The first day of the XXIII International Communications Forum “Baltic Weekend 2023” took place in St. Petersburg

On September 21, the first day of the international communications forum “Baltic Weekend 2023”, which is organized annually by SPN Communications agency, took place in St. Petersburg. At the plenary session of the forum, speakers discussed modern trends in PR and communications, shared their personal experience and unique cases.

Grand Hotel Europe became the main communication platform for representatives of top management of large companies, directors and heads of PR-departments, advertising and communication agencies, public authorities and mass media. 

Andrey Barannikov, General Director of SPN Communications and Vice-President of RASO, opened the forum: “In this hall today will be held the next, already the 24th ceremony of summarizing the results of PROBA Awards. We received 235 applications this year. Besides, today there will be a battle in the nomination of PR-specialist, an open talk show, panel discussions and round tables”.

The centerpiece of the day was the plenary session, which was attended by Avito PR Director Ulyana Smolskaya, President of the Russian Public Relations Association (RASO) Evgeny Minchenko, Director of Corporate Relations at CEMENTUM Vitaly Bogachenko, Director of B2B Marketing and Business Communications at Ozon Maria Zaikina, CEO of Argumenty i Fakty Publishing House Ruslan Novikov, strategic PR expert Alexander Tsypkin, author of the Lobushkin Telegram channel Georgy Lobushkin, Chairman of the Board and Director of the Roscongress Foundation Alexander Stuglev and Chief Strategic Director of TWIGA PR Mikhail Yelagin.

Ulyana Smolskaya announced a session about artificial intelligence, which will take place tomorrow, told how PR in Avito is evolving and gave an opportunity to join her team. Soon there will be many new experts in the service’s team: PR-director of four business areas at once and specialists in horizontal teams.

Evgeny Minchenko shared that one of the main trends today is the death of the middle class: “The number of people in the middle class is decreasing, and the feeling that the future generation will live better than the previous ones is going away. The world of Game of Thrones is the world that awaits us for the next 10 years. The West still retains cultural and historical hegemony.”

Vitaly Bogachenko spoke with an important and revealing topic: “Modern raiding: how Telegram and dipfakes “revived” the old methodologies. A case of raider seizure of a multi-billion dollar business”. At the presentation, the speaker shared the results of the anti-crisis campaign “CEMENTUM”, with the help of which the company was able to overcome the attempts of attackers to legitimize the capture of the organization. “The most important tool that helped us in the current situation was working with the press services of state authorities,” said Vitaly Bogachenko.

Maria Zaikina shared Ozon’s experience of building communications at all possible levels during challenging times. In 2022, the level of uncertainty in communications is at its peak: “In the last 2 years, just about everything happened to us at Ozon: US sanctions, a fire in a warehouse, fakes. It was impossible to keep silent. Target audiences were completely disoriented, we understand only 2 percent of everything that happens, but we chose a strategy: to speak, to manage, to lead. We are a guide for the mass audience.

Ruslan Novikov told how his team manages to anticipate some trends before they become mainstream. The expert admitted: “We are very tired of the negative agenda, so now after every crisis there are requests for completely different content – more positive”.

Alexander Tsypkin opened the topic: “What should a PR person do if a manager suddenly decides to become a political blogger?”. The speaker named the top reasons why executives often want to engage in political activities, among them: reducing political risks, increasing reputation before contractors, public pressure, and others.

Georgy Lobushkin spoke about the role of Telegram messenger in modern communications. The speaker believes that we are now at the point where Telegram is becoming the second messenger in the world: “Telegram has essentially replaced the Internet. It has become a workspace, personal communication, someone listens to music here. This is both a problem and the salvation of the media market”. 

Alexander Stuglev spoke about congress activities as a tool for promoting Russia abroad. According to the speaker, virtually any contact can form a good investment project.

Mikhail Yelagin shared his activities for the last 2 years – it was the study of about 15000 cases from all over the world, which, thus, served to create a huge detailed base: “You cannot immediately say that the same approaches and solutions will not work in different regions. There are many cases where the same solution and the same approach in different contexts yielded the same result.”

The second day of Baltic Weekend 2023 will feature an equally intense plenary session, new panel discussions and roundtables on the most topical topics. The full forum program can be found on the event website:, and all the latest information and news about the forum can be found on the official Baltic Weekend Telegram channel:


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