#MediaMonday – Peter Barecz

Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from Central Europe, where Peter Barecz is CEO/co-owner at Forbes SlovakiaForbes HungaryForbes Czech Republic.  Peter was a panelist at the recent Public Relations Global Network meetings in Budapest, Hungary, where he shared his insights into the media landscape in a part of the world where a free press faces many challenges.

Peter, time to share:

Forbes is 105 years old, will be 106 in September.  Our goal is to serve as the positive voice of business in each of the markets we serve. We strive to inspire people and we believe that in the 21st century capitalism is here to make the world a better place to live.

Slovakia is on a path of strong growth.  With economic reforms implemented after 1998 and a population of 5.4 million, the Slovak Republic has a small, open economy driven mainly by automobile and electronics export. Czechia is a prosperous market economy that boasts one of the highest GDP growth rates and lowest unemployment levels in the EU.  Hungary has transitioned from a centrally planned to a market-driven economy with a per capita income approximately two-thirds of the EU-28 average; however, in recent years the government has become more involved in managing the economy. Budapest has implemented unorthodox economic policies to boost household consumption and has relied on EU-funded development projects to generate growth.

These three countries in central Europe have one dangerous thing in common: rising nationalism and populist politicians misusing the region’s currently sensitive geographical location between the east and west for their unscrupulous ambitions. Can the young, cosmopolitan and western-oriented generation save the region? Or are we going to face another wave of brain drain leaving these countries, with at least some of them stuck with their dilemmas and old dogmas?

Our headquarters are in Bratislava, Slovakia.

How did you get your start in the media?

It was fairly simple. After I graduated university back in 1999, I started working at an English language newspaper about Slovakia. After several years I teamed with my business partner, Erik Conrad, after I received an offer to launch an inflight magazine for the first low-cost carrier in central Europe, SkyEurope. Erik, as a former banker, did sales, I was responsible for content.

The airline was successful, and we needed to create small editorial and sales units in Poland, Austria, Hungary and Czech Republic. This is where our regional perspective of the three Forbes editions originated.

What is your story?

Later on, before the Lehman Brothers crisis hit Europe, we launched other corporate publications including another inflight magazine in Poland, two golf magazines in Slovakia, a magazine for Doctors’ Chamber in Slovakia and an in-car magazine for Hertz rent-a-car covering five countries in central Europe.

With the financial crisis at full swing in 2009, we lost most of the print products within two years as marketing budgets were severely cut. Amidst an existential crisis of the publishing house, we were heavily brainstorming about how to rescue the business.

After lessons learned with previous publications, my partner and I agreed that we should do a publication which worked in good and bad times because people wanted to read it as a precious source of inspiration. We also knew that we wanted to sell this publication to people, not to distribute it free of charge on planes, in rented cars, at golf courses, etc. Thus, when buying it or subscribing to it, we wanted people to be rewarded by the quality of its content. Last but not least, we agreed to search for a reputable brand which could bring some cosmopolitan spirit to the region. So, we ended up teaming with Forbes and persuaded them that we were the right licensing partner for them.

We launched the Slovakian edition first in 2010, followed by the Czech and Hungarian editions in 2011 and 2013, respectively. We also launched Forbes Austria in 2015 and ran it for almost three years before we sold it to a local publisher.

Forbes has over 40 licensing partners around the globe. Our publishing house, Barecz & Conrad Media, is in the top three of their partners from the revenue point of view.

We’d like to learn a little more about you….

I grew up in western Slovakia, graduated with a teacher’s degree from the Comenius University in Bratislava and started as an economic journalist at Slovak Spectator, an English language newspaper about Slovakia. In 2004, I launched Business Consulting & Media publishing with my business partner Erik Conrad. We later renamed it to Barecz & Conrad Media.

Unlike the U.S., it is actually quite rare for companies to bear names of their founders. We really liked to see names such as McGraw Hill etc. on roofs of buildings while walking the streets of Manhattan during our first visit to New York many years ago and thought one day it would be great to have our names as the company’s name unlike the tradition here.

When you aren’t working, what do you do in your spare time?

I really love both road and mountain biking, and backcountry skiing in winter. They give me a great feeling of freedom and serve as the best possibility for me to unwind and recharge my batteries. I go hiking occasionally. I love travelling, discovering new places and tasting their local cuisines. I like discussions and fun times over a good beer. A pint or two of the unfiltered Czech Pilsner on tap is right up my alley.

Favorite type of music: 

It is definitely rock, heavy and trash metal from my teenage years with bands like Metallica currently on tour in Europe. A heavier sound would include Brazilian Sepultura (currently after band’s split up into two, Cavalera Conspiracy) and German Kreator, currently on tour in the U.S., in case any of you are into a good old trash metal of ‘80s and ‘90s.

Favorite color: 

Definitely blue

Favorite TV shows or movies:

The Crown on Netflix, of those that you know I liked Dog the Bounty Hunter

Least favorite food:

Well, one that came to my mind right away, and in my view, it is fairly disgusting is Andouillette. It is a French “delicacy.” I guess it would be best that you read about it on this Wikipedia link 😊.

Three things readers would be surprised to know about you: 

Well, it is my heavy metal affection. Although I run a publishing house and have worked as a journalist, I never studied journalism. Since I am writing this in the evening, I had to jump next door to ask my girlfriend about the third one. She suggested it was my everlasting determination where others would give up to get things done 😊.

How can we reach you:

You can reach me at peter.barecz@bcam.sk or through my LinkedIn.

Written by
at Jun 26, 2023

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