Ruder Finn to target reputation risk business in India, believes Indian firms will pay

Millions saw it. That moment, when ‘La La Land’ won and then, it didn’t. The unimaginable, an Oscar envelope mix up.

It’s this moment that Ruder Finn wants to help Indian firms prepare for. During a road show in India, earlier this month to showcase their risk assessment capabilities, the firm analysed the latest 500 Facebook posts of firms such as Airtel, Vodafone, Coca-Cola, Hero MotoCorp, Asian Paints and Facebook India:

Brand sentiment analysis on social

According to the analysis, while brands such as Asian Paints may not post much, the overall sentiment is positive.

While Facebook’s sentiment among it’s stakeholders in India remains on a rising curve of positive sentiment, Vodafone shows a declining sentiment. Analysts said that looking at the trend from their social media posts, it is very likely that Vodafone will be on a downward sentiment with stakeholders in India over the next few years. Airtel, on the other hand has shown a recent rise in positive sentiment, which some attribute to their ‘Open Network’ campaign:

Sentiment of public feedback: all brands

Pharma, healthcare sectors on Ruder Finn agenda

Ruder Finn executives in Asia, say they no longer identify their firm as a PR agency, but an integrated communications consultancy..

David Ko, managing director, ‘Daylight Partnership’ which was acquired by Ruder Finn last year told PRmoment India that, “ PR agencies do not invest in digital.” Ruder Finn, on the other hand has brought in firms such as ‘Daylight Partnership’ and is offering a set of risk assessment tools developed including  an app based risk assessment system called ‘RiskSTAT’ and a training tool ‘Sonar’.

Hard data from a variety of sources such as radio, TV, on ground surveys can be added to these tools to assess a more complete trend.

Both Ko and Charles Lankester, Ruder Finn Asia’s, SVP for reputation management flagged off Pharma and healthcare as potential priority sectors for the firm in India. Additionally, financial, especially insurance sector will be another target area.

Lankester told PRmoment India that, “ We have a very fast growing business in India”. While, Ruder Finn declined sharing YoY growth figures for India, Ruder Finn is bullish about it’s prospects for bagging risk assessment business in India; in a market that is famously price conscious.

Says Lankester, “ We approach this in two ways. First of all, reputation in India is not very different from other places in the world. And secondly, we are not in the public relations business. Our client is the CMO, the CEO; our budgets will come from there.”

While clients may be unwilling to pay top dollar for PR, Lankester believes this changes drastically when there is a crisis. Then, he says, they would be willing to pay a 1,000 dollars to fix a 100 dollar problem.

Lankester agreed that the digital tools require the human touch to analyse and separate the trends properly. Social media can act like an echo chamber, reflecting the views of a minority that can sometimes be identified as a larger trend.

Lankester said electoral polls are a good example of how this happens when polls have recently got their predictions wrong on cases as diverse as Trump in the US Presidential elections and the Bihar state polls in India.

Social media too got the UK and US elections wrong as the posts did not reflect the majority view.

Reputation at the core of a business  today

Reputation has now moved to the centre of a brand’s priorities.  While, earlier, a company spent years building its’ reputation, today it can be built and upended in the space of a 60 second tweet.

Therefore, risk assessment and understanding the worst case scenario is key to a brand’s growth and indeed, survival.

And communication, whether you call it PR or strategic communication, is certainly the primary asset in a crisis.

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