Is digital PR the next transformation or just the end of an era for print?

The ongoing digital transformation in the country is expected to increase India’s total internet user base to 829 million by 2021 from 604.21 million as of December 2018 (Source: Mint Lounge, September 27th, 2019, page 12). 

There is no debate on how the internet is the most critical element in our life’s today. We won’t be delving into the two-sides of the coin, whether the internet ruined our peace or gave us accessibility to a bigger universe. But the fact that the growth has definitely caused a stir, for people to move from printed versions to e-versions. From books to e-books, cheques to bank transfers, and newspapers to websites. 

As a PR professional, the newspapers were introduced to us as that quintessential friend that one would need. Whether reading them for research, to understand the journalist’s writing style or the natural need to stay updated with what’s happening around us. The thrill that one would get for having ‘cracked’ a story for a client, had no match. Because it involved buckets of sweat and truckloads of passion, alongwith the time and effort to understand what would make a story in the newspaper or be the next coveted cover story for a magazine. 

But does a webstory thrill you exactly in the same way? 

Do you go sad as organisations slowly shut down their print publications and move to web editions?

Or instead, could this be a good time to actually embrace the change and make your stories go far and beyond just one location?

Once again, there is no battle or justification on which one works best, its all about how do we perform better in changing times. 

With the ever-budding ‘techpreneurs’ the need of the hour is to be visible nationally and even globally. The benefit of having stories available in the digital version has definitely been a big brownie point. The PR and media landscape equally grew and helped brands take their stories to a far and wider audience. 

Today, we have brands in the food business asking us to indulge more in web stories, rather than just print, simply because it helps them grow their business through e-commerce. Yes, this is another benefit for businesses intending to grow through their digital presence. When brands want to deliver across the length and breadth of the country, they are vying for the support of the web. Homechefs began the same way – curated a menu, shared on the digital platforms, collaborated with a delivery team and voila they had a business up and running. Today, a lot of the homechefs get opportunities to partner with restaurants, participate in pop-ups, create special festive menu’s – all this easily communicated and marketed through the digital platforms. Infact, internet and delivery companies have been a great impetus for F&B brands and hence the growing interest to be part of digital stories too. 

If we look closely, the web-media has helped to increase the PR net for creating brand visibility. In the era of images and videos, and the fact that one can bookmark and read stories any time, it gets easier to be present on the e-portal of a media house and speak to an audience beyond the demographics of a physical location. Digital PR is applicable to all brands, maybe food and travel or the lifestyle genre, uses them far better than others. But this definitely is a completely new playing field to be explored. 

Little Black Book, WhatsHot or even Curly Tales – these portals got Millennials hooked on for quick information about everything to do in their city. So, these digital versions are taking the local game to a bigger ground. At the same time, with no limitation on space, features online can well be elaborated and go as in-depth as required, like Forbes, Fortune or even Economist digital versions. 

In all its entirety, these articles are getting some eyeballs, all thanks to how we embraced the change to a web version. 

So, for PR professionals any new platform is a new opportunity to widen the net and share stories with an audience just beyond the neighbourhood.

Pooja Trehan
Pooja Trehan, AVP, Communications & Public Policy.

Bringing up a 7 year-old boy and building a career in Communications have possibly been the key driving forces in my life! Obviously, apart from the 6am runs and eternal love for black coffee. The reality of 2020 hit this industry with the worst storm, but gave me a silver lining through awards & recognition in the 40Under40 category for PR and Corporate communication professionals (three of them in one year!). My goal is to keep - Communications - as the big picture, whilst being the wanderlust traveller who is reading all the time!

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