In his exclusive interview with Image Management, Ameer Ismail, Executive Director, Lowe Lintas shares his thoughts about the industry ranging from the challenges it is facing, areas for opportunity in 2013, to its honeymoon period.
Q. What are some services that Indian PR firms don’t offer that you hope they will ?
Two things come to my mind. First is professional lobbying. In my view, nobody does it, and there is a huge scope to do it professionally. Second service is integrated communications.
Q. Are there some services currently offered by agencies that you think will see a spike in demand in 2013, in corporates?
There are certain areas in our economy that will grow, and we’ll need to communicate better in them. The healthcare sector will spring up again and there is a prime need for a specialized play in that. Digital is going to take another leap. I believe it is a very misunderstood service.
Q. Do you think that average retainer cost for PR firms Is lower than ideal and how do you think it can change?
Yes, the average retainer cost for PR firms is lower than ideal. It can change by really the top end of the pyramid. They are actually paying very good rates for PR services, and I think that will increasingly trickle down to the middle, and slowly rates are going change. Simulatnoeusly, the services levels also needs to change, to match up to those increased rates.
Q. Many say that digital PR is still at a nascent stage in the country. What advances do you think need to be on that front?
I think these needs to be integrated. There are people who are doing reputation management, buzz, etc. but it needs to be integrated as part of a campaign, I think that’s being done by few people. Some of them house within some agencies, and most of them house outside.
Q. Do you see a rise in specialized PR firms or do you see corporate are more interested in PR firms that can execute 360 degree modules?
Both. It’s going to be enough space in the next 10 years for all kinds of PR to happen. I think during the next 10 years we’re still going to have big honeymoon period and then it’s going to kind of stop.
Q. What are some key growth industries that you think the PR will benefit from the main 2013?
Everything that the economy depends on – power, infrastructure, healthcare and IT will continue to be important. All the economical drivers will impact PR as well.
Q. What are some major challenges you see facing the PR industry?
Talent. It is the biggest challenge and nobody is addressing it and no organization or agency or anybody has been able to crack it.
Q. What is one thing you love and hate about PR?
Q. Do you foresee any major shift in terms of PR budgets in 2013?
Consolidation of larger PR accounts
Q. What are some major parameters you have in mind before hiring someone to join the LinOpinion team?
They should have capability, good writing skills, should be meticulous, should not have jumped too many jobs, and most important, the hunger to learn. One may or may not be the perfect strategist or the perfect communicator, but as long as they have the ability and willingness to learn those skill sets, we look for such individuals to be part of our team.
Q. Having spent over 17 years at the same agency, do you think agencies are doing enough to build employee loyalty? In the context of high attrition rates, what needs to change in this regard?
Interviewed by Kunal Pal for Image Management