Siddhartha Mukherjee: PR is not a subject but a convergence point

22 Oct,2020

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


Being able to change the stakeholder or target audience behaviour into a desired action is what provides brand owners their ROO (Returns on Objectives) and ROI (Returns on Investment). Public Relations does that for both small and large brands by relating with their stakeholders. Most of us confuse it as a subject. However, it is actually an application or a convergence point of a variety of subjects such as language, psychology, physiology, anthropology, geography, history, science, and many more.


Given this, I wonder if the way we have evolved so far as an industry is anywhere close to what it ought to be.


While I have seen glimpses of this both on the client and the Agency side, I am not sure if it has gained momentum or has been marketed well. It is because of our confusion of what Public Relations actually stands for – subject or convergence of many subjects, both brand owners and service providers have not been able to size it up well.


What does this mean for the various industry corridors?


1. Talent: The Media & Management institutes will need to re-think about their course curriculum. The definition of Brand Communication & Management will need a think thru. The scope has to widen and deepen to incorporate subjects like psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, political science etc.

2. Publishing Houses: Both India Inc. and the education institutes lack authentic and well-informed books and periodicals that share knowledge about Brand Communications & Management. New and local Indian authors will need to emerge or encouraged to write authentic and holistic reading material. The current ones are too little or a rehash of the write ups from the western world. Reading materials need to steer the industry to a refined understanding of what Public Relations is and what it can do for a brand.

3. Clients or Brand Owners: The top management and board members will need to review their approach so far on brand management, demand generation and sustenance. The hard fact is that for last many decades, they have looked at Public Relations as a “Jugaad” Industry. News Management, headline management, negative news management, etc have been at the centre of their recall for public relations. They have never looked at Public Relations as a strategic engine for Business Growth and Sustenance.

4. Communication Firm: Communication Firms or Agencies have been the key drivers of many changes or movements within the Brand Management industry. So, here too, Agencies can play a huge role in shaping the understanding and perception of the Client or Brand Owners. The agencies can lead by example. What an agency stands for, what it will deliver for the client, how its performance will be evaluated etc will need a complete revamp. If done well, clients will understand what they have been missing out on.


The value that Public Relations can actually bring into the boardroom is not comprehended well. Board members’ understanding of what this convergence point stands for or can do is half baked. The agency community has also not executed a good job on educating their client members on what PR actually is vs what they are being expected to do.


Relooking at Public Relations as a convergence point will redefine the entire brand management industry.



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