This week, Supernewsroom had the privilege of interviewing the boys from Amanz Media – CEO and Creative Head Ikhwan Nazri, Chief Editor Aman Firdauz and Head of Content Effi Nazrel.
Amanz Network is Malaysia’s first tech news portal that offers viewers the latest on tech updates, products and happenings in Bahasa Malaysia, the nation’s official language. Noticing a dearth of Malaysian websites that offer its readers with compelling news content in the tech industry, Amanz was created with the objective of educating the local public on matters relating to IT.
According to CEO and Creative Head Ikhwan Nazri, there is a common consensus that tech terminologies sound very strange in Bahasa Malaysia, often the butt of jokes amongst local people.
“For example, joystick is “kayu ria”, interface is “antara muka” and people often make fun of it. Our goal has been to normalize the terms as much as possible and that has been our priority for the past 5-6 years,” says Ikhwan.
Now, Ikhwan notes that there has been a growing acceptance of terms like “peranti” for device and so on. This inspired the team to create short forms for words like “pemua” in replacement of long words like “permainan mudah alih” which means mobile gaming – by extension hatching an ambitious plan to make Amanz as the “go-to destination” for Malaysians wanting to find tech words in Bahasa.
When quizzed further about the inspiration behind Amanz, Chief Editor Aman Firdauz retorts with a laugh – “We started out as bloggers, and some of us have backgrounds in creative multimedia as well as digital media. When we first started Amanz as a blog, it was never intended to become something so serious. We were doing it for fun and as much as we didn’t want to sink into the whole cliche of things, we did it out of sheer passion.”
He goes on to say: “What spurred Amanz further was the fact that the government is now providing internet access to remote areas. Technology is making an entrance into the lives of more Malaysians as each day passes by. People are becoming more curious about computers and tech products but language seems to be a barrier. Most IT news websites are in English. Amanz acknowledges this problem and undertakes to solve it by offering news information exclusively in BM.”
Aman firmly believes that maintaining integrity in news reporting is of utmost importance. He is of the view that news value is crucial in maintaining and sustaining viewer confidence. “Speed is also everything. The minute a product launches, we’re done with writing the article within 15 minutes. Otherwise it becomes redundant,” he points out.
Head of Content Effi Nazrel recounts with humor how Amanz unwittingly broke the embargo placed upon the launch of Spotify here in Malaysia. Only 7 local journalists were given special passes to Singapore for the event and unbeknownst to the team whilst scouring the internet at night, the app suddenly appeared and that was reason enough to break the story. Sooner than realized, they were called up to be given an exclusive interview on the product by then Spotify executive Sriram Krishnan himself.
Commenting on how Amanz Network had amassed a huge following with over 2.4 million visitors flocking their official website, Effi says that most Malay language based websites out there do not offer quality content to their readers. “We do not pander to corporate dynamics and neither do we get too cozy with brand giants. We offer non partisan, unbiased views and reviews on products and services. We believe we have to stay true to our customers. Tech products aren’t cheap. The public tend to lose out on a lot of money if they make poor choices in purchasing.”
On funding, Aman explains that the main source of income generated by the online tech news portal is through advertisements. “Venture capitalists are always asking us if we are able to give them a set sum of returns for the six figure amounts we request they cash in as investments. This is why we end up looking for advertisers instead.”
Supernewsroom mooted the topic of public relations and this is what Effi had to say: “PR is very important to our line of work. What I would want people from PR to understand is, sometimes, we tend not to write a story because it’s simply not relevant to us. If you send us pitches on enterprise goods but not consumer, then they aren’t relevant to our readers. The exception to this of course would be if there is a workable angle. For example – we get companies pitching to us about fibre optics. Although technically it isn’t something our readers would be interested in but since it’s something that has to do with technology, we angle it in a way that piques the interest of our readers. So we end up doing a cover story about fibre optics and how it works and what it means for the tech industry. That’s how we bend the composition of pitches to suit our readers’ needs.”
Aman also mentions that newsmakers like themselves appreciate information handed to them much earlier. This enables his team of writers to better plan their stories and news angles ahead of the launch of the product.
“I also find that the world of PR has evolved over time. Companies now no longer hound us about bad reviews concerning their products. Their approach has become more soft and tactical. They set up meetings with us and explain to us their concerns and ask us further input on how to better their products and services,” says Aman.
The bubbly trio went on to tell us about how resting on their laurels is inexcusable. Their short term goals are to continue producing more quality reviews and articles. Their long term target – the imminent diversification of Amanz Network. “We cannot be comfortable with just one portal. In fact, we are launching a new portal solely concentrating on gaming news called Aksiz.com,” Aman speaks enthusiastically.