Lack of digital skills will haunt us in our balance sheets: Madan Bahal

PRmoment India’s latest conference, “The Race for Digital Integration”, offered a rare glimpse from the country’s top brands on how to integrate digital into business and communication. PR leads from Snapdeal, FlipKart, Godrej, LinkedIn, PepsiCo, Edelman and Micromax all offered insights into how they are handling digital communication.

Snapdeal: The hunt for the next 100 million customers

PR Integration tips: Farheen Akhtar
- Everyone in the company is empowered to be in customer Service.
- Staff trained in communication and behavior with customers
- Online crisis handles by one spokesperson only
- Integrated communications team

Farheen Akhtar, head PR, Snapdeal said that during the initial days of Snapdeal, the company, “Relied heavily on social and PR to build awareness.”

Farheen said that currently the firm’s digital integration strategy hinges on creating a digital ecosystem which includes its recent mobile wallet acquisition Freecharge. Snapdeal is also concentrating hard on regional content and is now available in 12 Indian languages.

Both these moves, particularly rolling out in multiple languages, are aimed at bringing in the next 100 million customers.

Build a strong digital safety net: Godrej

Sujit’s top digital PR tip
Concentrate on online news sites such as “Times of India”, “NDTV” for big gains.

Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies said that the key to effective digital integration is framing a vision to, “Create a strong digital safety net”. This means having the right content that is searchable. Sujit flagged off Google search and YouTube as the top two safety nets for a company’s reputation, as potential customers use these two platforms the most to discover information.

FlipKart Stories has social at its core: Senjam Raj Shekhar

Senjam Raj Shekhar
FlipKart stories is a start-up within a start-up. Management trainees with the company were formally pitched to join.

Senjam Raj Shekhar, head of corporate communications, FlipKart shared insights from the experience of launching FlipKart Stories , one of the most comprehensive brand journalism programmes in India. Stories as varied as company news to a blog around Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary find their way on the blog. Raj said that FlipKart Stories us positioned as, “A digital platform at heart with social at its core.” The site has over 500,000 visitors a month as compares to over 40,000 visitors by Alizila, Alibaba’s company news and stories site.

Lack of digital skills will soon start reflecting in the balance sheets:

Commenting on the role of digital in PR as compared to advertising and marketing, Nikhil Dey, president - Genesis Burson Marsteller said that to handle the tech end of digital it is preferable to have a partner who is co-located with the firm.

Madan Bahalmanaging director – Adfactors PR, said that the digital tsunami is not affecting PR alone, disruption is everywhere.

Madan pointed out PR must adopt digital in its own context. He also sounded a strong warning saying that,” PR has been a laggard in adopting digital and has evolved the least. The proof of this is in the revenue mix with single digit revenue from digital for PR.”

Madan also said that the slow uptake of digital skills will, “Haunt us in our balance sheets.”

Commenting on the need to solve the talent challenge Bhavna Thapar, consumer lead- SAMEA, Edelman India said that 30 percent of the company’s hires in the Middle East, India and Africa are now coming from outside the PR industry.

Xavier Prabhu, founder, managing director – PRHUB, said that the new PR agency model as a result of digital will include greater outsourcing and large tech teams sitting inside a PR consultancy.

The CEO panel pictured above (from left to right): Xavier Prabhu, founder, managing director – PRHUB, Papri Dev, managing director, India - ‎Zeno Group, Madan Bahal, managing director – Adfactors PR. Nikhil Dey, president - Genesis Burson Marsteller and Ben Smith, publisher

Thanks to our sponsors for the “Race for Digital Integration” conference:

If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our weekly event and subscriber alerts.