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Communication requires an Empirical Approach: PSB survey

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Communication requires an Empirical Approach: PSB survey

Indian corporate communications and public relations professionals believe that measuring the ‘business impact’ of their campaigns has become more important than measuring the coverage they garner, a survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland ( and released in partnership with IMPACT magazine reveals.

In a first-of-its kind study of practicing public relations and communications professionals in India, 87 per cent of those surveyed report that their industry has become more complex in the last few years due to increased competition, emergence of new media and the global spread of even local issues. No wonder, 77 per cent say that shift in emphasis from coverage to business impact is now a key factor in measuring success of their campaigns.

“To respond to this challenge, the industry must adopt Empirical Public Relations: communication campaigns rooted in the science of public opinion,” said Ashwani Singla, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Penn Schoen Berland, South Asia. “This approach will allow communicators to demonstrate how their campaigns move the needle, as well as understand how to move it further,” he added.

“This is a pioneering initiative by PSB, and hopefully will become a barometer and benchmark for every year, something that the stakeholders and industry and look forward to and we at exchange4media are happy to partner PSB on this,” shared Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group.

Clients agreed that assessing media coverage was not enough, with 89 per cent of clients for public relations services saying that they would be more comfortable with research-based campaigns that provided insights based ideas and measurable results.

Further, they’re willing to pay, with 73 per cent saying that they were willing to offer an additional incentive to an agency that could demonstrate that their campaigns resulted in measurable business impact and 93 per cent were willing to pay a premium for strategic counsel based on empirical evidence.

However, the move to Empirical Public Relations will require the industry to invest in human capital. 69 per cent of client respondents said that they did not believe that PR and communications agencies were generally geared to respond to the changes in the industry, and just as many said that upgrading current employees’ skills should be agencies’ top priority. Public relations leaders will need to enhance their organisations’ applied science capabilities by upgrading their own skills, developing those of their employees and hiring new expertise into their teams.

Penn Schoen Berland conducted nine qualitative in-depth interviews (both in-person and over the phone) and 80 online quantitative interviews between February 22, 2011 and March 17, 2011. Sample size makes the results indicative.

Penn Schoen Berland is a global communication strategy firm rooted in the science of marketing research that specialises in messaging and strategy for blue-chip political, corporate and entertainment clients.

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