An open economy, more resolute and vocal citizenry some of the major trends for communicators in '22: PRmoment-Hill+Knowlton Strategies Friday Zone series

On the latest PRmoment-Hill+Knowlton Friday Zone series, we discuss:

Future Marathon: Trends 2022

People, Brands, Economy and Culture: Issues that will matter for communicators in 2022

Session 1: Journo Speak

In the first session speakers included Suresh Seshadri- business editor, The Hindu; Puja Talwar- senior entertainment journalist and Influencer and Mukta Lad, assistant editor - Brand Equity, The Economic Times. They shared their views on what issues will make news in 2022.

Suresh Seshadri- business editor, The Hindu, kicked off the conversation with his pick for what will be a big trend for 2022, saying,"The biggest challenge is going to be do we want a more connected, integrated world? If we do, then we're going to have to cope with quick transmission of a virus now. Omicron detection in South Africa happened quite quickly but probably the virus has already had already flown across multiple borders.  As more variants come up, it's also the supply chain bottlenecks which are being seen across multiple industries, automobile for example. The fact is that supply chains are seriously in deep crisis or very deeply sort of affected. So, if the world decides that we want to get more insular, it's going to come with significant economic costs, the world decides let's try and stay more interconnected. Then, again, it comes with costs, but it also has benefits. But we need to lay down the parameters and the paradigms of how you want to stay well connected."

Seshadri added, "Going forward, you all have a big role in the PR industry and the communications industry, in getting to policymakers information and views, which are germane and relevant. And this is not just maths, you know, sort of public opinion, but also targeted scientific opinion, which, from the experts, which gives policymakers inputs on you know, what are we doing right or wrong about how we respond to these kinds of situations."

Regional Content is in -with a bit of help from OTT

Commenting on the sharp rise in India focused OTT content on channels such as Netflix, Amazon Video and Hotstar, Puja Talwar- senior entertainment journalist and Influencer said, "OTT has been a new lease of life for regional cinema, if I would say, and also for content creators and new talent, talent that earlier would never make it have found their playground at the OTT so you have new OTP stars. Pratik Gandhi is the best example of it after Scam 1992.  On the other hand, if you see the Korean squid going, you had Anupam Tripathi in it for just precisely two minutes. He had just 3000 subscribers on Instagram. He's sitting at 7 million subscribers today."

Talwar also commented on another trend OTT has led to, "OTT is also catering to the Tier 2 and 3 cities in India.  So serials like Panchayat and t Kota factory, they're not catering to Mumbai, Delhi. They're actually catering to people in Jharkhand. For example, the JAmtara series on credit card fishing, they're catering to people in Ranchi."

All these are pointers for communicators that regional content is bigger than ever and has to be a central focus of communication campaigns.

It's the purpose of brands that matters, brands are better with communicating in a Covid environment 

Flagging off her major trend for brands in 2022, Mukta Lad, assistant editor - Brand Equity, The Economic Times said, "Brands are better equipped, when it comes to how to communicate and how to they won't grapple as much as they did, because COVID was such a sudden thing earlier, right? I mean, we just almost shut down overnight. That is sort of like the trend number one, in the near future, as I see that the uncertainty is something that is going to just keep this sort of communication alive for the time to come. The viruses aren't going to go so easily and will keep mutating. And so each time we are a bit complacent, it's going to come back."

Lad added, "As far as other trends are concerned, what we've been seeing is, you know, is the focus on purpose driven communication, brands are suddenly, not suddenly but there are a lot of purpose exercises that are happening, especially with key FMCGs. Also with all kinds of brands, they are focusing on purpose. And I think the communication will focus on that, as well.

    Do watch the full discussion here:

    Session 2: Communicators lens on News 2022

    Moving to the second session, Speakers include Bob John, corporate communications, Tata Trusts; Poornima Matthan, vice president, marketing and communications, RMZ Corp; and Abhishek Gulyani, CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies India.

    This session saw communicators share their views on what have issues will matter to India and therefore to communicators in 2022.

    For Poornima Matthan, vice president, marketing and communications, RMZ Corp, one of the most important trends for 2022 is user experience. She said, " I think marketers should really focus on user experience. I think I mean, you know, everybody talks today about user experience being the next being the social currency. Right, right. So so what is user experience? How can we get more strategic in everything that we do? Because today AI and machine learning, etc, doing a lot of the grunt work of digital marketing. The other is, of course, influencer marketing.  AI is coming to play influencer marketing, for example, I mean, predictive AI can really, you know, assess influencer videos and tell you, you know, tell a company where where to spend their money or you know, to get the best ROI."

    The emergence of a resolute citizenry and communications 

    If user experience is the new social currency, another example of the pulling together of a vocal audience can be seen in the rise of what,  Bob John, corporate communications, Tata Trusts calls, "The macro trend of a more articulate and resolute citizenry  Companies have to be cognizant of this sharper resoluteness and articulateness."

    John also pointed out that, "Now, the flip side for a moment, let's just leave the politics aside politics aside, let's leave the judgmental stance that a point of view is archaic or  liberal or conservative. The question still remains as to why certain brands had to pull their ads down, why are there standoffs? It is because pointed views are being expressed in absolute resoluteness and articulateness, this has become more visible and this will raise expectations on how companies engage with this sort of a citizenry.

    This leads me to a sub point for communicators which is on decoding Indian and Bharat which is something that you were highlighting, there is no politics here. When I say decoding India and Bharat I refer to the consolidation of rural, semi urban and urban markets from a communication standpoint. Each has a nuance so minute, yet significantly, that communicators may not want to ignore it."

    Superhero culture in India gives cues to communicators 

    Abhishek Gulyani, CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies India says behavioral science and data is going to enter PR strongly. And this will help communicators understand trends such as the superhero phenomenon in India.

     Says Gulyani, "India is the biggest market for superheroes. You look at Bollywood actors. You look at cricketers, they're all referred as superheroes, right? So look at the amount of communication that's happening in that concept, and how do we use that behaviour to create to create conversation, look at the impact that squid games has had on the social fabric of a nation, right. So I think those are conversations from a behavioural science perspective, that are going to be very, very critical. And that's going to become integral to creating more evidence based communication."

    Please watch the entire discussion for session 2:

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