Marketers want PR to invest in data, content and digital

PR business watchers in India believe that the time has come for PR agencies to invest strongly in data driven insights, content and digital. The alternative? To be written out of the PR 3.0 game.

A report released this month by MSLGROUP called the, ‘India Strategic Communications Report 2015: Inside the CMO’s Mind’, shows that while CMOs across India value the role of PR, they want agencies to adopt an integrated communication model, show measurable results and make greater investments in data driven insight and analysis, content and digital.

What would you like your PR agency to invest in?


The survey on which the report is based covers several sectors, but a large chunk of the respondents are from the IT/Telecom/Consulting and manufacturing sector.

Integrated Communication: PR vs. Advertising

Two-thirds of the CMOs said that they have already adopted the integrated communication approach at the client end in order to achieve higher engagement with audiences and greater visibility.

According to the report, in response, while the PR industry is making a shift to an integrated communications model, CMOs feel that it is advertising agencies that are adapting to integrated communications more quickly.

Part of the reason advertisers’ are trusted more than PR is because the marketers surveyed feel that they’ve delivered greater return on investment in the past.

Which is why CMOs in the survey said that advertising continues to grab the biggest share of the annual marketing budget – 45% – with PR and digital stacking up at just 15% each.

The report also says that marketers feel that if the PR agencies of today want to become the partners of choice tomorrow, they need to demonstrate how they can add value and shift quickly to the integrated model.

Marketing heads were quick to assert that agencies that did not adopt a holistic approach would fade away – with 58% saying that PR agencies that did not offer integrated communications would die.

If your agency were to offer you integrated communication, what would be the business impact?


PR budgets for 2015

While the overall share of PR in marketing budgets remains far behind advertising, overall, both marketing budgets and PR budgets have risen – 80% of the respondents said that the budget allocation for PR is rising.

Tina Pawar, assistant vice-president, Everstone Capital Advisors, said: “Our businesses are primarily B2B, and there is a conscious effort to keep updating strategy; for example, getting more involved with the regional media. We’re working hand-in-hand with the business development teams, identifying their needs based on business goals and building those needs into our communication strategy.” That explains why the company’s budget allocation for PR has grown by around 20%.

22% of the marketers agreed that their budget allocation for PR rose because agencies were evolving from the traditional to the integrated approach. Providing this evolution continue, 51% confirmed that they would also allocate higher budgets for PR in 2015.

Show me the ROI!

Only 29% of CMOs surveyed believe that PR delivers greater returns than advertising.

Sameer Kumar, head of press communication, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India, said, “Opinion is split between the marketing communication and PR team. The PR team believes PR is as effective, if not more than, advertising, while the marketing communication team feels advertising is better. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Something like a full-page ad in a newspaper such as ‘The Times of India’ probably creates a bigger impact than, say, an editorial story or car review in a smaller newspaper. However, editorial-led content is likely to have a ‘slow burn’ effect and create longer-lasting impact than flashy advertising. Internally, it is a never-ending debate. Most marketing people don’t see the PR effort as an alternative, but as something that supplements the marketing effort.”

One way to do this would be via better insights. Ashraf Engineer, VP, Content and Insights, MSLGROUP India, puts the onus on agencies to tackle this. He says, “I think we’ll have to bite the bullet and find a way to make the investments. Marketing heads say in the survey that agencies that don’t invest in strategic planning and insights will not survive in the future; 98% said that data and insights will play the pivotal role in their campaigns, while 88% indicated that it is unlikely they would choose an agency that does not have these capabilities. Marketing heads will not turn to us unless we can deliver on this. It would be unreasonable to expect otherwise.”

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