Has the PR business in India missed the 4G revenue opportunity?

4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone technology and follows on from 2G and 3G. For the layman, it simply means surfing, downloading and uploading on mobile phones, tablets or laptops at a speed 10 times faster than what 3G is providing currently.  While consumers eagerly look forward to this enhanced digital experience, telecom players such as Jio 4G services from Reliance Industries, Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel have all jumped onto the 4G bandwagon to grab a significant share of this promising market.

All this sounds good. 4G data services will bring about a paradigm shift not only in terms of how an average Indian will consume internet services but also how marketers, brand owners and corporate will reach out to their target audience, with the main impact being on video consumption. This spiral-down effect will be seen across an entire range of consumer outreach channels.  

Already Deloitte predicts that the launch of 4 G will push advertising revenues by 10-15 percent. Will PR also get a share too?

PR, too, should witness variations in strategies and functioning to build on the 4G network.

You would be thinking, why and how PR? I would say why not? When consumers, media, influencers, government machinery and brand owners are all present on 4G network...then there is a point to be there!

4 G, video and PR

In order to really boost revenues spurred by the roll out of 4G services; PR needs to focus on video. Something the PR business hasn’t done in a concentrated way as yet.

Online video consumption is growing at a faster pace within the internet user ecosystem- it is a single but a very important element which remains untapped as part of PR strategies. A compelling reason to focus on this element is triggered by the opinion of many analysts and media companies foreseeing an even stronger consumption of video in the 4G era. Be it in any form - news, movies, sports, TV shows or music.

Let’s understand how much video is consumed by an average Indian. According to a report by Group M titled ‘India Digital Playbook’, India is home to the third largest video consuming markets in the world. Currently, 60 million users consume online video on the desktop, and an equal number on the mobile. Indians consume close to 5 billion videos every month on average. Not only more people are watching online videos, the average time spent in watching online videos per user has grown substantially. An average viewer watches 68.7 videos for a total of 431.5 minutes.  Video consumption in the coming years will witness even higher growth as connected user base will overtake English speaking and reading audience base.

Speaking of media, I would like to share an instance of a senior editor belonging to the 2nd largest financial daily of the country. In 2014, I was part of a workshop where he exchanged views on the usage of video by communications team and PR agencies.  This senior editor strongly considered video to be the way forward but a lot needs to be done by brand owners and PR agencies, ​especially on this aspect.

He cited issues such as lack of good stock videos while creating news stories for online platforms. For instance, the journalist being asked to video shoot a story for the web editions on sale of cars and bikes during the festive season. He definitely looks​ forward to including few video shots of cars, bikes, manufacturing plants and visual quotes from spokesperson, etc. Why? Because this will make the story interesting for viewers and they will be able to correlate better.

According to him, news channels sometimes face similar situation with no or little brand stock shots to choose from. I do agree he is right and stock shots with branding can be one avenue of compressing video content across news outlets. Still, we wonder whether video is really an important part of the PR communication from media perspective?

Let me answer your question with insights from a research conducted by Edelman Berland in collaboration with Muck Rack on more than 250 working journalists. The research revealed that more than 75 percent of journalists say they feel more pressure now to think about their story’s potential to get shared on social platforms. To make their stories more shareable, journalists are infusing their stories with five key ingredients: brevity, localization, more use of human voice, a proximity to trending topics along with video/images. Nearly 3/4 of journalists are now creating original video content to accompany their stories. However, very few journalists (13 percent) are relying on sourcing consumer-generated video and only 3 percent are using corporate video. Journalists say one of the five key trends that will impact their profession in 2016 includes more original videos.

Now, imagine the sheer goodwill and mind recall one could garner from a journalist, who will appreciate the fact that a brand/PR agency is able to help him/her by providing information in traditional as well as video formats. In today’s time, journalists are pressed for time. Gone are the days when they have to write stories for print edition only or shoot certain number of story for prime time shows. They now have the added responsibility of filing stories for the web edition as well. This means, we as communication professionals have a small window of time to reach out to them. Press releases, case studies, research reports, financial results, budget expectations/outcome and white papers in video format will create interest, engage the journalists and encourage them to have conversations across their networks.

​The advent of new media in India is remarkable. News portals have transformed into a platform providing content which is easy to read, low on word count and highly scores on the visual aspect - be it images or videos. Using video as part of the PR campaign, will only lead to getting more eyeballs for the brand on the new media portals.

With 4G services guaranteeing faster internet speeds, many media houses will focus more on creating video content as there will be more audiences now. Understanding this need, PR agencies, brand owners and corporate need to apprehend the value which could be generated by including video as part of PR campaigns.

Rome was not built in a day. Similarly, video content shared as part of PR strategies will not get you instant return on investments or coverage. But whatever holds merit does gets the recognition. While media will appreciate the traditional and video content sharing, it will also act as a new way for PR agencies to adopt this practice and build on it.

Deepak Kapoor (@DeepTheK)  is a communication specialist working with Perfect Relations Pvt Ltd and aspires to make PR more mainstream from what it currently is.

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