Public Relations in India has witnessed staggering growth since the 1990s. As organisations realised the importance of communicating efficiently with their target audience and increasing their brand presence, they began to opt for Public Relations. And, on a positive note, the growth of PR in India has been outstanding till date.
“Futureproofing Public Relations from an India Lens” was the topic of the Panel Discussion with New-Age PR CEOs – Abhilasha Padhy, Co-founder & Joint Managing Director, 80dB Communications; Kunal Arora, Managing Director – Edelman Digital; Munavar Attari, Managing Director – FleishmanHillard India; Ritika Jauhari, President, Strategy & New Business Development – SPAG and the moderator was Krishna Vilasini, Director, Corporate Affairs & Engagement – LOreal.
In fact even now, ‘Public Relations’ is snowballing rapidly due to the escalating needs of brand positioning (and even repositioning). After COVID hit us, it was communication that was on top. It kept helping brands disseminate relevant messages to their audience even in these tough times. But as we slowly open our eyes to a new world reality, the future of the PR and communication business does look bright.
What the trends we are witnessing?
The talk took a futuristic turn at the beginning itself, when the focus was on how PR will look like in the next ten years.
What is that one learning in PR that the speakers had imbibed, enquired Krishna. Change has taught us to be agile, identify new trends, and to have short term goals, said Ritika to which Abhilasha added saying that the last ten years has been most exciting in PR and one thing that stands out is the focus on storytelling and being authentic. It’s about learning to be agile and understanding the socio-economic environment that we operate for our clients according to Munavar, who also expanded on whether PR mandates have changed by giving both sides of the picture – what has not changed is the focus on getting the basics right, and what has changed is that there’s a lot more empathy – in trying to solve a business problem through communication.
So, is small the new big now? “I don’t think size matters. Creativity, if put right, can really change a press release or an interview”, said Abhilasha.
By and large, technology affects communication by making it easier, quicker, and more efficient. Most importantly, it helps us track conversations, collect varied customer insights and hence, provide better customer experiences.
So, digital is the ‘new normal’. It has become the centre piece of communication today; and digital communication helps us stay connected. In this day and age, digital communication is no longer a ‘want’, rather it’s become a ‘necessity’ and it has become indispensable too. “But digital is still being treated as a medium”, expressed Kunal, the digital expert in the group.
What will we see happening in the future?
It’s important that we recognise the fact that the right idea needs to be pitched to the right stakeholders. What will we see happening in the future? Stakeholders today are in a different space, informed Ritika. The basis remains the same, but what has evolved is the personalisation, consistency and simplifying what we are saying. What’s heartening is that PR is taking the lead in the integrated communication space, pointed out Abhilasha.
With talent being one key component of change, it’s clear that finding the right talent today is what will steer the future growth of the PR business. So, what skillsets should people have to futureproof the PR world? “The skills we come across are high, but what’s lacking is the attitude,” felt Munavar.
In times of disruption, communicating the right information to the right people at the right time, is critical. How do we ensure that the right messages are meeted out to the right audience? The obvious answer is – having a clear communication strategy that will enable you and your leadership team to support people effectively. It also empowers leaders because they have clear roles to play in the strategy; and, if implemented consistently, it gives support to stakeholders, which in turn, builds trust and allows your organisation or community to become more resilient. So, what is it that we can do to create a positive ecosystem? Generate respect and recognition of what communication can do – was the action spelt out by Ritika, who stated – “We are no more doers, we are drivers and we drive busines for our clients”.
In creating this serious action plan is there any ‘fun’ element to make it positive? Making teams part of multiple communities could be the best way to get talent engaged, according to Kunal and he also gave a unique answer when asked what can be actually removed in the world of PR – “Remove the word ‘PR’ and replace it with ‘communication’” .
Interestingly, the closing comments were varied and thought-provoking:
Ritika: “We need to make our clients take bold challenges and innovate”.
Abhilasha: “Keep it simple”.
Kunal: “Be selective”.
Munavar: “What’s trolling going to look like in Metaverse?”
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