Modern agency managers need to be multidisciplinary: Ameer Ismail, GolinOpinion.
Ameer Ismail, President, GolinOpinion, MullenLowe Lintas Group shares his journey in the industry, growth spectrum, core issues and the future forward
Ameer Ismail – President, GolinOpinion, MullenLowe Lintas Group has an illustrious career spanning over two decades. He joined Lintas in 1996 and was entrusted with the responsibility of building the PR business – GolinOpinion (formerly LinOpinion), which today is a JV between MullenLowe Lintas Group (MLLG) and Golin. GolinOpinion is recognized as one of the leading players in the PR industry.
Ameer started his PR career in 1992, and worked with Good Relations India Limited, Enterprise Public Relations, Profile – an affiliate of Grey Communications International, before moving to Lintas in 1996. An alumnus of Jai Hind College, Mumbai and Hamline University, USA, Ameer serves on the advisory committee of several management forums.
An interaction with Ameer Ismail on his journey in the industry, core issues, and the future-forward.
How has your journey been in the PR industry?
My journey of over 25 years has been truly remarkable and getting an opportunity to witness the evolution of public relations and communications in India over the course of my career has been a privilege. One of the reasons I have had such a long tenure with the MullenLowe Lintas Group (formerly Lintas) has been the fact that there have been continuous learnings. I valued every moment of my experience working for this iconic institution. Plus I have had the added benefit of essaying many roles as a part of the senior management team. The other reason is that, I have been able to be an entrepreneur in an organization and had the opportunity to build the business from its inception, and create a recognized and respected brand-GolinOpinion (formerly LinOpinion) that is considered an industry leader.
How do you make sure that the stories you create at GolinOpinion reach the right audiences and are able to make an impact?
At GolinOpinion, we create transformational storytelling that is relevant to today’s audience and in formats that instantly engage a larger audience. Keeping this in mind, we thoughtfully craft brand messages that reach out to our target market by entertaining and innovative content. Measuring the impact of our communication is critical. Our digital division, the Bridge, acts as our nerve center measuring conversations through active listening and analytics. We use a combination of these tools to deliver the right measurement metrics.
With the coming of the Internet, communication has undergone a massive shift. Can you tell us about the challenges and opportunities that the Internet has brought along for PR professionals?
The digital medium has made two-way communication more interactive. The wide array of influencers today, provide authentic and sharper communication opportunities for brands.
Social media has given every consumer a public voice in an ecosystem where conversations are ‘always-on’. It is imperative for PR professionals today to listen to conversations in real-time and move swiftly into action for their clients, be it in a crisis or even when the right digital opportunity strikes. This landscape creates many opportunities for smart agencies to either insert a brand voice in an ongoing conversation or take advantage of a potential crisis situation and turn it to a brand advantage.
What has been the growth spectrum for you along the way?
Being one of the longest-serving agency heads in the PR industry, there have been many learnings & opportunities for personal growth. In terms of growth, it has been two-fold --- entrepreneurial and experiential. At various stages of my career within the agency, I have additionally been the business head of Dell, our design business, Lintertainment – our film marketing business, and played a key role in creating Advent, our foray into the events business.
In 2002 I was appointed to lead the reputation of the agency across Asia and most recently, was the Chief Growth Officer of PointNine Lintas, our foray into the omnichannel agency business. All this has helped shape my core philosophy, that impactful communication cannot be delivered in silos. Modern agency managers need to be multidisciplinary. I also played a crucial role in creating the joint venture with Golin, one of the world’s leading PR firms, and, thereafter, was invited to be a part of the Global Management Group with other key MDs, by Fred Cook, the Chairman of Golin.
Since your inception, what has been the paradigm shift in the PR industry?
The PR landscape has evolved drastically, primarily driven by the way media is being consumed today. Digital and social media have transformed the traditional way PR use to function, making it essential for brands to engage with their audiences in a far more compelling manner and through new age formats.
Creativity in PR has become more important than it ever was. Also, data and analytics are changing the face of PR.
What are the three big challenges faced by PR agencies today?
Communicators need to remain agile enough to keep pace with the fast-changing consumer preferences.
Today’s target audience cannot be taken for granted. Millennials are an informed generation. They look for more. We bear this in mind in order to make our brands stand out and garner an unfair share of attention. In answer, we need to consistently push innovation and creativity beyond limits, formats, and boundaries. The result is that we discover something new every day and that’s what makes our work so exciting. Linked to this is the requisite for multi-faceted PR professionals. The ones that possess a mélange of skill sets will be significant to the growth of our industry. The PR agency of the future will need to imbibe talent from across the board – media planners, content, creative, digital, etc. to create a holistic in-house team that can create compelling stories across mediums.
What are your 5-year growth plans?
We’re committed to building further scale for our business and also delivering bold, measurable and disruptive work while setting new benchmarks as we go along. The future lies in our agility as an agency to stay ahead of the trends in building relevant, interactive and smart content for the future consumer.
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