PR future success lies in visual storytelling, no AVEs and solving business challenges

Speakers at the recently held ‘ PR is Changing’ conference organized by PRmoment India highlighted visual content, cause based storytelling and solving business problems as key markers of what will define public relations in the future.

Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited  and associate companies, said that in order to be successful at PR in the future professionals would need to to focus on visual communication and storytelling, understanding the business imperatives and analysing the potential for crisis and effective expectation management.

Focus on ROO and not ROI:  Sujit Patil, Godrej

Patil said that more than ROI, it is return on objective or ‘ROO’ that is increasingly important for the new age PR professional. The ability to help set the  expectations of the client within the framework of the objective is what counts.

Giving the example of Godrej’s campaign with chicken priced at Rs. 48; Patil said that a focus on cause based storytelling, allowed them to zoom in on protein deficiency as a peg rather than a broad peg of nutrition.

Sujit Patil also said that it’s important for PR professionals to do PR for PR and showcase the impact PR has had. In order to better measure this, Patil advises mapping communication to measurable goals. In keeping with the goal of more meaningful measures for PR, from 2015, Godrej is doing away with AVEs as PR measures.

Integrated communications

Krishna Kota, who spearheads consumer bank marketing, branding and CSR for DBS India, said that the marketing and corporate communications team is now integrated with the same set of KPI’s for both. Agreeing with Patil about content driving PR in the future, Kota also pointed to a focus on ROO and engaging content to tell a brand story well. He showcased the “ chili paneer” film produced by DBS to show the connect between two people in different countries in an ATM:

Kota pointed out earlier banks would not have gone in for such storytelling styles for financial products.

PR strategy for the digital age

Disruptive PR is the key today with social media. Karthik Srinivasan, national head, social@Ogilvy gave the example of Tamil cinema PRO, Nikhil Murugan, who creates his own content to pull audiences to him rather than push people to content.

Srinivasan also focused on social listening, saying it’s like insurance for the brand to track brand chatter.

Deepa Sapatnekar, head of communications (India & Hong Kong), LinkedIn said that what you need is a PR strategy for the digital age and not a digital strategy for the digital age.

Sapatnekar pointed out given the massive scale that sites LinkedIn and other social media networks enjoy, it’s important for a brand to activate their employees and empower them online as well for a brand to be active and present on social.

Mobile Content : Emojify your content

An upcoming PR challenge within content is pitching mobile content. Ritu Kapur, co-founder of mobile news and content start-up, ‘The Quint’, said that to suit the “chotta screen”, content has to be interactive, visual and emojified, with emojis emerging as a whole new way of communication.

Kapur flagged off fashion, tech, CSR, health and youth initiatives as content areas PR firms can leverage for mobile platforms.

Can’t fix stories anymore

The first panel discussion of the day discussed the roadmap for PR ahead. Rakesh Thukral, managing director, Edelman India pointed out the best response to negative stories is to be transparent, responsive and upfront.

The panel, chaired by
Paroma Chowdhury, vice president, public affairs, SoftBank also said that the moment you shift your focus within PR to reputation management, it automatically brings you to business goals.

Don’t call us ‘PR agencies’, measurements a non issue

The concluding session of the day, chaired by Nitin Mantri, CEO, Avian Media and president of PRCAI, with leading CEOs of PR firms in India saw a lively discussion on the future of PR companies in India.

Archana Jain, managing director, PR Pundit strongly advocated dropping the word agency to describe a PR firm, preferring instead to be called a PR firm or consultancy.

Madan Bahal, co-founder and managing director, Adfactors PR felt that too much fuss is made about measuring PR and said that instead PR professionals should focus on solving business problems for their clients. Bahal said that what PR professionals need is the ability to anticipate and define business problems for their clients and those who can do that will be successful.

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