MOSCOW — A new study has found Russian PR firms lacking in terms of creativity and analytical skills, according to the country’s corporate sector.

The survey by Buman Media polled the PR directors of 100 large Russian companies, finding that 63% of them use external PR agencies. The remainder (27%) cited a lack of funds or mistrust as reasons for not retaining an external firm.

53% of those that do use PR agencies believe creativity is their biggest weakness, while 41% pointed to a perceived lack of analytical skills. Respondents also noted the low level of industry knowledge, the impossibility of complete control and a sense of ‘opacity" among PR firms.

In general, despite the unstable foreign environment, companies do not plan to reduce their PR budget. 80% of respondents said that this year's budgets are similar to the previous ones, or have been increased, 40% are prepared to increase them next year, and only 5% reported budget cuts.

Current PR budgets also appear promising. 51% of companies surveyed spend more than US$270k per year on PR, with more than a third of that budget devoted to external PR services. 28% spend between US$76k to US$200 000 on PR firms.

However, this does not mean that companies are willing to delegate larger strategic projects to agencies. More than 50% of respondents prefer to use agencies for specific tasks, such as copywriting, the development of promotional materials and media monitoring.

More than a third of companies are hiring agencies for crisis communications. The study found that only 20% of Russian companies are ready to let PR agencies oversee strategy and usually prefer to solve such problems in-house.

Not surprisingly, social media is a growing priority.  Among the major and most effective social networks in the view of those PR directors interviewed are Facebook (58% of positive responses), immediately followed by Vkontakte (37%). Odnoklassniki and Twitter gained 9% and 15%, respectively. Linkedin appeared the obvious outsider, received only 4% of the vote, while 16% do not use it at all.