Siddhartha Mukherjee: PR Industry Seminars: Beyond Networking…Time for Action Points

24 Sep,2015

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

 

With an average of at least two PR Industry events (seminars/conferences/award shows) every year, over the last decade, our industry professionals must have attended a minimum of 20-30 such events by now. However, the interesting part is that, in almost every second one, the topics/ discussion points have not seen any real change. Of course, to maintain newness, ways of discussion did change with the use of active or passive voice, direct or indirect speech, or through the standard conundrum of could, would and should.

 

Events and seminars, apart from the default benefit of acting as a business networking ground, will give our industry a leap of faith if they start acting as platforms to trigger and formally document action points and charters.

 

I personally believe that our Indian brand communication industry comprises some of the most brilliant, well-aware, effective and humble thought leaders and professionals. I also believe that they are fully aware of what the future has in store for them. They do not need to be told that… repeatedly, unless there is really something new.

 

The industry professionals, rather than listening to the repetition and future versions labelled as 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 et al…which, by the way, is a new fad off late – they would much rather be happy discussing the present and how to tackle the pressing issues. They want simple and effective action points:

 

Industry events or seminars should trigger specific action points such as:

# First and foremost, how do we go about getting our industry recognised to the external world: Yes, our Industry does exist! The question, however, is that whether we are acknowledged as Singular, Separate and an Official Entity. For industries and professionals outside that of ours, do we exist as some shapeless, by the way, BTL entity or are we known as an Industry to be reckoned with. As an after- thought, is there even a need to re-brand PR? How do we set the vision and mission charter for ourselves? Who does it?

#PR Industry size, Targets & Confidence Index: Are we ready to set an industry size target for ourselves? Do we know the exact size of our industry today? How do we ensure that the Industry grows at a specific rate? How do we build a Confidence Index for our industry that ensures growth both in terms of width and depth of investments by clients?

# Measurement Charter: PR measurement can play the central role in PR industry size growth. The basic question is that should PR be allowed to get measured, at all? I still believe that given an option, for majority of the PR Industry, they would not even touch measurement and audit with a barge poll. Whatever systems, if at all, they follow or are being made to follow are cosmetic or simply for self gratification. Till the answer or the intent is not a firm Yes, we can never move on to solutions for subsequent questions such as: How can PR be measured? How can PR Measurement benefit both the Client and the Agency? How can PR measurement help in achieving industry growth targets, sustain Confidence Index, upgrade Talent Quality and so on!

#Talent Management: The first challenge is that of really evaluating the kind of talent we really want! That by itself will need specific charters on exactly what the PR industry wants to claim as its specialisation areas. Only after one is clear on that, the next blocks come up as: a) Attracting talent – right sources of institutes, right course curriculum, right job entry or selection processes etc. b) Sustaining Talent – the kind of training we want to impart for each professional continuously through their career curve, formal accreditation policies, if any, etc.

# Client Servicing…but who is the Client really?: Depending on what PR Industry will and should claim as its specialisation, the actual client within an organization can be the corp comm head, marketing head, other CXOs or even the CEO! With their unique KRAs and KPIs, expectations from PR Agency will not only change but be diverse.

# Industry Acknowledgement Event Charters: Too many number of (scattered) industry events is a sign of industry fragmentation…and that the industry is not cohesive! It is time that our industry gets lesser but bigger and fortified version of Abbies, Emvies, Goafest etc. These are not event management and merry-making exercises but have a thought process behind getting the industry thinking hats together, review what was missed, what are the plans to achieve the targets and create the blue print for the coming years.

# Educate on Digital…along with Offline: For certain product categories of the Indian economy, Digital PR Communication is God sent. However, the real crux still stays with Offline mediums – Print, TV and Radio. The future is not just about understanding Digital PR. In fact, the key is to understand the amalgamation of cross mediums – Print, TV, Radio and Online. Experts, whether from Western markets, or India, need to tell professionals about not just Online/Digital PR but how to manage them in sync with Offline PR. One of the key traits of the Communication Professional 3.0 is that he/she should be able to understand cross media, build and sustain brands for clients.

 

Without any effective backing or real encouragement from the outside world, the Indian PR Industry has come a long way. Kudos! It has been a great case study of self growth – albeit through a trial and error method. This growth story shows gives a glimpse of what we as an Industry can actually do if we get formal backing, guidance, clear Industry charters, deliverables and very importantly, scientific growth mechanisms.

 

Industry seminars/events bring the advantage of getting the industry well-wishers, visionaries and learned experts together. Why not utilise their presence to trigger and document action points? A good starting point towards that can be to build it on a theme that is specific, relatable and not abstract. A theme where industry experts can bring their thought points ready for immediate reference and use. This will go a long way in changing the perception of prprofessionals about attending a PR Industry event. It will no longer be just a refreshment/ relaxation job perk for them but a parallel learning ground as well.

 

 

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One response to “Siddhartha Mukherjee: PR Industry Seminars: Beyond Networking…Time for Action Points”

  1. Ganapathy says:

    Networking is fine to strengthen and build relationships. EOD you need to deliver value to clients.

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