One Big Idea by Veena Gidwani: Working together for a robust long-term industry growth

11 Mar,2013

By Veena Gidwani, Independent Strategic Consultant, (Former CEO of Madison PR)


Public Relations, which enables organisations to communicate effectively with all their stakeholders, has over the past decade evolved from largely being media relations to a strategic communication discipline. Today, PR is vital to the success of any brand or organisation, because of its intrinsic credibility, creativity that can be brought in and the ability to strategically synergise it with other communication routes like advertising, digital communication, below the line etc.


However, in spite of making a huge contribution to building brands, the PR industry continues to grapple with lack of recognition, low fees and inadequate trained talent, all of which need to be addressed for the industry to take the next big leap. In my view, as a first step the key players i.e. the top 30 to 40 PR consultancies /agencies should come together on a common platform and agree to lay down and abide by a common set of standards in the areas of servicing, pitching, measurement of PR delivery, fees, credit policy etc. Clients/Corporates can also be involved in the process. The advertising industry did this many, many years ago with the AAAI. The PRCAI (Public Relations Consultants of India) has been trying to work on some of these issues, but the whole effort needs wider participation and a determination from agency heads to make it happen.


This will make clients be willing to pay fees that are fairly linked to scope of work and dissuade agencies from the current practice of undercutting each other. Also clients who have unfairly held up fees of an incumbent agency, would not get the interest of any other member agency. Once agencies get better revenues and improve their profitability, they will be able to invest more in their people. The other areas that this platform/body can be involved with are showcasing the industry’s performance through yearly awards for excellence and contributing to modernising the syllabus of PR colleges and institutes, in tune with the changing industry needs. Once corporates/clients experience the growing professionalism across the industry, they will treat PR agencies as strategic partners who play a crucial role in long term image building for them.


With more and more Indian brands going global, more global brands establishing a presence in India and more Indian entrepreneurs servicing the growing consumer aspirations with innovative offerings, managing corporate and brand reputation will continue to be a major need for corporates… the need for strategic PR will only keep growing. It’s a good time for the industry to come together.


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