How some reputed technology brands have leveraged PR very effectively?

The early 90’s saw the beginning of technology entering the Indian market. This was in various forms starting from basic PC’s to Mainframe computers to Mini and Super Mini computers. The technology jargon and concepts were alien to many people and most of them learnt their basics on the job through training and education run by many computer institutes. Companies made it a point to enroll their employees with the computer institutes to make them computer literate. Most corporates slowly started investing in the hardware and software aspect of computer and these departments were called the EDP department which basically helped in undertaking data processing jobs primarily in the accounting areas to begin with. There was always a fear amongst many that how accurate is a computer. Can it really replace human brains? Will it increase unemployment by replacing human hands? Then the constant threats from trade unions for employing computer technology in the companies. There were very few brands in this space that people were aware about. Some of the brands that were know were Hinditron, Zenith, ICIM, IBM, etc. There was a strong need for people to be told and educated about technology to bring in credibility and benefits of the technology. While advertising campaigns were released in business dailies, business magazines and computer journals but that was not sufficient to create a pull for the brand as the pace of technology was changing rapidly and many new players were entering the market. 

How tech brands benefitted from Public Relations? 

When technology brands entered India in the beginning of 90’s Public Relations as a tool was gaining some respect and popularity. There was no beat that was specifically writing about technology but publications and media companies started opening up and encouraged journalists to write more on this new vertical. The government also opened doors to lot of international technology giants to invest in India and in a matter of few years we could see big guns like Microsoft and Intel pumping huge monies in India. Since technology was rapidly changing there was a need to create awareness and educate the audience both B2B and B2C on the benefits of new technologies. And the only easy way was to use strong PR driven communication strategy, as advertising had its limitation to explain technology in the most detailed and friendly manner. While advertising campaigns generated awareness amongst the CTO’s and CIO’s but it is credible stories with meaningful and relevant information about the emerging new technologies is what helped the decision makers to narrow their decisions in buying new products and implementing new technologies . The CIO’s and CTO’s had to compare lot of notes before placing an order for a new technology or hardware as there was always a fear that the technology will become obsolete soon. And of course, there was limited IT budget earmarked and therefore the decision has to be sharp and perfect. 

World’s best brands built through Public Relations:

Some of the world’s best brands have been built though PR. Our own homegrown software company Infosys – a leading Indian and global brand which has grown in manifolds has very intelligently used PR as their key communication tool both in India and abroad. The secret of their success was they delivered value consistently which helped in creating strong belief and shaping positive opinions’ both with the stake holders and the media. Today both the brand and the spokespersons of Infosys have built a good reputation as thought leaders in the IT industry. 

High tech companies like, Yahoo!, and eBay, Google, Microsoft, Intel are great examples of tech companies that built their initial identities through Public Relations. Other tech giants like SAP, Cisco and Oracle strongly believed in PR has their primary communication tool before spending big bucks on advertising campaigns. Some of the other Indian software giants like TCS, Infosys, Wipro moved to the global map through strong public relations campaigns. 

Google is another brand which is in everybody ‘s mind starting from today’s new generation kids to senior citizens. This brand has never advertised in India although recently they started to spend some monies on advertising .But the brand has grown in leaps and bounds to have the largest email service in India, Gmail. The brand Google has become so familiar and friendly that people use the lingo ‘Google’ it to get any information on the net. Since media is always hungry for exciting news and innovation on the technology front they always loved tracking Google’s road map and growth path 24X7. 

Today most of the startup companies especially in the technology space trust PR to create awareness as it is cost effective and lends credibility. Most of the startup companies have sharply defined audience which is all the more reason they place their faith on PR to do their job. Brands like Flipkart and Zomato has really combined PR and advertising so cleverly to reap maximum benefits in the last couple of years. 

Client and PR consultants worked closely to bring in a lot of synergy across stakeholders:

The PR specialists had an important role to play here. It was not just pushing press releases but doing lot of proactive interaction with the media. Clients have also taken lot of pains and have been kind to educate the agencies by conducting periodic training sessions to understand better on the technology aspect. Investing quality time through bridge meeting between clients and journalists regularly has helped journalists gain lot of knowledge and information in the category. This engagement model both at local and global level kept the media always on the toes to know more about the client and the category. Multinational technology giants made it a point to invite experts from their headquarters to collaborate and share with the media on global trends and about their new product and technology offerings from time to time. Associations like NASSCOM also laid a strong platform for tech companies to meet, share and discuss challenges with all their stakeholders. Besides this, editors from many media houses made it a point to participate in international technology summits and conferences for deeper understanding in the technology space. With social media gaining popularity many stakeholders are able to easily lay hands on information on the latest that is going on the technology front. While traditional PR is still strongly prevalent in India but it is just a question of time that online news will move faster to garner a substantial part of the news coverage. 

Ganapathy Viswanathan
An independent consultant in Branding and Communication, Ganapathy Viswanathan comes with over three decades of experience in Brand Communication, Public Relations & Digital Marketing. He has worked in diverse disciplines with several multinational advertising agencies like Ogilvy, Lowe and Mudra Group.

On the Public Relations front, he was the General Manager, Western region of 20:20 MSL, where he spearheaded the western region operations. In his last role he was the Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing Communication at Eureka Mobile Advertising - a mobile engagement company in India head quartered in UK.

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