Rahat Beri: New realities of public relations in India

09 Jan,2012

By Rahat Beri


The Indian PR industry, though fragmented, is gradually growing and transforming. In India, the industry size is merely Rs 150-200 crore .What the Indian PR industry needs now is to move the communications business into the next stage of evolution, and that can only happen with awareness of the depth and scope of PR.


In the last decade the market has evolved and also the coporate’s need for image building and leveraging strategy. Technology has started to transform the way public relations works today. Social media is redefining the PR tools, giving this huge opportunity to professionals to truly interact not just with press but public at large. In the Indian corporate sector, PR is well understood and accepted. More companies are investing in PR as social media is in sync with any communication in India and globally as well.


With the emergence of blogs, user-generated content and other social media tools, there is a lot of debate about the digital space being the final frontier for brand communication. The face of PR is, of course, in digital. But, let us not forget that we are in a country which is still only beginning to explore the variedness and pluralism of traditional media. In fact India will be a great case study for blossoming PR since clients are amazingly enthusiastic about experimenting with new forms of communication, at the same time blending with traditional and alternative methods of communication.


The new realities

In addition to the modern organizational culture in India, it is evident that corporates understand the importance of managing both corporate reputation and brand image. Also increasingly stakeholders are more aware, educated and sophisticated about the choices they make. Social media specifically has enhanced the role of a PR agency. In a fast-evolving market-place, 2010 saw the continued expansion of digital and social media with companies and government agencies adopting new channels to communicate and engage with consumers, key influencers and all brand stakeholders.


PR is becoming broader and strategic. PR professionals will need to develop a new hybrid set of marketing and communication skills, which will include the factors of management consulting, business intelligence, advocacy, reputation management, direct marketing and Internet strategy.


PR is moving beyond media relations to digital communications, continuous flow of information, advocacy and image management. Digital will probably be the single biggest change in the business as it is new, innovative and dynamic, and gives quick results. Digital communication will ultimately change everything about business.


PR industry is increasingly embracing new technologies, emerging trends, and the IT industry in a way that fosters honest communication and true relationship-building for both its clients and itself.


PR is becoming more integral to the overall marketing communication of the company. It is getting integrated within the cultural profile of an organization, within the values embedded in the organization; and it is one of the strongest ways to ensure commitment and loyalty for the organization from various brand stakeholders.


The rise of various forms of media has not only made the PR department more important in the overall marketing plans of a company but has also expanded the key responsibility areas for a PR agency.


Given, PR companies gear up to undertake this new route to do business effectively. It is no surprise that public relations firms in India will be thriving provided they meet the following industry challenges.


Challenges for the PR industry

The high-growth PR industry is unfortunately caught in the classical trap of oversupply of clients and a shortage of good talent. One of the biggest challenges being faced is the lack of talent entering the industry – both in quality and the quantity.


The PR business will need to develop a more consultative, brand custodian and strategic approach to meet the increasingly sophisticated challenges faced by its clients.


PR professionals will need to unite around a measurement standard that emphasizes business results rather than media results.


The state of PR pedagogy in India is yet to attain rigour and is theoretical. The industry needs to move cohesively towards a curriculum and talent that will be able to meet their needs.


The PR industry will need to fend off competition from other disciplines that believe they have the skills to help companies communicate and engage with their stakeholders.

The industry will need to recruit and retain top talent, persuading people that public relations is a worthwhile and rewarding career, a perception problem of the PR industry.

If the Indian PR industry can meet these challenges, the potential for growth over the next decade is nothing but spectacular. There is immense opportunity to make PR a more important part of the communications arsenal using digital tools.


Rahat Beri is COO – Percept Profile.


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