So you’re looking for a PR consultancy for your organisation – would you go for a big firm with a diverse range of clients or would you choose to trust a specialised firm, which is probably smaller and has handled fewer clients? Would you look for a firm that is rich in experience across sectors or one that has in-depth knowledge about your sector alone?
Let’s assume you understand all the fundamental advantages of having a good PR firm on your side. And, if you want a firm that understands the business you are in, then hiring a niche PR firm is your answer. Getting news about your company into credible media, increasing visibility, and getting your brand out in public view – a niche firm can indeed, do full justice.We got down to speaking with some niche PR firms to understand what exactly, is the niche advantage. Being more targeted, it appears that niche PR provides better value.
The ‘niche’ rising!
Trying to understanding ‘niche’ communication, perhaps would lead us to the fact that it is sharp, focused and insightful. It implies a deep perception of the space that the brands operate in.
It brings in the importance of customising messages for specific target groups. Communication is all about storytelling, but when the focus is on a specific target group, the story gets pruned and customised, with the right key messaging. The story is polished with an in-depth knowledge of the sector in question.
At the outset, we looked at pinpointing a perfect definition of niche PR.
Believing that the communication business has grown immensely Anuja Choudhary, CEO, WizSpk Communication says, “It’s about understanding the space, gaining deep insight about the brand or the industry, the audience and drawing a strategic plan focused and geared to deal with the niche space.’’
Tracing the journey
In the last decade the PR business has witnessed major changes. You could call it a revolution, which paved the way for speciality PR or niche PR. Plus, globalisation has enabled different communities to connect. Consequently, the target audience evolved as well, and new ways of conversations were born. The age of specialisation had enveloped the PR business, which meant that niche businesses were searching for niche firms. And, niche PR firms entered the mainstream.
The journey has been slow, arduous and intensely exciting. For firms like Wordswork, the journey has been one big stupendous adventure so far – from working with leading consumer brands to launching numerous fashion and lifestyle products, representing destinations, managing reputation for corporate entities to strategising campaigns for start-ups.
While venturing out, Mindworkz discovered that their particular segment was non-existent! But, their focus and growth in theatre, art and culture has been tremendous in the last decade.
It has been like an uphill jog for Media Medic Communications. Initially, there were hardly any focused healthcare PR firms, but that proved to be an opportunity. Over the years, the healthcare industry has matured and evolved; with changing times scientific healthcare, medical understanding of content and the importance of story-telling has gained importance.
What is the slot that niche PR enjoys in the business scene today?
Content marketing now forms a vital part of attracting customers to your portal. There are blogs and social media – you can tailor your content to your niche market audience. So, the ability to use niche marketing communications helps build a connected community around your brand because you provide relevant content that relates to their needs. You gain a high level of traction with your niche marketing communications, which means more social shares and more targeted conversations.
Businesses are evolving and getting focused and new-age business is all about breaking the rules. Niche PR has found a firm place in business today. In healthcare, the science is getting more complicated; hence specialised PR is even more significant.
“Niche PR works well for certain sectors (such as sports, technology, healthcare, luxury etc), where knowledge plays an important role”, according to Neha Mathur Rastogi, Founder, Wordswork. Focused experience over years across clients in the same sector, makes you develop a unique expertise which can be leveraged to either write technical content or have serious media relations. You tend to reflect how the media works – where beats are defined and knowledge is built over years. Consequently,
mutual respect is created with key media stakeholders and it makes the client comfortable, dealing with an expert, who has a grip on the industry.
“In niche PR you get to learn a lot about your genre”, says Kajal Gadhia, Media Consultant & Proprietor, Mindworkz, as over time, you get to know the details and challenges a client may face; this prepares one for various situations, and because of the focus, it helps to connect with targeted media across publications.
Advantages/disadvantages of niche PR
What are the advantages of hiring specialised PR firms? Although traditional PR firms offer experience in a wider breadth of fields, their knowledge of specific niche businesses may be limited.
Employing a niche PR firm opens up unparalleled benefits for clients in select sectors.
“The obvious advantage in niche PR is that the firm will develop unique skills and also target select media, without much ado. One can enjoy media attention, from the right journalist at the right time”, observes Kajal. The advantages from a client’s perspective include insightful and focused quality communication output.
There are firms which specialise in their niche spaces alone; others have built different practices with specialised and focused teams. It works well for both, says Anuja. Brands look for firms with specialised and experienced resources and relevant credentials; they can be niche or varied, as long as they understand the space well.
A PR firm can get deeper into the sector’s knowledge zone to draw deeper insights. Of course, unlike a traditional PR firm, the overheads are higher and so is the cost of resources, notes Dinesh Chindarkar, Co-Founder and Director, Media Medic.
The challenges faced
Does working in a niche market make it easier or harder to find new business? The firms maintain it is 100% easier. Word of mouth or business connections may help.
How does working within a niche industry affect account efficiencies? With a focused effort on one area, is it possible to complete work faster than if you were catering to multiple business areas?
It takes time and a lot of patience to build the reputation for a niche player. Indian business was not ready to understand the benefits of PR in this niche segment. But your belief in the concept, your passion for deliverables and the precise work you put in, will show results. Changing the mindset takes time, but eventually will bear fruit! The co-founders at Media Medic Communications feel that one needs to be ready to put one’s neck out and overcome these challenges in the incubation period.
Building relationships and connecting with editors and bloggers ultimately benefits clients. Here, you can actually become a onestop shop for media, who reaches out to you for content, creative ideas, top-notch media interviews, and the best trend spotting in the industry. The niche PR firm’s reputation can be a great asset. And they can pass these efficiencies on to clients in round-up stories and pitching.
Carving an identity that is unique, maintaining a positive reputation, consistently delivering good work and our business credibility has kept us in good stead, believes Anuja. Wordswork was initially known for specialising in sports, and over time they built two niche areas to include lifestyle & luxury. “We have had to really work hard to sustain our sports team during the off-season months. Luckily now the industry is growing and developing fast.
We have leagues and new innovative formats being played across he calendar year and that brings in a steady income across the year,” says Neha.
The fact that our industry itself was looked upon as “No PR Needed” category, it was a tough cookie to crack from both the ends. Also, there was a dearth of journalists, who would really have an inclination and understanding of this segment, adds Kajal.
The Road Ahead
For PR firms the future would involve – a good growth path, churning out impactful campaigns and helping clients to enhance market shares and brand equity with all stakeholders. The future is clear as far as Kajal Gadhia of Mindworkz is concerned. It’s all about “Going Digital” – that is the space to watch out for. This would mean “conceptualising crisp, classy and creative content for the niche category”.
Wordswork still sees a lot of opportunities within their chosen sectors of specialisation. “In order to further grow in these sectors I am keen to explore new formats of work, relying on unique collaborations. We work with larger firms as specialist partners, we also work with other vendors within the domain and develop long-term partnerships for eg sports management firms,” Neha reveals and goes on to add, “I’d also like to strengthen our position across the key metros and hire the right kind of specialised talent, which can help us grow our capabilities and client list”. For each sector, maturity levels are different, says Wizspk who has serviced
a variety of brands, but they believe that PR can truly help a brand/service to engage with consumers. “You come to us with your brand query and we will have a great PR solution for it,” Anuja promises.
It seems in the healthcare & pharmaceutical sectors they have now begun to realise the advantage of a niche firm. ‘Healthcare PR’ as a concept sells now. Sound scientific knowledge, healthcare content understanding and deep industry know-how, built over the years does help. “With the world getting smaller, we also decided to partner with other global niche firms and hence we are now a part of the GLOBALHealthPR network – that aids in knowledge exchange globally and to undertake cross continent campaigns successfully, in healthcare,” explains Priti Mohile.