Campaign India Team
May 08, 2009

Do Indian brands understand the role of PR?

Do Indian companies regard PR as an important component of the communication mix? Campaign India Team finds out. When a brand suffers what one may term as a PR crisis, how rapidly it reacts to the situation is a measure of how well it can manage conversations and maintain its public face. But while a crisis is at best an occasional occurrence, how a company deals with public relations on an ongoing basis, as a part of its communciation mix is a critical factor. Do Indian companies understand the critical role that PR plays in the communication mix?

Do Indian brands understand the role of PR?

Do Indian companies regard PR as an important component of the communication mix? Campaign India Team finds out.

When a brand suffers what one may term as a PR crisis, how rapidly it reacts to the situation is a measure of how well it can manage conversations and maintain its public face. But while a crisis is at best an occasional occurrence, how a company deals with public relations on an ongoing basis, as a part of its communciation mix is a critical factor. Do Indian companies understand the critical role that PR plays in the communication mix?

Tata Tea’s Sangeeta Talwar says that for a brand such as theirs, PR has always been a critical part of the media mix on an ongoing basis. For the brand’s Jaago Re campaign, which encouraged people to go out and vote, it was not just advertising that played a role but also public opinion created by a sustained and concerted PR effort.

“We still consider ourselves in the challenger space. So if we want to be disruptive and challenging, we need to subliminally slip into the consumer’s consciousness and start impacting them in ways which is not advertising per se. When consumers read newspapers and editorials, they interact and consume the information in a very different manner. PR plays that role, where it can slip in a thought or message unobtrusively but poignantly,” she adds.

Edelman’s Richard Edelman feels that PR as a tool is under utilised in India. “What we see in India is a disparity of audience, a 24X7 media and advertising that is largely used as a static tool. Instead, what needs to happen is for the conversation to be dynamic, and companies need to go where the conversations are. That includes communicating to opinion leaders, influencers, bloggers,” he says.

CMCG’s Samir Kale is of the view that most CEOs and company boards are definitely considering public relations implications of any critical decision but at what level they seek the help of PR professionals varies widely from company to company.

He explains, “The image of public relations gets equated to media relations, and PR professionals have not particularly invested in changing this perception. It is the responsibility of the PR professionals to showcase the depth of understanding of businesses, its critical functions. Add to that, a sound knowledge of the economic and socio-political environment in which the businesses operate, and this will bring about a perception shift on the role of PR among companies here.” LINOpinion’s Ameer Ismail feels that although Indian companies are convinced that PR does add value, several still think of it as an add-on rather than one of the main ingredients of the marketing mix. He adds, “Only a few realize the value of using effective PR when there is a market downturn because this is the time that one can derive huge benefits by sustained information targeted at key audiences as part of an ongoing PR campaign.” He feels that marketers are increasingly involving PR agencies prior to new launches. “Briefings now happen jointly with all agencies including the advertising, DM agencies etc,” he adds.

Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman

“PR as a tool is under utilised in India. What we see is disparity of audience, a 24X7 media and advertising largely being used as a static tool. Instead, the conversation needs to be dynamic, and companies need to go where conversations are. That means talking to opinion leaders, bloggers, influencers. The order in which PR is deployed needs to change. It needs to be there to announce a company’s plans, followed by those actions being taken and then proving that the task has been achieved, thats where PR comes in again. So PR needs to be at the table when policy changes are being made.”

 Sanjeev Shukla, general manager, marketing, Ford India

“In Ford, PR is not a part of marketing, but a pillar on its own, a well-rounded, full-blown aspect of establishing, maintaining and growing the brand’s connect with key-stakeholders. It runs parallel to marketing, aligned and compatible, in our bid to give out the right message and imagery. Any initiative, campaign or new development has both PR and marketing strategies getting planned, developed and executed together. A strong primary brand, the shining Ford Blue Oval is the underlying essence to all our strategies. To that end, PR plays a leadership role in corporate communication, engaging-stakeholders strategy.”

 Sangeeta Talwar, executive director, marketing, Tata Tea

“We regard PR as being very critical to our communication plans. We still consider ourselves in the challenger space. So if we need to be disruptive, we need to subliminally slip into the consumer’s consciousness and impact them in ways which is not advertising per se. Thats why when it comes to any large campaign, we always involve our PR agency from the start. It can help build a good feeling around what brands are saying. At Tata Tea, we are very particular about it. When we do our annual planning, once the plan is in place, we spend time with our PR agency to take them through the annual plans, so they can partner the journey with us. “

 Samir Kale, managing director, CMCG India

“There is an increasing understanding of the role and value of PR across different levels of management in India. The critical factor is that different management levels and functions value PR differently based on the contribution it is able to make. All CEOs and company boards are definitely considering PR implications of any critical decision. At what level they seek the help of PR professionals in this process varies widely. That depends largely on the PR professional’s competence to contribute at this level. The image of PR gets equated to media relations, and they have not invested in changing this image.”

 Ameer Ismail, executive director, LINOpinion

“Indian companies are beginning to realize the importance of PR as an integral part of the marketing mix. This has fuelled the growth of PR industry to a sizeable level. Having said that, I would add that the depth of understanding of the potential of PR by these companies is still at a nascent stage, and so, PR is not being used to its full effectiveness. The industry needs to focus on educating the public so that the bar of quality standards is raised by a more demanding scenario. So although Indian companies are convinced that PR adds value, many still see it as an add-on rather than one of the main ingredients of the marketing mix.”

Source:
Campaign India

Related Articles

Just Published

8 hours ago

Opinion: The power of UX experience to influence ...

The author has put forward strategic guidelines that can potentially impact the overall user experience of an e-commerce website

8 hours ago

Eno makes a southern case to put acidity in its place

Watch the film conceptualised by Grey Group India here

8 hours ago

Bajaj Finserv warns against online banking scams

Watch the film conceptualised by Social Panga

8 hours ago

Performance, success aren’t down to being quiet; ...

At an IAA Masterclass event, the consultant spoke about the role of brands in various sectors, their relationship with finance and how advertising will retain its importance for times to come