenges back in 2008-09. But the talent that it attracts is great to tap into.”
And as Malyarov explains, that’s a talent pool that is particularly well-suited to the modern media industry.
“It’s certainly a tech hub, they manage to do that very well. The educational system is fantastic so the graduates that we are seeing have the knowledge to bring into any company and we can help them build up their skills at company level. So Ireland has a lot going for it!”
We last caught up with Nikolay in Europe, at the 2019 Digital Innovators Summit (DIS) in Berlin. There, he spoke about the ‘Media dating game’, and how publishers can attract more readers by placing an audience-centric focus at the heart of their distribution strategy. So especially at a time when the company has literally moved across mountains to provide more localised support, does he still see forging longstanding relationships with audiences as the name of the media game?
“Yes you can build a very close an intimate relationship with the reader, to offer your suite of services, or subscriptions, or membership, to a group of readers. But we still live in a day where not everybody is willing to pay for content, and a larger number of readers today are still unwilling to pay for news. We stand behind quality journalism and that needs to be compensated for, so where’s that bridge? How do we build that bridge? And the bridge is when you have somebody else pay for it.”
In our latest catch-up with him in Vegas, he had just finished giving a presentation about the important role that libraries can play in the media landscape. The modern library is not only a useful metaphor for curated, digitised content, but can play a tangible part in building local audiences on a global level.
“A big part of my presentation was talking about libraries. We publish a magazine called ‘The Insider’, and the latest issue was on the future of libraries. They represent a super-old institution overall if you think about our society, but a very vital institution. Because what do libraries do? They democratise access to content. They make books, newspapers, magazines, various databases available to everyone that is living in that community.”
“And libraries face an uphill battle for – I would say relevancy – in today’s world. Why do I need a library when I can get a digital subscription, I can get an eBook, what is the purpose of a library? So this issue is really about how libraries are reinventing themselves, becoming more community hubs.”
“I would also argue that libraries are one of the most important paid content hubs to publishers. Because libraries service a segment of the population that is either unwilling, or unable to pay for content. But the libraries are paying on their behalf. And rather than closing off your content from libraries and saying, oh no we’ll just build a direct-to-consumer subscription ourselves and you need to come to me as a publisher – and that’s the only way to get that content.”
“Understand that audiences are different, and what you’ll find in libraries are people that want to engage with your content. Especially at a time when media literacy is a global concern, and so many people are unable to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not in today’s world, and still get paid for all that effort. It’s just not from the readers, not from the library patrons, but by the library.”
“We’ve been working with libraries since 2004. And actually in my early days, when I was at university, I worked at a library for four years, and that’s where my passion for libraries came from. Because I saw how libraries change things for people. How they can become better educated, more informed citizens of society.”
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