When Public Relations companies make news

In the last few days Public Relations firms have been making the news for a variety of reasons.

First, the news of Tata Group deciding to not renew their contract with Rediffusion-Edelman created chatter. Rediffusion-Edelman won what can be called the Mandate of Mandates in 2011 after the closure of Vaishnavi Corporate Communications. This is the single largest annual retainer in the history of corporate Public Relations and comprises iconic companies of the Tata Group. The entire business estimated to be upwards of Rs 40 crore ($6 million) per annum was handed over to Rediffusion-Edelman without a pitch six years ago. While the PR entity did some brilliant work and won several awards, the arrangement had run its course and the management may have wanted to hand the new leadership in charting the future course with regard to its reputation management.

Ideally, I will not rule out the possibility of Edelman India being re-invited to continue with the mandate after January 31st in a newer shape and form with or without Rediffusion. However, this may seem remote. What are the other options for the Tata Group? I can list four:

  1. They empanel three to four leading PR firms and ask individual companies to choose the one they think works best for them keeping in mind conflicts.
  2. They split the account into two to three groups and hand it over to two or three PR firms as B2B and B2C clusters or some other method.
  3. They get one PR firm to create a special entity exclusively for them as was the case in previous years and hand them over the entire conglomerate for a specific period.
  4. They let each company choose their own PR firm through a pitch process after laying a few conditions that the company should be of a certain size or age.

Well, the new Chairman and Chief Communications Officer of the group will decide which of the options to choose. The fourth option will definitely be bad for the business as all PR firms will be scrambling to pitch. The third option is tried and tested and there could be some front-runners for the same. The same front-runners could vie for the second option. The first option could be the smartest one but may or may not work in the long term.

The reason everyone is anxious is because there are hundreds of jobs at stake and most importantly millions of rupees to be earned. Time will tell what happens to this business.

The next two sections are taken from publicly available information with links shared for reference.


In other news a PR firm has become the latest company to ask an Indian tribunal to place billionaire Anil Ambani-run Reliance Communications Ltd. under insolvency proceedings after the unprofitable mobile-phone operator failed to pay its dues. Fortuna Public Relations Pvt. placed its request with the Mumbai bench of National Company Law Tribunal on Monday, saying Reliance Communications owes it 4.3 million rupees ($67,000). The NCLT plans to hear the case on Dec. 19. https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/2017/12/04/public-relations-company-seeks-insolvency-proceedings-for-rcom


Last but not the least the pumpkin of the week is the news from Pune where Impact PR (no connection to Impact Research and Measurement) has been in a crosswire with their COO, who is no more with the company.

An official complaint was lodged by COO Prabhat Bhattachary against Impact PR founder and managing director Kulpreet Freddy Vesuna, director Freddy Vesuna and three others. The Kondhwa police have booked the accused for offences under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (1) (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Kondhwa police have registered a case against five persons, including the director and founder director of Impact Public Relations Private Limited on charges of illegally detaining their chief operating officer (COO) by summoning him to their Salunke Vihar office for settlement of salary dues. The complaint stated that the incident took place at Impact PR office located in Salunke Vihar at 3.30 pm on November 26. The suspects had called Bhattachary to the Pune office under the pretext of settlement of his salary dues. When Bhattachary reached the office, he was abused, threatened and forcefully made me to sign on employment termination letter and other documents, it stated. http://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/pune-s-kondhwa-police-lodge-fir-against-delhi-based-pr-firm/story-mEUt6KIM27bjAb6jdWSBuM.html

Again, only time will tell what transpired and how this incident came to be, it is unfortunate that such a situation arose. As a member of PRCAI the news becomes increasingly significant.

Well, this column is filled with news about those who try and craft the news.

Amith Prabhu on BloggerAmith Prabhu on FacebookAmith Prabhu on Twitter
Amith Prabhu
Amith Prabhu is the Founder of the PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS, India’s annual summit of reputation management professionals.

He is also the Founding Dean of the School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe).

He can be reached at @amithpr on twitter.

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