American-Style Public Relations Greeted Warmly in Red Square

Article excerpt

PRSA is helping to shape the future of public relations in Russia. Working with the Russian Public Relations Association (RPRA) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), four PRSA members recently conducted a two-day seminar on "The Practice of Public Relations" in Moscow. The Sept. 29-30 conclave is believed to be the first of its kind held in the Russian capital.

More than 110 Russian business managers, journalists, scholars and aspiring public relations practitioners attended the seminar to learn firsthand about the practical application of public relations principles from the American practitioners.

Sharing their knowledge and experiences with the Russian audience were New York consultant James E. Arnold, Fellow, PRSA, chairman of Arnold & Truitt Associates; Frank Ovaitt Jr., APR, international public relations vice president for AT&T in Morristown, NJ; F. Edward Mattix, APR, executive director-business development and communication, US West International, based in London, England; and this reporter, chairman and CEO of a public relations firm based in Minneapolis, MN.

The desire for practical public relations knowledge in Russia is intense. One participant, a woman in her mid-20s, a psychologist with a degree from Moscow State University who started her own consulting firm because she saw public relations as an opportunity to put her knowledge to work in a business setting, was asked what she wanted most. "A basic text that tells us what to do," she replied.

In his opening lecture, Arnold emphasized that the strategic goal of public relations programs is "supportive behavior." He described the step-by-step process of creating a public relations program and showed how measurement is built into the program from the beginning.

Two days after the seminar ended, MGIMO's department of international communications was still answering requests for copies of Arnold's diagram of the planning process. Arnold said he was surprised at the number of Russians with backgrounds in psychology and philosophy who are going into public relations. "This is a level of preparation that would be envied in the States," he said.

Attendees were astonished at the extent of AT&T's programs for communicating with employees. …

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