We’re living in the age of communication overload. This has picked up with the pandemic, creating an unparalleled challenge for brands, as they struggle to break through the social and media noise to engage their audience(s). How well you can navigate this complex landscape is what brand survival often depends on. So how do brands break through the clutter to gain attention for their products and thrive?
“Thrive to break the clutter – Where do emerging firms see themselves three years from now?” was the panel discussion moderated by Apeksha Mishra, Policybazaar.com and the panelists were – Aman Abbas, Commwiser, Naina Aggarwal Ahuja, Talking Point Communications, Tanya Khanna, Epistle and Dinesh Chindarkar, MediaMedic.
Quoting Sir Richard Branson, the British business magnate who said – “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad”, Apeksha recalled that the year that was full of ups and downs, triumphs and defeats, good and not-so-good PR stunts; but one thing that stood out was that communications focused on making consumers secure and comfortable. “We now realise the true power of PR and while 2020 was ‘communication’ year and 2021, as experts say, is when PR flourishes,” she remarked.
Trends that will shape PR
So, post-COVID, we see an increase in digital adoption, and PR is becoming interactive, social and technology-oriented. What are three trends that will shape PR in the near future? The pandemic saw us becoming more camera-savvy, 90% of consumption is through videos, which has given a new tool in the hands of PR, declared Aman. The trends he saw were – integration of all communication (while PR reclaimed its true position), digital adoption and moving from storytelling to conversations. What was clear to Tanya was – digital hygiene (which was earlier an ‘option’, but it is a ‘must’ today), focus on brand-building and storytelling or brand narratives (it’s time to relook at PR from the communication perspective) for it’s all about being where your audience is.
Being involved in the healthcare business, Dinesh foresees a lot of data-driven marketing. How do you break clutter using data? And how does the marketing objective drive your communication and how that can be measured and analysed.
Hybrid will be key, felt Naina which means a mix of traditional and digital; and people want to trust (brand trust comes to PR communications) and everything is going to get ‘inclusive’. “All these will reflect on PR and, the future looks bright,” she noted.
What’s key for emerging firms to thrive?
What are the key things that an emerging firm need to practice to thrive and paint a better future? Well entrenched in Litigation PR, Aman detailed it was difficult to enter the space, when you are starting, but if you establish your super specialisation, then you are in game! “You need to go as a free thinker and offer solutions tailored to clients,” he specified; and when the client sees you are married to their business goal then, you’ve earned them for life. And creating a law knowledge sharing platform, that is fast growing, has also been extremely satisfying for him. “When you’re on this journey, the sky is the limit!” he exclaimed.
Immersed in the world of architects (and Tanya was also one too), she realised that there was a big gap between what architects talk and what is perceived outside. So she stepped into the world and started what she described as a content curation firm; storytelling was what they were interested in and her firm took off! They only work in the niche domain and she suggests that it’s important to know very well what is core to the business.
Giving solutions to the marketing problem from Day1 has been the approach for Dinesh at MediaMedic. In the last 5 years, there has been a change in the health behaviour of Indians and the pandemic has seen a spike in online consulting etc. Healthcare is changing gears and his advice is – “Think beyond selling the pill, look for an integrated perspective”. With her father a doctor and a media spokesperson for all crises in the country, Naina stepped into the world of PR – to change the lack of respect that she had observed for PR people. Realising a customised approach was desired by people she got into the act. “It’s not about painting the town red. It’s about transparency, it’s about working as an extension of the client’s team, understanding their goals and working hand-in-hand with them,” she asserted. So, basically it has to be an integrated approach to communication.
Choosing the right media landscape
How does paid and earned media pan out? Understanding the customer and the business is critical, and then match the right media and messaging – was Dinesh’s clear suggestion, and added that in healthcare, it really depends on understanding what exactly is the problem that we are trying to solve – like when they tackled the ‘migraine’ problem.
For an emerging brand it is important to find a balance between strategic planning and media relations. How is this playing out? Pat came the answer from Naina – “It’s about communicating the right kind of message that is compelling, relatable and trustworthy”.
The road ahead
With so much happening in communications, how competitive will the market get, three years from now? As long as we can add value, PR firms will survive, concluded Naina.
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