Introducing a new fortnightly column on PR insights – PReamble by Siddhartha Mukherjee

23 Apr,2015

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


Advertising is BIG in Size, even BIGGER in Stature. Tracing back many years, one will observe that towards the foundation and gradual development of our Advertising Industry, both in size and aura, the intrinsic role of Public Relations cannot be ignored.


What has Public Relations got to do with the SIZE of the Indian Advertising Industry?

Our Indian Advertising Industry would not have been half as rich as it is today had it not been for the Public Relations Industry’s decades of effort to get the multinationals enter the Indian economy smoothly, help them settle and start their operations. I believe that Public Relations has played a key role in transforming our India’s erstwhile Swadeshi Market to today’s India Inc. It is the Public Relations machinery that has worked tirelessly with the media and foreign Investment corridors to ensure the smooth entry of Multinational Organizations before it fell into the lap of the Advertising Industry as prospective Client Revenues.


Why talk about Multinationals alone? Even the India-based Corporates and Organizations have made a fair use of Public Relations before jumping on the Advertising band wagon. Mergers and Acquisitions, Brand Crisis, Investor Relations/IPOs, CSR, Employee and Trade Relations, Regulatory dynamics, well, many such other dynamics were tackled through Public Relations before those Corporate and Product Brands started using the Advertising tool.


Ask any PR/Communication professional, especially veterans, and they will have amazing facts to narrate which reiterate the role of Public Relations in creating and stabilizing a brand. PR Consultancy Heads or its Senior Management, Corporate Communication Heads, CXOs, etc., will have an amazingly rich archive of actual, real life PR Effectiveness & Success Case Studies to share – some of which that they themselves ideated or implemented. It is a different story though, that no one has bothered to document these decades of initiatives. All that was needed to be done is to approach the right Industry professionals and Thought Leaders. Case studies will come pouring from various management corridors – Corporate, Human Resource, Marketing, Finance, Manufacturing etc. Function head will have interesting anecdotes to share on how Public Relations helped them in their respective spheres whether it was Business As Usual or Business Not As Usual scenarios.  It really doesnot matter if the case study pertains to a National or Multi-national organization. The important thing here is that every industry vertical will have many case studies buried deep within the wisdom of both veterans & visionary Corporate Business Leaders and Communicators. Each of those stories will somewhere, very humbly, highlight the underlying message of how it helped contribute towards the growing revenues and size of the Advertising Industry.


Today, if the Indian Advertising revenue size is touching close to 1% of our GDP, well, you know who or rather which Industry to acknowledge!


How did Public Relations build Advertising Stature?

My 10-year-old son’s school curriculum has capsules and questions on Advertising, Copy writing, Medium, Slogan etc. It made me wonder & trace back as to what could have been the trigger of all this? Why was my son not being taught about news, news writing, etc. Like advertising, why isn’t he getting the exposure to the world of Journalism as one of the facets of Public Relations?


Advertising Industry and its Celebrities (well, names like Alyque Padamsee, Sylvester da Cunha, Prem Mehta, Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, Balki, Vikram Sakhuja, Sam Balsara, Shashi Sinha,…well, it is a long list) have become household names. Parents of employees working in the Industry, their friends and family, social ecosystem, clients, have all acknowledged the  Advertising Industry as a respectable employer, a brand partner and sustainers of brands.


Well, mind you, this did not happen overnight. This has happened after years of regular use of PR of the Advertising Industry and its Industry Captains.


Day on day, week on week, Advertising Industry’s credentials, its achievements, plans and yes of course, the Celebrity quotient have an had ominous presence in Newspapers, TV News Channels and Online Networks.


No wonder then, most of the Management Institutes still continue to believe that when it comes to preparing or revising their marketing course curriculum, Advertising is the nucleus of Brand Communications and Management.


If anyone doubts on the scientific impact of PR, well, the example is live and all around us. It is one of the best examples to give to establish that PR works, it moves the cheese and how!


Hopefully! one day, in a similar fashion, PR will have a lot do with PR!


Siddhartha Mukherjee is a senior PR industry professional and currently Senior Vice President, Eikona – Earned Media Planning, Audit and Advisory. The views expressed here are his own.


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