One Big Idea by Nitin Mantri: Reinvention will be the name of the game

27 Feb,2013

By Nitin Mantri, CEO, Avian Media


Somebody asked me the other day will you have a PR business in the next 10 years? My answer was no – definitely not one similar to what we have today.


Reinvention is the name of the game in a cut-throat, competitive world. The PR industry, often dismissed as a business of fluff, realizes this survival mantra more than any sector. There are roughly around 8,000 PR agencies in this country. Imagine the number of press releases sent to newspaper offices. No wonder most end up in trash bins. Newspapers can’t be blamed for not getting excited about our client’s activities, but we have to ensure that the key messages reach the target audience. So, high time we change the way the industry works.


Imagine for a moment a world where PR professionals can circumvent traditional media altogether – take the clients’ messages directly to the consumer and engage with them without third-party endorsements. In today’s world you can’t just shout at people about your brand, you have to engage with them cleverly. Why can’t we create our own videos and text-based digital content on behalf of clients and connect with consumers on social media platforms? We don’t need to depend on advertising or television companies for that.


PR agencies are already utilising social media platforms and the interactivity they offer consumers. The time has come to go full throttle. Danny Rogers, editor of PR Week, aptly summed up the situation when he said, “The age of advertising is dead – when you built these big expensive campaigns and expected people to buy your product. In order to engage with large groups of consumers you have to create a different type of content. There’s this idea that PR is the medium for the age of dialogue and social media.” Bang on! You can these days run an entire PR campaign on Facebook and Twitter.


Frankly, who has the time to read lengthy articles about products, launches and events. People are on the go and they get all their information from the web, which can be accessed on mobiles. PR professionals need to understand that the mobile has changed the way we consume information. There is this exciting, technological boom happening out there, with smartphones, iPads and mobile applications spoiling consumers with options. According to research firm Gartner, the worldwide sale of mobile phones declined 2.3 per cent to 419 million units in the second quarter of 2012, but smartphone sales, which accounted for 36.7 per cent of total mobile phone sales, grew 42.7 per cent in the second quarter of this year.


PR agencies cannot afford to ignore this tech revolution. It would be naïve to restrict ourselves to writing boring press releases, tearing our hair over story pegs to sell the client’s products or persuading journalists to attend news conferences when consumers are on a different information-gathering level. India may not have as many smartphone users as the US (over 100 million at last count), but the number is rising in urban centres. Then there are tablet users. In fact, smartphones and tablets are the current media consumption devices. A smartphone user spends more time surfing the web, visiting blog destinations and browsing social media accounts like Facebook, Twitters, Instagram, Pinterest and other mobile apps than making phone calls and sending text messages! That’s a veritable treasure trove for PR pros to not only reach out to consumers, but also engage with them through high-quality content, visually-appealing images and entertaining videos.


To believe that we can do without traditional media in India is utopia. Clients will need the third-party endorsement of newspapers and channels. But, the fact remains that the PR industry in India will go through the change and to cut through the clutter, social platforms will be the utilised more and more. We have to use this opportunity to raise the bar and do something different and exciting.


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