Reputation management forms a major part of public relations and with digital media playing a crucial role in forming opinions about brands and companies, PR companies need to get cyber active too. The session on ‘Reputation Management – The future is digital’ tackled this aspect at the inaugural India PR & Corporate Communication Summit. An initiative of the exchange4media Group in association with Adfactors Public Relations, the Summit was held in Delhi on May 21, 2010.
The session was moderated by N Madhavan, Associate Editor, Hindustan Times. The panelists included Gaurav Mishra, CEO, 2020 Social; Jaideep Shergill, CEO, Hanmer MS &L; Mahesh Murthy, Founder & CEO, Pinstorm; and Rajesh Lalwani, Managing Director, Scenario Consulting.
Madhavan kicked off the session with an interesting thought, asking, “If future is digital, then isn’t present digital too?”
Presenting his views on the topic, Mahesh Murthy said that digital had an unavoidable role to play in reputation management. Murthy pointed out that Internet and social media had become an integral part of one’s life now and its reach amongst the online audience couldn’t be undermined. This apart, social media was also measurable. He added that clients too believed in this, especially when it came to managing their brand and reputation.
Taking a slightly different track, Jaideep Shergill said, “We have already left the digital era behind us, it is not the future.” Taking the audience back to the time when newspapers were invented, he recalled how print media had changed the way people thought and functioned, similarly, today digital was redefining how people thought and functioned. “Reputation doesn’t mean what is made by oneself, it is what others make of you,” he stressed.
Taking the topic ahead, Gaurav Mishra noted, “Reputation online is what you say and what you do. Each one of us is a potential journalist since we all blog, tweet and share opinions. What companies need to do is talk positive and do the right things. Social media is not just about fetching customers on Facebook or Twitter, it is more of seeking passion of the people and things that matter most to their style of living.” He further elaborated on the fact how agencies these days created random business pages on social networking sites and waited for the number of fans to grow and thereby measure the popularity. “Page creation is not about putting the brand name, logo, info and pictures, it will never click. It should be related to a cause, interest or lifestyle of the people,” Mishra stressed.
He also urged the PR agencies and businesses to think afresh. “What worked 50 years back won’t fit in the today’s time. For example, look at the Tata Tea Jaago Re campaign and how they related the simple idea of sipping tea to awakening of the conscience, or even the Sunsilk Gang of Girls, where they talked about the needs of modern women and their product merged in with the concept,” Mishra pointed out.
According to him, “The PR industry should try to redefine their strategy and the way they cater to the clients as it is now much bigger than ever before. PR guys have to see where their evangelists are and work in a way to energise them and not just push releases to them.”
Commenting on the growing influence of Twitter, Rajesh Lalwani said, “I was listening to the radio the other day and during a news bulletin on Akashvani, the word ‘Twitter’ was mentioned and no other explanation was given along with it. That itself shows how mainstream Twitter has become that it doesn’t need an introduction or elaboration.”
He then spoke about how a headline was created these days as compared to the times when things weren’t that instant. “Today, for example, a young employee thinks aloud on FB, Twitter and this is lifted by his boss, who then blogs, which is read by some editor may be and makes next day’s headline. That’s the way we are moving,” he observed.
On reputation management, he said, “It’s all about doing the right things.”
Crisis management and measurability of the medium were some of the other points that were taken up at the panel discussion. And the conclusion was that people hate being managed and they don’t want to talk about the brands. The approach cannot be that direct. The brand must understand that ‘doing the right things’ is the mantra.