Union Budget 2013-14: Indian PR Agencies Need to Develop CSR Expertise

 

With CEOs across the country examining what the Budget might mean for their company and industry, Image Management speaks with 3 top agency heads to share their understanding of how Chidambaram’s Budget might impact the PR industry.

Pranav Kumar, MD of Bite communication, Meera Krishnan, CEO of Lexicon PR and Nitin Mantri, CEO, Avian Media, suggest changes that PR agencies need to embrace with regards to the new Companies Act. Apart from the direct impact it will bring upon the CSR services of an agency, it will also mandate that all of the PR clients’ messaging align with their CSR campaign and that corporates beef up their crisis management practice.

Pranav Kumar, MD, Bite Communication

With the revamped Companies Bill, the  Government has given a facelift to a 56 year old act. Companies will hope to The Bill is currently waiting for the Rajya Sabha nod.

According to Nitin Mantri “the Bill seeks to bring radical changes to the manner in which corporate companies are run. However, there is not much clarity on the Bill. About 300 rules and regulations would have to be formed to give actual shape to the Bill. Once in place, it would give the industry a fair understanding of what operational and financial changes they have to adhere to.”

Meera Krishnan, CEO, Lexicon PR

Specifically, PR agencies’ expertise in CSR campaigns will determine how much increased value  they can offer clients. Meera Krishnan said “Up to now CSR  was mostly a feel-good  component of corporate communications. Now increasingly large corporates will demand that PR  agencies have the requisite expertise and know how  to communicate the companies’ CSR  programme goals and outcomes  to relevant stake holder audiences, packaged and delivered with the right messaging nuances .”

Pranav Kumar believes that “Agencies will not only need to develop  capabilities in executing CSR campaigns but also the skills to deliver on integrated briefs are the ones to gain from this widely debated piece of regulation. ” Personally, he thinks the “accent is on transparency, social responsibility and how companies can do more good for the communities in which they operate.”

Nitin Mantri, CEO and Business Partner, Avian Media

Mantri, feels that “if the proposed Companies Bill is implemented, then about Rs 9,000 crore would be spent on CSR. The PR industry’s opportunity is clearly in helping their clients in fulfilling their CSR commitments. Today, most companies are doing CSR without clear objectives. The Bill will also categorize the mandate on activities which can be classified as CSR.”

Krishnan also emphasizes the need for PR agencies to be more careful about processing information and crafting messages on behalf of their clients henceforth.  She said, “The focus on more stringent corporate governance norms in the new Companies Bill also means that PR agencies will need to be watchful and ensure that corporate communication for their clients is aligned to the new guidelines.”

“In view of the provision for class action suits and establishment of SFIO – PR agencies will need to beef up their crisis management practice in order to be able to defend or guard their client should such exigencies arise.”, said Krishnan.

Kumar is of the opinion that “smart agencies have a compelling opportunity at hand to help clients ‘story tell’ via traditional and digital channels to truly engage, not just inform, their stakeholders.”

 

Written by Chaahat Madaan for Image Management

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