Ladies and gentleman this is your Captain speaking, “We suggest keeping your seatbelt fastened through 2012 as well. The turbulence will continue”. 2011 was not a year that the civil aviation industry in India will like to remember.
With domestic airlines estimated to have posted losses of over Rs 3,500 crore in just the first six months, India’s most flamboyant airline – Kingfisher on the verge of bankruptcy and our National Carrier, Air-India in need of a Rs.23,000 crore bail-out package; any form of much-needed PR for the aviation industry, borders on crisis management. The situation was made worse by the constant reshuffling of the top brass, corrupt dealings and unnecessary government involvement. With the latest development being the approval of upto 49% FDI in aviation, the year 2012 will require the industry to undergo a detailed image make over.
With the green light being signalled to cut the red tape surrounding India’s retail sector, the country is all set to become one of the most attractive destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI), and thereby carve itself a rather large slice of the global $450 billion industry.
With so many global brands having to adapt to an Indian market place, 2012 will see retail PR playing an important role in bridging gaps. There will also be a fair amount of crisis management involved as sceptics believe that the decision to allow upto 51% FDI comes as the final nail in the coffin for unemployment – when all the ‘middle men’ are cut out, or that innocent farmers will be at the mercy of large chain corporates, who will begin to dictate price.
Yes, the PR industry itself. Nirra Radia’s departure and the shocking closure of Vaishnavi, left tremendous doubt in the mindset of customers, as to the sanctity and secrecy of the business. Clients became more wary, companies more careful and PR agencies with a large public affairs business suffered. Such was the gulf that the industry was in, that people were not even comfortable speaking on the phone.
The year 2012 will present a generous new opportunity for PR agencies to re-invent themselves and build on their credibility. The scandalous nature of the year gone by, has brought about sudden need for transparency and honesty, in the PR industry. Agencies willing to work on their image will be the most likely to lure new business.
The year 2011 began almost as shakily as it ended. Barely recovering from a global recession, the banking industry limped on through the year only to succumb to an unresponsive stock market towards the end. The concept of a safe financial instrument became a myth as many lost out on years of savings. Facing the brunt of their mistrust, banks and financial institutions did not have a good year at all. For banks, 2012 will be the year of re-branding, mergers, image makeovers and innovation. PR will have to play a major role in each aspect.
The theme of the year will be efficiency as the financial sector will no longer be able to exploit the real sector. Indian banks will need to explore more innovative ways to make money. Savings bank deregulation and rise in interest rates on non-resident Indian deposits will increase the cost of funds for banks. Similarly, abolition of penalty on prepayment of floating rate home loans will cost banks part of their income. With the increasing focus on protection of consumers—and rightly so—banks will need to increase productivity and efficiency if they want to stay relevant.
Despite what you immediately think of when you hear the word ‘telecom’ – 2G controversies, hostility between telecom operators and the government over the 3G roll-out, one- time fee for extra spectrum, fierce competition and the dwindling profits, 2011 has been another success chapter in India’s telecom sector.
From Bharti Airtel’s pioneering foray into the untapped African subcontinent (a venture that’s been incurring losses up until now, but no less important as markets and economies in Asia reach saturation point) and a push towards the universally popular no-roaming charges theme of ‘One Nation-One Licence’; to the convenience of mobile number portability and an effective ‘Do Not Disturb’ policy that restricts pesky sales calls. The stellar growth of the Indian telecom sector continued with the addition of over 12 million new users every month as operators increased their penetration to the farthest part of the country and improved their network coverage.
2012 will be busy year for telecom PR, as organisations try to paint a more transparent picture, when it comes to their dealing and operations; re-assure old customers, while vying for new ones; juggle new ventures and overhaul their images, so as to compete on a global level.
|Written by Suhail Bhandari for Image Management.|