Innovation in action and thought is key to any agency's progress: Dilip Yadav

Yadav, the founding partner of First Partners, notes that expertise and value are germane to competitiveness irrespective of location in the post-Covid world

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Published: Jul 8, 2021 8:41 AM  | 5 min read
dlilip yadav

The emergence of specialised firms has been a catalyst in the growth of independent and indigenous public relations firms in the country. First Partners is one such example.

One of the youngest and fastest-growing PR firms in India, First Partners has a cohesive network across the country (Noida, Gurugram, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad) along with an additional execution delivery network to cover 31 cities across India.

The agency's foundation was based on its founders' mission to reorient communication that delivers business outcomes. With a battery of experts, the firm handles assignments for Fortune 500 companies and leading Indian corporates.

Founding Partner, Dilip Yadav believes that whatever cannot be communicated effectively, cannot be a business success. Clear, unambiguous communication is often the bedrock of a brand’s success.

In today's edition of e4m's 'Rising India' series, Yadav shares his thoughts about the changes in the PR industry, the future of indigenous Indian agencies, mergers and acquisitions and more.

Edited Excerpts:-

How has the PR landscape changed in the last 3 decades for independent and indigenous PR firms?

Without a doubt, the market has really expanded both in terms of size and opportunity. The biggest beneficiaries of the new growth have been the local independent firms. This is true for India as well as Asia.

Singapore is a perfect example of a country where the local firms are indeed performing better than larger network agencies.

Another clear trend over the decades has been the emergence and strengthening of specialist agency brands. With growing complexities in all functions, where communication remains the foremost, clients are seeking specialized solutions delivered by experts as opposed to what large, undifferentiated outfits can provide.

The age of the home-grown communications agency has now arrived. These agencies know the market intimately and thus have a clear advantage over their global counterparts. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages of both, but with innovation as a dominant surge in recent years, as can be seen from the various award categories now popular in the industry, Indian agencies have an undeniable place under the sun now.        

Innovation is the key. How is the industry evolving and how are PR agencies coping?

As is true of all things that move ahead and sustain themselves, innovation in action and in thought is the key. It is the hotbed of any agency’s progress and market edge and separates the truly excellent from the humdrum or the average. In a world such as we live in today, with its countless variables and rapid change, innovation is the life-blood of business.

It has enabled agencies and communication disciplines—at whose heart PR subsists—to quickly and nimbly deal with dynamic and ephemeral situations with aplomb. Gone are the days when innovation was restricted to certain types of work such as science or manufacturing, today even the most basic of communication like word-of-mouth or the most advanced ones such as complex campaigns, all need innovation to be successful.

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?

There is always the temptation to bend towards easy capital, but very often for the astute missionaries, it is not about ease but about the vision and its actualization.

An independent and indigenous agency—and many examples of these been hugely successful in their own right—will be able to chart out and traverse its own path based on its unique insights and strengths. So far in the past, portfolio investors have stayed away from investing in PR consultancy models, and only large networks who know the game knee-deep would put up capital to expand.

Today, however, with proof of success being legion and a growing digital play, investors are getting increasingly drawn towards this segment and this could prove to be a booster dose for agencies looking to grow and keep their sense of individuality intact.

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 for the agencies?

There is absolutely no denying that India is today an important part of the global value chain. This position will strengthen and grow in the next decade when India shall lead the comity of nations across businesses and economies as well as other fields such as innovation and self-reliance too.

Today, we are seeing the confident beginnings of the new globalized India. The post-COVID world is making location irrelevant, it is the expertise and the value that are germane to your competitiveness. Since we as a nation are sure to push substantively ahead, the need for good, effective communications will emerge stridently as ever. In this context, the PR business is more than relevant in business and in leadership. As a matter of fact, communication is one of the best measures of advancement.

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

We are living in a virtual world today. This will naturally lead to the emergence of virtual agencies agency models in the post-pandemic era. Reach is possible and eminently achievable through tech and the only meaningful resource globally relevant is data. Informed insights both at the client level and at the strategic and execution level is what marks the edge of outreach.

Getting the best talent and inspiring them to accept the new challenge of working on cross-border briefs, cutting across timezones and languages would be the true hallmark of successful virtual communication innovators.

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