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  • 1. Inside the Industry’s Mind and the 2013 Outlook Public Relations A report by MSLGROUP India Part of the Publicis Groupe inIndia
  • 2. MSLGROUP India MSLGROUP India is the nation's largest PR and Social Media network. Made up of two top agencies, MSL India and 20:20 MSL, MSLGROUP India combined includes 15 offices, 575 staff and an activation network reaching an additional 125 Indian cities. With a proven track record of servicing multinational and Indian corporations since 1989 and 40 senior counsellors with 15 or more years of communications experience each, clients, staff and business partners benefit from the depth and breadth of insight and experience within its teams. MSLGROUP Asia For 23 years, MSLGROUP's Asia team has counseled global, regional and local clients, helping them establish, protect and expand their businesses and brands across this fast-growing region. Today, MSLGROUP has the largest PR, social media and events teams in Greater China (16 offices and 1,000 colleagues) and India (15 offices and 575 colleagues) and is actively working to lead the development of the industry with the regular publication of whitepapers/reports and innovative Learning & People Development programs to nurture talent. The MSLGROUP Asia team includes 38 owned offices and 1,675 colleagues in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. An activation network of colleagues reaches an additional 125 Indian and 100 Chinese cities and a strong affiliate partner network adds another 23 Asian cities to our reach. MSLGROUP Asia's teams have been recognized as leaders by multiple industry groups, including most recently Hanmer MSL India ('PR Agency of the Year 2011' by PRCAI), Luminous ('Local Hero/Agency of the Year 2010' by Marketing Events Asia), Genedigi Group China ('Innovative China SMEs' by Forbes China), ICL MSL Taiwan ('Agency of the Year 2011' by Taiwan Advertiser Associate), and has won more than 50 awards in the last two years. Learn more about us at: asia.mslgroup.com + Twitter + Facebook MSLGROUP MSLGROUP is Publicis Groupe's strategic communications and engagement group, advisors in all aspects of communication strategy: from consumer PR to financial communications, from public affairs to reputation management and from crisis communications to experiential marketing and events. With more than 3,500 people across close to 100 offices worldwide, MSLGROUP is also the largest PR network in fast-growing China and India. The group offers strategic planning and counsel, insight-guided thinking and big, compelling ideas - followed by thorough execution. Learn more about us at: www.mslgroup.com + http://blog.mslgroup.com + Twitter+ YouTube. Publicis Groupe Publicis Groupe [Euronext Paris FR0000130577, part of the CAC 40 index] is the third largest communications group in the world, offering a full range of services and skills: digital and traditional advertising, public affairs and events, media buying and specialized communication. Its major networks are Leo Burnett, MSLGROUP, PHCG (Publicis Healthcare Communications Group), Publicis Worldwide, Rosetta and Saatchi & Saatchi. VivaKi, the Groupe's media and digital accelerator, includes Digitas, Razorfish, Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia. Present in 104 countries, the Groupe employs 53,000 professionals. www.publicisgroupe.com | Twitter:@PublicisGroupe | Facebook: www.facebook.com/publicisgroupe
  • 3. Tableofcontents  Executive summary.................................................... 04  What our last industry audit said................................ 06  India PR survey: High on growth, big on change......... 10  What to watch out for in 2013...................................... 24  The rise and rise of digital PR..................................... 30  What the media thinks about the industry................... 36  The agency-client marriage..........................................42  India’s PR landscape....................................................48
  • 4. The public relations (PR) industry in India is on the cusp of a profound change. As it finds itself speeding past the Information Age and into the Conversation Age, its scope is expanding well beyond media relations. Its strategic value is finally being acknowledged. As businesses realise that one-way marketing communications have limited value and that engaging stakeholders through new tools like storytelling and thought leadership is the key now, PR is finally coming of age. Therefore, it is important to understand the industry's state of mind, what it considers to be the biggest hurdles to its evolution, the greatest opportunities and how it sees itself. It is important to give the industry a voice. It is precisely this that our report aims to do. In an industry where such studies are rare, MSLGROUP India conducted an India-wide survey - and, importantly, across the executive hierarchy - to ensure that PR practitioners have their say. From growth prospects to the way new business is being generated to the hottest new trends, the study covers it all. The results, as you will see, are heartening as well as revealing. In addition, this report incorporates an equally vital dipstick survey of the way media - a key stakeholder - perceives the PR industry. Mediapersons listed several suggestions that would make for a healthier relationship with PR practitioners, and these are detailed in the pages that follow. Finally, the report tackles another prickly issue - the relationship between agencies and their clients. This relationship is often tempestuous, but it need not be so. We examine the gap between expectations and reality on both sides of the divide and suggest solutions. MSLGROUP India hopes that this report will launch conversations across the industry and among other stakeholders. We want it to become part of the process that leads to a unified industry approach towards the challenges before us - from the talent crunch to the gulf between value delivered and fees paid. So, let's talk.
  • 5. 10
  • 6. Whatourlastindustry auditsaid
  • 7. n January 2012, MSLGROUP India released the 'Public Relations Industry in India: Challenges, Opportunities and 2012 Outlook' report. Among the issues it highlighted was the rapidly-growing gap between the perception of the industry's size and the reality, and the problems that creates. The report pointed out that the focus was shifting away from the real challenges: PR is an underpaid industry - hence, its talent and infrastructure issues; the misconception that agencies are making millions - giving clients the opportunity to think they can afford lower fees; the overall perception problem that the industry has - it is often thought of as a collection of spin doctors rather than of strategic communications consultants. There are other problems - too many clients view PR only in terms of media relations. While the average advertising retainer is Rs 2 crore (about $450,000) a year, PR retainers are in the Rs 20-lakh (about $45,000) range. PR is a powerful business tool, but is rarely seen as one. Clients' reluctance to recognise its value, the lack of a fee-per-resource norm and under-cutting are responsible for retainers not rising. Also, PR budgets tend to be static and are the first to be slashed in bad times. The shortage - and flight - of talent remains an uncrackable code. This demand-supply gap will only widen with time. It must be understood that it's not only about retaining talent, it's also about finding the right people. And it's a vicious cycle - with the abysmally low retainers and salaries, talent will always look elsewhere. Talent is a make-or-break issue for the industry, and training could be a large part of the solution. Training needs to be conducted across all levels (at MSLGROUP India, 2%-3% of total revenues are spent on training, which includes interaction with industry experts and hands-on workshops). In the past, most industries joined hands with academic institutions to evolve courses that covered relevant subjects and produced employable professionals. It's time the PR industry did the same. It's not all gloom and doom, though. There is a growing realisation that PR agencies are strategic partners, not glorified couriers sending out press releases. Clients in Understanding the Public Relations Industry in India: Challenges, Opportunities and 2012 Outlook A report by MSLGROUP India, part of the Publicis Groupe 8
  • 8. 9 More than anything else, it's India's economic growth that will sustain us. The PR industry will become critical for established Indian companies and foreign firms looking to make inroads here. India will eventually look to the industry for strategic communications, which offers an opportunity to offer integrated solutions, especially because the line between PR, advertising and digital is blurring. Cost-effective communications plans - those that span advertising, PR and digital media - make sense to clients too. With the advent of the Social Media Age, this new medium is slowly becoming part of many companies' repertoire. More than anything else, it's India's economic growth that will sustain us. The PR industry will become critical for established Indian companies and foreign firms looking to make inroads here. There are gaps in the industry, and yet there are opportunities - partnerships. It's time to think of all stakeholders - clients, employees, the media - as 'partners'. The industry's success will depend on how it chooses and manages these relationships. This is where we can raise our skills and standards, help clients provide better briefs, raise the standards of measurement and source and manage talent better. According to the 2007 report, 'The State of the Public Relations Industry' by Paul Holmes, the growth of PR in the West has plateaued in the 9%-11% range. In India, the industry is growing at least twice as fast. The last decade has been one of unprecedented growth, consolidation and globalisation for the PR industry in India, but few understand how this will impact communications professionals. This is a significant shift for agencies, the media and clients. Clients will need global thinkers with global mindsets. It's time to gear up for that challenge. PR is a powerful business tool, but is rarely seen as one. Clients' reluctance to recognise its value, the lack of a fee-per-resource norm and under-cutting are responsible for retainers not rising. Also, PR budgets tend to be static and are the first to be slashed in bad times.
  • 9. IndiaPRsurvey: Highongrowth, bigonchange
  • 10. 12 or too long, the Indian PR industry hasn't had a voice. While practitioners grapple with the many challenges before it - from a fee-value mismatch to a talent crisis - the lack of a strong industry association and cohesion within the industry has meant that the issues rarely get debated. As a result, the solutions - while obvious - and a unified approach remain out of reach. After the release of MSLGROUP India's 'Understanding the Public Relations Industry in India: Challenges, Opportunities and 2012 Outlook' report, the need to tap the industry's mind was clear. There was an urgent need to understand what the industry collectively felt about its growth prospects, the way ahead amid the strong economic headwinds and how it would evolve in a fast-changing communications landscape. MSLGROUP India commissioned the Bangalore-based market research and analytics agency Leadcap Ventures to carry out a survey of PR practitioners across India to identify the challenges that concern them the most, the opportunities that they're eyeing and the evolutionary path they expect to walk. The survey - conducted in September 2012 - aims to finally launch the debate that the industry so badly needs. MSLGROUP India hopes it will be - to paraphrase playwright Arthur Miller - the equivalent of the industry talking to itself. Methodology  Sample size: 100, across three levels  Senior: Owners, directors, branch heads, managing directors (38 respondents)  Middle: Senior managers, administrative managers (31 respondents)  Junior: Assistant executives, trainees, HR executives (31 respondents)  Geography: Six metros  Mumbai (17 respondents)  Delhi (17 respondents)  Bangalore (16 respondents)  Chennai (17 respondents)  Hyderabad (16 respondents)  Kolkata (17 respondents)  Survey included quantitative and qualitative questions No stopping growth The central theme that emerged was one of optimism - 51% of the respondents were bullish, asserting that the industry would grow more than 20% over the next 12 months. Another 28% felt growth would clock between 10% and 20%. Expectations within the industry remain high despite slowing growth and global financial turmoil. It's also a sign that the industry feels it is coming of age and that the strategic value of PR is finally being recognised in a landscape dominated thus far by advertising.
  • 11. 13 It’s no surprise, that 53% were full of optimism about the next year; 43% were somewhat optimistic. The pessimists – only 4% of those surveyed – were badly outnumbered. The bedrock of the respondents' confidence was the fact that an overwhelming number of clients have left their PR budgets untouched, despite the tough economic climate. While 63% of respondents said their clients' PR budgets are intact, 33% said the budgets have in fact increased. All figures in % <10% 10%-20% >20% 51 28 21 53 34 13 32 36 32 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level 68 13 19 What growth do you expect for your agency over the next 12 months? 51 All figures in % 21 13 Are you optimistic about the next year for business? Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level Somewhat Optimistic Highly Optmistic Somewhat Pessimistic Pessimistic 4 53 43 6 47 47 6 55 39 58 42
  • 12. 14 What have your clients done with their PR budgets? 51 All figures in % 21 13 Reduced somewhat Cut Drastically Untouched Increased 33 63 4 27 62 11 47 53 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level 26 74 How much new business are you getting? The implication: Corporations are understanding the role of PR as a brand builder and in engaging stakeholders. The days of one-way communication between stakeholder and business, the industry feels, are fast receding. "PR will take on a more mainstream role and drive a brand's perception and marketing exercises. It is an invaluable tool in the shaping and execution of marketing strategies. As such, PR is no longer an allied function but an increasingly vital part of the marketing mix," said Suranjana Ghosh, head (marketing), CNBC TV18. No wonder that a significant amount of new business is being generated from existing clients. While 61% said that the overall quantum of new business was 'satisfactory', 25% said more than a fifth of new business was coming from existing clients. About 31% of respondents said that 15%-20% of new business was coming from clients already on their rosters, while 41% said existing clients accounted for 10%-15% of new business. 61 13 Insignificant A little Satisfactory A lot 1 30 61 8 35 57 8 3 28 66 3 26 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level All figures in %
  • 13. 15 How much of your new business is from existing clients? All figures in % The exuberance percolated to respondents’ expectations about the jobs the industry would create – 59% felt that staff numbers would rise over the next year, bucking the overall cautious hiring trends in the Indian economy. Another 41% felt there would be no layoffs. This is significant because allied industries, such as media, have seen a reduction in staff counts over the past 24 months. While there have been only a few drastic cuts, a few media houses are struggling and austerity measures are expected soon. Do you expect staff numbers to rise over the next 12 months? 6 47 2522 32 39 29 <10% 10%-15% 15%-20% >20% 41 3 3 31 25 30 43 24 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level Will Rise Remain Steady Reduce 41 59 53 47 39 61 29 71 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level All figures in %
  • 14. 16 The greatest growth, say respondents will come - expectedly - from digital media over the next five years, but there's also great emphasis on integrated offerings. The first edition of this report had indicated that integrated communications were the way of the future. The report said in the chapter 'From traditional PR to integrated strategic communications': "Clients in India will eventually look to their agencies for strategic communications, not simply for media relations. This is already happening. Companies such as Wipro ask their agencies to help them understand how best to communicate their messages and present them in a context that is meaningful for clients, analysts, investors and journalists. “Since the Indian PR industry is still nascent, there is an opportunity to offer integrated solutions, especially as the line between public relations, advertising and digital is already starting to blur. “As a result, many agencies have invested in creative and digital arms. Cost-effective communications plans - that span advertising, PR and digital media - make sense to clients too.” The industry clearly agrees - the second highest source of growth, said the respondents, will be integrated offerings. As Ghosh said: "Brands are reassessing their relationship with PR agencies. From a client-vendor equation, PR now needs to work more as a partner/strategic advisor for brands. With a greater understanding of brands' long-term goals and current market realities, PR should be able to cross this hurdle more effectively." She added that agencies could look to add services such as market intelligence, thought leadership and - critically - "seamless PR strategies" (integrated offerings, in other words) "that straddle traditional as well as new media options". Sanjay Tripathy, EVP and head (marketing and direct channels), HDFC Life identified internal communications - as part of the integrated offerings bouquet - as an important opportunity. "The PR industry can play a significant role in internal communications. Today, every brand has large-scale focus on employee branding, employee retention, employee engagement and communications. Employees are critical stakeholders for brands. The PR industry must add this to their offerings to enhance their scope and services," he said. Among the verticals to watch in 2013, respondents identified digital media as the hottest, followed by lifestyle and technology. All figures in % Digital/Socal Integrated offerings More aggressive NBD Vanilla PR 31 15 52 37 16 45 35 10 52 19 20 2 2 3 61 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level What will offer the greatest growth over the next five years?
  • 15. 17 Hottest verticals for 2013 Digital/Socal Lifestyle Technology Media and entertainment FMCG Healthcare Others Retail Automobiles Manufacturing Banking, finanical services and insurance 3% 6% 1% 48% While these are in line with expectations, industry experts believe that some of them will jump to the top over time. Healthcare, in particular, followed by retail - India has recently thrown open this sector, allowing greater foreign direct investment - and financial services, which would include banking and insurance, are being watched closely by the industry. All these sectors are growing fast and are seeing increasing investment. In some cases, foreign majors are expected to make an entry soon. While the overall mood within the industry is bright, there is great awareness of the formidable challenges that it faces. To an open-ended question on what to expect in the near future, respondents listed five main challenges.  Media: This was the most critical challenge, felt respondents across all levels. There were multiple issues on their minds - from the sweeping changes that traditional media is dealing with to the emerging social media space. "We will face serious challenges if we do not adapt to the new media culture," warned one respondent. In traditional media, respondents felt that the rise in the number of media houses, especially the mushrooming TV channels, is posing a problem. Dealing with these large numbers, and the increasing fragmentation of the audience, is tough. Besides, respondents pointed out, the "fight for space in publications" is getting more intense. The insertion of social media into the mix has changed the communications game. Respondents felt that, while adapting to it is crucial, it is also challenging.  Digital competition: In keeping with the above sentiment, PR practitioners across all levels were Overcoming challenges 9% 13% 20%
  • 16. 18 Top-of-mind issues The talent crunch certain that agencies would need to rapidly digitise and build expertise in that field. This is because several clients now put digital at the centre of their communications strategy. While it offers the biggest growth area, it is also a huge change from the way PR works today. "[Adapting to] digital [communications] products will pose the biggest challenge," said a respondent.  Technology: The challenge of technology is the challenge of the unknown. Just as social media crept up on them and suddenly became all pervasive, PR practitioners were unsure of what new breakthrough technologies would emerge in the future and the impact that would have on the industry. Adaptability, they said, would become critical to survival. Equally important was the readiness for an "uncommon change" in communications technology. "Technology is our concern as people like new things, new upgrades to every technology," said a respondent.  Innovation: The next stage in the evolution of PR would revolve around innovation, most respondents agreed. Terms like "new avenues", "new-era products", "new trends" and "ideas" were used regularly. It was generally unclear to most, however, what it means in practice. They are under pressure, said many respondents, to come up with "the next big thing" but there is a dearth of creative minds that can come up with such path-breaking ideas. This concern was mainly expressed at the middle and junior levels. A fresh approach to PR, they felt, could become a make-or-break issue. Many respondents, especially industry seniors, said that the demand for traditional PR was falling. While knowledge of emerging trends was important, the industry would have to find a balance - pointing again to how critical adaptability is. A few in the junior ranks felt that whatever the changes, traditional PR would not die out. It would, they said, continue to be an important part of the burgeoning communications bouquet.  Perception of the PR industry: This was another concern raised by the first edition of this report in January 2012. Too many people, it pointed out, thought of the industry as one large spin doctor or 'fixer'. Not many understood its strategic value. As one respondent said: "Our industry is not very popular." Respondents - mainly senior level PR practitioners - felt that the problem is two-fold. First, it's about creating awareness about the industry in the minds of potential clients. Second, there is a lack of understanding within the industry itself of market trends. As a solution, many felt that agencies should focus on branding within the industry, as well as on quality. Other areas to concentrate on included innovation and training.  Other challenges: Among the other pressing challenges, talent topped the priority list - especially among industry leaders - followed by the often tempestuous agency-client relationship. Both these issues deserve great attention and are addressed separately later in the report. While increasing competition was a concern too, many believed that it was necessary and helped improve service quality. The first edition of the PR report had highlighted the talent shortage that the PR industry is facing. The report said: “If you're part of the PR industry, you'll know how acute the talent shortage is. As firms scramble for competent people, salaries get inflated. With fees already so low, profitability is affected. “This demand-supply gap can only widen over the next few years. If salary costs become prohibitive, PR businesses will suffer.” This was underscored by the respondents. What was thought-provoking was how they ranked potential solutions to the problem.
  • 17. 19 How should the industry deal with the talent crunch? It was revealing that raising salaries ranked lowest as a potential solution, while a structured, stringent selection process ranked first. Planned, consistent investment in training ranked second. It was obvious that money is not the main motivator. CNBC TV18's Ghosh pointed out: "By spearheading thought leadership initiatives, PR can create opportunities for attracting a more involved cadre of professionals. An attitudinal change - both, on the parts of agencies and professionals, where PR goes beyond getting coverage but works as an involved stakeholder for their clients - will help." The education system is not geared to the industry's needs - this was highlighted in the first edition of this report too, and repeated by the survey's respondents - and it's time PR agencies collaborated with training institutes to evolve a curriculum that makes their students employable. Several other industries in India - such as information technology - have collaborated with academia in the past and there is no reason the PR industry can't do the same. Recommendations  The industry should standardise salary ranges. Incentives, such as stock options, need to be worked into compensation packages.  Employee growth is a priority – as indicated in the survey – and it must be planned and communicated early to them.  Mentoring is conspicuous by its absence. It is up to agency heads to ensure that talented people have a go-to person within the firm. These mentors can help starters find their feet and share knowledge that would otherwise take months or years to acquire.  Training must be implemented at all levels. Seniors within the firm can be tapped for this, and external trainers hired when needed. * Average of the ranks ATTRIBUTE WEIGHT* RANK Stringent selection process 3.2 1 Invest in training 2.6 2 Offer fast-track growth 2.3 3 Offer higher salaries 1.9 4
  • 18. 20 When asked how they were dealing with a shift towards knowledge-based communication, 41% said the focus was on thought leadership to raise awareness and skills. Many corporations across the world are recognising the need to build their brand structure on a foundation of knowledge. Brands now know that they need to build relationships with their stakeholders to remain relevant and matter to the communities in which they operate. They also recognise that they no longer have a captive audience through traditional media. Aman Abbas, head of corporate communications, KPMG India, said: “PR practitioners should understand business, not just communications. Unfortunately, the orientation of PR students is only towards transactional campaign creation on campus. Even the juniormost in the industry need to know how business is done and what impacts it and its reputation. Industry needs to diffuse its focus from means (press conferences, press releases) and focus on how business objectives can be met through communications. Not all industries require standardised services.” Relevant, shareable thought leadership through tools such as whitepapers, videos and blogs can help brands become the trusted authorities in their industries and increase conversion rates. This is an opportunity for PR, felt the respondents. Support for thought leadership was the highest among senior staff (43%) and the juniors (48%). The way ahead While the average annual advertising retainer is Rs 2 crore ($4,00,000), PR retainers hover around Rs 20 lakh ($40,000). Industry veterans said in the first edition of this report that many clients are reluctant to recognise the value of PR. Also, there's no fee-per-resource norm and under-cutting is rampant, which is partly responsible for retainers not rising. While pointing out that the industry is multi-layered, with services offered at different prices, Sudha Singh, former executive director (operations) at Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, had pointed out: "Most Indian agencies short-sell their services for fear of not getting business. There is an opportunity for us to review this as an industry." Siddhartha Mukherjee, Business Head Eikona had a different perspective: “The PR industry needs a single [measurement] currency to create oneness and initiate healthy dialogues between corporations and their consultancies. With this, wealth will automatically follow. Clients/Investors look for effective ideas and their scientific measurability. “Let us no longer boast of high annual industry growth rates on small denominators. Here is where PR agencies have paved the way. Starting with transforming into consultancies, their thoughts and initiatives have changed the PR matrix. Today, this tool, which was largely confined to the PRO/corporate communications desk, is showing its Bridging the fees-value gulf Investing in thought leadership to raise awareness and skills Hiring staff with competencies relevant to the change Indifferent Investing in training 23 41 30 43 19 8 19 31 19 31 19 23 10 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level All figures in % 48 How are you dealing with the shift towards knowledge-based PR? 20 16
  • 19. 21 There is a growing feeling within the PR industry that the benchmarks are all wrong. While goal-setting and measurement are part and parcel of every service, measurement should include new media, rise in awareness among stakeholders and impact on business results. The survey showed a marked preference for measurement based on outcomes (impact on business results) over output (number of media mentions, press releases sent out). While 63% preferred benchmarks based on outcomes, 20% felt the final word should be left to the clients' way of measuring performance. Only 17% felt that volume of media coverage is the best option. Putting outcomes before output was an idea that found the greatest support among mid-level and junior executives. Given that it is they who will eventually graduate to the senior ranks and be in a position to effect the required change, it is only a matter of time before new performance measurement systems are introduced and become the norm. As HDFC Life's Tripathy said: "The industry must work together to establish a standard measurement matrix. EAV [equivalent of advertising value] is obsolete in the West; reach is the key now. Without standardisation, results remain fragmented and return on investment remains unknown." Recommendations  Measure outcomes, not outputs: These include shifts in awareness, purchase behaviour, corporate reputation, employee engagement and investment decisions. Quantitative approaches such as benchmark-and-tracking surveys can be supplemented with qualitative methods to spot changes in purchase behaviour and preferences.  Media measurement: Measuring the number of mentions is generally meaningless. Media measurement should include audience impressions, quality of the media coverage (tone, credibility, relevance of medium).  Social media: Right now, it's mostly about how many likes have been achieved on Facebook or the number of Twitter followers. But it's not about the numbers; it's about managing reputations. The emphasis should be on responding quickly, listening and engaging. Performance measurement usefulness to the internal clients of this same desk - marketing, financial and HR... and the CEO’s office.” Recommendations  Respondents said that the focus should be on improving quality of work and innovation, which in turn would help them push for fees that match value.  Given the shift in communications technology, some suggested that digital become the primary mode of brand outreach.  While some seniors said that budgets are entirely in clients' hands and little can be done about it, others felt that a premium could be charged for the adoption of new communications formats and services. All figures in % 63 49 75 68 26 22 109 16 27 20 17 24 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level Measuring outcomes, not output Clients should have final word on criteria Measuring spread of media coverage works just fine How do you improve PR performance measurement?
  • 20. 22 Bubbling under Digital technology has made the world a smaller place and brand monologue is giving way to engagement (multiple conversations on multiple platforms). Buying behaviour is changing rapidly, as is the way stakeholders - consumers, suppliers, employees, governments, communities - perceive brands. Amid all this, there are five perceptible trends emerging in the practice of PR:  Visual communication: Respondents believe that, since 65% of their audiences are 'visual listeners', this trend is the most critical. Good graphic representations are critical to serve clients better, they felt in response to an open-ended question. This is why a rising number of communications include infographics, attractive visuals or visual depictions of critical information.  Storytelling: There was a virtual consensus that brands that tell their stories the best will be the ones that stand out. Storytelling is only now being used as a craft in marketing communications with organisations as diverse as Coca-Cola and NASA adopting it to convey their key messages to their stakeholders. Respondents agreed that it is a critical element of PR, from client engagement to ensuring the desired outcomes. A key insight was that respondents felt the use of storytelling increases audience trust, eventually creating loyal customers.  Proactive monitoring: The discussions focused mainly on social media - from evaluating conversations to identifying the issues that matter to a brand's audience. Not surprisingly, it was junior PR executives who strongly felt that this was important to the industry.  Adaptability: Recognising change as a constant, respondents felt that adapting to new tools and trends is not an option but an imperative. They felt that the ability and agility to adapt to an ever-changing environment would spell the difference between survival and obsolescence for agencies.  Quantification: Tying it with their thoughts on performance measurement, respondents repeated that the industry should focus on measuring outcomes, not outputs. In the case of visual communication, for instance, many said, measuring audience comprehension should be the norm.
  • 21. 23
  • 22. Whattowatch outforin2013
  • 23. 26 t's been a difficult year. The economic slowdown, amplified by policy paralysis in the government and a volatile political situation, hit the PR industry hard. Communications budgets were slashed and many corporations preferred to work on 'project' basis rather than on retainers. Given the tough business environment, those that persisted with retainers demanded more bang for the buck. While the PR industry managed to keep its head well above the water, 2012 was a tough year. Will 2013 be better? Given the government's renewed vigour for economic reform and India's inherent economic restraints, the outlook remains optimistic despite the uncertainty created by political turmoil. Digital communications - dominated by social media - constitute the biggest opportunity for 2013 and we've dedicated a separate chapter to it later in this report. While the survey earlier in the report identified major trends, there are others that MSLGROUP India has identified. Among those that you can't miss is the evolution of content as a branding and communications tool. Industry experts believe that nothing sells better than a good story. However, they caution, it's not just about telling a story but about engaging your consumer. The key, they say, is to make your story his/her own story. Storytelling is also important as the realisation grows that it's not enough to have profit as your sole objective. Businesses need a greater purpose. The community expects that if you're making millions, you need to make millions happy as well. Consumers today relate to brands that show heart. Social responsibility has moved from mere support for projects to working towards social sustainability. Brand journalism For PR professionals, 2012 marked a widening of the scope of work and a deepening of the partnership with business leaders, decision makers and subject experts to benefit from the new wave of communications. In 2013, more organisations will recognise the need to marry marketing with reputation management. Engagement has always been a key component of the PR business, but in the Conversation Age of today communicators are moving from monologue to dialogue. The cornerstone of this engagement is content. Not just creating it, but also managing it. Content that informs and encourages conversations is relevant to the target audience. It is shareable and it strengthens customer loyalty. Corporations as well as PR firms are now employing teams to specifically produce high-quality content. Shashank Sinha, general manager and head (marketing of direct sales), Eureka Forbes, said: "Communication is the fine art of 'storytelling'. Telling a good story first involves understanding the person listening to it - their interests, worries and their lives. Listening is the first step to good storytelling. Unfortunately, most of us seem to have no time to listen. This is the key for the PR industry." It is the digital revolution that has changed the way companies are communicating. Consumers today 'experience' products and services online before buying them. From researching a product's specifications to looking for reviews, consumers rely on the online space. It gives them a sense of empowerment as they now have Engagement has always been a key component of the PR business, but in the Conversation Age of today communicators are moving from monologue to dialogue.
  • 24. 27 a forum to share their experiences and at the same time become influencers for a brand. PR firms are producing a variety of content, from social media campaigns to white papers and online games, to shape this consumer experience. Earned media is now making way for owned media, enabling companies to take control of their brand story rather than relying on traditional media. CNBC TV18's Ghosh said: "A PR agency mirrors the personality of the brand it represents and is a responsible brand custodian. The need for the agency to exhibit immense agility and alertness in today's dynamic times is critical. As disseminators of information and trends, PR needs to always be several steps ahead and demonstrate thought leadership and innovative solutions that will help differentiate their clients' marketing efforts in a crowded space." Consumer marketing and corporate reputation building will no longer be mutually exclusive as consumers have greater access to information about the companies behind the products they buy. Globally, we have already seen several brands, such as Volkswagen, McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Pepsi - as well as non-corporate 'brands' such as NASA - using engaging content tailored to their purposes to reach out to stakeholders. In India, this is nascent, though automobile-to-software conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra and the Tata Group have taken an early lead in this.
  • 25. 28 Carol Cone, global practice chair of Edelman Purpose, told the Holmes Report that 'purpose', which she defines as "an organisation's values in action, manifest through a variety of actions ranging from materials sourcing, supply chain partners, CSR reporting, ethics and governance", will be increasingly important in 2012, with companies focused on how purpose can be "strategically integrated and operationalised" throughout their organisations. This is expected to take on a much larger scale in 2013. MSLGROUP's PurPle is one such initiative. The group believes that the meaning of being a good corporate citizen has changed from Green (environment) to Blue (sustainability) to PurPle (purpose + people). Tomorrow's successful PurPle brands will be the ones that work collaboratively with communities, governments, customers and organisations to co-create solutions to the world's toughest problems. Moving from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to collaborative social innovation will drive more rapid and meaningful change in society and in business, because with collaboration and co-creation comes shared value and a mutually beneficial shared purpose. The intersection of three shifts in the business environment has made it imperative for organisations to bring purpose and people together:  Trust deficit: People have access to more information than ever before and there is a lack of organisational trust. In fact, trust in all organisations, including corporations and governments, is at an all-time low. Most organisations realise that corporate reputation and consumer activation are interlinked as consumers become critical of communications campaigns that are not rooted in authentic, long-term commitment.  People power: People have new sources of power and many believe that only they can come up with innovative solutions to our most pressing problems, not governments or corporations. Building and communicating purpose-led business strategies must put people and co-creation at the centre.  Quest for meaning: People are searching for meaningful connections with communities and organisations around a shared purpose and expect organisations to enable such connections. Organisations need to inspire, organise and energise all stakeholders to collaboratively work towards their shared purpose. In the Information Age, a product doesn't always speak for itself. The greater a company's transparency, the more connected its customers feel. It is this connection that makes consumers believe in a brand. Liz Kaplow, president of New York's Kaplow Communications, said in the Holmes Report: "The modern consumer wants to know the brand behind the product and the company behind the brand - and they have the resources to find out. This means that companies now have to ask themselves 'who are we and what do we stand for?' Naturally, this has made authentic CSR an integral part of a company's forward planning and initiatives. "Authentic CSR means it is integrated into the company's corporate DNA, so that it is evident in everything the company does. This includes marketing and social media, CEO thought leadership, employee relations, and more. Authentic CSR is not about whitewashing a company's image. It's about supporting humanity, being passionate about a cause, and connecting emotionally with consumers who at the end of the day want to know that companies care about the world and the people in it." Businesses with purpose
  • 26. 29 Healthcare is expanding swiftly in terms of revenue and employment in India. According to ‘Healthcare in India – Emerging Market Report 2007’, authored by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, “during the 1990s, Indian healthcare grew at a compounded annual rate of 16%. Today, the value of the sector is more than $34 billion. This translates to $34 per capita, or roughly 6% of GDP. By 2012, India’s healthcare sector is projected to grow to nearly $40 billion. The private sector accounts for more than 80% of total healthcare spending in India.” Globally, life expectancy is on the rise and with growing awareness about healthier lifestyles, healthcare products are striking gold. It helps that healthcare is a priority for the government For PR companies, there lies a great opportunity to partner with healthcare firms – as well as allied verticals, such as diagnostics and pharmaceuticals – to bring about a lifestyle change in customers. Pascal Beucler, senior vice-president and chief strategy officer, MSLGROUP, wrote: “Firms in the healthcare sector at large need to not only rediscover their social purpose, but to also put it at the core of their businesses, and to consider it when engaging with all stakeholders.” MSLGROUP recently conducted the survey ‘You Share, We Care!’ that outlined the views of 70 managers across Europe. The importance of digital communications came out strongly in the survey. Managers were aware of its impact on their industry, and believed that companies needed to become storytellers – creating contexts to explain to people what they do, and to highlight the company’s social values. These managers want to become protagonists in the debate about health. The findings showed:  Nearly two-thirds of the managers interviewed thought that social media offered an opportunity.  Most managers believed that the web will dominate healthcare conversations in the future.  Patients are key stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem, thanks to the digital revolution.  In this vein, 61 managers out of 70 thought that digital communication offers a great opportunity to help improve medical treatment/therapeutic adherence. Twitter, in particular, can play a role in the dialogue between doctors and patients as it represents a tool for faster connections.  Most managers also viewed blogs as important in healthcare communications, potentially impacting how influential doctors and key opinion leaders are on the web. A corporate communication head (name withheld on request) observed: “Specific to healthcare, there will be more pressure because of changes in the regulations that govern the sector. Communication will be scrutinised even more and it will be a greater challenge to drive the PR agenda using traditional media. Building credibility will be tougher than ever.” If high-level appointments are any indicator, the healthcare opportunity is clearly evident at a global level too. Recently, Shellie Winkler was named as MSLGROUP’s North America practice director for health and corporate practices, while Amanda Sefton was named global healthcare practice director at Ketchum. Meanwhile, US-based Finn Partners launched Finn Partners Health, a dedicated national practice led by Miriam Weber Miller, a 20-year veteran of healthcare marketing and communications. It won’t be long before high-level appointments are made in India too to lead the healthcare practice. Healthcare
  • 27. Theriseandrise ofdigitalPR
  • 28. 32 imply put, digital PR is the use of the internet to promote campaigns and to share information. However, it's not as simple as it sounds. Increasingly, small and big businesses are embracing the digital space as a strong marketing tool. The success of a company depends on the network of people it reaches out to, not only in terms of numbers but also the right messaging. It is extremely important to cast that net wide; the higher the number of people that know about your products and services, the higher the probability of you being talked about in the social space. "With the advent of social and digital media, every brand has the ability to publish its own story and every consumer and influencer has the opportunity to respond," Kaplow, of Kaplow Communications, said in the Holmes Report. This presents "an even more exciting opportunity to use social and digital channels to get to know your audiences better, to listen to what they are saying and what they want, and deliver even better service". The recent 'Rise of India's Digital Consumer' study by comScore found that India is the fastest growing online market and that its explosive online growth will continue, as most online categories have below-average penetration compared to global averages. The internet has empowered people by giving them an engaging platform to express their opinions, share their likes and dislikes and post their reviews. These opinions can both, draw traffic to your website or digress it. This makes potential advertisers out of visitors to your site. Experts suggest that consumer behaviour today is influenced by the digital space and understanding it well will help in devising the right strategies to maximise the opportunity. The comScore study pointed out that 75% of the Indian audience is below the age of 35 years, making it one of the world's youngest online populations. Brazil Russia China India 41%5% 20% 6% 48.9 52 49.1 59 322 336 44.5 62.6 * Source: ‘Rise of India’s Digital Consumer’ study by comScore Unique visitors (in millions) 15+ age, home and work users July 2011 July 2012 Unique visitors growth comparison
  • 29. 33 For those in the communication business, therefore, the dynamics of delivering a message have changed. Marketers have to do away with 'monologue' as the digital media has created the space for a 'multilogue' where there is conversation happening all around us. It is these conversations that are shaping brands. Consumers are no longer buying products, but the experience. This experience begins at the consideration stage, continues to the buying of the product and finally its use. At each stage, consumers are relying on social media to enhance their experience. Product endorsements no longer bear the same significance - it's other consumers' views that seal the deal. HDFC Life's Tripathy pointed out: "This means acquiring more relevant skill sets, more learnings, and more creativity and innovation. More customised, value-driven PR campaigns in the digital space would be the key focus in 2013." All this has significant implications for the PR practitioner. The digital space is an addition to the communications armoury. The new role broadly involves:  Advising: "We believe the best course of action is..."  Counselling and deriving meaning: "We believe the best course of action is... and here's why." At this stage, the PR practitioner will need to get involved in the business challenge before the client. He/she will need to truly understand the array of tools at his/her disposal. There is a critical need to involve consumers, motivate and involve them and seek their feedback to make them feel empowered. Change in the PR practitioner Demographic distribution - youth driving growth 75% 1.3 2.4 6.5 13.7 15.3 Demographic distribution of UVs in % * Source: ‘Rise of India’s Digital Consumer’ study by comScore. UV: Unique visitors { } 1.855+ yrs 45-54 yrs 35-44 yrs 25-34 yrs 15-24 yrs 3.6 9.7 21.9 23.7 (male+female)
  • 30. 34 All online activities need to be understood in terms of their return on investment, that is, measurable results are the key. While it is possible to measure web traffic, marketers are sceptical about the value of online PR. Herein lies a big opportunity. PR professionals need to impress upon clients that embracing digital PR would be an additional resource that strengthens the objectives of traditional PR. Industry observers believe that digital PR is no longer a new strategy but part of the regular hygiene factors. PR companies can use multiple online forums like blogs, Facebook and Twitter to engage and sustain public interest. Podcasts, publishing information online, and tailored online media campaigning are also fast gaining popularity. All these tools can be tangibly measured. A Holmes Report article summed this up: "Today, the brand is no longer determined by what the company says about itself; it's determined by all the things that are said about the company by others, in the real world (over garden fences, in hair salons, the supermarket checkout line, over drinks and dinners) and in digital and social media." "I foresee more and more activities around the digital space," said HDFC Life's Tripathy. "With shrinking marketing budgets across industries, companies would remain steadfast on value-added, cost-effective mediums for 'engagement and connection' with their customers and other key stakeholders. The digital boom cannot be ignored by any brand." Among the key values that companies will need to emphasise online are: transparency (the greater the scrutiny you allow, the more trusted you are), dialogue (one-way communication is in steep decline) and engagement (invite consumers to be 'part of the brand'). Measuring effectiveness  Tell a story: Audiences need to identify with a piece of information. People are naturally drawn to experiences that they can relate to. Ensure that your data has statistics, visuals, testimonials that lend credence to your pitch.  Be a good listener: A digital platform leaves enough room for scrutiny, so be open to all kinds of feedback. Social media is a two-way street; people will expect your response to their communication. A well-initiated conversation often inspires participation and a well-moderated one can help your purpose.  Be earnest: Be consistent with your messaging and always share accurate information. With the great volumes of information at their fingertips, your audience will always cross-check the authenticity of what you claim. Any discrepancies will deal a blow to your credibility.  Reach out to social media influencers: Your network must have bloggers, influencers, journalists and writers from related industries who are more active online. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are increasingly being used by individuals and corporations to connect with a wider network. Through the right networking, you can influence a media mention.  Build brand loyalty: Engage your audience by creating content that is not only informative but which holds its interest. Curate the content in a manner that makes your audience champion your cause. Ensure that you have the audience captive on its first visit; you may not get a second chance.  Create a social media newsroom: A robust online presence makes it easier for journalists to gather information that can beef up their stories. The right mix of interactive elements, videos and photos provides a 360-degree view of your organisation. It also gives them a chance to connect with other bloggers/visitors to verify information. Make this your central resource for information. As a PR professional, it is vital to stay How to optimise social media in PR
  • 31. 35 Digital media trends abreast of the evolution of news consumption. Digital presence is definitely a defining change. Ghosh, of CNBC TV18, said: "The digital medium is no longer a retrospective or force-fitted part of the overall brand marketing strategy. It is an integral part of the marketing mix. Akin to marketing strategies which now have digital woven in from Step 1, PR also needs to reflect the same technical dexterity and immediacy. In this era of instant feedback, PR is a vital ally to manage the responses a brand evokes on its social media or online platforms. Hence, PR needs to leverage the viral ability of digital and amplify a brand's message effectively." High-growth categories Online video soars  Unprecedented growth in travel, search, social networking and news, surpassing worldwide averages  Growth to continue in retail, games and health, as they are below worldwide averages  The key drivers are content and accessibility  The coupons category has shrunk by 38% as players have moved to allied verticals  Online video viewers in India have grown by over 37.3%  The engagement has reached 3.4 billion videos every month  52% of the videos belong to the entertainment category  YouTube’s top channels are Bollywood-related  Video advertising has grown proportionally with growing inventory * Source: 'Rise of India's Digital Consumer' study by comScore. Graph based on July 2011 and Jul 2012 data for 15+ age, home and work users * Source: ‘Rise of India’s Digital Consumer’ study by comScore. Graph based on July 2011 and Jul 2012 data for 15+ age, home and work users Games News Search Retail Heatlh Social networking Travel July 2012 Reach %YoY Growth % 60 54 43 43 43 43 41 41 80.3 91.5 59.9 21.1 95.5 44 373 Video Viewers (in millions) Min per viewer Videos viewed (in billion) Jun 2011 32.4 34.8 42.3 44.5 Oct 2011 Mar 2012 Jun 2012 433 455 459 Jun 2011 Jun 2012 3.41.9
  • 32. Whatthemedia thinksabout theindustry
  • 33. 38 he media is a key stakeholder for the PR industry. Media relations are among its core activities and rarely is a PR plan drawn up without a media angle to it. The digital age is changing the way consumers interact with the media and brands. Round-the-clock news, the internet and social media have created an aware, empowered consumer. This is, in turn, altering the relationship between the media and PR professionals. However, the media and the PR industry enjoy a strange relationship - deeply symbiotic, yet edgy. It is important, therefore, to understand what makes this relationship tick, what the points of conflict are, as well as the potential solutions. For this, MSLGROUP India conducted a dipstick qualitative study, interviewing journalists across media - websites, TV channels, newspapers, magazines - to gauge their perceptions of the PR industry. The objective was to understand whether journalists were being suitably supported in their day-to-day news gathering and allied activities. Journalists were asked to detail the problems they faced while interacting with PR professionals and suggest changes. Apart from that, we included multiple-choice questions to get specific replies on key issues. Methodology The primary objective was to assess perceptions of media persons regarding:  The PR industry and its efficacy in supporting journalists  Emerging trends in news media and its PR implications  How to make PR more effective Twenty-one depth interviews were conducted among journalists in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune. The break-up:  Mumbai: 13  Delhi: 4  Chennai: 2  Pune: 1  Kolkata: 1 Perceptions Among the key themes that emerged was that, while PR professionals broadly understand their clients' businesses and their operating environment, this understanding is not fully communicated to journalists. Apart from that, there exists considerable scope to improve the working relationship between PR professionals and the media. A common complaint was that PR professionals do not fully understand the different genres of media they interact with and are generally unaware of the beats and repertoire of the journalists they interact with. As a result, journalists often receive communication on sectors, products and issues that have no relevance to them or are not suitable for the media outlet they represent. Background research, the journalists pointed out, is conspicuous by its absence. As a result, journalists who have to complete a multitude of tasks every day are often disturbed by calls from poorly prepared PR professionals or are spammed by irrelevant press releases. This puts great strain on the PR-media relationship. A senior features journalist at the 'Hindustan Times', one of India's leading dailies, said: "Too often, PR professionals send me listings for 'your new products column'. Even a cursory reading of the supplement I work for will reveal that we do not, in fact, have such a column. There is nothing more annoying than fielding these calls day after day."
  • 34. 39 This was echoed by a senior editor at 'Business Today' magazine: "Clients of PR companies want the press release reproduced in full in every publication and broadcast on every TV channel without any supplementary questions asked. Even when PR people know there is no story in a particular piece of information, clients force them to push it." News trends and implications Another common complaint was that PR professionals are not well informed about media deadlines. This problem has become even more acute as the news media has broadly shifted to a 24x7 role. Journalists stressed that PR professionals should spend more time in understanding how their target media function, in terms of the story gathering and editing process and the need for client responses based on the nature of the medium. In addition, journalists wanted a shift from the "stereotypical silence" every time clients find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. To rectify these problems, journalists stressed that senior PR professionals must work closely with their juniors. They also suggested seminars and discussions with journalists, as well as an emphasis on training. A senior news editor at the Mumbai-headquartered daily 'DNA' said: "PR professionals need a thorough knowledge of the set-up and functioning of the newspaper or TV channel [they are dealing with]. This can be done through interaction and being in constant touch with what's happening in [those media outlets]." A senior financial journalist added: "It's getting complex; different newspapers have different deadlines. Apart from that, deadlines themselves are dying in the wake of 24X7 media and it is a big challenge for the PR industry, as even a millisecond's delay in receiving information can make a difference." Customising press releases With the news media getting fragmented into various genres and mediums, there is need to tailor press releases to the media outlets they are sent to. A one-size-fits-all release doesn't work anymore, many journalists said. They also emphasised the need for releases to be better written, to contain fewer clichés or unnecessary praise for clients. A release that keeps in mind the above, would enable developments in a particular sector or firm to be understood quickly and reported appropriately. For instance, a 30% rise in quarterly profits could be potentially big news for a start-up, but may not be appealing to a journalist. However, if that 30% profit is accompanied by a comparative analysis that shows it as the highest in that quarter across the sector it operates in could trigger suitable interest. A senior news editor at 'The Times of India', India's most-read English daily, said: "There is a gap in the understanding of the saleability of a development or press release and the needs of the media. This should be suitably addressed."
  • 35. 40 We do need each other Despite everything, journalists recognised that the PR industry serves a vital purpose, that of a conduit between them and industry. Journalists highlighted that, with the business world getting more complex and senior company officials travelling across several times zones or within the company, interaction between them and India Inc has become tougher. As a result, the role of the PR professional in balancing the needs of the client and the media has become critical. In this regard, journalists suggested that PR professionals inform the target media of client/sector developments on a regular basis rather than only when coverage is desired. This would help journalists tracking the client/sector considerably and build a long-term relationship with the PR professional. A senior editor at the 'Hindustan Times' in Delhi said: "PR has close synergies with the media." Added a senior news editor at 'DNA': "The print medium is dependent on the PR industry for many stories." The relationship While the role of PR professionals is getting more recognised, journalists did not want to get "over-friendly" or "too close" to them. This was attributed to the often conflicting nature of their jobs.
  • 36. 41 While acknowledging that PR professionals invest considerable time in building relationships with the media, journalists wanted the relationship to be "need-based" and "professional". They wanted to maintain a distance. That was largely because the PR industry is focused on achieving their clients' needs, while the media is looking for stories that matter to their readers. Sometimes, the two are mutually exclusive. A senior features editor at 'The Indian Express' daily said: "A lot of thought goes into building better relations. However, over-friendly behaviour puts off journalists, and PR persons should be wary of that. Nevertheless, I have come across PR persons who are extremely professional and helpful." Added a senior journalist at the 'Hindustan Times': "All the energies of PR professionals are concentrated on getting the next media mention. There is too much focus on short-term coverage rather than long-term association with a journalist." Recommendations  Research journalists and media needs: No two journalists - or media outlets - are the same. Their needs and approaches towards a story are dictated by the nature of their readership. PR professionals need to do their homework before approaching a journalist for a story. Journalists repeatedly complained that they are bombarded with irrelevant press releases and calls on subjects that don't matter to them. An effort must be made during the relationship-building stage to understand the journalist's beat and readership, and a suitable database of media contacts maintained for future reference. This database should be easily accessible by staff across the PR organisation.  Understand and respect deadlines: Be aware of the deadlines for different media and respond appropriately. Senior PR professionals could work closely with new entrants or hold training sessions to ensure that they are aware of these deadlines. In case a client does not wish to respond to a query, communicate that to the journalist quickly enough for him/her to work around it and yet meet the deadline. This would also result in a strong relationship with the PR professional.  Build long-term relationships: Journalists complained in the survey that PR professionals usually focus on ensuring that their client is mentioned in the coverage. This creates unnecessary tension. Establish a balance between client needs and on building long-term relationships with journalists. This could be facilitated by regular visits to the journalist's office or through web chats. Help the journalist get access to information or people when he/she needs them and the favour will be returned.  Customise press releases: Press releases often contain clichés and unnecessary details, which may not be relevant to the journalist. Ensure instead that the press release has the client information that is relevant to the journalist it is sent to. Also make sure the significance of the development is explained in a simple manner. As far as possible, customise press releases for different types of media houses, which would help you get significantly more suitable responses. For instance, a release about the IT sector could be written from a business point of view for a pink paper (growth, forex earnings, impact on share price) and in a completely different way for a general interest newspaper (the products/services it makes available, jobs on offer).
  • 37. Theagency-client marriage
  • 38. 44 The agency-client marriage Jaideep Shergill, CEO, MSL INDIA Every year, India Inc invests crores of rupees in what is a fragile, sometimes tempestuous relationship - the one with its PR agency. While it's a tough marriage intended to produce measurable results, the marketing or academic literature focuses on what makes for a successful relationship and the causes of its failure is skewed. Indeed, there is an archives worth of material that helps businesses select a PR agency, but little on how to ensure the relationship is mutually fruitful. It's time for both, client and agency, to realise that the best PR begins with a healthy relationship. It needs to be a partnership in which clients see the agency as an extension of their marketing teams, while agencies need to invest time in understanding the clients' businesses and their needs. Too many relationships are spoiled because of unrealistic expectations. "I want to be featured in The Times of India" is absolutely the wrong way to start off. Sure, all of us want the best coverage and the most from our PR budgets, but not everything about you will get featured in the leading publications. Instead, work with your agency to secure coverage in media outlets that target your audience. There may be several small- or medium-sized publications and online communities worth exploring. Often, it's these that deliver better results. Remember, agencies can't make magic happen if you aren't receptive to ideas. If you are hiring a PR agency, make sure you're willing to take its counsel. What’s straining the agency-client relationship?  Pitching and re-pitching: Before inviting agencies to pitch for your PR business, know what the campaign has to achieve, set out the objectives and be honest about budgets. Would you buy a car without knowing what kind you wanted - sedan or SUV? Or how much you can spend on it? Buying PR services isn't different in that sense.  The brief: Producing a concise-yet-thorough brief is the foundation for success. It will enable the agency to respond intelligently within the financial parameters set. Think hard about what you want from your agency. PR is not about column inches, but creating a personality for your company that in the end leads to the achievement of business objectives. When calling for a pitch, keep the shortlist, well, short. Respect the time and effort that goes into understanding your business to prepare the pitch. Even a simple pitch might take several days to get right. Also, it's a good idea to have the agency present its credentials at its office. This gives you the chance to see the company in action (Is the environment good? Is it adequately staffed? Is it buzzing?). Make sure that the people making the pitch are the ones who will handle the account. All too often, the best resources make the pitch, but others actually manage your work. PR is an ideas-and-people business; the team is the operation. Don't be swayed by size - big companies are not necessarily better than small ones. Sometimes, in large firms, resources are spread thinly over several clients. Don't think short-term either. Look for a company that you are comfortable working with for three to five years at least.  Budgets: Some clients don't reveal their budgets, thinking that it would drive down costs. However, what it means is that PR firms can't understand how many resources to commit. If you want results, lay your cards on the table.
  • 39. 45 At the same time, understand clearly how you are being charged - per resource hour, out of pocket expenses, taxes, handling charges of third-party invoices - before signing the contract. A full understanding of these issues will rule out unpleasantness later.  Reviews: Once you've selected an agency, build a review process into the contract. This will ensure that the operation stays on track. Ask for a start-off meeting at which objectives and benchmarks for the review process are set. Remember that a PR firm is only as good as the information you provide. Keep it in the loop when it comes to business developments and invite its representatives to be part of your marketing conversations. An increasingly common problem is the decreasing time PR firms get to respond to a crisis or achieve an objective. The PR firm can't work magic. Planning in advance and communicating constantly with the consultancy will help keep the objectives-deadlines balance optimal. Base evaluations on financial as well as emotional criteria. Trust and honesty are key. Keep the agency informed about your objectives and priorities; adjust expectations to the situation. For this, a honest discussion is essential. At the same time, the agency must regularly inform the client about the state of work and results. It's important for clients to involve decision makers from the word go. This reduces misunderstandings. The agency, on its part, should ensure that the best people are on the account to achieve the best results.  Repitching and business assurance: If there are problems with the campaign, most agencies will make the adjustments required in the teams managing the account. Detail your reasons for seeking a change of team and the agency will most likely oblige. Changing the agency would mean restarting the communications effort from scratch - from providing detailed briefs for fresh pitches to dealing with an agency
  • 40. 46 that may not understand you as well. If you find a need to change the agency nevertheless, the norm across the world is that a sufficient notice period is given. In the case of advertising, if the agency has invested in resources just for your account, the notice period can be as long as six months. This is only fair since the agency needs to reallocate those resources or consider scaling down of operations. This needs to be replicated in the PR industry. Too many agencies are wondering, "Will we have this account six months from now?" When the agency is unsure of the relationship or whether it's appreciated by the client, it doesn't perform as well as it can. If you're not happy, tell your agency what's wrong. Don't be afraid to challenge it. Ask the outrageous questions. When those are answered, you get great work.  Differences in expectations: Client expectations should be coordinated with the agency. This is important for the agency to decide how to meet client needs. It's important for the agency's expectations to be detailed too. These could coincide with the client's, but may differ at times. Knowing the objectives leads to good PR. Clients should be clear about what they want to achieve. "Get us as much press as you can" is not good enough. Communication objectives need to be aligned with business goals and your target audience.  The communication gap: Communicate clearly your values and what you stand for. This helps the agency understand your business and culture; and vice versa. Industry experts agree that agencies and clients who communicate well have longer lasting relationships. This doesn't mean there will never be disagreements. However, effective communication will help you overcome this obstacle. The agency expects good feedback from you. Tell them if the results are satisfactory, and give constructive criticism when required. Nobody likes a silent partner. There's no point reserving comment till a half-yearly review when the damage can't be undone or when it's too late for a course correction. The bottomline: the agency is your strategic thought partner. Treat it so.  Services and fees: Most large clients nowadays look for a range of services. It's no longer enough to offer only media relations; agencies must invest in social media, content and creative services too. Agencies must offer a wide variety of services in order to meet the needs of different customers. Agencies are being asked to deliver more - at the same or lower prices. Some of it is justified because technology allows you to do more for less. But, most often, it will only result in a loss of quality. Don't fall into the trap of treating ideas as commodities; you run the danger of the worst ones being funded the best. There's no generally accepted formula on fees. Inevitably, clients and agencies differ on what is fair compensation. Focus on the difference good communication makes to your business goals while understanding the effort, resources and strategic inputs the agency brings to you. Keep the conversation about value, not price. Once both understand the value being delivered, the negotiations get simpler. Lastly, pay your bills. Agencies will work better for those who are prompt with their payments. If you're erratic with your bills, chances are that your work will lag clients who pay within a reasonable time. Clients and agencies who understand the above will have the best partners wanting to work with them. Teams will look for creative solutions and even over deliver at times.
  • 41. 47 The full picture from the client; the brief is often unclear Treat the agency like a strategic thought partner. Understand that effective communication is vital for business success. A cultural fit is important too; it helps deliver better service Involve management Be fair in your evaluation. Provide good feedback, appreciate the efforts that worked Change people, not agency. Make good use of agency's resources SHARED EXPECTATIONS Agreement on goals Effective communication Fair evaluation of results Cooperation and honesty An understanding of our business Creativity, good service High-quality people on the account Willingness to accept suggestions, constructive criticism Range of services AGENCY EXPECTATIONS CLIENT EXPECTATIONS Client will only invest in a relationship if he/she can see that the resources that he/she is getting are meeting expectations. Agency must invest in people, keeping talent satisfied and motivated Communicate the importance of input information from the client and its impact on the PR campaign Building a relationship takes time. Agency cannot expect client's trust immediately Invest time and knowledge to deliver a clear and comprehensive feedback about the problems you are trying to solve with marketing communication Don't take the agency for granted. You may be the one writing the cheques, but money doesn't solve every problem. Both parties need to invest, adapt and be flexible Understand how activities are structured in the agency. This will help you understand the nature of the work and the need to adapt certain processes to achieve objectives FOR THE AGENCY FOR THE CLIENT THE EXPECTATIONS MATRIX IMPLICATIONS
  • 42. 48 India'sPRlandscape AgencyStartedinFounderCEO/MD/ countryhead Offices, network locations Staff strength Specialisationsand additionalservices WebsiteKeyclients ActiMedia1998AmitabhSaksenaBinitaBodani4>50Lifestyle&FashionPRhttp://www.actimediaGarnier,Puma, india.com/MaybellineNewYork Adfactors1997-98MadanBehl,MadanBehl40+300+Finance,IPOs,realestatehttp://www.adfactorICICI,Vodafone,L&T,Maruti, RajeshChaturvedispr.com/AvivaLifeInsurance, StandardChartered, JetAirways AvianMedia2004NikhilKhannaNitinMantri5+90+GeneralPRwithstrengthsinhttp://www.avian-FullertonSecurities,Dalmia, tourism,consumerbrandsmedia.com/DKNY,DLFPromenade, Airbus,SouthAfrica Tourism,ThomasCook ConceptPR2001VivekSuchantiVivekSuchanti7+75+Investorrelations,IPOs,http://www.conceIndianInstituteofJewellers, sportsmarketing.Theyalsoptpr.com/ICSA haveanadvertisingdivision CorporateVoice2004ShivReddyShivReddy5+120+GeneralPRhttp://www.weberP&GGillette,HeroGroup, WeberShandwickshandwick.asia/Boeing,Electrolux (Interpublic Group) Edelman2006;RogerPerreiraRobert7offices320+Publicaffairs,socialmedia.www.edelman.comTataGroup,Avaya,British launchedasestablishedR&PMHoldheimNetworkincludesspecialtyfirmsAirways,Nikon, R&PM,takenBlue(advertising),StrategyOneHarley-Davidson,BlackBerry, overby(research)andBioScienceHP,Linkedin EdelmanCommunications(medical in2008educationandpublishing) FleishmanHillard2010NAYusufHatia315+GeneralPRhttp://fleishman.co.inGodrejSecuritySolutions (OmnicomGroup) GenesisBurson-1992PremaSagarNikhilDey7offices250+Publicaffairs,digitalmarketinghttp://www.genesisGoogle,Flipkart,Visa Marstellerbm.in/NewZelandTourism,SAP, (WPPGroup)Accenture,KotakBank,Pepsi, GEHealthcare,Genpact GoodRelations1988AnthonyBMGoodDeepakKanulkar6offices,>50GeneralPRhttp://www.goodCrossword,Cartier,RadioCity, (ChimeGroup)40networkrelations.co.in/TourismQueensland locations
  • 43. 49 ImprimisPR1999AmanGuptaAmanGupta8+25+Healthcareandanoffshootofhttp://www.imprimispr.ApolloHospital,Merck, PerfectRelationscom/PfizerIndia,AlmondBoard ofCalifornia IntegralPR1999DeepakTalwarSharif6+100+Publicaffairs,generalPRhttp://www.integralpr.EmiratesAirlines,Reckitt Rangnekarcom/BenckiserIndia,DowCorning IPANHill+1988RadhikaVinodMoorthy5offices,150+GeneralPRhttp://www.ipan.com/GoldmanSachs,Microsoft, KnowltonShapoorjee20+networkCitigroup,UB,Blackstone Strategieslocations (WPPGroup) LINOpinion2001AmeerIsmailKavitaLakhani3+100+LifestylePR.Lintasisthehttp://www.linopinion.StarwoodHotels,Siemens PR(Interpublicsisteradagencycom/India,TimesGroup Group) MadisonPR1988SamBalsaraPareshChaudhry>550+GeneralPR,alsohasspecialisedhttp://www.madisonP&G,Godrej,Britannia functionsintheformofindia.com advertising,media,outofhome MSLIndia1999SunilGautamJaideepShergill8offices,370+Integratedcommunications;hashttp://www.mslindiaIntel,Volkswagen,Bharti foundedHanmer25networkacreativedivisiontoo.Hasmedia.co.in/AXA,WorldGoldCouncil, &Partners,whichlocationsandentertainment,investorSingaporeTourismBoard, wasacquiredbyrelations,socialmedia,events,KraftFoods,StarTVnetwork, theMSLGROUPcontent,financialUTC,Monsanto in2008communicationspractices 20:20MSL1989SunilAgarwalChetanMahajan7150+TechnologyPRhttp://www.2020mslDell,Aircel,Cognizant, .com/Ericsson,Facebook MutualPR1995PravinDubey,KavitaDatta9+50+Publicaffairs,corporatehttp://www.mutualYahoo!India,Adobe,Alcatel Priyadarshipr.com/Lucent,Oracle,Fujitsu Sharma PerceptProfile1992ShailendraSingh,RahatBeri5>100GeneralPR,focusontalenthttp://www.perceptVideocon,Cox&Kings,DB HarindraSinghmanagementprofile.comRealty,Sansui,Bridgestone PerfectRelations1992DilipCherian,Bobby14350+PublicAffairs,healthcare,http://www.perfectCoca-Cola,Marico,Airtel, BobbyKewalramaniKewalramanicelebritymanagementrelations.com/Nokia Practice2000NanditaNandita3offices80+TechnologyPRhttp://the-practice.Qualcomm,SKF,Infosys, (Omnicomaffiliate)LakshmananLakshmanannet/Hitachi Sampark-Ketchum1994BelaRajanNSRajan6offices,100120+GeneralPRhttp://www.ketchum.BombayDyeing,AxisBank (OmnicomGroup)networklocationscom/india/ Text1001996AnneCostelloSunaynaMalik4offices140+Technology.Sistercompanyhttp://www.text100IBM,Cisco,Lenovo,Samsung, (APACHead)VoxPRfocusesonlifestyle,luxury.comWaltDisney(ClubPenguin)
  • 44. mslgroup.com asia.mslgroup.com india.mslgroup.com mslindia.co.in 2020msl.com Contact jaideep.shergill@mslgroup.com Copyright: MSLGROUP India Designed & Printed by: MSLGROUP CREATIVE+ pankaj.desai@mslgroup.com