Siddhartha Mukherjee: PR can be the SuperHero during ad hiatus

12 Nov,2020

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


The reality is that businesses or corporate or product brands cannot afford to advertise round the year. Due to reasons such budgets, inflation, etc, sustaining ad push (digital or traditional) through the year is not practically feasible. During these months, the earned, owned and shared mediums, now combinedly known as Public Relations, comes in as the Saviour, Samaritan or the Superhero.


Covid-19 may have created some aberrations in the pattern but it will neutralise and offset soon.


The key question, however, is that are we directing Public Relations well? To make PR a superhero, it needs to be directed well. Who are the directors? Top management and the Chief Communications Officers.


However, for direction to work well, some of the key assumptions required here are:


1. The Top Management is very clear that Brand success goes beyond sales. In other words, they see the larger picture that Corporate Brand Reputation, Risk Mitigation, Multi-Stakeholder Engagement, Brand Demand Sustenance are some bigger challenges beyond sales. Towards this, Public Relations is the only saviour

2. Public Relations will not (just) be used for the personal agenda or the glorification of the individual Top Management members

3. Public Relations will not be treated as News or Headline or Journalist Management desk but as an integral engine for business survival and growth


Once the above is in order, the Public Relations can be directed as a SuperHero. It needs a joint commitment and orchestration by the three stakeholders:

a) Top Management and b) Communications Desk.


Top Management:

1. Annual or Periodic Planning: The business and the subsequent communications objective should include Corporate Brand Reputation, Risk Mitigation, Multi-Stakeholder Engagement, Brand Demand Sustenance as some of the key priorities with stakeholder beyond customers.

2. Involvement of Corporate Communications Desk: Often, Corporate Communications desk is left out in the business planning phase. While getting a seat in the boardroom is ideal, but even if not, Top Management needs to involve CorpComm in its planning process. This desk is not just about taking orders and executing it. This desk can and should counsel the management on the aspects to keep in mind for communications planning. Ofcourse, this requires CorpComm personnel to have that calibre or domain wavelength.

3. Create clear timeline-based targets and evaluation parameters: Breaking down Communications programmes into weekly, fortnightly and monthly activity chart backed with targeted vs achieved evaluation parameters is very crucial for last mile success. To think of a larger picture, Public Relations can not only play a crucial role during ad hiatus but also support advertising as a part of the IMC mix. Last mile planning and orchestration is very key.

4. Support CorpComm with required resources: Data, Budgets and People are three key pillars of resources. Designing, managing and allocating these need modulations for optimum output.


CorpComm Desk:

1. Profile of the team: The team profile and its mindset need to be far and away from news, headline and journalist management stereotype thought processes. The language of business & brands needs be understood extremely well. Understanding Management’s business KRAs and converting that into Communication activity grid effectively is very crucial.

2. Discipline of Account & Media Planning: To create high impact results like advertising or even more, public relations programme needs to be put through proper account and media planning process.

3. Using Analytics for showcasing outcome: The Comms Machinery needs to showcase the outcome of the public relations efforts and not output. Measurement & Analytics will play a key role here.


Typically, out of the overall advertising pie, product or marcomm expenditure is around 95%. The remaining 5% pertains to corporate brand advertising. Public Relations can establish itself as the superhero for both Corporate and Marcomm objectives during advertising hiatus.



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