Siddhartha Mukherjee: Define the ‘P’ of PR

10 Sep,2015

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


There was a time when the Client Corporate Communication team and its PR Agency army would shudder to plan the delivery of the EAV/AVE target set by their CXOs. With the start and through the year, the duo would run helter-skelter trying to garner as much editorial coverage as possible…doesnot matter the print medium or television channel in which brand’s news exposure was achieved. Further, it certainly did not matter if the news quality actually helped the brand. The one and only objective was to get some editorial space anywhere and everywhere, somehow!


No wonder, more than the Corporate Communications Team, this left the PR Agency team disoriented & disgruntled.


The situation today is not drastically different from then. Gunning for thicker Clippings Folder and the cancer called EAV/AVE, both continue to exist even today within many parts of our industry. However, I do know of some industry corridors that have shelved this archaic, thoughtless approach and resorted to a welcome way of adopting the media planning activity. The starting point of this is very clearly ‘Asking and Understanding’ the ‘Target Audience’ of the Brand’s ‘Public’ before one starts building on the ‘Relations’.


For this evolved lot of our Industry, their starting point from now on is PR = TAR (Target Audience Relations).

What are the advantages of a well defined, clear definition of “P” in Public Relations?

1. Client Corporate Communications Team feels “Included”: While there are exceptions, many a times, however, Corporate Communications team carry minimal or zilch details about a Brand and its Communications requirements. The definition, profile or description of its Target Audience being one of the key important missing links. Before commencing on the planning and execution, if the PR Agency asks for such details, it becomes a very constructive initiative for its clients. Corporate Communication Team and its PR Agency army are assured of a high probability of “effective” PR Planning & Execution.


2. Client Corporate Communications team gets positively positioned within Organization- Irrespective of Corporate Communications Team reporting to CMO or the CEO, when Corporate Communications team asks for details of the Brand’s Target Audience, internal customers normally feel happy that their brand’s mandate is with safe hands – a good quality and scientific Communications Team. The measurability of PR Campaign Input, Output and Outcome, very importantly, becomes much more practical and seamless.


3. Quantitative & Qualitative Target setting easier: Client’s expectations from its PR Agency is fixed basis the media plan the Target Audience requires. Secondly, Corporate Communication Team’s KRAs and KPIs for delivering an effective Communication plan become much easier and manageable. Lastly but importantly, the PR Agency doesnot waste unwanted time chasing unwanted editorial space that doesnot matter to the Target Audience of the Brand. Further, in many cases, dependence on stringers becomes selective not always…resulting in substantial savings of operational cost.


4. Fast turnaround cycle: The time taken starting from Researching, Ideation of the Campaign, Implementation & Evaluation gets trimmed. Brand Custodians get faster evaluation opportunities and implement course correction if need be.


5. Will lead to even better PR Campaigns: Our Industry has been acknowledging “Creative” PR Campaigns. No doubt, some of them have been brilliant! Hats off to those teams. However, I feel “Creative” should get fortified with “Effective” as well. This will further push the standards of our Campaigns. Our Industry has some amazing minds…it only needs a nudge to go for the best…those that actually move the cheese! This will only happen when one understands the “P” of Public Relations. A habit of regular Listening & Researching is required to understand the nuances of “P” or the Target Audience.


A key reason behind Advertising Industry earning respect within India Inc. is because it has always worked with specific reference to the Brand’s well defined Public or Target Audience. No wonder, results have been monitored well, measured scientifically and is relatable for the Brand’s key internal Custodians – CXOs.


Public Relations will need to quickly imbibe on this art and convert it into a science. We tend to waste unwanted energy in getting “Thick” Clippings Folder or “Potha” as some say, for our clients! Does that really help the clients…? Scientifically managed News visibility in editorial platforms which matter to the Brand’s Target Audience is what one should gun for.


Understanding “P” in PR is the start of any sensible Communications process. Only by doing so, the perception of some that our PR Industry only deals with abstracts will be shattered to a great extent.


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