For die hard Eurovision fans, a big part of Bulgaria’s success in 2016 came from national broadcaster BNT’s entertaining and adept use of social media. As Kristian Kostov prepares to represent Bulgaria at this year’s Song Contest with “Beautiful Mess,” we caught up with Deyan Yordanov, BNT’s editor in chief of communications management, strategy and planning, to find out more about the work that goes into maintaining Bulgaria’s online presence.
There are four people working on BNT’s social media team. “There are no assigned roles – everything is shared and discussed between the team members,” he said. “In BNT the communication team also coordinates the whole project and takes part actively in the decision-making process of the entire production.”
BNT’s strategy for the 2016 Song Contest was adapted from one they first used during the 2014 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. “Our objectives were, and still are, to create a strong brand of our broadcaster and country on a European level and to improve the awareness of the local audience,” said Yordanov. “Our strategy also follows the latest trends which show that people nowadays watch TV on more than one screen. They use their mobile devices; they want to comment, engage, connect to the program they are watching.”
While “If Love Was a Crime” generated a lot of good will from Eurovision fans, Yordanov said that BNT was also prepared for possible negative reactions as well, such as the criticism of Bulgaria’s staging during last year’s rehearsal period. “[We] always have a plan [for] what to do in case things go wrong and there is some backlash,” he said. “In all situations, we want to stay true to our most important principles – to be honest, confident and sometimes even bold and provocative in our communication. It’s better to be wrong but to make people react than to leave them indifferent.”
“Of course, the best thing is to be right and to know what your are doing. Not always possible, though,” he added with a smile.
BNT makes sure that everyone involved in its Eurovision delegation stays on message, even the artists themselves. “The performers should follow our guidelines in all situations – both when it comes to their social media presence and their interviews. We have very strict requirements on the matter, because we are the ones responsible for the brand image. If the performer says something that should not be said, we will be held responsible in that case.”
Yordanov quickly added, “That doesn’t mean we are ‘control freaks’ and create an artificial image of our performer. We just want to clarify some red lines that should never be crossed by our performers. I’m happy that everyone understands it and the performers even appreciate it. That’s why we have a team – the singers have to perform, we have to do our job.”
Things have been going well with Kostov so far. “Working with [him] is a true pleasure. No matter he is so young, he is really a top professional and handles everything as it should be,” said Yordanov.
With rehearsals kicking off this weekend, Bulgaria’s delegation is prepared for the most intense part of their year. “The two weeks are much longer as we work from the moment we launch our selection process,” said Yordanov. “As I said, we have a broad range of responsibilities and social media is just one of them. Eurovision is one sleepless experience, but it’s emotionally rewarding – especially when things work fine.”