'Indian organisations bring greater value to local brands'

In this part of Rising India Series, Nikky Gupta, Co-founder & Director, Teamwork Communications Group, shares that there is a huge scope for implementing AI and big data in the Indian PR landscape

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Jun 16, 2021 8:51 AM
Nikky Gupta

With India becoming a fertile ground for startups and bolstering digital adaption, the need for indigenous public relations is exponentially growing. Today, companies are paying more attention to reputation and purpose to be connected to their target audience. The enhanced need for reputation management and brand recall and visibility has further strengthened public relations as an industry. 

Needless to say, sectors that have the capability to garner maximum growth in the years to come are technology, financial services, and healthcare. Resonating on this growth pattern is our next feature in the “Rising India Series”, i.e., Teamwork Communications Group. The communication advisory comprises specialised divisions that cater to diversify clientele ranging from healthcare to fashion, corporate to start-ups. Founded in 2009, Teamwork Communications Group completes 12 years this year and takes pride in being one of the fastest-growing PR agencies in India. 

The promoters of the company have long experience in media, thus understanding the complicated communication requirements of clients. The group is driven by over 60+ dynamic communication professionals in multiple divisions including PR, Editorial, Social & Digital Media. The employees are based in Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Lucknow with operations in over 65 cities of India. Teamwork has displayed impressive growth both in terms of revenue and clients, having serviced an esteemed list of organizations. With a 90% client retention ratio, Teamwork’s quality and media-friendly content development services have helped it become one of the favorite hotspots for corporate, healthcare and startup clients. 

To delve more into the growth of the firm, growth strategies, thoughts on mergers and acquisitions, exchange4media got into a one-on-one interaction with Nikky Gupta, Co-founder & Director, Teamwork Communications Group.

Edited Excerpts:-

How has the PR landscape changed in the last 3 decades for Independent and Indigenous PR firms?

With greater demand for services, the need for more specialised services has also arisen and this has given rise to a series of independent specialized PR agencies. At the same time, PR service providers today are also offering multi-dimensional services such as social and digital media services and influencer marketing services beyond traditional media management. Indigenous PR players that have grown over the past 2 decades have played a vital role in shaping up the Indian PR landscape. With their ears closer to the ground, home-grown agencies have displayed a better understanding of Indian businesses as well as of the preferences of the Indian media. They have also helped bring a more nuanced approach to PR. As more sectors, organizations and small businesses looking to leverage the benefits of PR, indigenous players are also reaping the dividends.

Innovation is the key, how is the industry evolving. How are PR agencies coping with it?

Constant innovation and evolution are essential for every industry and PR is no different. It is a given fact that in 2021, you cannot be adhering to the standards followed 10 years ago as the needs of the industry as well as of the media have changed. Innovation is, therefore, a critical stepping stone into the future, not just from a technological point of view but also from the perspective of conceptualization, strategy, and tactics used in furthering the PR agenda. Greater digitisation of news and media, a shift towards more integrated communication campaigns and a 360-degree service approach involving both traditional and new media have been the changes adopted by the PR industry over the past two decades.

Since the COVID-19 hit us, there has been a further shift in the way PR is perceived; its importance has been accentuated, mainly due to the fact that it is far less capital-intensive when compared to advertising. Having said that, it is important to highlight the need to be on the top of the game and continue serving the interests of the clients. For example, the pandemic has forced PR practitioners to re-evaluate the existing models and develop the ones that fit the current scenario -- there has been a significant rise in the use of hybrid models since the past year as compared to previous years. On the other hand, at a global level, technological interventions such as artificial intelligence and big data are gaining ground. There is a huge scope for implementing AI and big data in the Indian PR landscape. 

In the last decades, we have witnessed major acquisitions and mergers between Indian and global agencies. How hard is it to stay independent and expand?

Consolidation of businesses through mergers and acquisitions is a normal part of the growth of any evolving industry. The Marketing & Advertising happening in PR and communications is a way in which global firms expand their local capacities and reach to the indigenous media. In the coming days, it is likely that more agencies will be acquired, especially those working in the domains of digital, public affairs, research and media planning. However, it is possible to stay independent and keep thriving if you have vision and a sustainable strategy. Yes, indigenous organizations cannot match the growth of MNCs which have huge funds at their disposal. Yet, I believe, Indian organizations like ours bring greater value to local brands and are better versed with their needs. So, staying independent has its own benefits as a lot of local brands and smaller businesses want to work with Indian agencies.

What is your view on the next 10 years of India as a global leader and an emerging market? How do you see the growth and engagement of your firm?

In the past few decades, India has emerged as a significant player in the global PR and communications industry and has garnered interest from foreign buyers. However, the growth of a nation as an economy plays an important role in the growth of industries that employ PR firms for various purposes. There is no doubt that COVID-19 has created a deep hole in the world economy, and has forced almost all industries to evolve. The PR industry has been facing its own challenges and witnessing new opportunities over the past year. However, some sectors have grown remarkably in a post COVID world, and from those sectors, new opportunities have emerged for the PR industry. For example, digitally-driven industries such as EdTech, AdTech, Gaming, Digital marketing are today driving the new demand for PR. Competition is also driving smaller businesses and MSMEs to leverage the benefits of PR and this has generated greater demand for PR services. 

As a healthcare specialist organization, Teamwork Communications Group has witnessed a lot of business growth from the healthcare sector over the past year. Hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other such players are today the centre of major demand for us. With the healthcare industry expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years, we expect continued growth in demand from this sector.

At the same time, demand for digital and social media services has also grown. In these areas lies a newer opportunity for the PR industry which needs to evolve rapidly to grab these opportunities. While India will continue to remain a lucrative emerging market, the impact of COVID 19 has certainly given the economy a major jolt. We hope a sustained vaccination effort and industry-amenable government policies will gradually help the economy emerge out of the doldrums.    

Some of the agencies have expanded and have offices globally. Do you see Indian agencies going abroad and acquiring local agencies?

On one hand, the Indian PR industry has evolved and grown significantly over the past few years. On the other hand, the global media landscape has become more connected and integrated. So, a greater presence in global markets for Indian PR organizations is going to be a natural outcome in the coming years. Many Indian businesses, as they go global, may also increasingly leverage the role of their existing PR partners on the global stage. So, yes we are going to see Indian agencies establish a greater presence abroad. In fact, many organizations have already established global offices. 

We are also working towards a strategy of establishing a presence in global markets. We are looking at South East Asia as our immediate expansion goal. Multiple small organizations also thrive in different global markets, so the possibility of acquiring them or establishing some sort of collaboration with those small players is definitely there.

Where do you see teamwork in the next 5 years?

As we move ahead in our second decade, we are now looking to further consolidate and strengthen our services spectrum to give our patrons integrated and omni-channel communication support to suit the needs of the new age multidimensional communication and a dynamic business environment. We will also be more dominantly present in a wider array of Indian cities to leverage the growing demand for PR solutions from across the country.
 
In the next five years, we hope to have a larger and much stronger digital and social media team apart from having independent PR services teams in multiple cities. This also involves expanding the talent pool and resources. We are already operating in over 65 cities of India through a network with direct offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. We aim to set up offices in all the metros by the end of next year. Overseas expansion is also on the cards with an objective to establish an office in Singapore.

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