Siddhartha Mukherjee: Get PR scientifically measured… Show our customers PR works!

02 Jul,2015

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

 

During the last decade especially, Public Relations, previously perceived to be all about the Art of Jugaad, has been complemented with a crying need for Science – both in planning and implementation. CXOs are now getting this tool under their respective scanners of ‘ROI and Accountability’.

 

So far so good! Our industry has definitely come a long way. However, there are some questions which still remain unanswered:

a. What is the definition of PR Industry growth? Is it just a year-on-year quantitative growth. Even if that be, is there scope for improvement of that growth rate?

 

b. Can there be qualitative growth as well? Growth that reflects rise of stature of PR outside its industry, addition of glamour quotient, a permanent place in board room, and so on…

 

I am sure many will agree that in the case of second one above, it is difficult to give an emphatic affirmation. The core reason for this is that the Industry has not been able think and do things which are out-of-the-box.  One of the key reasons for this, in turn, is the lack of funds. Our PR Industry needs Funds. Lots and lots of it. Funds are needed to:

  • Attract and sustain a different quality of talent. Quantity of talent is not an issue. In fact poor quantity has been a key cause of our bleeding bottomlines.
  • Produce richer products and services:

o    Deliver much beyond just media relations

o    Think and conduct like a client’s band custodian

o    Add richness in ideas and deliveries through data and insights

  • Market itself to brand custodians within India Inc. (PR for PR):

o    Add glamour quotient, market itself by conducting well planned and regular industry events and initiatives.

 

To my surprise, almost every single Indian and international Conference on PR/Corporate Communications, for more than a decade now, has been repetitively discussing and grieving about why this tool, this Industry and this function is not growing or getting acknowledged at a pace we would like it to be.

 

The core answer to all this is to give a serious thought on how we can Measure PR and showcase its effectiveness to the outside world. Measurement is the only way that will help PR Firms showcase PR/Earned Media’s effectiveness to corporate communications. Corporate Communications can use it to demonstrate PR prowess to its internal customers of CXOs. Show brand custodians within corporate/client organisations that PR works, it brings recall, creates engagement and aids towards conversion. The moment this starts happening, they will start loosening their purse strings! It is this money that will allow the PR industry stakeholders – comprising clients (corporate communications departments) and PR firms – to think and do things differently.

 

Yes, in this chicken-and-egg situation, measurement and ROI route is the only tangential thought process to get the industry out of the quagmire. Only with this, will our PR industry’s internal constituents be able to command higher fees for every unit of service!

 

One of the core roadblocks, I feel, that the industry – clients and PR firms – have not been able to come out of is the lack of clarity between PR Tracking and PR Measurement & Audit. Generic PR (news) tracking and analysis will never be able to deliver or showcase what PR can deliver to a brand. It can only satisfy and give a sense of security to the PR firms and corporate communications desk. Our focus has to be on the customers of PR and Corporate Communications. With this, wealth will automatically follow! Clients/Investors look for effective ideas and their scientific measurability.

 

The internal customers of PR desk want proof that PR works, that it can be measured.  Brand custodians want to see that PR is partnering the process of exposure, engagement and conversion. While we are talking of futuristic principles of measurement, the ground reality remains that even after more than two decades, in large parts of the industry, we are still yet to weed out the elementary and cancerous evaluation/ measurement systems like that of EAVs. The industry needs organic growth which is possible only if: a) We do our PR b) For this, use self devised scientific metrics…not those that have been copy-pasted from advertising!

 

Let us no longer boast of high annual industry growth rates on small denominators. Industry needs to think and do things differently. Funds are essential for this. Scientific PR Measurement, if implemented well, will give us better growth rate, higher influx of funds and qualitative push to our stature. No doubt, at the initial stages, certain corridors will raise lots of questions, objections, contradictions, bust a lot of years old myths and disrupt a lot of comfort zones. It will force the two stakeholders – Clients and PR Consultancies – to question, disagree, counter and introspect. However, that will be a good sign as they are common and basic catalysts for any “Change”! The question, however, is – do we dare to question, do we dare to disagree…do we dare to dare!

 

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