School of Communication and Reputation organised the 4th edition of #SCoReTalk on Wednesday, 6th May. The talk on “Futuregazing- What will the new normal look like” was moderated by Rajyasree Sen, a senior communications leader currently serving as Director – Global Communications at Hyatt. The webinar helped in understanding how the communications fraternity plans to cope with these extraordinary times. We are living in a situation where businesses are at a standstill, apart from FMCG and Healthcare. The advertising and marketing business has taken a huge hit because brands are now reallocating their marketing budget.
Babita Baruah, Managing Partner at GTB India said, “Spends of a consumer today are very limited because of the lockdown. For businesses, it is a survival and sustenance story. Overall the community has been impacted but still is optimistic because of the cultural aspect, data, and studies about improvement in consumer sentiments in the third quarter.” Right now brands need to focus on sending the right message through digital platforms and remaining salient while conserving resources. Adding to that, Dilip Cherian, Founder and Consulting Partner at Perfect Relations, said that marketing budgets should not go towards pushing product sales, chest-thumping about CSR activities, and trying to do anything which is not innovative. He also suggested that businesses across sectors should focus on retaining customers for better times by letting them know of what they are doing to come out as a safer, more sanitised, and more secure product. Talking about the approach of Perfect Relations in the current scenario he added, “PR is a not a switch on and off kind of business” hence firms need to be on their toes in these difficult times and support their clients.
Barun Jha, National Editor at Press Trust of India spoke about how lockdown has impacted the media industry. As a result of the current situation publications are shutting down and downsizing operations. Commenting on this he said, “It is difficult for publications to survive, we are still in a situation where people are not ready to pay only for the news.” He believes that PR and Media have to collaborate a lot more to send across the correct message a company wants to share.
When asked about reinventing, Reema Kundnani, Executive Vice President, Head – Marketing, Corporate Communications, and Luxury Residential Sales at Oberoi Realty said that according to her coping will be the new normal for an organisation or a brand. Accepting and adapting to the new normal is necessary for brands today. She summed it up saying, “Coping ability along with care are the two things that all the companies should be looking at while conserving cash.” These hard times are not going away soon; brands that are innovative and empathetic will be one step ahead of their competitors.
Furthermore, they discussed the significance of digital and that it has become the prime tool for brands to connect with their audience post lockdown. The audience is now spending most of their time on some digital platform. It’s become the need of the hour for the communication business to effectively embrace digital in their strategies. “Consultancy that now treats digital only as an extension of what they used to do in the mainstream will be in trouble”, opined Babita. She shared the example of the increase in search by consumers about various topics and how these searches now can translate into SEO and SEM strategy. Positioning digital as an enabler with technology, Reema suggested that brands have to resort to trials and errors to understand what works best for their category in digital. She also highlighted the need for focusing on artificial intelligence to understand what is working. Agreeing with Babita and Reema, Dilip emphasised that people will be turned off by the routine digital on a variety of digital vehicles and there will be an impactful return of the “heirloom brands” which have preserved their tonality and truth.
When the panelists were asked about the key things young professionals should learn to cope with the current scenario, they recommended learning good PR skills, keeping in mind that you are on 24X7, having an attitude to adapt to changing environments, being honest and kind. The panellists concluded by advising everyone to stay safe and being optimistic by looking forward to opportunities.
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