PR needs PR!

I love the initiatives Amith and his team bring to the communications business! Look at this one – 26 professionals, writing a column once a week for 52 weeks! That makes it 1352 original opinions that can collectively raise the reputation bar of our profession! It took me about two seconds to go in for this challenge but now I realise that my weekends are not going to be the same again. But such an opportunity to express oneself does not knock on our doors every day! And it’s also in a way good PR for PR!

Of course I had to brand the column and the name had to begin with either of the remaining 5 available letters – L, E, V, Y and N (Amith’s idea was cool – every columnist’s column name should begin with a unique letter and 21 other letters had already been allotted!!). So I cherry-picked ‘V’ and absolutely delighted to present to you my column – ‘Vox Essence’ – ‘Vox’ as in voice and ‘Essence’ as in the inherent and indispensable quality, which determines its character.

Well, my column over the next 52 weeks aims to be our collective voice to bring out the essence of the various attributes of our profession. I want to share my views and gather your thoughts and instigate conversations around leitmotifs that can truly raise the stature of our profession. I want to share what has worked and not worked for me over the years, the trends that I have seen emerging, the processes that have enabled some kickass campaigns, innovative concepts that have delivered immensely, and failures that have given me some amazing learnings. Of course, we shall also ponder on some of the more ‘fashionable’ issues like measurement, agency relations, influencers, and stuff that makes for the banter when more than two PR professionals meet anywhere under the Sun!

We all know, PR has been prevalent since time immemorial. However, the pace of change in the past decade has been significant. The biggest challenge for the communications business today is to manage organisational reputation and build brands in the prevailing ambience of increased fake news, minimal public attention spans, reduced trust on media/governments, and inauthentic influencers in the social media space.

In a fast evolving business environment with multiple external stimuli impacting business performance, and with multiple disruptive modes of communications and platforms for data consumption by the stakeholders, the operative scope of a PR professional has favourably amplified. Today, we significantly impact multiple levers – corporate reputation, employee retention, crisis mitigation, sales, product brands, stock price, stakeholder engagement and many more. We as a PR community (and even Marketing, Finance, Strategy, Sales, HR and other functions) know it with conviction that PR works. Then, why do we seem so wanting when it comes to the due PR deserves? It cannot be just the fact that we have not done enough PR for PR, the way we have done PR for other functions.

Had heard someone say that corporate communications is the neglected stepchild of the C Suite and is remembered only when a crisis hits! Although an extreme view, the industry still finds itself fumbling when it comes to establishing universally accepted measures which translates into the larger question of how do we also demonstrate value add towards an organisation’s growth. Hence it is just a pity that most of the time the ROI of millions of dollars spent on advertising is never questioned the way ROI on a fraction of that amount spent on PR is. We do have ways to demonstrate effectiveness but the measurement conundrum still exists. I guess the industry has also not presented itself in the true holistic form and educated organisational stakeholders the way some of the other functions have. There certainly is a need for the industry to get its act together, stop cutting each other, and have a larger purpose for the industry, just like we advise our stakeholders whilst building our corporate or product brands. A bit of PR for PR could be useful, I guess!! What say?

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Sujit M Patil, ABC
Sujit is a IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) accredited business communicators and a three time winner of the IABC International Gold Quill award. He has been listed as India’s top ten men in corporate communications by Reputation Today and featured on the PR Week Global Power Book, the definitive guide to PR industry’s most influential operators around the world. From 2018 to 2022, he has been listed every year on Provoke media (erstwhile Holmes Report) Influence 100 research and listing of the world’s most influential in-house marketing and communications professionals. Sujit is a part of the prestigious Arthur W Page Society..

Sujit is a qualified Instrumentation engineer with MBA in marketing and a Diploma in advertising and PR. He is a regular speaker and jury at various national and international bodies such as the World Communication Forum, Davos, AMEC, ICCO, PR Newsweek Asia, Public Affairs Asia, etc. He volunteers as a guest faculty at various B-Schools, is a weekend farmer, loves travelling, understanding cultures and experimenting with new cuisines. He is passionate about Sparrow conservation.

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