I finally watched RT's program on Russia's brand and perception abroad that was aired last week. Funny, that despite everything said and done on public diplomacy and soft power over the past decade, the Russian approach to the problem is still stuck in the early 2000s.
First, the discussion is still about "branding" and "advertising", even though they did touch upon media and cultural matters, as well. Secondly, no where did they seem to acknowledge Russia's own fault - whether in its policies or public diplomacy approach - in contributing to the problem. (By the way, this very much reflects the official discourse on the subject, too). It's all either the history's fault or that of the "West's": of the persistent negative image, ever-present stereotypes, evil politicians and their devout media (and yes, their intentional desire to mire Russia's international image).
Whatever happened to listening, public diplomacy of deed, or true relationship-building... Clearly, there is a long way to go. But it will have very little to do with actual marketing campaigns or spending sprees.
There is a lot of research still to be done on Russia, but also the subject in general. I tried to start doing that in my last year's paper on selective processing, but that was just a preliminary and very basic attempt. There is an ever-increasing need to have a better understanding about changing deep-seeded stereotypes and attitudes, especially when it concerns public diplomacy (and "soft power") issues.
UPDATE: And in case you were wondering, here is 'evidence' that proves beyond doubt that Putin is more like the rest of us than people might first think. Just in case you missed it... ;)