Union Budget boosts PR opportunities for rural, MSMEs, start-ups

Even though demonetisation is impacting business development for the PR sector, this year’s ‘Union Budget’ offers several opportunities for PR firms to chase fresh opportunities across sectors, while offering tax relief to PR companies.

Nikhil Dey, president — public relations & public affairs, Genesis Burson-Marsteller feels that there isn’t a direct impact of the budget on the PR industry. Dey however clarifies that, “Maintaining the same service tax for the time being has been a relief for the industry. However, the impact of the budget on other industries, which engage PR agencies, indirectly affects us. “

The Budget also provided 5% tax relief to the MSME companies. Dey says, “This, we hope, will provide direct and indirect impetus on the growth of the communications industry though enhanced spends on marketing. The Union Budget 2016 has also paved the way for rural digitisation with a focus on digital literacy. The aim to connect 6 crore households will provide a stronger reach and deeper penetration for digital and technology driven services in rural India, paving way for stronger communications platforms.”

Startups will get a boost

With the amendments in the Companies Act and the ‘Startup India’ scheme, experts foresee a boost in the entrepreneurial ecosystem where job seekers could turn into job creators. 

Dey feels, “This will fuel the already energised start-up culture, with the increased need to interact and engage with their customer base through marketing and PR. Also, with abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) so as to facilitate a new policy for foreign direct investment (FDI there will be renewed focus on ensuring ease of doing business that will reinforce positive investment climate for global investors, which in turn will have a cascading effect on the communications industry. “

Impact of Union Budget: Boost to traditional media 

While the effects of demonetisation still play out and will for some more time, communications specialist Anup Sharma has an optimistic view of the future of PR after what he calls “ an essentially non-populist budget despite the large thrust for the rural economy.”

Sharma says that if the boost to the rural economy happens then there will be scope for using traditional media such as TV and print, both of which are still very strong in the rural areas. Sharma says the trick will be to use these in fresh combinations with social and channels such as radio to reach PR audiences.

Political PR 

The budget also capped all political donations at Rs. 2,000; a sharp drop from the earlier cap of Rs.20,000 per individual donor. Sharma points out that as more white money circulates in the political system, PR professionals may be encouraged to enter the field of political PR.

Additionally Dey feels that with the policy environment seeing so many changes, another important area that may see some interest is public affairs, as companies may seek out counsel to navigate these changes. 

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