(Note: We are pleased to share this guest blog post from Viktoriya Evlikova, a media relations manager at our PRGN partner agency in Moscow, CROS)
Just a few days ago, I traveled to NYC to CooperKatz & Company where I will be working for three weeks as a trainee. I am a media relations manager at the Russian PR company named CROS, which, along with CooperKatz, is a member agency of PRGN (Public Relations Global Network). So I’m going to study how PR works in the US and the differences between PR in Russia and PR in America.
Before I came here, I read some books about trends in PR. Of course I want to follow the trends because it is helpful for me in my job – both here visiting the U.S. as well as back home. I thought it would help me speak the same language as everyone at CooperKatz – I mean a professional language. And I understood that one of the main trends for U.S. public relations is personal communication online, particularly in terms of social media. This idea is a new one for Russian audiences. We use social networks very actively, but maybe not so actively as Americans. And I don’t know why.
When I recently attended the biggest professional conference in Russia named Baltic PR-Week, I was shown a presentation where the press-attaché of The Russian Ministry of Education and Science announced a meeting between bloggers and the Minister. For press-attaché it was a great event – but for American PR professionals, this would be something quite ordinary. Russian co-workers told me that this should not surprise me, because we have just started moving in this direction. We’re only now studying and trying to follow the global PR trends in the social media area.
But I don’t write here only about PR tools. I’m also writing about communication more broadly, as a principle for understanding each other. And given this, I have to mention a very simple but important thing: in Russia we don’t tend to smile. Everybody is always smiling in the US. While meeting you at the office, trying to help you or seeing you first time, people always smile. When they do it, they really don’t mind who you are. They are more open, more friendly.
And I wonder, why aren’t we in Russia the same? I have heard several times about “non-smiling Russians.” We had many different barriers between people and it seems sometimes that open communication is not for us. We’re living in difficult Northern conditions, which could be one of the reasons. But the fact is, we are very serious all the time.
So why do I think that a smile influences everything? First of all, it creates a good atmosphere all around. Maybe in business, smiling is a key part of success! Secondly, I believe that when you are smiling you became more confident and more open – helping you in every type of communication.
We in Russia should remember that we are working in the PR industry, and the smile for us can be a main tool.