Digital revolution takes hold in Russia

The use of social media for Russian PR may be in its infancy, but opinion formers are leading the way         

In Russia right now we are witnessing a boom in public companies entering social networking sites and the blogosphere – the name of the game is Web 2.0, which is so popular nowadays. Brands get socialised in three ways. Some stick their necks out and immediately singe their feathers with bad experiences (these types of brands are thus far in the majority). Others take a wait and see attitude, analyse the competitors, and undertake occasional attempts at social media and randomly taking a crack at this market. And, in third place, the most numerically insignificant group establishes an integrated strategy for their presence in Web 2.0 and follows it. But, at any rate, 2009 could be called a Web 2.0 year for the Russian corporate world. One of the major problems that prevent companies from using Web 2.0 capabilities to their maximum effect is a catastrophic shortage of social media specialists in the Russian market – specialists who would be able to work as public relations operatives in the blogosphere and on social networking websites. Although it is true that small companies specialising in the development and promotion of virus video sprout like mushrooms after summer rains, but they only carry out small jobs in social media, these being aimed mainly at special product advertising at specific moments in time. No integral approach exists, which is supposed to come from the client in the first place. Here, a second problem emerges – a blatant lack of coordination between the marketing and public relations functions and a conflict of opinion on how best to enter social networking sites. It is no secret that the public relations departments of many large Russian companies, including the representations of foreign corporations, appear to work on the same objective, but are often in fact following a separate plan. The social media advertising campaigns of the marketing department are not always coordinated with the public relations service strategy – moreover, they can often even contradict one another. Social media strategic activity planning should be aimed at making direct or indirect profit and sales increases, but, so far, no company can boast of being able to convert its social media activities to a substantial profit. Nevertheless, experience is gradually gained and that means that conclusions and results will surely follow. And it is very important to be among the pioneers in this process rather than among those who will have to catch up with the pioneers afterwards, making childish errors which the pioneers have already made and learned to avoid. Among the major Web 2.0 channels that are really efficacious for PR service activities, we can single out the following:

Marat Rakaev

Marat Rakaev is head of PR of Samsung Russia. He joined the company in 2006 and is responsible for all PR activities in the Russian market. This includes the PR strategy as well as all activities for media, Web 2.0 channels, corporate PR, internal and external communications. Previously, he was a journalist and worked in media for almost eight years as an editor and new project director.