Ananya Saha
Jul 18, 2014

“Earned media will lead owned or paid media”: John Kerr

The MD of Zeno Group Asia talks about emerging trends, potential partnerships with specialists and competition

“Earned media will lead owned or paid media”: John Kerr

From two people in October 2012, Zeno Group India , a member of the Daniel J Edelman (DJE), now boasts of 22 people on its rolls and seven clients. PR accounts for less than 20 per cent of its overall revenue.

Speaking with Campaign India, John Kerr, MD, Zeno Group Asia, explained that the positioning is of a ‘Social-digital agency with PR as its DNA’. This translates into a different way of telling stories, and different point of view of how to craft the story, he added. The opportunity for such an offering was spotted in 2012.

“There were four disruptive forces that were coming together: social, mobile, big data and cloud. We saw an opportunity with completely fresh perspective in how agencies think and provide value. These disruptive forces were going to change the way the marketers needed to create relationships and needed to sell,” he noted.

Kerr revealed that Intel is Zeno’s largest client in the Apac region, followed by P&G.

Papri Dev, MD, Zeno Group India, added, “We do PR and social for Motorola, which are integrated. We are their Apac hub, including Australia and New Zealand. We work with Snapdeal, Breitling, Pearl Academy,  ESPNCricinfo, upcoming music streaming service Guvera, brands of Luxottica such as RayBan, Oakley, Vogue and other licensed brands. A lot of our work goes out in the area of influencer outreach, in terms of earned media.”

Highlighting three ‘emerging trends’ in India, and Asia, Kerr said, “Earned media will lead owned or paid media. (If) You put paid media in the front-end of a programme (campaign), more often than not you are killing the chance of what you wish to accomplish. We will see social emerging in the midst of integrated marketing, more so in emerging markets like India.

Furthermore, (with)marketers' challenges of RoI, knowing their customers and creativity - they are looking for agency partners who really come to table with different kind of thinking. For a traditional PR or media or advertising agency, staying relevant in this kind of new media environment is very hard.”

He pointed out that Zeno was facing competition in India from media companies  with aggressive acquisition plans in the space.

On his vision for India, Kerr said, “My vision for India is really my vision for the region. We need to take leadership in terms of changing the way marketers think about content, and leadership in using various channels to put out the content. Media companies because of their size might be slow to adapt to the emerging amplifications. Our leadership would come from formulating content on one side and using the social amplification opportunity.”

Going forward, the group is looking to add specialist skill sets to expand its team in India. “We will also look at partnerships with other Indian specialists with the right cultural fit. We are talking of small specialists here. Small social advertising companies look for scale, which we provide,” he surmised.

Campaign India