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Home » “Your HR function must be the #1 priority”: How a publisher expanded internationally in 62 markets | What’s New in Publishing

“Your HR function must be the #1 priority”: How a publisher expanded internationally in 62 markets | What’s New in Publishing

A leading publisher within the crypto, blockchain, and Web3 community, BE[IN]CRYPTO has witnessed explosive growth since it was founded five years ago. CEO and Founder, Alena Afanaseva, explains how the publisher expanded internationally, and why doubling down on HR is key to success.

Founded in 2018, BE[IN]CRYPTO is now one of the world’s top 3 media organizations providing crypto, blockchain and Web3 news, connecting more than 20 million Web3 enthusiasts through digital and social channels.

A participant of The Trust Project, an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency, the publisher’s rapid growth has seen it expand to a team of 267 providing content in more than 14 languages – Arabic, English, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Its revenue model is split between affiliate marketing and advertising, although the publisher has already started to diversify with the launch of its Academy which aims to be a single destination portal for people to learn more about Web3. Indeed, education around the Web3 ecosystem is a key focus for the publisher moving forwards.

We don’t want to be an elite platform for crypto geeks, we want the Web3 world to be accessible to anybody, across all age groups.

Alena Afanaseva, CEO and Founder, BE[IN]CRYPTO

Gen Z, remote working and flexibility

BE[IN]CRYPTO is unique in that it has no head office and prioritizes remote work, with its staff based worldwide across multiple time zones. It also places emphasis on a diverse workplace, something the geeky world of Web3 isn’t known for, with women comprising the majority of its senior leadership team as well as 40% of its head count.

In a wide ranging interview, CEO and Founder, Alena Afanaseva, says that offering a modern workplace is vital in attracting young Gen Z talent, “People who are passionate about blockchain don’t want to be stuck in an office, and that includes co-working spaces. Instead, they want the flexibility and freedom to fly anywhere. To attract the best talent, you have to provide that.”

This flexibility has brought challenges, “In any online-only workplace, it’s harder to understand and get to know your colleagues in-depth, especially the subtle nuances of human relationships that you take for granted when in close proximity with other people.”

Afanaseva adds that her R&D and IT teams primarily use Discord to communicate with each other, but for the company as a whole, the publisher uses Slack, “It has a broader range of tools and allows us to communicate as a company more effectively.”

AI, however, has clouded the picture especially with recruitment, “ChatGPT has made our task harder. We have a detailed approach when hiring people that involves seven clear stages. One of these stages is a written test and only last week we received a submission that had been 69% AI generated.”

We use filtering tools to check that all our editorial is human-written, as well as any recruitment tests.

Alena Afanaseva, CEO and Founder, BE[IN]CRYPTO

Multiple markets, languages and audiences

Rather than centralize its content, with interviews and features written in English and then translated locally, BE[IN]CRYPTO allows all its markets to operate independently, “Each market is a separate unit with its own Editor and content strategy. Some articles are translated locally from other markets, but I can’t emphasize enough how much audiences vary in different countries.”

“In Spain, inflation is relatively low, so our audience is primarily into defi and speculative assets. In Latin America, by contrast, inflation can be as high as 100% so our audience interests are completely different – there it’s all about stable coins and hedging against inflation. You have to adapt by market, not by language.”

We are digging deeper into local markets, researching the pain points, challenges and aspirations of each one separately. It’s a constant evolution.

Alena Afanaseva, CEO and Founder, BE[IN]CRYPTO

Each region also has its own social media manager whose task is to engage the publisher’s audience, generate discussions, and moderate posts, “Telegram channels are our social media of choice, with different channels operating on a language-by-language basis.”

Engaging the digital generation

BE[IN]CRYPTO conducted academic research last year into Gen Z and it confirmed many of the publishers own findings – namely that the digital generation are consuming media in a vastly different way, “You must simplify everything and explain concepts in the simplest way possible. Video content is also very important, the shorter the better, such as TikTok.

The digital generation are not using Google search anymore. Digital natives in their twenties are using YouTube for search while the younger generation are using TikTok. There are tutorials covering every topic you can think of, and that’s where the audiences are going for their information.

Alena Afanaseva, CEO and Founder, BE[IN]CRYPTO

It’s all about HR

To create a successful, remote working, media company spanning multiple time zones, Afanaseva is at pains to stress how important the HR function is, “There needs to be a transparent structure, with clear employee incentives and professional managers. If you build the proper structure, you can attract the best talents.”

The HR function is absolutely vital. You must get that right. If you do, you will find the best local talents, and that in turn will underpin the success of the business. It’s all about the people, always.

Alena Afanaseva, CEO and Founder, BE[IN]CRYPTO

Finally, we asked Afanaseva what she would do differently if she was starting again. Her response is unequivocal, “Get the HR right at the outset.”

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