Siddhartha Mukherjee: Not sure if PR achieved a “Jiyo!”

08 Sep,2016

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


The latest mega-launch of 4G services by one of the telecom giants (under the umbrella of Digital India initiative by our Honourable Prime Minister) has left me with mixed feelings. From a brand perspective, it was an achievement of amazing Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). Pretty much with right touchpoints, interesting message delivery, frequency, etc., all seemed quite well-managed. From a communication and business objective perspective, I am sure the TOM and Disposition scores hit the roof and impressive sales figures have started flowing in! However, what made me rethink was the role PR played within this IMC execution and more importantly, how it was made to play this role. Did PR really score a victory? Was it worth exclaiming a Jiyo for PR? Did PR maintain its personality of an independent, holistic & reliable brand building tool?


a. Corp Brand Vs Product Brand: Overall, with every product communication or marcomm, it is always healthy to emphasise on the presence or importance of Corporate Brand. I didn’t see a very healthy presence (media plan) of corporate brand presence. Often under-estimated, the credibility we create for corporate brand goes much longer in facilitating business targets of the product brand. Corporate Brand Reputation Management which is not just about sprinkling some Integrated Marketing Communications (largely by ad bombardment), is a heavy and high yielding subject! I am saying this because I would love to see more of Indian brands further climb the ladder of reputation scores in India and globally.


b, Interplay of AD & PR: Am not sure if PR (specifically talking about the Media Relations part of it) played an independent role or was it in some way getting influenced through or intertwined with the advertising route. Given the volume of editorial space that concentrated only on this brand launch by certain publication houses (entire page in certain cases) and news channels after an emphatic push through (full-page or front jacket) ads does not require very sophisticated “I can see-through” abilities by the consumer! I do not think this point can be brushed under the carpet as a “Consumer ko kya pata” or “How does it matter to the consumer” argument anymore. Increasingly, consumers are becoming sharper with a radar that is constantly skimming through Truth Vs Reality!


c. Social media contradiction: Don’t know why but various touchpoints on social media were contradicting the communication push made by this brand on conventional medium – Print and TV. Positive conversations were fainter than those that raised doubts or critiqued this mega launch. This raised two questions: 1. Wasn’t social media management not included in the PR Planning exercise, and  2. Given that advertising influence has no role to play in social media, critiquing and negative stories seemed to have taken a front seat whereas visibility of positive or factual stories and conversations seemed to have been given a backseat.


Did PR win? Not sure. Did it score a “Jiyo” exclamation? Not sure. I would love to get more educated on this, especially in the second and third point above. I hope we don’t have to start unlearning the principles of Brand Communication, especially the section that taught us that there are differences among Paid, Earned And Owned Media…


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