Redefining PR in a changing landscape

Nitin Mantri, President PRCAI and CEO Avian Media delivered the opening remarks at the PRAXIS 2015. What’s his take on the state of PR in India and views towards PRAXIS? That’s what he shared exclusively with ImageManagement. Read on…

In a recent survey conducted by the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI), over 84 per cent of the respondentssaid the India growth story had not actually reached enough of its population and a similar percentage believed that social media channels will not be the tool to speak to these audiences. So what should PR practitioners do to survive and thrive in this rapidly-changing scenario? There is only one way forward: reinvent and remodel.

Mr Nitin MantriWe need to innovate and deliver campaigns to a discerning economy using tools, gadgets and platforms that speak to them. Franklyas communicators, we could not have asked for a more golden opportunity. But there is a danger of losing out if we don’t adapt smartly to changing landscapes. We live in a time when the pace of innovation is astonishing. Communication trends and tools are changing in a heartbeat. To stay on top of the game, we need to work as a team: share experiences, explore new approaches and learn new ways to reinvent ourselves.

Hence, important initiatives like the Public Relations and Corporate Communications Summit (Praxis) provide a great forum for young professionals to get together and engage meaningfully. This year, the summit is focusing on the future of Public Relations and the role of the profession in creating powerful content – an extremely relevant topic as the marketplace is getting increasingly complex.

Beside an urban population, today’s PR practitioners have to take into account a fast-growing rural and rurban economy. It has become even more critical to create engaging, meaningful and relevant content for varied audiences. To ensure maximum impact, we have to understand who is consuming our content, and when and how they are doing so. There is no point in producing tons of content without a clear idea of the target audience.

So how do we go about it? For starters, we need to tell more interesting stories in multiple formats. The storytelling needs to become far more visual and dynamic. The best content should always inspire and educate people. We also have to explore newer engaging forms of communication like podcasts, infographics, video releases, etc. In this regard, I am looking forward to the session – ‘How Digital Storytelling is Redefining Brands in an Interconnected World’ and Unleasing the Power of Social PRat Praxis.

Creating content and an engaging narrative have always been the heart of PR, but today’s communicators also need the right insights to tell the right story. The focus is now shifting to data analytics which help PR in designing communication campaigns to overcome certain specific challenging areas, or even do tactical campaigns to highlight a brand’s positive sentiment. Many believe that leveraging the power of big data analytics can improve social listening skills, which have a direct impact on sales – especially in B2B scenarios.

Nitin MantriToday PR is about influencing behaviour and data plays an important role here as it gives insightful information into how well a campaign performed and how to improve results. It is heartening to see that Praxis has earmarked a discussion on this: How analytics and data will shape the future of PR. For an industry that often battles the perception of being fluff and less on substance to be driven by data is a much-needed change. In fact, Paul Holmes in a recent key note spoke about agencies needing to have a Chief Data Officer.

PR as we knew it does not exist. The future will require much greater integration with marketing as well as customer care teams to gain actionable insights. Managing the entire business environment for a client could become a vital role of PR consultancies. Hence, to be future-ready, we need to bring stickiness in whatever we do, build expertise categories within our organisations and become consultants to the client.

This brings me to a question that’s playing on every one’s mind: do we have the talent to meet the evolving needs of clients? While talent is an area of concern, it is not unique to the PR industry. We simply need to grow our own byaggressively investing in the development of younger talent. The PR industry needs more events like Praxis. Agencies should encourage promising newcomers to attend such events as it is a great learning experience. After all, the wider the ambit of our knowledge the more value we will add. And there is no other way to successful communication than having the power of knowledge.

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