Exchange4media’s fourth edition of India PR & Corporate Communications Conference 2013, held in Delhi on May 31st brought together 26 leaders from the Communication industry to explore the status of New Media in the Indian Communication Industry of this day and age
The Award for PR Agency of the Year went to Madison PR, represented by Paresh Chaudhary, CEO, whereas Sharif Rangnekar, CEO and Director, Integral PR was given the PR Professional of the Year Award. The specialized agency award went to Teamwork Communication Solutions for their expertise in PR for the healthcare industry. Irfan Khan, Communication Consultant was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedicated contribution to the Indian PR and Communication Industry.
The conference assembled various leaders including Prema Sagar (Genesis Burson Marsteller), Ashwani Singla (Penn Schoen Berland), Radhika Shapoorjee (iPan Hill + Knowlton Strategies), Dilip Cherian (Perfect Relations) and Narayan Madhavan (Hindustan Times) into 4 interesting panel discussions and two interactive sessions to get intrinsic insight into all aspects of Social Media.
A Panel discussion on ‘Can PR be a Holistic Communication Platform?’ tried to determine if PR agencies have missed the bus as New Media Communicators. It compared the performance of PR agencies to social media firms and ad agencies in social media campaigns. Since everyone in the audience and panel had different preferences, none emerged to be a unanimous winner.
Another panel discussion on ‘Put your money where your mouth is’ was organized to figure out whether the PR agencies have what it takes in terms of talent acquisition, skill enhancement, training, transformation of personnel and building internal capabilities. An interesting panel discussion was held on the implications of social media’s prevalence in regional markets, given the mushrooming mobile technology. While the event made a good effort to be comprehensive, more time for each discussion could have lead to more conclusive interactions.
The discussions with New Media at the core went back and forth in comparison with traditional media, and the limitation of social media’s audience in India. While some including Madan Bahal (Managing Director, Adfactors PR) were of the opinion that social media is better understood and received by the youth, Prema Sagar believes that social media should not be referred to as “New Media” anymore, because it has been around for decades.
Designed to understand whether PR is equipped with the tools ‘to embrace the New Digital Order’, the session reached the conclusion that being pro-active on social media is indispensable. More importantly, it helped in establishing the fact that communication lies at the heart of PR, and one needs to alter the medium with changing times. Social Media improves the design of communication by bringing it to real time and making it a two way engagement rather than broadcast. According to them, it is a step forward in understanding the needs of the customers.
The interactive session, ‘Public policy’ helped understand how Social Media is attracting a new democracy, and how it can be a threat and an advantage. The second interactive session ‘New Media & New Markets’ offered learning’s for Indian Companies going Global.
While the event undoubtedly brought together top communicators from the industry – many of whom had very interesting insights to share with the audience – it would have been more encouraging if PR Firms and Corporate Communications teams were represented at the event in larger numbers. The hope is that, for future conferences, we can expect larger participation not just on stage, but off it as well.