India PR Industry: Challenges, Opportunities & 2012 Outlook


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MSLGROUP India ‘s latest report draws on qualitative and quantitative research and interviews with industry thought leaders to understand the issues Indian PR companies and professionals are dealing with every day and possible solutions. We asked them for their views on what needs to be done to make sure PR takes its rightful place in the strategic communications arsenal of India Inc. While the analyses and potential solutions are varied, there is consensus that the PR industry needs to come together to set benchmarks for fees and salaries and to partner with institutions to create training courses and performance measurement systems that take into account the quality of engagement, not just the spread of media coverage.

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India PR Industry: Challenges, Opportunities & 2012 Outlook

  1. 1. INDIA INDIAUnderstanding the Public RelationsIndustry in India: Challenges,Opportunities and 2012 OutlookA report by MSLGROUP India, part of the Publicis Groupe
  2. 2. INDIA MSLGROUP India Razorfish, Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia. Present in 104 countries, the Comprising Hanmer MSL, 20:20 MSL and Groupe employs 50,000 professionals. 2020Social, the MSLGROUP India includes 16 offices, 575 staff and a countrywide Web:| Twitter:@ activation network. MSLGROUP offers PublicisGroupe| Facebook: www.facebook. 360-degree communications solutions to com/publicisgroupe a clientele comprising more than 150 top Indian conglomerates and MNCs. Our range of From The Boardroom services includes PR, creative services, events, interactive/digital, financial communications The PR industry in India is suffering from and rural marketing. the growth pangs familiar to every evolving industry. MSLGROUP Growth brings with it excitement, sparks passion and creates opportunities. But it also MSLGROUP is Publicis Groupe’s PR, speciality presents challenges. communications and engagement group, advisors in all aspects of communication The Indian PR industry’s stumbling blocks strategy: from consumer PR to employee echo the challenges that other service communications, from public affairs to industries have faced in the past, such as a reputation management and from crisis talent shortage, the struggle to match fees2 communications to event management. With to value delivered, measuring performance more than 3,000 people, its offices span 22 accurately, to name a few. In addition, with countries. Adding affiliates and partners into the global economic outlook looking bleak the equation, MSLGROUP’s reach increases for 2012, how should the industry respond to to 4,000 employees in 83 countries. Today the anticipated slash in budgets? What will the largest PR network in Greater China and be the long-term impact on the PR industry? India, the group offers strategic planning and Can India rely on its growth rate to bail out the counsel, insight-guided thinking and big, industry, or should we be looking for new ways compelling ideas – followed by thorough to innovate our business? execution. Learn more about us at: www. + http://blog.mslgroup. In light of recent developments within com + Twitter: @msl_group + communications in India, many leading players mslgroupofficial are asking these very questions. We hope that this report puts the industry in perspective and kicks off a frank debate on the roadmap that PR Publicis Groupe in India so desperately requires. Publicis Groupe [Euronext Paris MSLGROUP India management board FR0000130577, part of the CAC 40 index] is the third largest communications group in Hanmer MSL CEO Jaideep Shergill, Hanmer the world, offering the full range of services MSL founder Sunil Gautam, 20:20 MSL and and skills: digital and traditional advertising, 2020Social MD Sunil Agarwal, 20:20 MSL VP public affairs and events, media buying (operations) Chetan Mahajan, MSLGROUP Asia and specialized communication. Its major president Glenn Osaki, MSLGROUP Asia VP networks are Leo Burnett, MSLGROUP, (operations and client solutions) Josh Shapiro PHCG (Publicis Healthcare Communications and MSLGROUP chief strategy officer Pascal Group), Publicis Worldwide, Rosetta and Beucler Saatchi & Saatchi. VivaKi, the Groupe’s media Write to the MSLGROUP India management and digital accelerator, includes Digitas, board via
  3. 3. INDIACONTENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS Page 1. Introduction 04 2. The beginning 05 3. Challenges 06 a. We’re smaller than you think b. Fees c. We need a makeover d. Talent e. Training 4. Opportunities 11 a. From traditional PR to integrated strategic communications b. Specialty communications c. Hot on growth d. Bridging the compensation gap e. Performance measurement 5. What journalists want 16 6. What clients want, what the industry thinks 17 a. PR as a strategic communications tool b. Low retainer fees c. Talent shortage d. Measuring performance 7. The future lies in our backyard 20 8. Industry landscape 22
  4. 4. INDIA Introduction The practice of public relations (PR) is roughly a century old, but it remains an evolving industry in India. Indeed, while the industry has notched up annual revenue growth of 30%, this number tells only part of the story. Galvanised by a booming economy and an explosion in media (spanning traditional media, TV, digital and mobile), PR is gradually being employed as a powerful, strategic tool. Nevertheless, recognition of the industry’s potential has been slow, with many clients viewing it only in terms of media relations. The challenge is to hasten this change in perception, and help companies adopt strategic, specialty communications in order to engage and influence a savvier audience.4 This is, however, only one of the challenges facing the industry – extremely low fees and an inability to attract and retain talent are among the others. A misconception amongst some clients on the flawed image of the industry – in particular, a perceived lack of emphasis on training and a false impression of inflated revenues – also remain concerns. We spoke to industry thought leaders to understand the issues PR companies and professionals are dealing with every day and to detail possible solutions. We asked them for their views on what needs to be done to make sure PR takes its rightful place in the strategic communications arsenal of India Inc. While the analyses and potential solutions are varied, there is consensus that the PR industry needs to come together to set benchmarks for fees and salaries and to partner with institutions to create training courses and performance measurement systems that take into account the quality of engagement, not just the spread of media coverage. Unity, it seems, is the way ahead.
  5. 5. INDIA The beginning little more than media relations. Over time, as brands found the need for broader communications guidance, PR firms took Professional public relations (PR) services the first steps towards becoming strategic came into their own in India only in the early advisors. 1990s. Before that, the industry was largely Some firms expanded their product unorganised – with individuals offering offerings, setting up creative and financial media relations only, or advertising agencies communications divisions. In recent times, dabbling in PR on the side. several PR agencies have set up digital India had a few things going for it. First- communications divisions. tier economic reforms had unleashed the As more global firms – such as Edelman, country’s growth potential. The PR industry Ketchum and MSL – enter India by setting was nascent, and newfound demand meant up offices here or acquiring local agencies, it too could grow quickly. The internet, the the Indian PR industry is rapidly becoming growth of media, 24/7 news cycles – and, an important piece of the large global in more recent times, social media – were communications jigsaw. Not only are powerful tools that could be exploited. acquired agencies handling work for their5 These factors compelled a number of parents’ international customers, but they agencies, such as Hanmer & Partners, now also enjoy access to world-class training Adfactors, Perfect Relations and Genesis, to and global best practices. provide PR services as their core function. The next decade is likely to be one of The PR industry has travelled a long discovery – of new markets and strategies – as road since then, helped along by Indian the economic centre shifts from West to East. corporations going global and global firms coming to India. These firms need to build new brands and raise awareness of those that exist, and PR firms are playing a crucial role in this effort. The last decade has been one of growth and consolidation. Hanmer & Partners, 20:20 Media and 2020Social were acquired by and integrated into the MSLGROUP, while Genesis was taken over by Burson Marsteller. Several new agencies were born, many of whom specialised in specific sectors. For instance, Text 100 focuses solely on technology. This is a far cry from the early to mid-1980s when PR agencies started off small, often not more than three or four people strong and a few lakhs in billings, and offering
  6. 6. INDIA Challenges The income of smaller agencies and independent professionals would likely add on an additional Rs 200-300 crore (about We’re smaller than you think $40 million). Overall, that’s Rs 700-800 crore (about $140 million). Confusion and misunderstanding plague the PR industry in India. A recent Associated (See ‘Industry Landscape’ on Page 22) Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Hence, there’s a vast gap between what the India (Assocham) study pegged the size of market says and what independent surveys the industry at $6 billion (Rs 27,000 crore) claim. and predicted that it would grow to $10.56 billion (Rs 47,520 crore) in 2012. Assocham There’s more supporting evidence. Many based its prediction on corporations independent surveys say the size of the expected to invest in PR services to help Indian advertising industry is Rs 10,000- bolster their brand image and bottom lines. 12,000 crore ($2.2-2.5 billion). This begs the question, how can the PR industry, which is While the reasoning is correct, the numbers much smaller, clock Rs 27,000 crore? are a gross exaggeration.6 Our estimates put the combined revenue for Such flawed estimates take the focus away India’s top 10 agencies – such as MSLGROUP from the real issues: the industry suffers India, Adfactors, Vaishnavi (which recently from serious talent and infrastructure issues. shut down), etc – in the region of Rs 400-500 Furthermore, there is a legacy of distrust crore (roughly $100 million). between clients and agencies – the former feel the latter can afford to charge less Similarly, talent expects much more from their employers than ever before. Fees Considered the poor cousin of advertising, PR is underappreciated – the average advertising retainer is Rs 2 crore ($400,000) a year, while PR retainers are in the Rs 20- lakh ($40,000) range. The reluctance of many clients to recognise the value of PR or paying for it is a long- standing issue. That it’s still an evolving industry is evident from the fact that there’s no standard fee-per-resource norm and under-cutting is rampant, which is partly responsible for retainers not rising.
  7. 7. INDIA PR budgets tend to be static and are the first We need a makeover to be slashed during bad times. This, in turn, leads to demotivation and exacerbates the Most experts agree that the PR industry has industry’s perception problem. As Jaideep a PR problem. Many stakeholders, including Shergill, CEO of Hanmer MSL, says, “There media and businesses, think of the industry as one large spin doctor. is always a tussle with clients regarding PR budgets. They are the ones controlling the The experts also point out that many clients money. Whenever the markets are down, don’t recognise the wide-reaching analysis budgets are slashed.” and research that goes into understanding their needs and delivering what is required. At the Holmes Report’s inaugural In-House Roundtable in January 2011 – attended by Sometimes, clients see PR as adding less communications directors from Microsoft, value than, say, brand ambassadors. These Philips, Bharti Airtel, Nokia and Mahindra – clients are willing to spend millions on a all attendees agreed that agencies need to brand ambassador but are unwilling to pay be paid more. They pointed out, however, even a few lakhs to a PR agency. that their own budgets were not increasing. And, finally, many clients believe there are The problem is that corporate gaps in the services on offer. According to7 communications functions are a relatively Nicholas Archer, vice-president and head recent phenomenon, and until PR is of group public relations and international accepted as an investment rather than an government affairs for Suzlon Energy: “Most expense, fees will continue to be a problem. PR firms are either strong on strategy or tactics… Both would be wonderful!” As one agency CEO wrote to her peers, “What Here’s how PR helps businesses: is the point of having all these international it improves revenue, profitability, customer brands set up shop in India when they base, shareholder perception, competitive continue to operate in the Rs 1.5-lakh edge, media exposure and awareness. It is range?” a powerful business tool, but how often is it While pointing out that the industry is multi- seen as one? layered, with services offered at different prices, Sudha Singh, former executive director (operations) at Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, said: “Most Indian agencies short-sell their services for fear of not getting the business. There is an opportunity for us to review this as an industry.” At the same time, costs are not falling. Salaries and infrastructure are major cash drains, impacting training, innovation and service quality. Photo by Rickydavid on Flickr
  8. 8. INDIA There are, of course, problems within the retain talent. This affects quality of output, industry. In November 2010, the media and until productivity rises clients are alleged that Niira Radia – who headed unlikely to loosen the purse strings. Vaishnavi Corporate Communications – Organisation leaders play a critical acted as a power broker during government role here. It is up to them to create and formation. This set back the image of the PR maintain an atmosphere that staff find industry, reinforcing negative perceptions. supportive and to keep the vertical and horizontal lines of communication open. Talent Employees need to be told how they are If you’re part of the PR industry, you’ll know contributing to the organisation. Their how acute the talent shortage is. As firms goals and values need to be kept in mind scramble for competent people, salaries get and their growth planned accordingly. inflated. With fees already so low, profitability This is still lacking in an industry that is is affected. otherwise growing fast and adopting best This demand-supply gap can only widen over practices from across the world quickly. the next few years. If salary costs become One critical factor that has been ignored8 prohibitive, PR businesses will suffer. almost across the board is mentoring. “The biggest challenge facing the Indian PR Again, organisation leaders must ensure industry is the rising cost of talent. If client that talented people, once hired, have retainers increase by 5% annually, the cost of a go-to person within the firm. These providing the same services rises by 20%. mentors can help starters find their feet in No industry can survive this unless it the firm and share knowledge that would innovates,” says 20:20 MSL and 2020Social otherwise take months or even years to MD Sunil Agarwal. acquire. • Attracting talent: With its rapid growth • The flight of talent: If the PR industry and huge number of young people is to sustain double-digit growth, talent entering the workforce, this problem is could become a make-or-break issue. amplified in India. There is little in the way Some estimates say the industry will of formal training (see next section), and absorb 10,000 to 12,000 professionals a no benchmark for compensation. year. But industry sources say that over 70% of PR professionals at entry levels Industry veterans agree that a shift to greener pastures within a year. standardisation of salary ranges is essential. Incentives and benefits, such as This shift happens not just within the stock options, also need to be worked into industry but also to the communications compensation packages, and these need departments of corporations, which pay to be communicated clearly. far more. The PR industry, quite simply, cannot match the salaries or the benefits • Managing talent: In an environment offered. Many professionals choose the of low fees and fierce competition, PR money despite the PR industry offering agencies struggle to attract, nurture and greater job satisfaction and challenges.
  9. 9. INDIA “The migration of mid-level agency expands beyond traditional PR, the skill sets executives to the client side is a challenge. required in communications professionals There are very few new senior PR are also changing. professionals in the pipeline today. Yet, The industry needs a common approach to the key differentiators amongst agencies the retention-and-attrition problem. are talent and experience,” said 2020 This needs to start from the interview stage Social’s Agarwal. and continue throughout the professional’s It’s up to the industry to take the initiative tenure with the agency. It should involve to develop talent. talent management, career growth, guidance and career development plans. This brings us to the next challenge. Training should be implemented across all levels. (At MSLGROUP India, 2-3% of Training total revenues are spent on training, which Hiring is just one aspect of the talent issue; includes interaction with industry experts, retaining it is the other side of the coin. hands-on training and the like.) PR firms currently invest little in upgrading In the MSLGROUP, training is instituted at9 employees’ skills. Indeed, most of the the local and organisation levels. At the local learning is on the job, according to level, senior staff conduct training sessions MSLGROUP India research. As the industry on their expertise. Practice heads of financial
  10. 10. INDIA communications, for instance, would share Rajesh Pandey, managing partner at Clarity insights on the nuances of their field. IMC, points out that “fresh graduates are attracted to the industry primarily due to the Also, outside experts are invited to make staff glamour and growth quotients. Some feel aware of issues that might affect them – such the gift of gab is good enough, while others as the impact of the economic downturn on think all they need is good writing skills. business or how media houses are changing The ‘scientific’ and ‘strategic-cum-analytic’ to adapt to the digital age. The group also aspects are not prepared for. Some switch offers a mobility programme that allows professions early, which is good, but others staff to spend time and train in other offices stick around, thinking they will learn the globally. ropes in due course.” Similarly, various PR firms invest differing He added: “To correct this, we should engage amounts in training their staff. with communications institutes to develop On the academic front, there are several industry-ready curricula and supervisors institutions – with competencies ranging should spend some time mentoring their from good to average – that offer PR courses wards.” in India. Many industries such as information10 While some are reputed – such as the Xavier technology recognised the demand-supply Institute of Communications (Mumbai) and gap of professionals and joined forces with Symbiosis Institute (Pune) – the vast majority academic institutions to evolve courses that are looking to cash in on newfound demand covered relevant subjects. This resulted in for industry specialists, and offer little value graduate professionals that added value to to students. Faculties are often weak and lack the industry. The PR industry needs to follow industry experience. in these footsteps.
  11. 11. INDIA Opportunities many companies’ communications approach. PR professionals can create tailored communications strategies and content to reach audiences and monitor the landscape From traditional PR to for stakeholder sentiment. integrated strategic The approach would, of course, vary communications from client to client depending on their communications. For instance, a fast moving Clients in India will eventually look to their consumer goods company would prefer a agencies for strategic communications, not combination of advertising and PR, while a simply for media relations. This is already technology start-up would use targeted PR happening. Companies such as Wipro ask for specific audiences. their agencies to help them understand how best to communicate their messages and This is also a significant opportunity to present them in a context that is meaningful reposition the industry, from a traditional for clients, analysts, investors and journalists. PR deliverer to a strategic communications consultant. Since the Indian PR industry is still nascent, there is an opportunity to offer integrated Meenu Handa, Microsoft’s director of solutions, especially as the line between corporate communications, believes that11 public relations, advertising and digital is PR will be recognised as a strategic tool already starting to blur. for two reasons: “One, the implosion of digital and social media – which is all about As a result, many agencies have invested two-way engagement, and the PR industry in creative and digital arms. Cost-effective has always operated in that environment. communications plans – that span Two, the imperative need for organisations advertising, PR and digital media – make – including government, businesses and sense to clients too. NGOs – to be extremely transparent in their With the growing adoption of social media, communication in order to build and retain there is a combination of options available. trust. Again, that is a space PR has always Social media is catching up fast with operated in.” traditional media and is becoming part of Specialty communications The ‘umbrella’ PR organisation is unlikely to disappear, but it may need to develop special skills to thrive. PR is as good as your product, service or idea – not the other way around. Here’s where service innovations will play a critical role. • Niche PR: This involves the creation of small, specialised teams within organisations or as separate entities. Niche PR can address the really small segments or have a tiny-yet-unique Photo by scottwills on Flickr
  12. 12. INDIA offering. For instance, specialists in Indian Niche PR provides better value than languages or in developing content. general-purpose agencies since they are more targeted. This makes the PR The current economic crisis might spur campaign more affordable. the rise of niche PR agencies, offering communications services in a single PR professionals with niche experience sector or aimed at a particular ethnic are viewed as experts because they′ve group. built up experience and made important connections in that field. While such agencies are rare in India, they are making their presence felt abroad. For • Social engagement: Social networks instance, Performance PR is a London- have become ubiquitous, and online based sport and automotive PR specialist behaviour is having significant impact on that launched its first office in Dubai a the behaviour of consumers and business. couple of years ago. “We’ve got all the Rarely is a product purchased in urban big agencies and this is the logical step India unless it is researched online and forward, where you will get targeted public opinions sought on social media. relations companies that give you an Just as the Internet has made the media expert view on a specific area,” said Noel borderless, online media will become Ebdon, managing director of Performance increasingly important. Such a scenario12 PR Middle East, in ‘The National’ would make PR more important, as ( traditional advertising is reaching fewer His company handles regional clients people, and the true value of online such as Fast Rent A Car, ProTech and Alex advertising is yet to be calculated. Renner Motors. Investments in digital infrastructure and skills today will see a big payout in the The news site also quoted Simon Moyse, future. Finsbury’s chief executive for the Middle East, as saying that the disruptive effects Implementing a social engagement of the financial crisis have created strategy is now fundamental to a PR opportunities for such firms. “Companies campaign. are increasingly looking for strategic Social media campaigns might focus communications advice, given the effects explicitly on connecting clients directly of the global economic crisis,” Moyse said. to consumers or even on building This is a phenomenon likely to be relationships with influencers. replicated soon in India. We have already seen examples of brands successfully using social engagement to achieve different goals in India. For instance, Indian Premier League cricket team Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) ran a talent hunt to select three fans for an online reality show where they had full access to the players. The objective was to build a highly engaged community with regular content created by players,
  13. 13. INDIA experts and fans. Consequently, the RCB Since they already have the branding community has more than 500,000 fans and brand management expertise, PR across channels. firms are in a unique position to take advantage of this opportunity. They Variations of this model can be applied simply need to adapt their expertise and to campaigns for a variety of goods and techniques to offer a service that spans services, from fast moving consumer employer branding, EVP and employee goods to global events. This can be engagement. The approaches could achieved by becoming part of the be online and offline to help talent community of your clients’ consumers, understand the brand experience. joining the conversation to learn more about their needs. Use the tools that The scope of employer brand consumers are using, be it Facebook, management could go beyond Twitter, YouTube, blogs, podcasting, QR communications to incorporate every code technology or something else. aspect of the employment experience, including the people management • Employer branding: It’s not just the processes that shape the perceptions of PR industry that’s facing a talent crisis. existing and prospective employees. Attracting, motivating, developing, rewarding and mobilising employees are13 top priorities for all businesses. Hot on growth The term ‘employer brand’ was first Despite the global economic troubles, India used in the early 1990s to denote an continues to grow at 7%. Imagine the growth organisation’s reputation as an employer. when the good times return! Since then, it has become a buzzword among global managers. ‘Employer Not only will the PR industry continue to brand’ can be defined as the image of grow, it will become critical for established your organisation as a ‘great place to work’ Indian companies and foreign firms looking in the mind of current employees and to build brands here. key stakeholders in the external market The industry is also discovering new verticals (candidates, clients, customers, key – healthcare, for instance. A Rs 1,62,000 stakeholders). crore ($36 billion) industry today, it is Just as a customer brand proposition is growing at a rate of 15% and is likely to be a used to define a product or service, an Rs 12,60,000 crore ($280 billion) industry employer value proposition (EVP) is used by 2022. With the advent of private players to define an organisation’s employment such as Fortis, Wockhardt and Apollo – all appeal. Organisations are increasingly of whom are conscious of their brands and using the marketing techniques of the need to grow – demand for PR and branding and brand management to an integrated strategic communications attract, engage and retain talented approach will be felt strongly. candidates in much the same way that Media and entertainment is another marketing applies such tools to attracting promising industry, expected to grow at and retaining customers. 14% per annum, according to Deloitte’s Employer branding is rapidly becoming ‘Technology, Media & Telecommunications integral to business strategy. Predictions 2011 , Indian Perspective’ report.
  14. 14. INDIA That apart, the public sector, the environment and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are all emerging as growth areas. Globalisation will mean a need to develop a global perspective. As clients look to expand outside India, PR firms will find themselves becoming global players. This widens the opportunity in terms of customer base, investors, coverage and acquisition targets. Bridging the compensation gap Many of the industry’s problems are self-inflicted. If clients don’t understand the value of PR, the industry is clearly not telling the story well enough. As mentioned earlier, undercutting and poaching of talent are harming the industry.14 One results in the retainer threshold Photo by just a hero on Flickr remaining low, the other affects the bottom line. a cost implication and results in high There is an opportunity for industry leaders attrition rates. Industry leaders need to to get together and agree on the road ahead. agree on a fair salary range. A strong industry association could take the lead • Agree on certain standards: on this count. While this would not solve Agencies don’t need to undercut to the problem of the corporate world survive. There are enough opportunities headhunting talent, it would establish for all. Situations where a mid-sized firm an industry benchmark and would keep responds to RFPs (requests for proposal) employee expectations real. It would quoting Rs 3,00,000 or more and one of also help reduce the rapid intra-industry the top five agencies responds to the same movement of talent. RFP at Rs 1,50,000 damage the industry in the long run. The frequent exit of team members handling a particular account could turn off We must demand transparency from clients and create an impression that the potential clients about PR budgets at the agency they’ve hired is unstable. This could outset. No business will want to pay more affect their decision to retain the agency for a service they feel they can get cheaper once the contract ends or even create elsewhere. The only way the industry can doubts that it can deliver on the brief. tackle this is by standing united. • Benchmark salaries: Performance measurement The industry is grappling with a talent shortage. This has resulted in a bidding The first step is to get an industry-wide war for the talented. This, in turn, has consensus on standards, skills, requirements
  15. 15. INDIA and deliverables. We need a clear vision on • Media measurement is about whether clients see PR agencies as vendors or quality: Measuring the number consultants. of mentions in print or on the air is generally meaningless. Instead, media Clarity IMC’s Rajesh Pandey said the need to measurement should involve audience strengthen our evaluation models can’t be impressions, quality of the media emphasised enough. “Instead of talking the coverage (tone, credibility and relevance language of ad-value equivalents, we need to of the medium to the audience, message talk in terms of how a PR campaign changes delivery). an entire viewpoint. The ‘creativity’ factor in developing campaigns should be charged • Social media can be measured: separately just like boutique advertising There is no single ‘metric’ for social media agencies do,” he said. measurement. The parameters would depend on the campaign objective. Right There is a need for benchmarks and it is now, it’s mostly about statistics such through an industry-wide debate that a as how many likes have been achieved framework for performance measurement can on Facebook or the number of Twitter be evolved. followers. • Why it is needed: Goal-setting and But it’s not about the numbers; it’s measurement are fundamental to any15 about managing reputations online. service. Goals should be as quantitative as The emphasis should not be on erasing possible and the target audience defined. negative comments or mentions, Measurement should include traditional but to respond quickly and engage. and social media, effect on awareness PR practitioners need to listen to of stakeholders, as well as impact on conversations and address the issues business results. raised thoroughly and honestly, not react To measure business results for consumer in a knee-jerk manner. or brand marketing, models that Businesses need clearly-defined determine PR’s effects on sales or other goals and outcomes for social media. business metrics, while accounting for Evaluating quality and quantity is other variables, are preferred choices. critical, just as it is with conventional • Measure outcomes, not outputs: media and measurement must focus on Outcomes include shifts in awareness, ‘conversations’ and ‘communities’. behaviour related to purchases, corporate • Transparency and reliability: reputation, employee engagement, public PR measurement should be transparent. policy and investment decisions. How you For media measurement, mention measure the effect on outcomes should clearly the source along with analysis be tailored to the business objectives of methodology. the PR campaign. Quantitative measures such as benchmark-and-tracking surveys For surveys, make clear the methodology are preferable; qualitative methods (sample, margin of error, geography, etc), can supplement them. Such research the questions (wording and order) and can identify the change in purchasing, statistical methodology (how specific purchase preference or attitude shifts metrics are calculated). resulting from the PR initiatives.
  16. 16. INDIAWhat journalists wantWhile the PR executive-journalist relationship can mirror a simple marriage of convenience,the irony is that it is deeply symbiotic – one cannot do without the other.So, what exactly do journalists expect from a PR executive?• Clarity, specifics: Most journalists work to a deadline and long releases that are all over the place don’t help. A well-written, yet short press release is more valuable than one that says in 1,000 words what can be said 200.• Kept promises: Never promise what you can’t deliver, especially ‘exclusives’ that mysteriously appear in every newspaper. This hurts credibility. If you can’t promise that one-on-one with your client firm’s CEO, say so. Promising the interview and then making excuses for why it can’t happen only intensifies the lack of trust that the PR industry sometimes suffers from.• Understand what makes for news: Journalists are tired of PR firms pushing stories that are inconsequential. Yes, your client doesn’t understand this, but good journalists won’t fall for piffle and bad journalists are of no use to you in the long run.• Respect deadlines: Respect the journalist’s time. Your tardiness could lead to you missing out on coverage and destroying your agency’s image.• Be well informed: There’s nothing more embarrassing than calling up a journalist to request coverage and then not knowing basic information about your client – size, location, turnover, etc. It does your client a disservice, the exact opposite of what you were hired to do.
  17. 17. INDIA What clients Low retainer fees How you arrive at retainer fees is usually a want, what the business decision for an organisation. You can either be a volumes player or you can industry thinks be a strategic consultant, where you are not just a post office but a consultant/ partner to your clients by helping them define their PR as a strategic communications goals. There will always be communications tool different kinds of players at different levels Recognition for [PR as a strategic of the food chain. But, it is a fact that most communications tool] will become more Indian agencies short-sell their services significant for two reasons. One, the for fear of not getting the business. There implosion of digital and social media – is an opportunity for us to review this as an which is all about a two way-engagement, industry. and the PR industry has always operated in Sudha Singh, former executive director that environment. Two, the imperative need (operations), Vaishnavi Corporate for organisations – including government, Communications (now shut) businesses and NGOs – to be extremely transparent in their communications in order Historically, PR grew from the shadows of17 to build and retain trust. Again, that is the advertising and somehow it still looms. The space that PR has always operated in. moment a PR person is asked to show value or justify deliverables, the tendency is to fall Meenu Handa, Director back on good old ad-value equivalents. We (corporate communications), Microsoft need to strengthen our evaluation models. PR will still continue to play largely the Instead of talking the language of ad-value role of media relations. Communicating to equivalents, we need to show how a PR the external world through the media has campaign changes an entire viewpoint. The strategic value. It may not be very highly ‘creativity’ factor in developing campaigns valuable from a strategic perspective, but it should be charged separately, just like is moderately so. Also, today the distinction boutique advertising agencies do. Clients between PR and other BTL activities are have tendency to get ideas from various getting blurred. For instance, who owns agencies and finally sign on the basis of sponsorship – PR or Marketing ? These are budgets/operational ease. strategic questions that have no easy answers Rajesh Pandey, managing partner, Clarity at this point. IMC, a PR agency From a purely strategic perspective, PR will have to be part of integrated marketing communications at a product/ Talent shortage solutions marketing level. From a corporate Talent is the number one issue perspective, it must work in partnership with [when it comes to what PR agencies lack]. investor relations Meenu Handa, director Ravindran Subramanian, independent PR (corporate communications), Microsoft professional; former DGM (corporate communications), Tata Communications
  18. 18. INDIA I think [the talent pool] is growing in India, The problem with most PR agency personnel but we need to keep in mind that it is a is their low level of knowledge. Most of nascent industry and so it will take time to them come with the proposition that they mature. know journalists. To be able to command the respect of corporations, they must go Nicholas Archer, VP/head of group public beyond that and display a knowledge of relations and international government industry trends, an ability to read/interpret affairs, Suzlon Energy Ltd basic balance sheet numbers. Also, The industry is faced with a serious dearth of basic knowledge of marketing is a must. talent. There are several levels to this. PR agencies need to invest in training. The answer lies in short-term training At the fresher management trainee programmes and an MBA. level, programmes in universities and colleges are seriously inadequate. Who is Ravindran Subramanian, independent designing the curriculum, who is teaching PR professional; former DGM (corporate it, and what is the industry’s involvement in communications), Tata Communications these programmes? Very little, as far as I understand. This is the first gap. Measuring performance Once the student has completed the Take very, very specific challenges and18 programme he/she is uncertain about how deliver. Only then will it be seen as tangible to proceed – because there are few graduate results. employment schemes at PR companies. Hence, the industry loses the opportunity to Krishna B. Mariyanka, director, Aikya Global identify good talent and nurture it. Innovation [is the key]. Every client The second issue is the nurturing of existing has a different yardstick for measuring talent. Most companies operating in this performance and the agency needs to adapt environment do not have an institutionalised to the client’s business goals. There cannot process for it through training and mentoring be a ‘my way’ of evaluation thrust upon the initiatives. client. To raise standards, the seniors need to be early on the latest technologies and There is also no sharing within the industry – methodologies. on best practices, we can all learn from each other Rajesh Pandey, managing partner, Clarity IMC, a PR agency The third issue has to do with who is identifying talent for the industry, and how? Performance measurement is the key to What are the parameters? There is a motley changing the industry dynamics. We are bunch of recruitment consultants who have often responsible for the image that we no idea what the industry needs? That part of promote (all fluff and no substance) – for the chain also needs strengthening. instance, we are at pains to say that PR is not quantifiable. There is a need for the Sudha Singh, former executive director industry to define standards of performance (operations), Vaishnavi Corporate and excellence and individual companies Communications (now shut) to show some initiative and innovation in creating standards. It is possible and it can
  19. 19. INDIA be done. Every campaign has an end goal, servicing but on how we conduct ourselves as and the output (performance) should be good corporate citizens, nurture talent and measured against that goal, in the backdrop promote the industry of established sops. Sudha Singh, former executive director Standards would be automatically raised (operations), Vaishnavi Corporate when there is more engagement within the Communications (now shut) industry on best practices, not just in client19
  20. 20. INDIA By Sunil Gautam, founder, HANMER & PARTNERS (now Hanmer MSL) The future lies in our backyard As clients slashed marketing budgets and Also, Asia is becoming increasingly important as downsized on the back of the economic turmoil the wealth of its residents increases alongside that set in a couple of years ago, several global the size and success of its companies.20 PR agencies suffered enormous losses. There are two trends, apart from the ones As they battled to survive, they turned to higher discussed in this thought paper, that I see growth markets like India and China. In many impacting our industry. ways, India took a higher priority because of its 1. Media, marketing and technology are large English-speaking base and stable political changing governance. Even five years ago, online research With the entry of these players, the maturing of before a purchase, review blogs and the fledgling PR industry began in right earnest. social media were unheard of. Today, Today, corporations’ need for image building and they are ubiquitous. The internet is strategic communications is well understood. influencing consumers. According to the 2007 report on The State of This is an opportunity. The longer we the Public Relations Industry by Paul Holmes, hang on to traditional PR tools, the tougher it will become for us. It’s not the growth of PR in the West has plateaued in as if traditional PR practices – media the 9%-11% range. India and China, however, relations, events, etc – will disappear. are growing four times as quickly. “The greatest But the definition of ‘mainstream’ PR future in growth is expected to come in China and practices is changing for good. We can India, with good prospects for growth in Eastern either adapt to this new world, or perish. Europe (particularly those countries recently 2. The world is changing. And it’s not admitted to the European Union) and in the Middle East (albeit from a very small base),” the We have succeeded in meeting several report said. challenges head on. But many age-old ones remain. Rising prices, the rich-poor
  21. 21. INDIA gap, illiteracy… We can put a man on the That the rise of India and China will have moon, but cures for diseases such as HIV a major impact on the global economy and cancer remain out of reach. is known. But few understand how it will impact communications professionals. There are gaps in the PR industry too, and there is an opportunity – We’ve already discussed how the last partnerships. Perhaps it’s time to decade has been one of unprecedented think of all stakeholders – clients and growth, consolidation and globalisation employees – as ‘partners’. Our success (see ‘The Beginning’) for the PR industry will depend on how we choose them and in India. This is a significant shift for how we manage these relationships. agencies, the media and even clients. This is where we can raise our skills We will need to understand how it and standards, help clients provide impacts global markets and global better PR briefs, raise the standards of companies. Clients will need global measurement and source and manage thinkers with global mindsets. It’s time talent better. we gear up for that challenge. The opportunity is before us. It’s time to reach out and grab it.21
  22. 22. INDIAINDIA’S PR LANDSCAPEAgency Started in Founder CEO/MD/ Offices, Staff Specialisations and additional Annual revenue Website Key Clients country head network strength services locationsActi Media 1998 Amitabh Benita Botany 3 >50 Lifestyle & Fashion PR >Rs 5 crore Puma Saksena (>$1 million)Adfactors 1997-98 Madan Behl, Madan Behl 40+ 300+ Finance, IPOs, real estate. Rs 60+ crore, L&T, Maruti, Aviva Life Insurance, Jet Airways Rajesh Recently launched media and ($13+ million). Chaturvedi entertainment, and consumer and Includes media lifestyle practices commissions, etcAvian Media 2004 Nikhil Khanna Nitin Mantri 5+ General PR with strengths in >Rs 10 crore Rolls Royce, Airbus, MTV, BP, Thomas Cook aviation and lifestyle. Rumours are (>$2 million) that BM is looking to acquire the agency.Concept PR Vivek Suchanti Vivek Suchanti 7+ 100+ Investor relations, IPOs, sports Rs 35+ crore Rajasthan Royals, Oberoi Realty marketing. They also have an ($7 million) advertising divisionCorporate 2004 Atul Ahluwalia Dilip Yadav 5+ 200+ General PR Rs 25+ crore http://www.webershandwick. TATA GROUP, Hero Honda, Honda Seil , LGVoice Weber ($5.5+ million) asia/ Mobile & Laptops, Whirlpool , BoeingShandwick(InterpublicGroup)Edelman 2006; Roger Perreira Robert Holdheim 7 offices 80+ Public affairs, social media. Rs 25+ crore Tata Teleservices, Jaypee - Buddh launched established Network includes specialty firms ($5.5+ million) International Circuit as R&PM, R&PM Blue (advertising), StrategyOne taken over (research) and BioScience by Edelman Communications (medical in 2008 education and publishing)Flieshman 2010 NA Yusuf Hatia 3 >50 General PR >Rs 5 crore Nokia, TCSHillard (>$1 million)(OmnicomGroupGenesis 1992 Prema Sagar Nikhil Dey 7 offices 200+ Public affairs, digital marketing Rs 30+ crore Vodafone, Adidas, United Colors of BenettonBurson- ($6.0+ million)Marsteller(WPP Group)Good Relations 1988 Anthony B M Deepak Kanulkar 6 offices, >50 General PR >Rs 5 crore Crossword, Cartier, Radio City(Chime Group) Good 40 network (>$1 million) locations
  23. 23. INDIAHanmer MSL 1999 Sunil Gautam Jaideep Shergill 8 offices, 350+ Integrated communications; has Rs 35+ crore Bharti Airtel, HCL Infosystems, Fortis founded 35 network a creative division too. Has media ($7.5+ million) Healthcare, Star Movies, Star Gold, FOX Hanmer & locations and entertainment, investor International Channel - India, Himalaya Drug Partners, which relations, social media, events, etc, Company was acquired by practices the MSLGROUP in 200820:20 MSL 1989 Sunil Agarwal Sunil Agarwal 7 150+ Technology PR Rs 18+ crore Canon, Volkswagen, Haier, Verisign, Google ($3.5 million)MSLGROUP INDIA (Hanmer MSL + 20:20 MSL) COMBINED REVENUE: Rs 53 crore ($11 million)Imprimis PR 1999 Aman Gupta Aman Gupta 2+ 25+ Healthcare and an offshoot of >Rs 5 crore Apollo Hospital, Idea Celluar Perfect Relations (>$1 million)Integral PR 1999 Deepak Talwar Sharif Rangnekar 6+ 100+ Public affairs, general PR Rs 15+ crore Reckitt Benckiser , Barista Lavazza, Deloitte ($3 million) India, Imagine ChannelIPAN Hill & 1988 Radhika Vinod Moorthy 5 offices, 150-200 General PR Rs 20+ crore Microsoft , Hyundai, Rolls Royce, Sony SetKnowlton (WPP Shapoorjee 20+ network ($4+ million) MaxGroup) locationsLINOpinion PR 2001 Aamer Ismail Kavita Lakhani 3+ 150+ Lifestyle PR. Lintas is the sister ad Rs 15 crore Polaris, Force Motors, JP Morgan, Sodexo,(Interpublic agency ($2+ million) AXNGroup)Madison PR 1988 Sam Balsara Veena Gidwani >5 25+ General PR, also has specialised >Rs 5 crore P&G, Cadbury, Marico, ITC, Britannia, GM, functions in the form of advertising, ($1+ million) SpiceJet media, out‐of‐homeMutual PR 1995 Pravin Dubey Harsh Wardhan 7, including >100 Public affairs, corporate >Rs 10 crore Yahoo! India, Reebok and Priyadarshi network (>$2 million) SharmaPercept Profile 1992 Shailendra Rahat Beri 5 >100 General PR >Rs 10 crore Percept Picture Company, Universal, Singh, Harindra (>$2 million) Sahara One, Cholamandalam SinghPerfect 1992 Dilip Cherian, Bobby 14 300+ Public Affairs, healthcare, celebrity Rs 35+ crore http://www.perfectrelations. Carrefour, Coca-Cola, Diageo India, Marico,Relations Bobby Kewalramani management ($7.5+ million) com/ Godrej, Mercedes Benz, Skoda, Fiat, Kewalramani Condenast IndiaPractice 2000 Nandita Nandita 3 offices 80+ Technology PR Rs 10+ crore Qualcomm, Oracle, Infosys(Omnicom Lakshmanan Lakshmanan ($2+ million)affiliate)Sampark- 1994 Bela Rajan NS Rajan 6 offices, 150+ General PR Rs 20+ crore HDFC Bank, SiemensKetchum 100 network ($4+ million)(Omnicom locationsGroup)Text 100 1996 Rowan Benecke Sunayna Malik 4 offices 150+ Technology. Sister company Vox PR Rs 20+ crore Samsung, Nasscom (APAC Head) focuses on lifestyle and luxury ($4+ million)* Sources: Company websites, industry estimates. Agencies sorted by alphabetical order, not size
  24. 24. INDIA INDIA Copyright: MSLGROUP