Media & Communication
Brand Russia: How the Soviet Successor State is
Bolstering its Image at Home and Abroad
This paper traces the developments of the mass media in Russia and its current efforts at nation-branding in order to improve its reputation in the international community. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the citizens and government of Russia, engrained with Communism, experienced an identity crisis as they attempted to transition into democratic and free market systems. A weak and oligarchic-controlled media compounded this identity crisis by not having the capacity to serve the functions that a free press would in a democracy-namely, in a governmental watchdog role. After his election in 2000, Putin recognized how this transitional period had further tarnished Russia's image on the international stage and he began a nation-branding campaign to bring the worldwide opinion of Russia more in line with Russia's lofty view of itself. Keith Dinnie (2008) defines a nation-brand as the unique, multidimensional blend of elements that provides the nation with culturally grounded differentiation and relevance for all of its target audiences. In Russia, these efforts include everything from an English language TV channel, to newspaper inserts across the globe, and even hiring U.S.-based public relations firm Ketchum to handle the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg. The paper also explores how a now state-owned and suppressed media is being used as an instrument to bolster the state's image in each of these endeavors.