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Public Relations in India & 2013 Outlook


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The PR industry in India is witnessing a transformation. The industry is making an extra effort to be viewed as a strategic partner, and clients are acknowledging its value. With this study, we wanted …

The PR industry in India is witnessing a transformation. The industry is making an extra effort to be viewed as a strategic partner, and clients are acknowledging its value. With this study, we wanted to give the industry a voice.
We commissioned an India-wide survey of PR professionals and the media to share their views on a potentially tough year for business and the hottest trends that will define the industry.

A year ago, MSLGROUP India released its first industry outlook report, highlighting such critical issues as the talent crunch, the comparatively low level of PR fees, the need for strategic and integrated communications, and the core issues hidden by the wrong perception of the industry’s size. The report sparked widespread interest and provoked much needed dialogue.
Join our conversations - @msl_group, @msl_ind, @mslgroupasia

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  • 1. Public Relationsin India Inside the Industry’s Mind and the 2013 OutlookA report by MSLGROUP IndiaPart of the Publicis Groupe
  • 2. MSLGROUP Development programs to nurture talent. The MSLGROUP marketing and events. With more than 3,500 people acrossIndia Asia team includes 38 owned close to 100 offices worldwide, offices and 1,675 colleagues in MSLGROUP is also the largestMSLGROUP India is the nations Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, PR network in fast-growinglargest PR and Social Media Chengdu, Hong Kong, Macau, China and India. The groupnetwork. Made up of two top Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, offers strategic planning andagencies, MSL India and 20:20 Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Delhi, counsel, insight-guided thinkingMSL, MSLGROUP India Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, and big, compelling ideas -combined includes 15 offices, Chennai, Hyderabad and followed by thorough execution.575 staff and an activation Kolkata. An activation network of Learn more about us at: colleagues reaches an additional +network reaching an additional 125 Indian and 100 Chinese +125 Indian cities. With a proven cities and a strong affiliate Twitter+ YouTube.track record of servicing partner network adds another 23multinational and Indian Asian cities to our reach.corporations since 1989 and 40 MSLGROUP Asias teams havesenior counsellors with 15 or more been recognized as leaders by Publicis Groupeyears of communications multiple industry groups, Publicis Groupe [Euronext Parisexperience each, clients, staff and including most recently Hanmer FR0000130577, part of the CAC MSL India (PR Agency of thebusiness partners benefit from 40 index] is the third largest Year 2011 by PRCAI), Luminousthe depth and breadth of insight communications group in the (Local Hero/Agency of the Yearand experience within its teams. world, offering a full range of 2010 by Marketing Events Asia), services and skills: digital and Genedigi Group China traditional advertising, public (Innovative China SMEs by affairs and events, media buying Forbes China), ICL MSL TaiwanMSLGROUP (Agency of the Year 2011 by and specialized communication. Its major networks are LeoAsia Taiwan Advertiser Associate), and has won more than 50 awards in Burnett, MSLGROUP, PHCG (Publicis HealthcareFor 23 years, MSLGROUPs Asia the last two years. Learn more Communications Group),team has counseled global, about us at: + Publicis Worldwide, Rosettaregional and local clients, Twitter + Facebook and Saatchi & Saatchi. VivaKi, thehelping them establish, protect Groupes media and digitaland expand their businesses and accelerator, includes Digitas,brands across this fast-growingregion. Today, MSLGROUP has MSLGROUP Razorfish, Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia.the largest PR, social media and MSLGROUP is Publicis Groupes Present in 104 countries,events teams in Greater China strategic communications and the Groupe employs(16 offices and 1,000 colleagues) engagement group, advisors in 53,000 professionals.and India (15 offices and 575 all aspects of communicationcolleagues) and is actively strategy: from consumer PR to |working to lead the financial communications, from Twitter:@PublicisGroupe |development of the industry public affairs to reputation Facebook:with the regular publication of management and from crisis and communications to experientialinnovative Learning & People
  • 3. Table of contents 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) It is precisely this that our report Finally, the report tacklesindustry in India is on the cusp of aims to do. In an industry where another prickly issue - thea profound change. As it finds such studies are rare, relationship between agenciesitself speeding past the MSLGROUP India conducted an and their clients. ThisInformation Age and into the India-wide survey - and, relationship is oftenConversation Age, its scope is importantly, across the executive tempestuous, but it need not beexpanding well beyond media hierarchy - to ensure that PR so. We examine the gaprelations. Its strategic value is practitioners have their say. between expectations andfinally being acknowledged. reality on both sides of the From growth prospects to the divide and suggest solutions.As businesses realise that way new business is beingone-way marketing generated to the hottest new MSLGROUP India hopes thatcommunications have limited trends, the study covers it all. this report will launchvalue and that engaging The results, as you will see, are conversations across thestakeholders through new tools heartening as well as revealing. industry and among otherlike storytelling and thought stakeholders. We want it toleadership is the key now, PR is In addition, this report become part of the process thatfinally coming of age. incorporates an equally vital leads to a unified industry dipstick survey of the way media approach towards theTherefore, it is important to - a key stakeholder - perceives challenges before us - from theunderstand the industrys state the PR industry. Mediapersons talent crunch to the gulfof mind, what it considers to be listed several suggestions that between value delivered andthe biggest hurdles to its would make for a healthier fees paid.evolution, the greatest relationship with PRopportunities and how it sees practitioners, and these are So, lets talk.itself. It is important to give the detailed in the pages that follow.industry a voice.
  • 5. 10
  • 6. What our last industryaudit said
  • 7. n January 2012, MSLGROUP India released the Public The shortage - and flight - of talent remains an Relations Industry in India: Challenges, Opportunities uncrackable code. This demand-supply gap will only widen and 2012 Outlook report. with time. It must be understood that its not only about retaining talent, its also about finding the right people. Among the issues it highlighted was the rapidly-growing And its a vicious cycle - with the abysmally low retainers gap between the perception of the industrys size and and salaries, talent will always look elsewhere. the reality, and the problems that creates. The report pointed out that the focus was shifting away from the Talent is a make-or-break issue for the industry, and real challenges: PR is an underpaid industry - hence, its training could be a large part of the solution. Training talent and infrastructure issues; the misconception that needs to be conducted across all levels (at MSLGROUP agencies are making millions - giving clients the India, 2%-3% of total revenues are spent on training, opportunity to think they can afford lower fees; the which includes interaction with industry experts and overall perception problem that the industry has - it is hands-on workshops). often thought of as a collection of spin doctors rather than of strategic communications consultants. In the past, most industries joined hands with academic institutions to evolve courses that covered relevant There are other problems - too many clients view PR only subjects and produced employable professionals. Its time in terms of media relations. While the average advertising the PR industry did the same. retainer is Rs 2 crore (about $450,000) a year, PR retainers are in the Rs 20-lakh (about $45,000) range. Its not all gloom and doom, though. There is a growing realisation that PR agencies are strategic partners, not PR is a powerful business tool, but is rarely seen as one. glorified couriers sending out press releases. Clients in 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. Understanding the Public Relations Industry in India: Challenges, Opportunities and 2012 Outlook A report by MSLGROUP India, part of the Publicis Groupe8
  • 8. India will eventually look to the industry for strategic skills and standards, help clients provide better briefs, raisecommunications, which offers an opportunity to offer the standards of measurement and source and manageintegrated solutions, especially because the line between talent better.PR, advertising and digital is blurring. Cost-effectivecommunications plans - those that span advertising, PR According to the 2007 report, The State of the Publicand digital media - make sense to clients too. With the Relations Industry by Paul Holmes, the growth of PRadvent of the Social Media Age, this new medium is slowly in the West has plateaued in the 9%-11% range. Inbecoming part of many companies repertoire. India, the industry is growing at least twice as fast. The last decade has been one of unprecedentedMore than anything else, its Indias economic growth that growth, consolidation and globalisation for the PRwill sustain us. The PR industry will become critical for industry in India, but few understand how this willestablished Indian companies and foreign firms looking to impact communications professionals.make inroads here. This is a significant shift for agencies, the media and clients.There are gaps in the industry, and yet there are Clients will need global thinkers with global mindsets.opportunities - partnerships. Its time to think of all Its time to gear up for that challenge.stakeholders - clients, employees, the media - as partners.The industrys success will depend on how it chooses andmanages these relationships. This is where we can raise our 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. More than anything else, its Indias economic growth that will sustain us. The PR industry will become critical for established Indian companies and foreign firms looking to make inroads here. 9
  • 9. India PR survey:High on growth,big on change
  • 10. or too long, the Indian PR industry hasnt 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 Indias Understanding the Public Relations Industry in India: Challenges, Opportunities and 2012 Outlook report, the need to tap the industrys 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 theyre 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. No stopping growth Methodology The central theme that emerged was one of optimism -  Sample size: 100, across three levels 51% of the respondents were bullish, asserting that the  Senior: Owners, directors, branch heads, industry would grow more than 20% over the next 12 managing directors (38 respondents) months. Another 28% felt growth would clock between  Middle: Senior managers, administrative managers 10% and 20%. (31 respondents)  Junior: Assistant executives, trainees, Expectations within the industry remain high despite HR executives (31 respondents) slowing growth and global financial turmoil. Its also a sign that the industry feels it is coming of age and that the  Geography: Six metros strategic value of PR is finally being recognised in a  Mumbai (17 respondents) landscape dominated thus far by advertising.  Delhi (17 respondents)  Bangalore (16 respondents)  Chennai (17 respondents)  Hyderabad (16 respondents)  Kolkata (17 respondents)  Survey included quantitative and qualitative questions12
  • 11. What growth do you expect for your agency over the next 12 months? All figures in % 51 53 32 68 28 36 34 13 21 13 32 19 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level <10% 10%-20% >20%It’s no surprise, that 53% were full of optimism about the next year; 43% were somewhat optimistic. The pessimists – only4% of those surveyed – were badly outnumbered. Are you optimistic about the next year for business? 4 All figures in % 51 6 6 53 47 55 58 43 47 39 42 21 13 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level Somewhat Optimistic Highly Optmistic Somewhat Pessimistic PessimisticThe bedrock of the respondents confidence was the fact that an overwhelming number of clients have left their PR budgetsuntouched, despite the tough economic climate. While 63% of respondents said their clients PR budgets are intact, 33%said the budgets have in fact increased. 13
  • 12. What have your clients done with their PR budgets? All figures in % 33 51 27 47 26 63 62 74 53 4 11 21 Total Top 13 Level Middle Level Low Level Reduced somewhat Cut Drastically Untouched Increased The implication: Corporations are understanding the role of No wonder that a significant amount of new business is PR as a brand builder and in engaging stakeholders. The days being generated from existing clients. While 61% said that of one-way communication between stakeholder and the overall quantum of new business was satisfactory, business, the industry feels, are fast receding. "PR will take on 25% said more than a fifth of new business was coming a more mainstream role and drive a brands perception and from existing clients. About 31% of respondents said that marketing exercises. It is an invaluable tool in the shaping and 15%-20% of new business was coming from clients already execution of marketing strategies. As such, PR is no longer an on their rosters, while 41% said existing clients accounted allied function but an increasingly vital part of the marketing for 10%-15% of new business. mix," said Suranjana Ghosh, head (marketing), CNBC TV18. How much 61 All figures in % new business are you getting? 66 61 30 57 35 26 28 8 8 13 1 3 3 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level Insignificant A little Satisfactory A lot14
  • 13. How much of your new business is from existing clients? All figures in % 41 31 25 43 47 30 32 39 24 25 22 29 3 3 6 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level <10% 10%-15% 15%-20% >20%The exuberance percolated to respondents’ expectations This is significant because allied industries, such asabout the jobs the industry would create – 59% felt that media, have seen a reduction in staff counts over the paststaff numbers would rise over the next year, bucking the 24 months. While there have been only a few drastic cuts,overall cautious hiring trends in the Indian economy. a few media houses are struggling and austerityAnother 41% felt there would be no layoffs. measures are expected soon. Do you expect All figures in % staff numbers to rise over the next 41 12 months? 53 39 29 59 47 61 71 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level Will Rise Remain Steady Reduce 15
  • 14. The greatest growth, say respondents will come - As Ghosh said: "Brands are reassessing their relationship expectedly - from digital media over the next five years, with PR agencies. From a client-vendor equation, PR now but theres also great emphasis on integrated offerings. needs to work more as a partner/strategic advisor for The first edition of this report had indicated that integrated brands. With a greater understanding of brands long-term communications were the way of the future. The report goals and current market realities, PR should be able to said in the chapter From traditional PR to integrated cross this hurdle more effectively." She added that strategic communications: agencies could look to add services such as market intelligence, thought leadership and - critically - "Clients in India will eventually look to their agencies for "seamless PR strategies" (integrated offerings, in strategic communications, not simply for media relations. other words) "that straddle traditional as well as new This is already happening. Companies such as Wipro ask their media options". agencies to help them understand how best to communicate their messages and present them in a context that is Sanjay Tripathy, EVP and head (marketing and direct meaningful for clients, analysts, investors and journalists. channels), HDFC Life identified internal communications - as part of the integrated offerings bouquet - as an important “Since the Indian PR industry is still nascent, there is an opportunity. "The PR industry can play a significant role in opportunity to offer integrated solutions, especially as the internal communications. Today, every brand has line between public relations, advertising and digital is large-scale focus on employee branding, employee already starting to blur. retention, employee engagement and communications. “As a result, many agencies have invested in creative and Employees are critical stakeholders for brands. The PR digital arms. Cost-effective communications plans - that industry must add this to their offerings to enhance their span advertising, PR and digital media - make sense to scope and services," he said. clients too.” Among the verticals to watch in 2013, respondents The industry clearly agrees - the second highest source of identified digital media as the hottest, followed by lifestyle growth, said the respondents, will be integrated offerings. and technology. What will offer the greatest growth over the next five years? 2 All figures in % 15 31 2 3 16 10 20 35 19 37 52 45 52 61 Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level Digital/Socal Integrated offerings More aggressive NBD Vanilla PR16
  • 15. Hottest verticals for 2013 Digital/Socal Lifestyle 1% 3% Technology 6% 9% Media and entertainment 48% 13% FMCG 20% Healthcare Others Retail Automobiles Manufacturing Banking, finanical services and insuranceWhile these are in line with expectations, industry which would include banking and insurance, are beingexperts believe that some of them will jump to the top watched closely by the industry. All these sectors areover time. Healthcare, in particular, followed by retail - growing fast and are seeing increasing investment. InIndia has recently thrown open this sector, allowing some cases, foreign majors are expected to make angreater foreign direct investment - and financial services, entry soon.Overcoming challengesWhile the overall mood within the industry is bright, there is  Media: This was the most critical challenge, feltgreat awareness of the formidable challenges that it faces. respondents across all levels. There were multiple issuesTo an open-ended question on what to expect in the near on their minds - from the sweeping changes thatfuture, respondents listed five main challenges. 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 17
  • 16. certain that agencies would need to rapidly digitise and that the demand for traditional PR was falling. While build expertise in that field. This is because several knowledge of emerging trends was important, the clients now put digital at the centre of their industry would have to find a balance - pointing again communications strategy. to how critical adaptability is. While it offers the biggest growth area, it is also a huge A few in the junior ranks felt that whatever the changes, change from the way PR works today. "[Adapting to] traditional PR would not die out. It would, they said, digital [communications] products will pose the biggest continue to be an important part of the burgeoning challenge," said a respondent. communications bouquet.  Technology: The challenge of technology is the  Perception of the PR industry: This was another challenge of the unknown. Just as social media crept concern raised by the first edition of this report in up on them and suddenly became all pervasive, PR January 2012. Too many people, it pointed out, thought practitioners were unsure of what new breakthrough of the industry as one large spin doctor or fixer. Not technologies would emerge in the future and the impact that would have on the industry. Adaptability, many understood its strategic value. As one they said, would become critical to survival. Equally respondent said: "Our industry is not very popular." important was the readiness for an "uncommon Respondents - mainly senior level PR practitioners - felt change" in communications technology. "Technology is that the problem is two-fold. First, its about creating our concern as people like new things, new upgrades to awareness about the industry in the minds of potential every technology," said a respondent. clients. Second, there is a lack of understanding within the  Innovation: The next stage in the evolution of PR industry itself of market trends. would revolve around innovation, most respondents As a solution, many felt that agencies should focus on agreed. Terms like "new avenues", "new-era products", branding within the industry, as well as on quality. Other "new trends" and "ideas" were used regularly. areas to concentrate on included innovation and training. It was generally unclear to most, however, what it  Other challenges: Among the other pressing means in practice. They are under pressure, said many challenges, talent topped the priority list - especially respondents, to come up with "the next big thing" but among industry leaders - followed by the often there is a dearth of creative minds that can come up tempestuous agency-client relationship. Both these with such path-breaking ideas. This concern was mainly issues deserve great attention and are addressed expressed at the middle and junior levels. A fresh separately later in the report. approach to PR, they felt, could become a make-or-break issue. While increasing competition was a concern too, many believed that it was necessary and helped improve Many respondents, especially industry seniors, said service quality. Top-of-mind issues The talent crunch The first edition of the PR report had highlighted the talent years. If salary costs become prohibitive, PR businesses shortage that the PR industry is facing. The report said: will suffer.” “If youre part of the PR industry, youll know how acute the This was underscored by the respondents. What was talent shortage is. As firms scramble for competent thought-provoking was how they ranked potential solutions people, salaries get inflated. With fees already so low, to the problem. profitability is affected. “This demand-supply gap can only widen over the next few18
  • 17. How should the industry deal with The education system is not geared to the industrys needs - this was highlighted in the first edition of this report too,the talent crunch? and repeated by the surveys respondents - and its time PR agencies collaborated with training institutes to evolve ATTRIBUTE WEIGHT* RANK a curriculum that makes their students employable. Several other industries in India - such as information Stringent selection process 3.2 1 technology - have collaborated with academia in the past and there is no reason the PR industry cant do the same. Invest in training 2.6 2 Offer fast-track growth 2.3 3 Recommendations  The industry should standardise salary ranges. Offer higher salaries 1.9 4 Incentives, such as stock options, need to be worked* Average of the ranks into compensation packages.  Employee growth is a priority – as indicated in theIt was revealing that raising salaries ranked lowest as a survey – and it must be planned and communicatedpotential solution, while a structured, stringent selection early to them.process ranked first. Planned, consistent investment in  Mentoring is conspicuous by its absence. It is up totraining ranked second. agency heads to ensure that talented people have aIt was obvious that money is not the main motivator. go-to person within the firm. These mentors can helpCNBC TV18s Ghosh pointed out: "By spearheading thought starters find their feet and share knowledge that wouldleadership initiatives, PR can create opportunities for otherwise take months or years to acquire.attracting a more involved cadre of professionals. An  Training must be implemented at all levels. Seniorsattitudinal change - both, on the parts of agencies and within the firm can be tapped for this, and externalprofessionals, where PR goes beyond getting coverage but trainers hired when as an involved stakeholder for their clients - will help." 19
  • 18. The way ahead When asked how they were dealing with a shift towards creation on campus. Even the juniormost in the industry knowledge-based communication, 41% said the focus was need to know how business is done and what impacts it and on thought leadership to raise awareness and skills. its reputation. Industry needs to diffuse its focus from means (press conferences, press releases) and focus on Many corporations across the world are recognising the how business objectives can be met through need to build their brand structure on a foundation of communications. Not all industries require knowledge. Brands now know that they need to build standardised services.” relationships with their stakeholders to remain relevant and matter to the communities in which they operate. They also Relevant, shareable thought leadership through tools such recognise that they no longer have a captive audience as whitepapers, videos and blogs can help brands become through traditional media. the trusted authorities in their industries and increase conversion rates. Aman Abbas, head of corporate communications, KPMG India, said: “PR practitioners should understand business, This is an opportunity for PR, felt the respondents. Support not just communications. Unfortunately, the orientation of for thought leadership was the highest among senior staff PR students is only towards transactional campaign (43%) and the juniors (48%). All figures in % How are you dealing with the shift towards 16 knowledge-based PR? 20 8 10 31 23 19 23 30 19 19 19 Investing in thought leadership to raise awareness and skills 41 43 31 48 Hiring staff with competencies relevant to the change Indifferent Investing in training Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level Bridging the fees-value gulf While the average annual advertising retainer is Rs 2 crore Siddhartha Mukherjee, Business Head Eikona had a ($4,00,000), PR retainers hover around Rs 20 lakh different perspective: “The PR industry needs a single ($40,000). Industry veterans said in the first edition of this [measurement] currency to create oneness and initiate report that many clients are reluctant to recognise the value healthy dialogues between corporations and their of PR. Also, theres no fee-per-resource norm and consultancies. With this, wealth will automatically follow. under-cutting is rampant, which is partly responsible for Clients/Investors look for effective ideas and their retainers not rising. scientific measurability. While pointing out that the industry is multi-layered, with “Let us no longer boast of high annual industry growth services offered at different prices, Sudha Singh, former rates on small denominators. Here is where PR agencies executive director (operations) at Vaishnavi Corporate have paved the way. Starting with transforming into Communications, had pointed out: "Most Indian agencies consultancies, their thoughts and initiatives have changed short-sell their services for fear of not getting business. the PR matrix. Today, this tool, which was largely confined There is an opportunity for us to review this as an industry." to the PRO/corporate communications desk, is showing its20
  • 19. usefulness to the internal clients of this same desk -  Given the shift in communications technology, somemarketing, financial and HR... and the CEO’s office.” suggested that digital become the primary mode of brand outreach.Recommendations  While some seniors said that budgets are entirely in Respondents said that the focus should be on clients hands and little can be done about it, others felt improving quality of work and innovation, which in turn that a premium could be charged for the adoption of would help them push for fees that match value. new communications formats and services.Performance measurementThere is a growing feeling within the PR industry that the Putting outcomes before output was an idea that found thebenchmarks are all wrong. While goal-setting and greatest support among mid-level and junior executives.measurement are part and parcel of every service, Given that it is they who will eventually graduate to themeasurement should include new media, rise in awareness senior ranks and be in a position to effect the requiredamong stakeholders and impact on business results. change, it is only a matter of time before new performance measurement systems are introduced and becomeThe survey showed a marked preference for measurement the norm.based on outcomes (impact on business results) overoutput (number of media mentions, press releases sent As HDFC Lifes Tripathy said: "The industry must workout). While 63% preferred benchmarks based on together to establish a standard measurement matrix.outcomes, 20% felt the final word should be left to the EAV [equivalent of advertising value] is obsolete in theclients way of measuring performance. Only 17% felt that West; reach is the key now. Without standardisation,volume of media coverage is the best option. results remain fragmented and return on investment remains unknown." How do you improve Recommendations PR performance measurement?  Measure outcomes, not outputs: These include shifts in awareness, purchase behaviour, corporate All figures in % reputation, employee engagement and investment 63 decisions. Quantitative approaches such as benchmark-and-tracking surveys can be supplemented with qualitative methods to spot changes in purchase 75 68 behaviour and preferences.  Media measurement: Measuring the number of 49 20 mentions is generally meaningless. Media 17 27 26 24 22 measurement should include audience impressions, 9 16 10 quality of the media coverage (tone, credibility, relevance of medium).  Social media: Right now, its mostly about how many Total Top Level Middle Level Low Level likes have been achieved on Facebook or the number of Twitter followers. But its not about the numbers; its Measuring outcomes, not output Clients should have final word on criteria about managing reputations. The emphasis should be Measuring spread of media coverage works just fine on responding quickly, listening and engaging. 21
  • 20. 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 brands 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.22
  • 21. 23
  • 22. What to watchout for in 2013
  • 23. ts been a difficult year. The economic slowdown, In 2013, more organisations will recognise the need amplified by policy paralysis in the government and to marry marketing with reputation management. a volatile political situation, hit the PR industry hard. Engagement has always been a key component of Communications budgets were slashed and many the PR business, but in the Conversation Age of corporations preferred to work on project basis rather today communicators are moving from monologue than on retainers. Given the tough business environment, to dialogue. those that persisted with retainers demanded more bang The cornerstone of this engagement is content. Not for the buck. just creating it, but also managing it. Content that While the PR industry managed to keep its head well above informs and encourages conversations is relevant to the water, 2012 was a tough year. the target audience. It is shareable and it strengthens customer loyalty. Corporations as well as PR firms are Will 2013 be better? Given the governments renewed now employing teams to specifically produce vigour for economic reform and Indias inherent economic high-quality content. restraints, the outlook remains optimistic despite the uncertainty created by political turmoil. Shashank Sinha, general manager and head (marketing of direct sales), Eureka Forbes, said: "Communication is the Digital communications - dominated by social media - fine art of storytelling. Telling a good story first involves constitute the biggest opportunity for 2013 and weve understanding the person listening to it - their interests, dedicated a separate chapter to it later in this report. worries and their lives. Listening is the first step to good While the survey earlier in the report identified major trends, storytelling. Unfortunately, most of us seem to have no there are others that MSLGROUP India has identified. time to listen. This is the key for the PR industry." Among those that you cant miss is the evolution of content as a branding and communications tool. Industry experts believe that nothing sells better than a good story. However, Engagement has always they caution, its not just about telling a story but about engaging your consumer. The key, they say, is to make your been a key component of story his/her own story. the PR business, but in Storytelling is also important as the realisation grows that the Conversation Age of its not enough to have profit as your sole objective. today communicators are Businesses need a greater purpose. The community expects that if youre making millions, you need to make moving from monologue millions happy as well. Consumers today relate to brands to dialogue. that show heart. Social responsibility has moved from mere support for projects to working towards social sustainability. It is the digital revolution that has changed the way Brand journalism companies are communicating. Consumers today For PR professionals, 2012 marked a widening of the experience products and services online before buying scope of work and a deepening of the partnership with them. From researching a products specifications to business leaders, decision makers and subject experts to looking for reviews, consumers rely on the online space. benefit from the new wave of communications. It gives them a sense of empowerment as they now have26
  • 24. trends, PR needs to always be several stepsa forum to share ahead and demonstrate thoughttheir experiences and at leadership and innovative solutions that will help differentiate their clients marketingthe same time become influencers efforts in a crowded space."for a brand. PR firms are producing a varietyof content, from social media campaigns to white papers Consumer marketing and corporate reputation building will no longer be mutually exclusive as consumers haveand online games, to shape this consumer experience. greater access to information about the companies behindEarned media is now making way for owned media, the products they buy.enabling companies to take control of their brand storyrather than relying on traditional media. Globally, we have already seen several brands, such as Volkswagen, McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Pepsi - as well asCNBC TV18s Ghosh said: "A PR agency mirrors the non-corporate brands such as NASA - using engagingpersonality of the brand it represents and is a content tailored to their purposes to reach out to stakeholders.responsible brand custodian. The need for the agency to In India, this is nascent, though automobile-to-softwareexhibit immense agility and alertness in todays dynamic conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra and the Tata Grouptimes is critical. As disseminators of information and have taken an early lead in this. 27
  • 25. Businesses with purpose  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. Carol Cone, global practice chair of Edelman Purpose, told Organisations need to inspire, organise and energise the Holmes Report that purpose, which she defines as all stakeholders to collaboratively work towards their "an organisations values in action, manifest through a shared purpose. variety of actions ranging from materials sourcing, supply In the Information Age, a product doesnt always speak for chain partners, CSR reporting, ethics and governance", will itself. The greater a companys transparency, the more be increasingly important in 2012, with companies focused connected its customers feel. It is this connection that on how purpose can be "strategically integrated and makes consumers believe in a brand. operationalised" throughout their organisations. This is Liz Kaplow, president of New Yorks Kaplow Communications, expected to take on a much larger scale in 2013. said in the Holmes Report: "The modern consumer wants MSLGROUPs PurPle is one such initiative. The group to know the brand behind the product and the company believes that the meaning of being a good corporate behind the brand - and they have the resources to find out. citizen has changed from Green (environment) to Blue This means that companies now have to ask themselves (sustainability) to PurPle (purpose + people). who are we and what do we stand for? Naturally, this has Tomorrows successful PurPle brands will be the ones that made authentic CSR an integral part of a companys work collaboratively with communities, governments, forward planning and initiatives. customers and organisations to co-create solutions to the "Authentic CSR means it is integrated into the companys worlds toughest problems. Moving from corporate social corporate DNA, so that it is evident in everything the responsibility (CSR) to collaborative social innovation will company does. This includes marketing and social media, drive more rapid and meaningful change in society and in CEO thought leadership, employee relations, and more. business, because with collaboration and co-creation comes Authentic CSR is not about whitewashing a companys shared value and a mutually beneficial shared purpose. image. Its about supporting humanity, being passionate The intersection of three shifts in the business about a cause, and connecting emotionally with consumers environment has made it imperative for organisations to who at the end of the day want to know that companies bring purpose and people together: care about the world and the people in it."28
  • 26. Healthcare communication offers a great opportunity to help improve medical treatment/therapeutic adherence.Healthcare is expanding swiftly in terms of revenue and Twitter, in particular, can play a role in the dialogueemployment in India. According to ‘Healthcare in India – between doctors and patients as it represents a tool forEmerging Market Report 2007’, authored by faster connections.PriceWaterhouse Coopers, “during the 1990s, Indianhealthcare grew at a compounded annual rate of 16%. Today,  Most managers also viewed blogs as important inthe value of the sector is more than $34 billion. This healthcare communications, potentially impacting howtranslates to $34 per capita, or roughly 6% of GDP. By 2012, influential doctors and key opinion leaders are on the web.India’s healthcare sector is projected to grow to nearly $40 A corporate communication head (name withheld on request)billion. The private sector accounts for more than 80% of observed: “Specific to healthcare, there will be more pressuretotal healthcare spending in India.” because of changes in the regulations that govern the sector.Globally, life expectancy is on the rise and with growing Communication will be scrutinised even more and it will be aawareness about healthier lifestyles, healthcare products greater challenge to drive the PR agenda using traditionalare striking gold. It helps that healthcare is a priority for media. Building credibility will be tougher than ever.”the government If high-level appointments are any indicator, the healthcareFor PR companies, there lies a great opportunity to partner opportunity is clearly evident at a global level too. Recently,with healthcare firms – as well as allied verticals, such as Shellie Winkler was named as MSLGROUP’s North Americadiagnostics and pharmaceuticals – to bring about a lifestyle practice director for health and corporate practices, whilechange in customers. Amanda Sefton was named global healthcare practice director at Ketchum. Meanwhile, US-based Finn PartnersPascal Beucler, senior vice-president and chief strategy launched Finn Partners Health, a dedicated national practiceofficer, MSLGROUP, wrote: “Firms in the healthcare sector at led by Miriam Weber Miller, a 20-year veteran of healthcarelarge need to not only rediscover their social purpose, but to marketing and communications.also put it at the core of their businesses, and to consider itwhen engaging with all stakeholders.” It won’t be long before high-level appointments are made in India too to lead the healthcare practice.MSLGROUP recently conducted the survey ‘You Share, WeCare!’ that outlined the views of 70 managers across Europe.The importance of digital communications came out stronglyin the survey. Managers were aware of its impact on theirindustry, and believed that companies needed to becomestorytellers – creating contexts to explain to people whatthey do, and to highlight the company’s social values. Thesemanagers want to become protagonists in the debate abouthealth. 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 29
  • 27. The rise and riseof digital PR
  • 28. imply put, digital PR is the use of the internet to The recent Rise of Indias Digital Consumer study by promote campaigns and to share information. comScore found that India is the fastest growing online However, its not as simple as it sounds. market and that its explosive online growth will continue, as most online categories have below-average penetration Increasingly, small and big businesses are embracing the compared to global averages. digital space as a strong marketing tool. The success of a company depends on the network of people it reaches out The internet has empowered people by giving them an to, not only in terms of numbers but also the right engaging platform to express their opinions, share their messaging. It is extremely important to cast that net wide; likes and dislikes and post their reviews. These opinions can the higher the number of people that know about your both, draw traffic to your website or digress it. This makes products and services, the higher the probability of you potential advertisers out of visitors to your site. being talked about in the social space. Experts suggest that consumer behaviour today is "With the advent of social and digital media, every brand influenced by the digital space and understanding it has the ability to publish its own story and every consumer well will help in devising the right strategies to maximise and influencer has the opportunity to respond," Kaplow, of the opportunity. Kaplow Communications, said in the Holmes Report. This The comScore study pointed out that 75% of the Indian presents "an even more exciting opportunity to use social audience is below the age of 35 years, making it one of the and digital channels to get to know your audiences better, worlds youngest online populations. to listen to what they are saying and what they want, and deliver even better service". Unique visitors growth comparison 15+ age, home and work users Unique visitors (in millions) July 2011 July 2012 5% 41% 20% 6% 48.9 52 49.1 59 322 336 44.5 62.6 Brazil Russia China India * Source: ‘Rise of India’s Digital Consumer’ study by comScore32
  • 29. Demographic distribution - youth driving growth 1.3 55+ yrs 1.8 2.4 45-54 yrs 3.6 35-44 yrs 6.5 9.7 75% { (male+female) 15.3 13.7 25-34 yrs 15-24 yrs 23.7 21.9 } Demographic distribution of UVs in % * Source: ‘Rise of India’s Digital Consumer’ study by comScore. UV: Unique visitorsFor those in the communication business, therefore, the its use. At each stage, consumers are relying on socialdynamics of delivering a message have changed. media to enhance their experience. Product endorsementsMarketers have to do away with monologue as the digital no longer bear the same significance - its othermedia has created the space for a multilogue where consumers views that seal the deal.there is conversation happening all around us. It is these HDFC Lifes Tripathy pointed out: "This means acquiringconversations that are shaping brands. more relevant skill sets, more learnings, and moreConsumers are no longer buying products, but the creativity and innovation. More customised, value-drivenexperience. This experience begins at the consideration PR campaigns in the digital space would be the keystage, continues to the buying of the product and finally focus in 2013."Change in the PR practitionerAll this has significant implications for the PR practitioner. stage, the PR practitioner will need to get involved inThe digital space is an addition to the communications the business challenge before the client. He/she willarmoury. The new role broadly involves: need to truly understand the array of tools at his/her Advising: "We believe the best course of action is..." disposal. There is a critical need to involve Counselling and deriving meaning: "We believe the consumers, motivate and involve them and seek their best course of action is... and heres why." At this feedback to make them feel empowered. 33
  • 30. Measuring effectiveness All online activities need to be understood in terms of their "I foresee more and more activities around the digital return on investment, that is, measurable results are the key. space," said HDFC Lifes Tripathy. "With shrinking marketing While it is possible to measure web traffic, marketers are budgets across industries, companies would remain sceptical about the value of online PR. steadfast on value-added, cost-effective mediums for engagement and connection with their customers and Herein lies a big opportunity. PR professionals need to other key stakeholders. The digital boom cannot be ignored impress upon clients that embracing digital PR would be an by any brand." additional resource that strengthens the objectives of traditional PR. Industry observers believe that digital PR is no Among the key values that companies will need to longer a new strategy but part of the regular hygiene factors. emphasise online are: transparency (the greater the scrutiny you allow, the more trusted you are), dialogue (one-way PR companies can use multiple online forums like blogs, communication is in steep decline) and engagement (invite Facebook and Twitter to engage and sustain public interest. consumers to be part of the brand). 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; its 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." How to optimise social media in PR  Tell a story: Audiences need to identify with a piece of from related industries who are more active online. information. People are naturally drawn to experiences Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are increasingly being that they can relate to. Ensure that your data has statistics, used by individuals and corporations to connect with a visuals, testimonials that lend credence to your pitch. wider network. Through the right networking, you can influence a media mention.  Be a good listener: A digital platform leaves enough room for scrutiny, so be open to all kinds of feedback.  Build brand loyalty: Engage your audience by creating Social media is a two-way street; people will expect content that is not only informative but which holds its your response to their communication. A well-initiated interest. Curate the content in a manner that makes conversation often inspires participation and a your audience champion your cause. Ensure that you have the audience captive on its first visit; you may not well-moderated one can help your purpose. get a second chance.  Be earnest: Be consistent with your messaging and  Create a social media newsroom: A robust online always share accurate information. With the great presence makes it easier for journalists to gather volumes of information at their fingertips, your information that can beef up their stories. The right mix audience will always cross-check the authenticity of of interactive elements, videos and photos provides a what you claim. Any discrepancies will deal a blow to 360-degree view of your organisation. It also gives them your credibility. a chance to connect with other bloggers/visitors to  Reach out to social media influencers: Your network verify information. Make this your central resource for must have bloggers, influencers, journalists and writers information. As a PR professional, it is vital to stay34
  • 31. abreast of the evolution of news consumption. Digital digital woven in from Step 1, PR also needs to reflect the presence is definitely a defining change. same technical dexterity and immediacy. In this era of instant feedback, PR is a vital ally to manage the responsesGhosh, of CNBC TV18, said: "The digital medium is no a brand evokes on its social media or online platforms.longer a retrospective or force-fitted part of the overall Hence, PR needs to leverage the viral ability of digital andbrand marketing strategy. It is an integral part of the amplify a brands message effectively."marketing mix. Akin to marketing strategies which now haveDigital media trends High-growth categories  Unprecedented growth in travel, search, social YoY Growth % July 2012 Reach % networking and news, surpassing worldwide Games 60 41 averages News 54  Growth to continue in 80.3 retail, games and health, Search as they are below 43 91.5 worldwide averages Retail 43 59.9  The key drivers are Heatlh content and accessibility 43 21.1  The coupons category Social networking 43 95.5 has shrunk by 38% as players have moved to Travel 41 44 allied verticals * Source: Rise of Indias Digital Consumer study by comScore. Graph based on July 2011 and Jul 2012 data for 15+ age, home and work users Online video soars  Online video viewers in India have grown by over Video Viewers (in millions) 37.3% Min per viewer Videos viewed (in billion)  The engagement has 459 reached 3.4 billion 455 videos every month 433 373  52% of the videos belong to the entertainment category  YouTube’s top channels are Bollywood-related 32.4 34.8 42.3 44.5 1.9 3.4  Video advertising has Jun 2011 Oct 2011 Mar 2012 Jun 2012 Jun 2011 Jun 2012 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 35
  • 32. What the mediathinks aboutthe industry
  • 33. he media is a key stakeholder for the PR Methodology industry. Media relations are among its core The primary objective was to assess perceptions of media activities and rarely is a PR plan drawn up persons regarding: without a media angle to it.  The PR industry and its efficacy in supporting journalists The digital age is changing the way consumers interact  Emerging trends in news media and its PR implications with the media and brands. Round-the-clock news, the  How to make PR more effective internet and social media have created an aware, Twenty-one depth interviews were conducted among empowered consumer. This is, in turn, altering the journalists in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune. relationship between the media and PR professionals. The break-up: However, the media and the PR industry enjoy a strange  Mumbai: 13 relationship - deeply symbiotic, yet edgy.  Delhi: 4  Chennai: 2 It is important, therefore, to understand what makes this  Pune: 1 relationship tick, what the points of conflict are, as well as  Kolkata: 1 the potential solutions. For this, MSLGROUP India conducted a dipstick qualitative study, interviewing journalists across media - Perceptions websites, TV channels, newspapers, magazines - to gauge their perceptions of the PR industry. The objective Among the key themes that emerged was that, while PR was to understand whether journalists were being professionals broadly understand their clients businesses suitably supported in their day-to-day news gathering and their operating environment, this understanding is not and allied activities. fully communicated to journalists. Apart from that, there exists considerable scope to improve the working Journalists were asked to detail the problems they faced relationship between PR professionals and the media. while interacting with PR professionals and suggest changes. Apart from that, we included multiple-choice A common complaint was that PR professionals do not questions to get specific replies on key issues. 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 Indias 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."38
  • 34. A senior financial journalist added: "Its 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 milliseconds 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-allThis was echoed by a senior editor at Business Today release doesnt work anymore, many journalists said. Theymagazine: "Clients of PR companies want the press also emphasised the need for releases to be better written,release reproduced in full in every publication and to contain fewer clichés or unnecessary praise for clients.broadcast on every TV channel without any supplementary A release that keeps in mind the above, would enablequestions asked. Even when PR people know there is no developments in a particular sector or firm to bestory in a particular piece of information, clients force them understood quickly and reported push it." 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 isNews trends and implications accompanied by a comparative analysis that shows it as theAnother common complaint was that PR professionals are highest in that quarter across the sector it operates innot well informed about media deadlines. This problem could trigger suitable interest.has become even more acute as the news media has A senior news editor at The Times of India, Indiasbroadly shifted to a 24x7 role. Journalists stressed that PR most-read English daily, said: "There is a gap in theprofessionals should spend more time in understanding understanding of the saleability of a development or presshow their target media function, in terms of the story release and the needs of the media. This should begathering and editing process and the need for client suitably addressed."responses based on the nature of the medium.In addition, journalists wanted a shift from the"stereotypical silence" every time clients find themselvesin an uncomfortable situation.To rectify these problems, journalists stressed that seniorPR professionals must work closely with their juniors. Theyalso suggested seminars and discussions with journalists,as well as an emphasis on training.A senior news editor at the Mumbai-headquartered dailyDNA said: "PR professionals need a thorough knowledgeof the set-up and functioning of the newspaper or TVchannel [they are dealing with]. This can be done throughinteraction and being in constant touch with whatshappening in [those media outlets]." 39
  • 35. We do need each other This would help journalists tracking the client/sector considerably and build a long-term relationship with the Despite everything, journalists recognised that the PR PR professional. industry serves a vital purpose, that of a conduit between them and industry. Journalists highlighted that, with the A senior editor at the Hindustan Times in Delhi said: "PR business world getting more complex and senior company has close synergies with the media." Added a senior news officials travelling across several times zones or within the editor at DNA: "The print medium is dependent on the PR company, interaction between them and India Inc has industry for many stories." become tougher. As a result, the role of the PR professional in balancing the The relationship needs of the client and the media has become critical. In While the role of PR professionals is getting more this regard, journalists suggested that PR professionals recognised, journalists did not want to get "over-friendly" inform the target media of client/sector developments on or "too close" to them. This was attributed to the often a regular basis rather than only when coverage is desired. conflicting nature of their jobs.40
  • 36. While acknowledging that PR professionals investconsiderable 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 onachieving their clients needs, while the media is lookingfor stories that matter to their readers. Sometimes, the twoare 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, andPR persons should be wary of that. Nevertheless, I havecome across PR persons who are extremely professional communicate that to the journalist quickly enough forand helpful." Added a senior journalist at the Hindustan him/her to work around it and yet meet the deadline.Times: "All the energies of PR professionals are This would also result in a strong relationship with theconcentrated on getting the next media mention. There is PR professional.too much focus on short-term coverage rather than  Build long-term relationships: Journalistslong-term association with a journalist." complained in the survey that PR professionals usually focus on ensuring that their client is mentioned in theRecommendations coverage. This creates unnecessary tension. Establish Research journalists and media needs: No two a balance between client needs and on building journalists - or media outlets - are the same. Their long-term relationships with journalists. This could be needs and approaches towards a story are dictated by facilitated by regular visits to the journalists office or the nature of their readership. PR professionals need through web chats. Help the journalist get access to to do their homework before approaching a journalist information or people when he/she needs them and for a story. Journalists repeatedly complained that they the favour will be returned. are bombarded with irrelevant press releases and calls  Customise press releases: Press releases often on subjects that dont matter to them. contain clichés and unnecessary details, which may An effort must be made during the not be relevant to the journalist. Ensure instead that relationship-building stage to understand the the press release has the client information that is journalists beat and readership, and a suitable relevant to the journalist it is sent to. Also make sure database of media contacts maintained for future the significance of the development is explained in a reference. This database should be easily accessible simple manner. As far as possible, customise press by staff across the PR organisation. releases for different types of media houses, which would help you get significantly more suitable Understand and respect deadlines: Be aware of the responses. For instance, a release about the IT sector deadlines for different media and respond could be written from a business point of view for a appropriately. Senior PR professionals could work pink paper (growth, forex earnings, impact on share closely with new entrants or hold training sessions to price) and in a completely different way for a general ensure that they are aware of these deadlines. interest newspaper (the products/services it makes In case a client does not wish to respond to a query, available, jobs on offer). 41
  • 37. The agency-clientmarriage
  • 38. Remember, agencies cant make magic happen if you arent receptive to ideas. If you are hiring a PR agency, make sure youre 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 The agency-client on it? Buying PR services isnt different in that sense. marriage  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. Jaideep Shergill, CEO, MSL INDIA Think hard about what you want from your agency. PR is Every year, India Inc invests crores of rupees in what is a not about column inches, but creating a personality for fragile, sometimes tempestuous relationship - the one with your company that in the end leads to the achievement of its PR agency. business objectives. While its a tough marriage intended to produce measurable When calling for a pitch, keep the shortlist, well, short. results, the marketing or academic literature focuses on Respect the time and effort that goes into understanding what makes for a successful relationship and the causes of your business to prepare the pitch. Even a simple pitch its failure is skewed. Indeed, there is an archives worth of might take several days to get right. Also, its a good idea to material that helps businesses select a PR agency, but little have the agency present its credentials at its office. This on how to ensure the relationship is mutually fruitful. gives you the chance to see the company in action (Is the Its time for both, client and agency, to realise that the best environment good? Is it adequately staffed? Is it buzzing?). PR begins with a healthy relationship. It needs to be a Make sure that the people making the pitch are the ones who partnership in which clients see the agency as an extension will handle the account. All too often, the best resources of their marketing teams, while agencies need to invest time make the pitch, but others actually manage your work. PR is in understanding the clients businesses and their needs. an ideas-and-people business; the team is the operation. Too many relationships are spoiled because of unrealistic Dont be swayed by size - big companies are not expectations. "I want to be featured in The Times of India" is necessarily better than small ones. Sometimes, in large absolutely the wrong way to start off. Sure, all of us want the firms, resources are spread thinly over several clients. best coverage and the most from our PR budgets, but not Dont think short-term either. Look for a company that you everything about you will get featured in the leading are comfortable working with for three to five years at least. publications. Instead, work with your agency to secure coverage in media outlets that target your audience. There  Budgets: Some clients dont reveal their budgets, thinking may be several small- or medium-sized publications and that it would drive down costs. However, what it means is that online communities worth exploring. Often, its these that PR firms cant understand how many resources to commit. deliver better results. If you want results, lay your cards on the table.44
  • 39. At the same time, understand clearly how you are being Base evaluations on financial as well as emotional criteria.charged - per resource hour, out of pocket expenses, Trust and honesty are key. Keep the agency informedtaxes, handling charges of third-party invoices - before about your objectives and priorities; adjust expectations tosigning the contract. A full understanding of these issues the situation. For this, a honest discussion is essential. Atwill rule out unpleasantness later. the same time, the agency must regularly inform the client about the state of work and results. Reviews: Once youve selected an agency, build a reviewprocess into the contract. This will ensure that the operation Its important for clients to involve decision makers fromstays on track. Ask for a start-off meeting at which objectives the word go. This reduces misunderstandings. The agency,and benchmarks for the review process are set. on its part, should ensure that the best people are on the account to achieve the best results.Remember that a PR firm is only as good as theinformation you provide. Keep it in the loop when it comes  Repitching and business assurance: If there areto business developments and invite its representatives to problems with the campaign, most agencies will make thebe part of your marketing conversations. adjustments required in the teams managing the account. Detail your reasons for seeking a change of team and theAn increasingly common problem is the decreasing time agency will most likely oblige.PR firms get to respond to a crisis or achieve an objective.The PR firm cant work magic. Planning in advance and Changing the agency would mean restarting thecommunicating constantly with the consultancy will help communications effort from scratch - from providingkeep the objectives-deadlines balance optimal. detailed briefs for fresh pitches to dealing with an agency 45
  • 40. that may not understand you as well. reserving comment till a half-yearly review when the damage cant be undone or when its too late for a course correction. If you find a need to change the agency nevertheless, the norm across the world is that a sufficient notice period is The bottomline: the agency is your strategic thought given. In the case of advertising, if the agency has invested in partner. Treat it so. resources just for your account, the notice period can be as  Services and fees: Most large clients nowadays look long as six months. This is only fair since the agency needs for a range of services. Its no longer enough to offer only to reallocate those resources or consider scaling down of media relations; agencies must invest in social media, operations. This needs to be replicated in the PR industry. content and creative services too. Agencies must offer a Too many agencies are wondering, "Will we have this wide variety of services in order to meet the needs of account six months from now?" When the agency is unsure different customers. of the relationship or whether its appreciated by the client, Agencies are being asked to deliver more - at the same or it doesnt perform as well as it can. If youre not happy, tell lower prices. Some of it is justified because technology your agency whats wrong. Dont be afraid to challenge it. allows you to do more for less. But, most often, it will only Ask the outrageous questions. When those are answered, result in a loss of quality. Dont fall into the trap of treating you get great work. ideas as commodities; you run the danger of the worst  Differences in expectations: Client expectations ones being funded the best. should be coordinated with the agency. This is important Theres no generally accepted formula on fees. Inevitably, for the agency to decide how to meet client needs. clients and agencies differ on what is fair compensation. Its important for the agencys expectations to be detailed Focus on the difference good communication makes to your too. These could coincide with the clients, but may differ business goals while understanding the effort, resources at times. and strategic inputs the agency brings to you. Keep the Knowing the objectives leads to good PR. Clients should conversation about value, not price. Once both understand be clear about what they want to achieve. "Get us as much the value being delivered, the negotiations get simpler. press as you can" is not good enough. Communication Lastly, pay your bills. Agencies will work better for those objectives need to be aligned with business goals and your who are prompt with their payments. If youre erratic with target audience. your bills, chances are that your work will lag clients who  The communication gap: Communicate clearly your pay within a reasonable time. values and what you stand for. Clients and agencies who understand the above will have This helps the agency understand your business and the best partners wanting to work with them. Teams will culture; and vice versa. Industry experts agree that look for creative solutions and even over deliver at times. agencies and clients who communicate well have longer lasting relationships. This doesnt 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. Theres no point46
  • 41. THE EXPECTATIONS MATRIX AGENCY EXPECTATIONS CLIENT EXPECTATIONS The full picture from the client; the brief is often unclear An understanding of our business Treat the agency like a strategic thought partner. Understand that effective communication is vital for Creativity, good service business success. A cultural fit is important too; it helps deliver better service Involve management High-quality people on the account Be fair in your evaluation. Provide good feedback, Willingness to accept suggestions, constructive criticism appreciate the efforts that worked Change people, not agency. Range of services Make good use of agencys resources SHARED EXPECTATIONS Agreement on goals Effective communication Fair evaluation of results Cooperation and honestyIMPLICATIONS FOR THE AGENCY FOR THE CLIENT Client will only invest in a relationship if he/she can see Invest time and knowledge to deliver a clear and that the resources that he/she is getting are meeting comprehensive feedback about the problems you expectations. Agency must invest in people, keeping are trying to solve with marketing communication talent satisfied and motivated Dont take the agency for granted. You may be Communicate the importance of input information from the one writing the cheques, but money doesnt the client and its impact on the PR campaign solve every problem. Both parties need to invest, adapt and be flexible Understand how activities are structured in the Building a relationship takes time. Agency cannot expect agency. This will help you understand the nature clients trust immediately of the work and the need to adapt certain processes to achieve objectives 47
  • 42. 48 Indias PR landscape Agency Started in Founder CEO/MD/ Offices, Staff Specialisations and Website Key clients country head network strength additional services locations Acti Media 1998 Amitabh Saksena Binita Bodani 4 >50 Lifestyle & Fashion PR http://www.actimedia Garnier, Puma, Maybelline New York Adfactors 1997-98 Madan Behl, Madan Behl 40+ 300+ Finance, IPOs, real estate http://www.adfactor ICICI, Vodafone, L&T, Maruti, Rajesh Chaturvedi Aviva Life Insurance, Standard Chartered, Jet Airways Avian Media 2004 Nikhil Khanna Nitin Mantri 5+ 90+ General PR with strengths in http://www.avian- Fullerton Securities, Dalmia, tourism, consumer brands DKNY, DLF Promenade, Airbus, South Africa Tourism, Thomas Cook Concept PR 2001 Vivek Suchanti Vivek Suchanti 7+ 75+ Investor relations, IPOs, http://www.conce Indian Institute of Jewellers, sports marketing. They also ICSA have an advertising division Corporate Voice 2004 Shiv Reddy Shiv Reddy 5+ 120+ General PR P&G Gillette, Hero Group, Weber Shandwick Boeing, Electrolux (Interpublic Group) Edelman 2006; Roger Perreira Robert 7 offices 320+ Public affairs, social media. Tata Group, Avaya, British launched as established R&PM Holdheim Network includes specialty firms Airways, Nikon, R&PM, taken Blue (advertising), StrategyOne Harley-Davidson, BlackBerry, over by (research) and BioScience HP, Linkedin Edelman Communications (medical in 2008 education and publishing) Fleishman Hillard 2010 NA Yusuf Hatia 3 15+ General PR Godrej Security Solutions (Omnicom Group) Genesis Burson- 1992 Prema Sagar Nikhil Dey 7 offices 250+ Public affairs, digital marketing http://www.genesis Google, Flipkart, Visa Marsteller New Zeland Tourism, SAP, (WPP Group) Accenture, Kotak Bank, Pepsi, GE Healthcare, Genpact Good Relations 1988 Anthony B M Good Deepak Kanulkar 6 offices, >50 General PR http://www.good Crossword, Cartier, Radio City, (Chime Group) 40 network Tourism Queensland locations
  • 43. Imprimis PR 1999 Aman Gupta Aman Gupta 8+ 25+ Healthcare and an offshoot of http://www.imprimispr. Apollo Hospital, Merck, Perfect Relations com/ Pfizer India, Almond Board of California Integral PR 1999 Deepak Talwar Sharif 6+ 100+ Public affairs, general PR http://www.integralpr. Emirates Airlines, Reckitt Rangnekar com/ Benckiser India, Dow Corning IPAN Hill + 1988 Radhika Vinod Moorthy 5 offices, 150+ General PR Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Knowlton Shapoorjee 20+ network Citigroup,UB, Blackstone Strategies locations (WPP Group) LINOpinion 2001 Ameer Ismail Kavita Lakhani 3+ 100+ Lifestyle PR. Lintas is the http://www.linopinion. Starwood Hotels, Siemens PR (Interpublic sister ad agency com/ India, Times Group Group) Madison PR 1988 Sam Balsara Paresh Chaudhry >5 50+ General PR, also has specialised http://www.madison P&G, Godrej, Britannia functions in the form of advertising, media, out of home MSL India 1999 Sunil Gautam Jaideep Shergill 8 offices, 370+ Integrated communications; has http://www.mslindia Intel, Volkswagen, Bharti founded Hanmer 25 network a creative division too. Has media AXA, World Gold Council, & Partners, which locations and entertainment, investor Singapore Tourism Board, was acquired by relations, social media, events, Kraft Foods, Star TV network, the MSLGROUP content, financial UTC, Monsanto in 2008 communications practices 20:20 MSL 1989 Sunil Agarwal Chetan Mahajan 7 150+ Technology PR http://www.2020msl Dell, Aircel, Cognizant, .com/ Ericsson, Facebook Mutual PR 1995 Pravin Dubey, Kavita Datta 9+ 50+ Public affairs, corporate Yahoo! India, Adobe, Alcatel Priyadarshi Lucent, Oracle, Fujitsu Sharma Percept Profile 1992 Shailendra Singh, Rahat Beri 5 >100 General PR, focus on talent http://www.percept Videocon, Cox & Kings, DB Harindra Singh management Realty, Sansui, Bridgestone Perfect Relations 1992 Dilip Cherian, Bobby 14 350+ Public Affairs, healthcare, http://www.perfect Coca-Cola, Marico, Airtel, Bobby Kewalramani Kewalramani celebrity management Nokia Practice 2000 Nandita Nandita 3 offices 80+ Technology PR http://the-practice. Qualcomm, SKF, Infosys, (Omnicom affiliate) Lakshmanan Lakshmanan net/ Hitachi Sampark-Ketchum 1994 Bela Rajan NS Rajan 6 offices, 100 120+ General PR http://www.ketchum. Bombay Dyeing, Axis Bank (Omnicom Group) network locations com/india/ Text 100 1996 Anne Costello Sunayna Malik 4 offices 140+ Technology. Sister company http://www.text100 IBM, Cisco, Lenovo, Samsung, (APAC Head) Vox PR focuses on lifestyle, luxury .com Walt Disney (Club Penguin)49
  • 44. Designed & Printed by: MSLGROUP CREATIVE+Copyright: MSLGROUP India