Siddhartha Mukherjee: Brand Sustenance, not Launch, is the REAL test of PR!

04 May,2017

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

 

Share of Voice and Launch campaigns are synonymous. While arrangements to execute a brand launch can be quite tiring, it is an elixir for happiness amongst all PR Agency and CorpComm professionals. The reason is they know that Launch PR will pull up their Share of Voice and Ranking for the specific evaluation month.

However, for me, the true test of the Public Relations industry is in its ability and duty to sustain PR communications during a non-launch period. That is the time when the PR industry’s intellectual capital is put under real test! That is the time when PR industry and CorpComm machinery get an opportunity to prove its mettle and build thought leadership and brand reputation!

Here are some specific thoughts on this:

1. CorpComm is long-term, not Marcomm:

In today’s age of Reputation Economy, Corporate Communication function’s core and most important responsibility is to build thought leadership. More so, this needs to be a continuous, 365 days-a-year process. While product brand launch or Marcommis an important ongoing activity, however, it should not be confused with being the most important KRA of a PR Agency. No wonder, take any industry vertical, sadly, about 85% (sometimes more) of an organisation’s PR coverage comes purely through Marcomm push. Not an encouraging statistic at all.

2. Maintaining interest about the Company, not product, is Intellectually more stimulating:

I have always believed that PR (specifically Media Relations) is one of the best learning grounds of Sales. Sales professionals from other industry sectors can draw a lot of learnings from what our PR executives go through and how they successfully sell a news/story idea to a journalist! However, why not extend this skill set to other pillars of an organisation as well? For example, there is enough to talk and create news exposure on aspects such as Human Resource, Financial Strength, CSR and Sustainability, Vendor Management, IT & Innovation, so and so forth. Of course, this calls for higher intellect of PR professionals both from the agency and the CorpComm desks.

3. CorpComm (Client) will need to specify its expectations from PR Agency:

While CorpComm functions within client organisations are going all out to make PR agencies feel like a part of the extended family, this desk should also be absolutely clear that PR agency’s core mandate is to focus on CorpComm and not only Marcomm. Hence, non-launch phase is more important than the expectations from a launch initiative.

4. PR Agency evaluation should be realistic:

Share of Voice and related ranking scores is key. However, it will make sense if the PR performance is evaluated separately – one during only brand launches and one for the non-launch or sustenance phase. This will be a great test of the PR agency’s intellectual skill set and its claim of being a Partner, Consultancy, et al.

5. Sustenance is a Great Opportunity to convince CXOs of the merits of PR:

What value does PR actually bring on the table? This question has plagued our industry for decades now. Sustenance PR, during the Non-Launch phase, is a true test of what this great tool can actually do to a corporate brand. CXOs – especially the CEO, HR Heads, CFO, CSO, etc., will see value in this effort!

To be fair, there are corporates, though few in number, who genuinely believe in building and sustaining a brand during a non-launch phase. Infact, it is because of this that they have gained accolades and come close to the top management. They have got their PR agencies habituated to think out-of-the-box and sustain corporate and product brands. Launches should be passing but not penultimate milestones of their professional lives.

 

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