Founder of the PR&Media Relations Support Agency Kristina Korneeva: ‘Doctoral programme is an investment in professional and personal growth’

Combining work and study


My doctoral studies took place during a time of active development for my business - PR&Media Relations Support Agency. Fortunately, I received great support from my supervisor and she was aware of my commitment to my business. Of course, doctoral studies require attention and involvement in the process. It is important to participate in scientific conferences, to confirm the results of your research, to communicate with authors and scientists who work in your area of scientific interest. Everything worked out well. I know that this is a working model and today doctoral students can develop professionally both at university and in their own projects.

The practical application of doctoral studies

Unfortunately, today, there is no active marketing of doctoral studies in the information space, while marketing specialists or communicators with an academic degree are much more in demand. One would think that these are practical professions. Why is this? The task of any marketing specialist is to monitor the state of the market for goods and services in a timely manner, to forecast demand, and to launch new marketable products. A creative task properly designed by a communicator is a guarantee of a competent promotion of any service, product or brand. Employers value highly the skills of scientists, as they enable employees to build a successful career. The answer lies in the preparatory work rather than in the final product. Getting a PhD is the skills that you acquire while going through the process of choosing the topic, selecting material, analysing, researching, and working with sources of information. These are the activities that are necessary to develop the ability to think and reflect.

Getting a degree can be compared to a sports achievement: a pole-vaulter clears a new height; a runner or weightlifter achieves a new personal best. PhD achievements are usually not publicly displayed: there is an opinion that only those who are going to continue working in an academic environment need a candidate's degree.

A doctoral student who has defended their thesis will not appear on TV; they will not be mobbed by fans or get any special award from the state. Unfortunately, even the mass media sometimes come up with negative articles like 'Seven Reasons to Quit Doctoral Studies'. According to statistics, no more than a third of those entering post-graduate school defend their thesis. However, it does not necessarily mean that the rest quit. It is important to understand that it is only you who need your post-graduate training, and for this purpose you need a clear goal, determination and time. At the doctoral level, you have to be able to learn independently – the principle of self-education and self-organisation plays a key role. One should have a ‘flair for realities’ to go to doctoral studies – be prepared to reflect, doubt and search. A person should be ready for self-education, decision making and for taking full responsibility for the process of learning. It is a higher personal level, a goal that a person sets for themself in order to go forward, to develop, to prove their competence as a researcher, thinker and analyst.

The research potential came in handy in my working projects. Together with the team of the Centre for Public Policy and Social Projects we conduct public opinion surveys on a variety of topical issues. For example, we asked Russian citizens if they knew the Russian national anthem on the eve of its 85th anniversary. This is a large-scale project, which would not have been possible without the research base laid down during the doctoral studies, among other things.

Dissertation as a self-challenge

Should I defend my dissertation? The answer is yes, provided that you understand its purpose. The routine process of preparation becomes also an internal challenge, an investment into professional and personal growth.  By contrast, if you take it as a simple formality with an unclear goal, it is usually a dead end, and you'll be fighting a losing battle.

To me, a dissertation is not so much an indicator of knowledge as a personal challenge. When doing scientific research, most researchers go through five psychological stages of accepting the inevitable: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. After the stage of acceptance, i.e. achievement of the result, there comes an unbelievable euphoria. I haven't yet confirmed my high status as a scientist and I haven't defended my thesis. I treat this as my open Gestalt, so defending and obtaining a degree is my postponed investment.

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Research interestssiuAZeC8g4o

The first thing I learned from doctoral studies was discipline. I also mastered media research methods at a whole new level. I have fully realised what constitutes good scientific analysis. I've become more confident speaking at conferences. Lastly, I understand that even an honoured professor is not a deity whom none dare to approach, but a living person ready to talk to you as an equal.

I am interested in hyperlocal media and their role in shaping digital neighbourhoods. I also have an interest in the axiology of journalism. This is a field that focuses on journalism as a source and transmitter of social values. It was developed by my research supervisor, Professor at the Department of Theory of Journalism and Mass Communications Viktor Sidorov.


A future candidate or doctoral student should understand that practical work in your profession is one thing, while scientific understanding of the processes taking place in journalism is something entirely different. In a master's programme, of course, the work on the master's thesis (your final graduation project) is more serious compared to the bachelor's. However, preparation and defence of your candidate's or doctoral dissertation is a completely new level that requires serious preparation.

Doctoral studies for 'practitioners'

Of course, practicing journalists do not always require a degree, although among my acquaintances there are people who have a career and successfully defended their thesis. You just need to understand that doctoral studies form a special view on the events around you. It also gets your messed up head together.

In general, if you're not interested in studying journalism and mass communications, you needn't enter a doctoral course. If there is such interest, then do it, but set yourself up for work in advance. Writing and defending a candidate's dissertation is much more difficult than a master's thesis.

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Studying as ‘staying on the beaten track’


Doctoral studies require a serious approach, the ability to learn on your own. It is worth doing only if you have a good motivation to continue, when you really want to study and learn new things. However, it might be better to stop and think if your studies are just a way of staying on the beaten track: when you first obtain bachelor's degree; then master's degree; and then just go to the next stage.

Professional retraining

I disagree with the opinion that there should be one profession per lifetime. It can and should be changed. I have some friends with a primary education in the humanities, and now they are successful IT specialists. After school it's impossible to know for sure what you want to do for the rest of your life. It may remain unclear even after university. You should not be afraid to take risks: search and try different paths.

Becoming successful

1) Be courageous and active. Try different areas; do not limit yourself to one sphere.

2) Sign up to everything. Take part in competitions, attend forums and conferences, accept different positions. This experience is very important when you apply for a job.

3) Talk to people who are experienced in the field. If you run a business, talk to those who also have their own business. You will face the same problems and issues.

4) Develop your brain. Many people go to gyms to build their arms and legs, and they don't think that their brain might need similar exercise. You just have to work it out differently: read scientific articles, watch documentaries, practice your skills.

5) Do not be afraid to fail. Nowadays almost everyone if fixed on being excellent in everything as if genetically there is no chance of making a mistake. People are afraid to take responsibility and risk. Yet, failure to cope with something or even to go bankrupt is quite natural. The important thing is to try and to do everything honestly.

Poet Stefania Danilova: 'You should write about what you love and what keeps you going.'

Studying different programmes


I dreamed of getting an interdisciplinary education: bachelor's degree in linguistics, master's degree in philology, and a doctoral degree in advertising and public relations. Being involved in the PR field since the age of 13, during regional school projects, I thought: why not? I submitted my application to the Faculty of Philology, just in case, but after passing with the same points for both specialisations, I chose 'Advertising and Public Relations'.

Dissertation topic

My work is called 'Communicative practices of promoting the poet in the 21st century'. To me, who has been living in the poetry scene for ten years, it's a real challenge. Modern life in poetry is a source of rich empirical material that is hardly ever written about in the world of science. It's about poetry itself and the lives of poets. I study ways of promoting poetry, how it has been since ancient times and how it is changing today. I study who a poet is, who can grant this title, when and to what extent 'self-proclaiming' might be more justified than a Writers' Union membership card, how to combine the Union membership and network popularity. The most difficult thing is to overcome the barrier of writing about yourself, a poet with certain communicative practices, as an object of research. For now, I am trying to avoid this by all possible means.

Choosing a topic

You have to write about what you love and what keeps you going. That's what I think. Maybe you shouldn't be so emotionally involved in your choice of topic. I write about what I love and the rules I live by. I have more questions than answers. It's not so hard to choose the topic, as it is to give it a proper expression. In my case, we have changed the title about 15 times over two and a half years.

Based on interviews with Ruslan Sekaev, Anzhelika Khmelevskaia, Elizaveta Minenkova, Eva Sviatnaia, Vera Shubina and Elizaveta Chernova.