13 Indian PR trends for 2013

It’s that time of the year again, it's time to take up the crystal ball and look at what trends will matter for the business of public relations in India in 2013.

Here goes:

1. Social media

Social media is emerging as a major influence that shapes PR strategy and is pushing changes in all directions, encouraging brands to embrace online PR. This was the one topic on the mind of every PR professional we spoke to. Says, Poonam Thakur, Manager of PR and Corporate Communication, MakeMyTrip.com, “Social media has provided a viable platform for citizens to engage. However sustainability is something that is expected to be a challenge for campaigners. Creating a self-sustaining engagement programme is the Holy Grail and the confluence of savvy digital marketing and engaging content may just help us achieve it!"

2. Rise of the digital journalist

PR strategists will need to further factor in a whole new era of journalism: digital journalists make up an important additional platform to deal with. “Next year is also likely to see social media becoming a larger part of the PR efforts undertaken by most organizations thereby changing the pace and style of corporate communications. The mind boggling pace at which social media is growing is making organizations evaluate their communications strategy and public relations today encompasses establishing and building strong relationships with bloggers, twitterati and social media experts.” says  Eashwari Deshpande, Public Relations Manager at Intel South Asia.

3. Civil society

Five years ago, news generated by civil society movements was virtually nonexistent. The Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal public engagements have been a game changer for civil society and its impact on PR nationally. Dhritiman Biswas, a seasoned corporate affairs and crisis management professional, says, ”2013 will see more of mass movements and ‘ground swell’ campaigns, put together with help of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. As the mobile penetration increases (especially smart phones) in Tier 2 and 3 cities, barriers of accessibility and language will break down leading to a more inclusive movement, which till now was limited to urban areas. Communication professionals will need to accept this paradigm shift as the ‘new normal’ and create strategies taking this new parameter to exploit issues or limit the damage.”

4. It’s the content!

Experts recommend focusing more on content than relationships in 2013. Karthik Srinivasan, AVP Corporate Communications, Flipkart.com asserts that, "The latter was PR 1.0 and the former is PR 2.0. We are living in an era of content explosion and PR is well suited to make appropriate use of it to benefit clients.”

5. Brand journalism

Brand journalism is one trend that 2013 could see more of. While this may be more prevalent internationally rather than in India, that does not face that big of challenge of shrinking newsrooms yet, Carson Dalton, Head of Corporate Communications, BT Asia Pacific, flags this off as a trend for 2013 dictated by shrinking budgets and shrinking newsrooms, “Companies like Coca Cola already make use of brand journalism, where journalists are free to pick up content from websites. This is a situation where you start owning the content and this trend is being aided by the rise of social media platforms.”

6. Big data

Big data will continue to be a source of crucial business information. Says Carson Dalton, “Social Big Data is here to stay. Applications and local innovation will simplify the process in a multi lingual market.”

7. Sustainability

Dhritiman Biswas points out that “with the Companies Bill poised to pass in the Indian Parliament, CSR and Sustainability will see greater focus (and hence jobs creation in this area) in 2013.”

8. Visual PR

PR is set to become even more visual in 2013, with people consuming information in quick visual bytes. "Infographics in press releases would be the next big thing in visual PR in India,” according to Biswas.

9. The tech sector 

The tech sector will continue to generate news trends in 2013 and therefore opportunities for PR. Eashwari Deshpande, Public Relations Manager, Intel South Asia, points out that “for the technology industry, in particular, there's likely to be high interest around the connected multi-device scenario in India, cloud computing, small and medium business technology adoption as well as growth and the interest around the government's IT policy and implementation.”

10. Mobile PR

“Brands have to create a mobile strategy as most emerging markets and the world over are accessing the internet via their smart devices”, says Dalton. 

11. Crisis communication and the rising importance of PR

Eashwari Deshpande says that, “ In tough times, public relations becomes the most effective way of getting credible visibility for the organisations and 2013 is likely to see more activity in the PR functions at most organizations.”

12. Intensive 24x7 news cycle

“In an era where news breaks on Twitter and reputations are built or broken on Facebook, the need to manage perceptions is more acute than ever before. PR folks need to be nimble, well-connected and make their peace with being on-the-job 24x7”, points out Poonam Thakur.

13. Being strategic and not merely tactical will lead to a better image for the PR business

“Have an opinion and air it to the client as counsel confidently. PR is not a press release dissemination function – it is a function that leads to change in perceptions. In a way, PR industry by itself needs to do better PR for the profession,advises, Flipkart’s Srinivasan.

And here’s an extra trend for luck that is bound to warm the hearts of agencies ...

Not bashing PR agencies

As Carson Dalton puts it succinctly, "Bashing PR agencies is so 1990s”.

Did we miss any? We would love to know what is on your list of PR trends, comment here or tweet us your list @PRmomentIndia.