BANGOR, Maine — Public relations and advertising in Russia are just 20 years old, but they have been growing fast in a Siberian city of 1 million residents.
Alexey Mikhailov, head of the Department of Public Relations at the Siberian State Aerospace University, or SibSAU, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, is visiting Husson University and the New England School of Communications this week to fill students in on the progress of Russian communications since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Krasnoyarsk, the administrative center of Krasnoyarsk Krai province, is located in the south-central part of Siberia. A video Mikhailov showed to open his presentation Wednesday at Husson described Krasnoyarsk Krai as a diverse area with dense forests, scattered large cities and industrial centers, vast tundra and Arctic ice.
Krasnoyarsk, along with other heavily populated areas in Russia, saw the budding of advertising, marketing and public relations firms and schools surprisingly soon after the fall of the Soviet Union, Mikhailov said.
“Now, public relations and advertising play a great role in all of society,” he said through an interpreter.
Mikhailov showed images of Russian advertising in action. In one image, a bottle holds up a sign asking that it be properly disposed of rather than just left as litter on the street. In another, cars pass under a billboard hanging over a highway that says, “KING ME,” with a Burger King logo above the text.
In the span of just 20 years, the Russian people are pushing to become avid consumers and entrepreneurs, he said.
His interpreter for the trip, SibSAU student Tatiana Demenishina, spoke of her struggles to start up a clothing business with her mother. Heavy taxes and licensing fees create a wall that’s difficult to overcome, and their business operated for three months without making profit.
They’re still trying to overcome the fact that many Russians don’t trust the Internet, especially not when making purchases.
Today, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and a large number of European and Asian firms have strong presences in Krasnoyarsk, Mikhailov said.
SibSAU started as a research- and technology-based school in the 1960s, at the height of the Soviet Union’s aerospace boom.
Today, it’s one of more than 170 Russian schools offering degrees in communications, public relations and advertising. The fields have been popular among Russian students, Mikhailov said.
Most degrees in Russia’s state-owned schools are free. However, most communications programs have started charging tuition because they can’t keep up with the popularity.
A year of tuition in communications courses at SibSAU costs around 81,000 rubles — or around $3,000, according to Mikhailov.
The professor will continue to visit NESCom and Husson classrooms throughout the week, and he said he hoped this would help develop an exchange between the Maine and Siberian communications schools.