Like Rome, reputations are not built in a day. Years of ongoing efforts are imperative in making any brand acquire an aura or sustained presence of its own. Since its inception in October 2001, the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) has been increasingly making its presence felt across India with every passing year. Needless to mention, the challenge becomes stiffer each year for new office bearers seeking to push the envelope into new pockets, particularly the unrepresented ones, in the North, South, East and West of India.
As the Chair for the North, one is aware that though the region has relatively robust representation in tier one areas, the same is comparatively thin in tier two and three zones. Naturally, this is along expected lines because, as one moves away from the centre of business gravity, the number of PR stakeholders begins declining.
Nevertheless, as urbanisation gathers pace, the business catchment areas also keep growing apace. It is then a question of reaching out to these under served/unserved PR constituents and nudging them into the mainstream fold of PR action.
Benefits of Professional Networks
Backed by present-day digital means, the first forays/initiations can now happen online and need not necessarily take place in person. The primary task lies in identifying eligible stakeholders who are not yet members. Once this is evident, we will reach out to these sections, highlighting what they are missing by not being members of the PRCAI North.
Today, the benefits of being part of the digital ecosystem are not lost on beneficiaries. Where transactions were once done in person at bank counters more than a decade ago, the popularisation of ATMs and online banking have completely transformed users’ experience, offering the same benefits (and more) swiftly, seamlessly and for a fraction of the earlier cost. Much the same happens with PR professionals / consultancies when they operate in isolation or as members of a professional entity such as the PRCAI.
But these benefits and their importance need to be communicated lucidly to those outside the professional mainstream. The first direct benefit is the focus on professional codes, consultancy management standards, best practice guides, regional networks, referrals, research and surveys, industry placements, privileged rates for seminars/workshops, a voice in industry policy development, etc., to name just a few.
Once again, a digital analogy will illuminate the point. As toll booths are operational between the borders of cities, most commuters will be aware of the daily queues motorists manage before reaching payment counters. On average, each motorist needs five to ten minutes before s/he can pass through. On bad days, the wait exceeds 20-30 minutes.
Fortunately, for motorists smart enough to make monthly (or quarterly) payments in advance, smart cards or fast tags permit them to drive through within seconds or a minute. With fast tags, motorists simply drive through slowly as sensors swiftly scan tags, check the balance and allow vehicles to pass unimpeded. The sheer convenience and time savings offset advance payments. For smart cards, discounts are offered on advance payments. Clearly, cash is passé for people seeking a quick passageway.
Strength in Numbers
Much the same happens for PR consultancies and other stakeholders operating as part of accredited entities such as the PRCAI. Like the motorists no longer waiting in serpentine queues, PRCAI members avail of various benefits otherwise unavailable in their individual capacity. The difference between members and non-members is as stark as solitary outcast lions making a single kill over days while the dominant male that’s part of a pride devours multiple kills within the same period – thanks to the strength of sheer numbers.
Consultancies comprising a larger grouping always have their ears to the ground. Consequently, they benefit from receiving advance notice about upcoming events/conclaves that help them expand the zone of influence and register their presence in other influential circles.
Based on the membership brand value game-plan, in the next two years, PRCAI North will identify and target unserved stakeholders. Once the tremendous benefits of membership are apparent, such as a variety of free services, privileges and year-round networking opportunities – as well as the losses from staying out of the PR value chain – one is optimistic that non-registered stakeholders will recognise the importance of joining the PRCAI fold and do so at the earliest…