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The Dubious Reality of “Paid” Media in Russia

There is something fundamentally rewarding about nurturing an idea or a story and getting the client well-deserved coverage.

The Dubious Reality of “Paid” Media in Russia

Not long ago, I read an article by a journalist from Russia’s leading business newspaper, Vedomosti, lamenting the fact that in Russia, the level of consumer and professional cynicism is so high that all PR is assumed to be paid for by agencies and/or companies. The journalist also went on to complain that even the media themselves have become so complacent that when a product or activity is pitched, regardless of its overall merit, the media simply say that it is “too commercial” and needs to be paid for.

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Having worked in public relations in this country and region for 14 years, media asking for payment for coverage is, sadly, a daily occurrence. The difference is – we don’t pay. Never have. Never will.

There is something fundamentally rewarding about nurturing an idea or a story and getting the client well-deserved coverage. Some might argue we are swimming against the tide and why bother working so hard when we can just do it the easy way. I would argue that this is what gives us our edge. To pitch something successfully, the account team needs to understand both the specifics of what they are discussing, and also the bigger picture business goals of the client. An agency that pumps out press releases and pays for article coverage is not really adding any value to a client’s business goals, because it doesn’t make any difference to what they are doing.

I want it to make a difference. I want a team of smart people working with me and, as a client, I would want a team of smart people working on my behalf. Working hard is not something to be avoided, it should be celebrated. Taking the easy road is not going to build long-term skills or expertise or benefit either the PR industry or business in Russia. For me Edelman Russia earns its place at any table. It’s worth it.

Kerry Irwin is the general director of Edelman Russia & CIS and is based in Moscow.

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