Why India’s tech start-up boom is benefiting PR

If there is one area that has grabbed attention in the last 5 years, it’s the start up sector in India. The Government of India is planning to initiate a 1000 crore fund to grow the start-up ecosystem-all this could well drive growth in the PR sector as well as the economy grows.

For PR companies such as Value 360 Communications, which concentrate on early stage business, this has meant good growth as well.

In the last quarter of 2014-2015, Value 360 Communications co-founder, Kunal Kishore Sinha, ”Our growth has accelerated by 60% and we have witnessed a phenomenal quarter with the number of client acquisitions touching 50 which is simply unheard of.”

Sinha adds that, “New age businesses are disrupting traditional barriers of commerce with their unconventional ideas and approach. This has manifested itself in several new companies in emerging markets like m-commerce, e-commerce, adtech, mediatech, edutech and fintech. The start-up boom has meant more companies today are keen on investing in PR in order to carve a niche for their innovative services in the economic landscape of the country.”

Nikhil Dey, President, Genesis Burson-Marsteller, says that, “A particularly busy November and December 2014 saw quite a few new business queries coming in as compared to earlier years. As a result, we have seen a spurt in new client wins in the first quarter of 2015. We have added 17 new businesses and 52 new projects across all our public relations practices as well as centers of expertise. The ratio of retainer-based assignments to more project-based ones seems to be moving in the same direction as the global public relations marketplace where project assignments are far more than the retainers.”

Government growth policies benefit PR

Other government policies like the plan to promote 52 growing emerging cities and 100 smart cities is also driving interest in PR. Paresh Chaudhry, CEO, Madison PR says that these will become fertile markets across India and  are the new targets for FMCG, lifestyle, hospitality, entertainment and luxury brands.

Adds Chaudhry, “The consumer has so many options today and mere advertising is not adequate for sustainable brand building. Amongst diminishing brand loyalty, credibility platforms are key to brand recall and long term ROI. Interestingly the Pharma and health care practices are gaining speed too. The need to educate citizens on health issues is far gaining credence.”

Sinha points out that the manufacturing sector too is definitely witnessing a positive curve.  He says that “With the Government approving the inflow of FDI with a view to boosting the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP, this will help home grown manufacturing companies to foster profitable business practices on the back of steady investment. Insurance is another sphere, which will see rapid growth with the entry of more companies keen on mutual growth through strategic alliances. These budding companies in turn will be looking at engaging services of PR, advertising and marketing to establish brand salience and build mindshare in the domestic market as well as on the world stage.”

What PR services are in demand?

That PR is moving beyond media engagement in India-the question is what kind of PR are clients demanding?

According to Sinha, “ The role of PR people is no longer relegated to bringing good coverage but has extended to entail a more meaningful influence by getting involved right at the planning stage of how to market the brand. Integrated in this mesh is the vital importance of content marketing, which is steadily gaining weightage. The next game changing trend will be that of visual communication to highlight brand messaging further.”

Tarun Bansal, MD and founder of Blue Pigeon Image Management says the focus has shifted to online image building and reputation management than just to have an online presence.

Building on the digital and social media theme, Chaudhry flags of the fact that “digital and social media strategic plans are now a must. While companies’ hire specialized digital agencies, they expect us to present comprehensive integrated PR plans. We are now mastering the domains of marketing influencers and bloggers. Clients like P&G, Levi’s, Puma, Britannia, Café Coffee Day, Marriot international brands are demanding segmented reach.”

Will the growth sustain?

Sinha is optimistic about the future saying, “ I see ourselves sustaining the momentum for the next couple of years. The rise of new age businesses driven by the growth of mobile and social applications promises to open the doors of opportunity and gives us a wide berth to claim a significant share of the pie.”

Bansal says the engagement of audience with brands with innovative ways is the key to future success for a brand and that’s where PR will continue to count.

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