Amith Prabhu: The Indian PR scene

07 Apr,2014

By Amith Prabhu


The Indian Public Relations business has evolved over the last two decades with the opening up of the markets. The LPG era of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Gobalisation has led to hundreds of brands setting up shop in the country and with their entry began the advent of advertising and PR firms. Today, India has almost all the leading PR firms that have begun operations organically or inorganically.


The leading firms are as follows:

Adfactors (the largest in revenues and a firm that is locally owned), Edelman (which acquired R&P Associates and has two other brands – Zeno Group & Rediffusion Edelman which manages the Tata mandate), Genesis Burson Marsteller, Weber Shandwick, MSL Group (which consists of 2020 MSL and Hanmer & Partners) followed by Sampark Ketchum, Linopinion Golin Harris, and IPAN H&K Strategies.


There are several international companies that have started out on their own without acquisitions and these include Fleishman Hillard, APCO Worldwide, Waggener Edstrom, RuderFinn, Cohn & Wolfe. There are several other mid-size brands that do not have foreign ownership. Prominent among them are Perfect Relations, Integral, Madison, Avian and The Practice.


Most PR firms operate in the key metros cities and have a direct presence or affiliation in the mini metros and smaller cities. Typical PR professionals are graduates or postgraduates who start at with a monthly salary that ranges from Rs 12,000 ($200) and goes up to Rs 24,000 ($400). Attrition rates are high at all levels and more often the reason for moving on is because of a corporate opportunity.


Most PR firms are members of the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) which in turn is affiliated to ICCO. The PRomise Foundation was created in 2012 as a nonprofit to help enhance the reputation of the profession which was suffering from a credibility issue. There are few other associations serving varied interests as well.


The Promise Foundation is an initiative by well-meaning and like-minded young professionals who came together to create an annual weekend offsite summit for the community. The first two editions were successful and the event which is called Praxis is now a must-attend in the calendar of professionals.


There is a thriving Corporate Communications community with over 500 professionals at all levels in the three major metros alone. This number is growing at a rapid pace as more and more organisations hire in-house communications professionals. Indian PR still revolves around media relations though that is changing.


The PR business in India has been growing steadily. There is no authentic estimate of the size and there are varying figures. But one thing is clear – the  business of Public Relations will keep growing and one proof of that is the number of expats who are choosing to work in Indian cities in Public Relations firms.


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