Making Public Relations thrive, not just survive

The topic chosen for #PRAXIS9 could not have been more thought-provoking. Yet, it is brain-freezing to opine on futureproofing a profession whose origin can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century and, by some estimates going as far back as the 17th century. The onset of the pandemic had industries abuzz with foretelling on transformative, irreversible new normal(s) that will have sweeping effects. The floodgates of eulogies were flung open for theatres, books, workplace, physical sports, and so on. The two of the most successful theatrical releases of Indian cinema happened in succession during the pandemic. The watershed event of our lifetimes is continuing, and the world around us has changed, but the fundamentals of human behaviour and existence have more or less remained. 

Closer home, I cannot not address the elephant in the room. Digital is a force to be reckoned with – only fools will miss this train already pacing like a bullet. That said, digital can mean many things to many people. For those in the business of influence, digital is a medium, as is print or TV, to reach audiences with intended messages, either directly or indirectly. I agree digital has removed barriers and, to an extent, disintermediated press, but its practical use is embedded in the science of persuasion. 

The question at large is what it takes to remain relevant and evolve with the times for Public Relations and its practitioners. For me, the answer is staring in the face, People! No amount of emphasis is enough that the future of our industry can be insulated only by attracting, nurturing and retaining good talent. We need not look too far for a solution. The least we can do to make a beginning is to be the example we want to see. Invest in knowledge, apply our skills and lead with empathy to inspire the newest members of our teams to be proud of their choice to make Public Relations their career. As onerous as it may seem, we are all dutybound to be genuine ambassadors of our industry. 

The second foil to this puzzle is Experimentation. The greatest companies of our times have failed several times and failed fast to succeed sooner. We are often found on the beaten path, and our vocabulary is unimpressively similar. We talk of disruption but do not want to disrupt value erosion. A culture that promotes experimentation, entrepreneurship and freedom to fail has outpaced the industry averages on all counts. 

Last but not least is promoting Continuous Learning and development. We see the fruits of democratising knowledge at Adfactors PR. Over 1000 people so far have graduated with a Diploma in Digital Marketing, and several others have trained in management and leadership at the top institutes. Does it serve the company well? It jolly well does. But, the underlying intention is also to help the industry build a robust talent pool for future. Is it enough? Surely, not. A lot more minds and hands will need to commit to the noble cause of making Public Relations thrive, not just survive. 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.
These articles were published in the PRAXIS 2022 special edition print magazine of Reputation Today.

Arpit Garg
With 17 years of experience, Arpit brings a blend of creative thinking and strategic know-how in reputation consulting. In his current role, Arpit provides strategic counsel to a clutch of high-value clients ranging from global leaders in M&E, e-commerce, internet economy companies, to large Indian and global conglomerates from diverse sectors.

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