Podium welcomes Nitin Mantri, CEO and Business Partner at Avian Media. With almost 20 years of experience in corporate and high-tech PR and marketing communications, today, he talks about the state of PR in nation.
After several years in London with Omnicon, my return to India was tinged with a little disappointment, as personal expectations of where the industry should have been, did not quite match up! In contrast, the last five years I’ve seen seismic changes with a new level of sophistication moving us away from one-dimensional analogue thinking. Mr. Zuckerberg, amongst other social platform advocates, can take a little credit as they’ve certainly nudged us forward to think differently and embrace technology in a new way. Analogue has died, digital has clearly arrived but so has India!
Our mind-sets are shifting. It starts from how we design and develop campaign strategies, forcing a major re-think on both client and agency side. From goal setting, to deploying resources; or deciding on the most suited technology platform; or proposing budgets that account for professional PR time topped up with ‘ad-media’ spend – which we all know, if done right can uplift and boost your campaign to another level.
Tools, platforms and data analytics are key components of every brand conversation. Big or small data is driving decision-making. There has never been a better time to understand the customer, especially in B2B scenarios where social feedback can have a direct impact on sales. Today, our clients are looking for tangible and measurable results; press coverage and placements have never been enough, and now more so than ever.
Pan India PR
Reflecting on the Indian PR industry today, the core expertise remains largely in the main four to five metros. Agency folks especially need to get a better grasp of the Pan-India market landscape and understand its nuances, a few steps further than merely hiring a stringer to ‘do the regional job.’
As any major e-commerce player will tell you, sales are being driven from cities where despite consumer choice being restricted by retail access, consumer demand is booming and being fueled by mobile transactions.
As aspirations of 800 million young Indians rise dramatically, and the two trillion dollar economy tries to embrace consumerism, our role as communicators continues to evolve on how to innovate and deliver campaigns to a rapidly-discerning economy using tools, gadgets and platforms that speak to them. The complexity of our marketplace is underlined with the fact that we have to speak to an urban population as well as to a rural and rurban economy, which is actually growing at a faster rate. This requires the use of multi channels – from digital to traditional and other innovative formats, as there are audiences who may have the means but not the capability to access such information.
In a recent survey conducted by the PRCAI, over 84% respondents said that the India growth story has not actually reached enough of its population and a similar percentage believe that social media channels will not be the tool that will speak to these audiences. So what do we need to do? We have to reinvent and remodel to survive and thrive.
To ensure that we support brand expansion for maximum impact, we need to invest time in understanding our consumers and speak to them in a language they understand. Content creation becomes critical. Creating engaging, meaningful and relevant content for varied audiences and using social media to reach out to them is key. Clichéd content will not work, it never did. Content needs to be focused and presented in a way which is easily understood. There is no point in producing tons of content without a clear idea of the target audience.
To jump on this bandwagon, PR pros need to think in multiple formats with the right content. The nature of storytelling therefore needs to become far more visual and dynamic, where diverse content packaging from podcasts, infographics and video releases, etc., become commonplace.
Slow on the initial uptake, but Indian clients are also seeing the scope of providing engaging content across multiple channels. At Avian, we have managed to create a lot of content-driven integrated campaigns. That’s the change we’re driving today, and the results are showing in the types of clients we have been winning.
The bottom line: PR as we knew does not exist. We live in a time when the pace of innovation is astonishing. Communication trends and tools are changing in a heartbeat. To stay on top of the game, we need to explore new approaches and learn new ways to reinvent ourselves.
The future will require much greater integration with marketing, advertising and customer care teams to gain actionable insights. We need to bring stickiness in whatever we do, build expertise categories within our organizations and become consultants to the client.