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Ketchum is bullish on growth of 15-20% for the Indian PR business in 2014

Jon Higgins, Senior Partner & CEO, International, Ketchum speaks to PRmoment India about how the PR business will perform in India in 2014. Jon believes that there will be a migration of business from smaller to mid-sized companies into larger companies, which will help in providing overall services to the client.

Jon Higgins also pegs growth rates at 15-20 per cent in 2014 for the Indian PR business. Ketchum Sampark has grown by 20 per cent in the first 8 months of 2014 and has added several new businesses including Skoda, Star Union, Daichi Life Insurance, Ambuja Cements, Axis Asset management and Wagh Bakri Tea Board. Like many other agencies, Ketchum Sampark plans to ramp up their digital and content capability and introduce relevant production services from the Ketchum bouquet along the way.

PRmoment India: Industry watchers are predicting growth rates of between 15 and 20 per cent for the PR business in India in 2014, do you think that’s achievable and why? Where will this growth come from considering PR budgets have not been raised much in 2014?

Jon Higgins: We believe that companies are willing to spend more money on PR and digital medium will lead the way, so a 15-20% growth definitely looks achievable. We also believe there will be a migration of business from smaller to mid-sized companies into larger companies, which will help in providing overall services to the client. Investor relations market is also picking up in addition to content creation; all these aspects will contribute to the growth as well.

PRmoment India: In your view, how have client expectations evolved from PR in India and what can be done to address them?

Jon Higgins: The PR landscape in India is extremely dynamic with different requirements. However, fundamentally, the client always looks for an agency that’s committed and passionate, coupled with a sound understanding of the clients business. With the PR landscape evolving, clients are now looking for an agency that provides a holistic approach which includes capabilities beyond traditional PR. Digital and social media besides content has shown rapid growth in recent times and this is increasingly becoming an important and critical component of an agency’s offering.

PRmoment India: What is Ketchum Sampark’s growth strategy for India and how will it differ from other international markets?

Jon Higgins: We’ve had a successful partnership with Sampark over the last 8 years and it’s only growing from strength to strength. We are very bullish about India’s growth and are looking at both organic and inorganic growth. As part of the strategy, our big focus is on expanding our content and digital portfolio along with diversification of businesses and geographies in the coming years.

PRmoment India: What are the biggest challenges for growing the Indian PR market:  talent, commoditisation of PR services, price undercutting, understanding the business needs of an organisation or integration?

Jon Higgins: Well, it’s all of this in varied proportions but I feel talent acquisition and retention is a constant challenge; given the dynamic market India is.  

PRmoment India: Where does Ketchum Sampark stand on the integration issue? Is it desirable for a PR agency to be all things to all people?

Jon Higgins: Well, integration is necessary on multiple levels as it helps in adapting the global best practices relevant to the India market, training and development that further enhances / builds employee skills, knowledge and sharing.

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