Public Relations as a subset of marketing communication is
becoming increasingly important in India. exchange4media has
been continuously striving to serve the information needs
of brand managers, marketing communication professionals and
advertising decision-makers. PR Watch aims
to throw the spotlight on this growing practice and its key
Prolific marketing guru Al Ries, ex-ad executive
and coiner of the phrase "positioning" in his recent book,
'The Fall of Advertising and Rise of PR', joins his daughter
and consulting partner Laura Ries in contending that public
relations quietly has become the most powerful marketing-services
The Rieses still see a role for advertising, but primarily
as a defense mechanism for established brands and products,
not as a builder of new ones. Public relations -- specifically
publicity and the resulting word of mouth -- is what really
build new brands, they maintain.
Most industry executives might dismiss that
as "a gross generalization" but all agree that PR is an important
and growing tool being increasingly used by marketers.
However, both suffered last year. PR spending
has long paled compared to ad spending, given the lack of
media expense and relative lack of production expense involved.
A 2001 survey by Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research found consumer-products
companies, for example, spend about 0.05% of revenue on PR.
That's a tiny fraction of the 2% to 10% of revenues such companies
ordinarily spend on overall marketing expense. Those figures
don't count salaries and overhead.
The survey also found that marketers cut PR
budgets as a percent of sales from 0.09% to 0.07% last year,
a 29% drop. The percentage of client PR budgets earmarked
for product publicity, however, actually went up five points
to 23%, even though total spending on product publicity actually
went down 10% to $518 million.
In India the Public Relations industry reached
a major milestone last year in December with the launch and
formation of Public Relations Consultants Association of India
(PRCAI), an umbrella body representing all the professional
consultancies in India. The PRCAI, mooted by a group of seven
leading public relations firms, is a pioneering body that
will represent the over Rs. 1 billion industry, which employs
about 8,000 professionals today.