Addressing challenges present in the PR industry: Sonam Shah, Treize Communications
Guest Column: Sonam Shah, Founder & CEO of Treize Communications, explains how even in a fast-growing industry, there is still limited understanding of PR & Corp Comms in the Indian market
We all know that PR in India is now a rapidly growing industry and the need for strategic PR is now being accepted by brands and individuals, as well. But one thing I do not see much is people addressing the challenges which are present. We all know PR plays an important tool in the marketing mix of any campaign and that the right PR can help any campaign reach greater heights. While at one place we are discussing the integration of technology in PR, we are missing out on addressing the current challenges present. I think the larger need is to address these challenges.
Lack of understanding
There is a very limited understanding of PR or Corporate Communications in the Indian market. While our advertising and marketing fraternity acknowledges it, there is a very large market of SME’s, women entrepreneurs, young and fresh brands which have really good stories to tell but do not know how to get it done. It sad to see, a very large audience, who is looking for promotional means, mixes PR or media presence with SEO, SEM, Social Media and at times even print ads. Addressing this is probably the first step in raising awareness about PR in India and building a stronger association with any current or new client.
Paid and Earned Media
People tend to mix up earned media and paid media a lot, which ends up hampering the overall PR strategy. While its good to have a mix of both, in the larger strategy, it's even more important to know which is important and why. There is no harm in approaching a paid media route if it goes with the brand image and requirement. It’s important to know if there is any value add to the entire activity and is not just about counting media mentions.
Budgets and ROI
Budgets have been and will continue to be a challenge for any marketer. Clients clearly do not have budget allocations for PR as they do not see ROI. While they understand the need for PR with evolving time, there is a lack of understanding in knowing that PR is not something which is ROI driven. It is a brand-building exercise which needs to be inculcated at a visionary level, from the beginning of setting up a brand or company. Getting presence in media does not assure you sales or quick churn outs. Therefore, to address the challenge of budget, the industry needs to come out and address the challenge of measuring ROI.
Involvement of Senior Management
Before approaching any PR agency or a PR Consultant it is of utmost important the senior management involves itself in the day to day detailing and activities. The brand value, image and the perception of the brand or company, for which you have hired the agency, requires a lot of efforts from the top. This is currently lacking. Whilst it’s good to have managers at an execution level, the senior management cannot shy away from involving them in shaping the company’s image on a regular basis. Good PR will only happen if the key team is involved. PR responsibility is not something which can be entrusted or left to members of the team as not everyone will tell a story the way the founders can do, and this holds extreme importance in any PR exercise.
Long Term Approach
Another key step which is clearly lacking is a long term approach. Brands need to know that building an image does not happen overnight! This is a clear case of Quality vs. Quantity. It is not important to see how many media mentions you have got; it is important to see were they at the correct places and read by the correct TG? Doing one all-out activity is never the best solution. It's important to take small initiatives of intelligent and quality coverage, which unfold the stories of the brand. This goes a long long way!
I truly hope that PR is understood as fast as it is moving, and the challenges are overcome soon!
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com
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