Students of LETI "Public Relations" Department visited Towson University
From 1 to 16 March visit of ETU "Public Relations" students to Towson University took place within the framework of exchange program beetween partner universities.
Since 1993 the Department of "Public Relations" of the ETU Faculty of Humanities has cooperated with Towson University (Towson, Maryland State). At first the program involved exchange of teachers, but in 2001 student exchange project also started.
From 1 to 16 March regular visit of ETU "Public Relations" students to Towson University took place. To learn more about student exchange program and about the visit collaborator of Public Relations Department Fedyaeva Alexandra spoke with Tatiana G. Sheremetyeva - senior lecturer of "Public Relations" Department, who is coordinating this program.
"The essence of the program initially was the fact that our students were given an opportunity to come to Towson University for 10 days and to study with American students. Their students, in their turn, came to participate in the annual LETI PR- festival which we make, and in a number of other activities. But since two first trips were very successful, and our students approved themselves very well, the program began to develop.
Several years ago in one of visits to Towson I met with Dave Imre - owner and president of one of the largest communication agencies in the U.S.A., and he offered another form of cooperation: we still come to Towson University, and still the program includes a visit to joint sessions, but now students must prepare presentations and projects.
This means that, first, students prepare presentations for the university. This year, our students were given the task to make nine presentations for the university on the following topics:
"The level of development and features of social media marketing in Russia", "Examples of successful and unsuccessful campaigns of foreign brands on Russian market", "Psychology of Russian consumer, values and motivation”, Background about the history and current state of advertising in St. Petersburg, Russia”, “Nature of being a student at St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University: music, entertainment , career, education and work.”
But besides that, Dave Imre got an idea to give on development a part of the project relating to Russian market to our students in concurrence with his customers. This year they were to make project for John Deere - the largest international corporation for the production of construction and agricultural equipment, widely known in North America. We got this project in September and were doing it seriously till January. We had already had successful experience in preparing projects for Dave, but this year the task was very serious. We had to do a project not from company John Deere itself, but from John Deere Foundation which is involved in charity and volunteer work - it is quite developed in America. For example, they explore the needs and requirements of any community, and then donate money and provide them with necessary services. We were entrusted with doing such research for St. Petersburg, Moscow and Orenburg. This direction is not developed in Russian at all, so we had to think it through.
Our guys approached to the implementation of this project very seriously: they conducted research, called in Orenburg, arranged interviews. Defend of the project was attended by president of John Deere, the head of John Deere Foundation, the head of the John Deere in Southern California, managers of Dave Imre company, and the synchronous online conference with all John Deere offices was organized. It lasted for an hour, a lot of questions were asked. As a result, the presentation was done brilliantly. This is not surprising, because for this program we select the best students: those who study well and work by profession, who is in organizing committee of PR- festival which I coordinate. These are students who I can rely on, and they haven’t let me down so far! They always long to participate in this program for it's a great opportunity to take part in a serious international project. In addition, they protect the project in English to foreign audience. As a result, our students receive certificate that says they took part in international project and were trained in Towson University with an indication of number of hours and other items. This certificate is valued by employers, especially by representatives of foreign companies in Russia.
During this visit our students do great job, we have very rich schedule, but we always arrange cultural program. This time we have visited New York, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and even the ocean in Atlantic City."
One of the exchange program participants student Maxim Danilov shared impressions left by the trip and meeting with American culture with us.
Did the trip satisfy your expectations?
Of course! I liked it very much. Americanl students greeted us well, communicated with us with pleasure, we exchanged contacts with some of them. Despite current political situation, we didn’t feet any pressure, nobody spoke about it, they were interested only in our student life. They treat us with great interest, and it is not surprising, because lives and cultures of America and Russia are very different. In many ways we are similar, and in some things we differ absolutely. Like us, they love to have fun, socialize informally and easily. But the Americans are much more disciplined than the Russians. They have very strong sense of civic duty that is uncommon in our culture. By the way, just when we arrived we faced with one cultural difference. On the first day of our arrival there was snow storm and the entire university was closed. By the slightest warning everything is locked, even shops. We do not understand this.
What topics did you have lectures on? Were they interesting?
Advertising and PR. Lectures were very interesting, especially because Americans have completely different approach to education in general and to our specialty in particular. In fact, we graduate on PR specialty, but from the standpoint of an American, we are more like communication specialists. In our five-year training program PR, advertising, marketing and other disciplines are included. They have deeper study of the subject, but narrowly focused. On the one hand, it may be good, but our specialty is more versatile, with it you can work anywhere. And if you have finished PR-specialty in America, you can work only in PR, even not as a journalist.
What project did you prepare?
I participated in development of the project for John Deere Foundation. The topic was very difficult, there were many pitfalls. But it was very interesting!
Was there anything that you liked most of all? Any strong impression?
We had a lot of impressions in general. The most powerful effect was probably when got back to Towson after trip to New York and felt great contrast between the huge metropolis and small town, even village, though we all loved Towson. All of us experienced sudden sense of calm.