How PR works in Russia
25th November 2016
I moved from the UK to Moscow in 2009 after graduating from university and immediately dived into the local public relations environment. The Russian PR industry is complex and is still developing. The media landscape has maintained many features of the “old” Soviet media order, but in a specific blend of the European and Asian outlooks. Working in Russia requires you to be flexible and fast-thinking, and so here some hints to help you navigate this unique market’s special features.
At least 65% of Russians use the internet, rising to 75% in cities. The most popular national daily newspapers are Argumenty i Fakti and Komsomolskaya Pravda, which attracts almost 3 million readers a day. The largest TV channel is Pervyi, with a monthly audience of 50 million. Quality business newspapers include Vedomosti, Kommersant and RBC. There is also a wide range of regional media covering events in specific Russian regions.
The Russian media landscape is diverse. Yet, despite this, it is vital to understand that local content is most important: the media wants to see your story through a Russian angle. Whether it’s an interview, feature article, case study or press release announcing a new product launch, it must be strongly connected to Russia. For instance, you need to explain how important this launch is for the local market, the benefits it will bring and how it will impact the local economy or Russians.
It is also important to know that any public reference to a company can be considered advertising – a legacy of the paid articles published in the 1990s, especially in the regions. It is crucial to deliver interesting stories that can be considered to be PR and not advertising. In addition, it is important to note that there is a tendency for editorial decisions to be swayed and influenced by personal convictions and relationships, so your job is to persuade and communicate correctly.
Local social networks
The social media landscape is different in Russia. Whilst such platforms as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have a monopoly across the globe, Russians prefer regional networks: VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, MoiMir and LiveJournal. Indeed, VKontakte is Russia’s largest social network, with over 45 million visitors a month. Furthermore, according to Brand Analytics Data, social networks in Russia are dominated by women, especially Instagram and Odnoklassniki. Men are only more active on Twitter and LiveJournal. You need to be aware of this when planning a communication strategy for the Russian market.
In Russia it is very difficult to plan long-term, as everything can change really quickly due to local or global factors (economics, politics, etc.). As a result, you need to be flexible. It can certainly be stressful, but it also forces you to be on top of your game in order to keep up. You learn to adapt to a changing environment and act quickly. In comparison, in Europe everything is usually planned months or even years in advance.
To sum up, running PR campaigns in Russia can be difficult at times due to the market’s idiosyncrasies. Yet because the industry is still developing you can take risks and try cutting-edge approaches and instruments. One year in Russia is like three years somewhere in Europe in terms of experience. Put simply, every day is an adventure.