Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are seeking to hire three to four western PR agencies to help improve Russia’s image in the West. An unidentified Russian spokesperson has confirmed the Kremlin is looking to hire these companies as early as the end of 2016, according to PRWeek.
Russia has spent approximately $115 million on improving its image in the West and plans on paying $30-50 million per year going forward. Putin is eager to improve his county’s image after several allegations of hacking the Democratic Party’s servers during the DNC, an Olympic doping scandal, and deploying advanced missile systems to Syria.
The Kremlin has had a long-standing relationship with public relations giant Ketchum. Ketchum worked with the Russian government and the country’s natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, from 2006 to 2014. The Russian government is now looking to replace the services provided by Ketchum with several smaller companies. Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dimitry Peskov, told PRWeek:
“We have already made attempts to attract someone smaller than Ketchum. There have been two attempts to attract other foreign companies. However, their work has not satisfied us. Still, there is a possibility that Ketchum’s replacement might be found by the end of the year.”
Ketchum was able to convince popular publications such as The New York Times, and the Financial Times to print op-eds and conduct interviews with prominent Russian leaders. They were even able to help persuade Time magazine to name Putin “Person of the year” in 2007. Putin and other Russian leaders hope to replicate this success through synergizing the three smaller companies.