The second day at the Prestival started with a session on Reputation Management – Building reputation for brands, companies and celebrities. The varied backgrounds of the panelists made it an apt and interesting blend of speakers that provided insights on reputation management. With Valerie Pinto, Ceo, Perfect Relations Group as the moderator for the session, the panelists comprised Atul Kasbekar, owner of the celebrity management company Bling! Entertainment, Sidharth Singh, EVP – Sales at GlaxoSmithKline CH, Ransom D’Souza, Group VP and Head – Corporate Communications at Godrej, and Devdarshan Chakrabortyy, Dean, PRCIMS (Perfect Relations Centre for Image Management Studies).
The two day PR festival – PRestival – organized at the Devi Ratn Resort included CEOs, Agency Heads, Marketing/Communications Heads, Bureaucrats and students as delegates and participants. Over 200 corporate communication experts, journalists, and students from across Asia attended insightful keynote addresses and discussions on Brand Building, Public Relations, and Social Media in the Communications industry, along with fun, interactive activities at the event.
According to Ransom D’Souza, there are currently two things that keep CEOs awake – Talent and reputation. “To succeed as a business you need products, people who buy your products, people who recommend your products, media favourable stories, and employees to execute all of this. Public Relations as a whole are reputation stewards. We don’t procure, cook or conceptualise the product. We serve in a way that people come back.” he said.
Reputation, an intangible factor, is nevertheless as important as profits. Giving an example on branding and reputation Ransom said that McDonalds is a poster boy for obesity globally, but no one related McDonalds with obesity in India. Thus, as communicators, three things become important – Direct experience, what we say about the brand, and what other people say about the brand.
“Build reputation during peace time and not just manage reputation during war time. If you have to manage it, it’s already too late”
Devdarshan Chakrabortyy added by saying, “The overall perception has to build through an image and messaging makeover where the leadership is beyond doubt. At one level the brand priorities and business priorities are important, at another, the tools and stages of communication – PR, advertising, etc. Reputation is also about the seemingly invisible soft factors that are as important as the tangibles that can be seen”
Atul Kasbekar gave the example of Deepika Padukone saying that while she had family background, but no Bollywood pedigree, they were able to establish her as a brand in Bollywood by emphasizing her South Indian connect and her affinity for sports.
Image building, thus, has many important facets. Replying to a question asked on how to take a call when the image of the celebrity clashes with a product endorsement, Atul said that he doesn’t shoot for fairness cream products as he believes, “We are perfectly toasted.”
Sidharth Singh brought to light that consumers are willing to pay the price for products basis the reputation and the trust created in their minds. “The more reputation you have built up, the more price you can command.” he said. “Build reputation during peace time and not just manage reputation during war time. If you have to manage it, it’s already too late”
The important take-away from the PRestival 2012 discussion on Brand Management was therefore that Reputation is now as much about personal credibility as well as professional capability. It is no longer about reach and frequency as much as about reach and relationships.
Written by Ananya Ghosh for Image Management