Anant Rangaswami
Dec 14, 2010

Anant’s blog: PR agencies: Forget all that I’ve been saying

Learning from The Economist’s World in 2011

Anant’s blog: PR agencies: Forget all that I’ve been saying

I heard two great, new words at The Economist’s World in 2011 event last week: ‘Sofalising’ and ‘Multiscreening’.
These words, and their import, fascinated me so much that I tweeted that I’d blog about them. I didn’t, and that was a good thing.
Over the weekend, I read the printed from of The World in 2011, and learnt another new word: ‘Multinationimbles’.
Three lovely words, three words that replace entire paragraphs which would have been required had these not existed.
I’m not going to explain these three words; think about them, google them discover them yourselves. Or, of course, you could just go and buy the World in 2011, available at bookstores for Rs.500. 

Which, in many ways, is why I’m not doing a post on the three words. 

Rs.500 for a print product, in an era when we say print is dying.Which brings me to another section in the World in 2011, ‘Metering the news’. “The big trend in 2011 will be the return of the paywall, as an increasing number of websites will ask users to pay. The most prominent example will be the New York Times….by April several other American newspapers will have followed suit,” says Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics (which you must visit). 

Will consumers pay for content? Ever? Yes, is the answer, as long as it is not commodity news. 

Which is why Rs.500 is money well spent on The World in 2011. The Economist obviously thinks so. In a country where the privileged get to attend most conferences and seminars free, The Economist charged US$600 for a place at the Gala dinner. 

Which gave you serious bang for the buck (even if I didn’t pay; I was a guest). 

If the event first got me to thinking about changes in TV through sofalising and multiscreening, both of which got me to ruminate on the changes in social media and on the digital front, it was the prediction named ‘Words fail them’ which sort of slowly crept forward into making me think. 

“In 2011 companies will begin to say goodbye to the written word. The basic unit of communication will no longer be typed out in e-mails. It will be shot in pictures and shown on video,” says The World in 2011. 

For the past few months, since Goafest 2010, we’ve been doing more and more of video, perhaps with an instinctive understanding of where we were headed. We’ve had our frustrations, dealing with poor bandwidth. We’ve learnt how to interview for video, we’ve learnt how to edit, we’ve learnt how to compress the files and ensure a decent reader experience. 

And it got us thinking of doing more and more in the audiovisual content space. My colleague, Bindu Nair Maitra, is now working on a pdf special which will have embedded video interviews. You will see the output later this week. 

Campaign India is not alone; Mint (or HT Media as a whole) has been at the forefront of the integrated newsroom in India. More and more print products are using video extensively on their digital offerings. 

And I wonder what the PR industry is doing about this development. If more and more consumers choose the Internet for their daily doses of news and analysis as we go 3G, more and more of the press ‘releases’ will need to be in a digital format. 

Can we get a quote from the MD or the CEO on an audio file? A digital file? I could imagine that, in the absence of any of my colleagues attending a press conferences, we would happily carry an audio or video interview (subject, of course, to the content being relevant). Imagine the same content in text and on video – which would work harder? 

At Campaign India, we’ve been discussing the digital landscape for some time now. What do we do? How do we do it, etc. We’ve been discussing the need for creatives at advertising agencies to understand how to use digital to communicate, whether they are ready to embrace the medium, etc. 

And we hadn’t wondered about the need for the PR industry to come up to speed. The more one thinks about it, it seems that they are best placed to gain most immediately from the move from print to digital or the convergence of TV and digital. 

So if you’re in a PR agency, perhaps you should ignore all that I’ve written in the last few years about poor English and poor punctuation and carelessness in spelling. 

Just learn all you can about handling video equipment and preparing your clients for video as well. Spend ages understanding when your targets are sofalising and multiscreening. Hang around on FB and follow millions on Twitter.

That sounds like a fun job.

Go on, throw away your dictionary!

Campaign India

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