Pivot or perish in the new PRverse

In today’s 'PR Outlook for 2022' edition, Dilip Yadav, Founding Partner, First Partners, pens that in this highly dynamic environment, PR practitioners must learn new skills to survive and grow

e4m by Dilip Yadav
Published: May 27, 2022 9:06 AM  | 5 min read
Dilip Yadav

Public relations (PR) and corporate communications practitioners are today operating in a highly dynamic environment. The rules of the game are changing, and professionals must learn, unlearn, innovate, and understand the new media landscape, along with the changing consumer preferences. Coupled with massive challenges are new opportunities that can ensure a smooth transition into the future for PR practitioners.

 

Understanding and mastering trends

The global shift towards digital is not a new trend. For years, people have been gradually moving from other mediums to digital platforms to consume content. However, the larger trend of ‘going digital’ has created a few significant sub-trends. Unlike in the past when editors set the news agenda, today, the consumers decide what’s trending. Millions of voices on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others determine the talking point, prompting media organisations to develop and present content around those topics/developments.

Further, the users’ role is no more limited to just content consumption. Today, we have a new breed of ‘prosumers’ – these are content producers and consumers rolled into one. These users collect information in the form of text, pictures, and videos, process it, and put it up for mass consumption. In fact, some of the finest content and brightest ideas are today coming from unconventional sources as opposed to those towering media brands.

Free flow of content in this new universe however is dependent on social media platforms run by technology companies with well thought-out revenue models. This has put new demands on PR professionals to acquire skills to manage these technology platforms and master hacks that allow creating impact with brand promotions and messages.

 

Pivot with PR tech to stay relevant

We are living in the digital age in which technology and data are the two most powerful outreach tools.  Since the profession of public relations is all about taking the brand’s message to the media and eventually to the larger public, these two tools can help in both designing impactful campaigns through targeted interventions based on data and assessing their qualitative and quantitative impact through analytics. With the help of data analysis and customisation, PR professionals can also help in boosting personalised messaging and reaching out to new consumers, while strengthening their relationship with the existing ones.

The growing dependence on these tools also requires PR practitioners to invest in tech experts, while simultaneously acquiring tech expertise to keep up with the changing trends. Take, for instance, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the industry. AI can automate repetitive tasks such as media monitoring and help in accurately drafting content deliverables with software like Grammarly. The technology can also assist in content categorisation, with the same information being treated differently for different communication tools such as press releases and media notes. Since the brain behind AI is that of a human, it is important for PR practitioners to understand this technology and think of ways to better its application in the future. Similarly, with metaverse, PR professionals can leverage it for virtual product placement, virtual storytelling, and virtual brand partnerships.

 

The factor that will rule the roost

This hyper-dependence on technology and tools should make the case for technology companies and tech talent to take over the function of PR. Fortunately, the answer is a big no. This is because the practice of PR thrives, not on the mastery of the medium, but of the human mind and how it handles information. At heart, PR professionals are storytellers. Stories which are meant for human consumption, not machines. It is the human factor which is the X-factor in PR.

A deft PR professional is the one who can handle multiple variables with ease, all together, and in real time. The PR professional of the future would be the one who is able to craft the right messages, handle audio-visual tools to give content its form, manage and leverage technology platforms to deliver it, while keeping a track of what is trending to make it topical, and finally do instant course-correction to hold audience attention. Doing all this together is complex. But managing complexities is the second nature for PR professionals.

Today, machines are being designed to learn and process information at lightning speed. But the process is dependent on reapplying pre-existing data, information, past occurrences, and patterns. A corollary to this is the inability of machines to create ideas which are completely new - ideas which are born out of human imagination, or dreams. This is the sweet spot for PR professionals. Good storytelling thrives on the power of fertile imagination.

In conclusion, the mantra to success for PR professionals in the metaverse or rather a new PRverse will be to stick to their core – the storytelling skills, while quickly mastering the mediums, which are going to be bastions of a few tech firms. Innovative partnerships with these tech platforms and openness to embrace ‘pay and earn’ approach without diluting the credibility of messages will open new vistas for the PR fraternity.

 

 

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchange4media.com.

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Rozelle Laha joins HT Media as Head – Corp Comm and Corp Affairs

Prior to this, Laha was Associate Director – Corporate and Strategic Communications at CoinSwitch

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 20, 2023 11:55 AM   |   1 min read

Laha

Rozelle Laha has joined HT Media Ltd as Head – Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs. In this role, she will be leading communications and corporate affairs for the group.  

Laha is a business journalist turned communications specialist with over 12 years of industry experience. She has worked as a journalist with several publications, including Hindustan Times, Mint, The Ken, Fortune India, and others, and managed communications mandates across FMCG and emerging technology spaces.

Prior to this, Laha was Associate Director of Corporate and Strategic Communications at CoinSwitch.

 

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‘If PR is going to do better and be better, we have to reflect the demography of a nation’

Dr Felicia Blow, APR, International Chair, Public Relations Society of America, shares her achievements with PRSA, the concept of  'mini dimensions of diversity' and the golden rule'

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 20, 2023 11:55 AM   |   6 min read

PRSA

It was her maiden visit to India but Dr Felicia Blow, APR, International Chair, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) was far from having her fill. “The students at XIC (Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai) and IIMC (Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi) are so bright and warm,” she said. Her trip to the country was for a first-ever global exchange programme with the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI). 

Dr Blow is an award-winning leader with extensive organisational, fundraising, strategic planning, leadership and management experience. With a 30-year career spanning work in manufacturing; waste management and environmental services; telecommunications; and higher education, she currently serves as Associate Vice President for Development at the renowned historically black institution Hampton University.

Over the years, Dr Blow has taken on several leadership roles. Prior to serving as chair, she served as chair-elect in 2021 and senior counsel to the 2018 and 2019 PRSA Board of Directors. From 2013-2014, she served as a PRSA Board of Directors member representing the Mid-Atlantic District.

We caught up with her for a freewheeling chat during her PRCAI Dialogues session in the capital. 

Excerpts: 

You’ve served in a number of PRSA leadership roles at both the local and national levels. What role does public relations play in your life? 

For me, public relations embodies everything I do. Let me give you some points of view on that. The most important thing about a PR practitioner, a good one, is writing skills. You must be able to write and be able to orally communicate. So, I use those skills in all aspect of my life. I also volunteer and support other organisations leveraging these skills that I have attained over the years. 

It has been 30 years of association with the PRSA. Tell us about the highlights of your journey with the organisation. 

Let me tell you the ones that really stand out. It is about accreditation and the credentialing aspect of public relations. So, I have the APR-accredited in public relations, PRCAI has the AIPR, which is a standard of excellence and means that you have mastered the elements of public relations. It is an indicator. When I was chair of the board that does the credentialing – the national board that manages the credential – we created a second credential called the APR+M, where the 'M' stands for military. That is one the proud moments. I am not military affiliated so, I have APR; but someone who is in the Army or Navy or Marines or the Coast Guard, they can apply for a special credential with the 'M'. And it is the only one we have and it happened under my watch. 

And the second thing that I am really proud of is the first-ever three-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan for PRSA. And I was chair of that initiative. It took us multiple months of execution of qualitative and quantitative research as well as a lot of time building the strategies. 

Third, it has been a joy of my life to created something special for the 75th year of PRSA. Rather than doing balloons and confetti and having a party, we did a book. And that book, I believe, is going to be a game changer. And the reason that I am so proud of it is because I think our industry has been painted with this brush of being spin-doctors and hacks but what this books describes are those moments where PR has shaped the culture in America and positively influenced democracy. 

During the course of your career, you have been quite vocal about diversity, equity and inclusion. In fact, during the PRSA Philadelphia’s 70th anniversary kickoff event, you had confessed to being a huge champion of DE&I. What can be done to better champion this cause and integrate it in the core ethics of PR? 

We all have biases and we have to admit that. However, if we are going to change the world for the good, we have got to improve within our sector and right now, in the US, just looking at the demography – the percentages of those who classify as white or African-American or Latino or Asian – our industry doesn't align. So, if we are going to lean into hearing the voices of all of these points of views, our profession has got to reflect that. I believe that from the bottom of my soul that if we are going to do better and be better, we have to reflect the demography of a nation. I speak of what I call the ;mini dimensions of diversity'. In the US, we often think of it as black or white but it is so much more. So, I talk about the dimension of diversity around age, around geography and where you live because it influences how you think, your education status – the amount of education you have will determine how you view different things and how you should be communicated to, and your economic status. There are so many different ways we have to think about.

There is another one that I often say that folks do not think about. The challenges of an individual who is a single parent versus one that comes from a two-parent household. It is light years different. And you have to communicate differently to them. There are different challenges, It helps us be better communicators, be better practitioners when we fully understand the dimensions of diversity. What we do, lifts societies – if we do our jobs well. That is why I am so proud to be in this global exchange with PRCAI. 

What do you consider the biggest challenges ahead for the profession? 

Understanding outcomes versus tactics is one. So, doing a release and a post on social media – those are great but what are you trying to achieve? So, being strategic and supporting the needs of the constituents and the clients and the companies you work for – that, for me, is a challenge. As opposed to say, 'You want a release, I'll do a release'. Why? Keep asking that question so that you get to the heart of the outcome. 

Ethics, I think, is a big deal around the globe. I know we all want ton make money and gain employment but we have to stand for something – have a solid ground and a foundation that is true. And I also think that we need to do more partnerships. So, while understanding one entity may not have all the answers – may not – but partnering and working together and being open minded about different points of views. The George Floyd incident changed everything but what his daughter said about changing the world is true. His death has brought a light on the fact that we have to treat each other as human beings. We can't call it anything but the 'Golden Rule' – treat others the way you want to be treated.

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Amrita Ray joins Taj Hotels as Associate Director – PR

She was associated with JW Marriott Hotel, Kolkata as Marketing Manager before

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 19, 2023 12:11 PM   |   1 min read

AM

Amrita Ray has joined Taj Hotels as Associate Director – Public Relations. She will be based in Kolkata, West Bengal.

Prior to this, she was associated with JW Marriott Hotel, Kolkata as Marketing Manager.

Ray is an experienced marketing communications manager with a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality industry. She is also skilled in public and media relations, corporate social responsibility, content writing, crisis communications, event management and editing.

Ray has worked with notable media houses and corporates namely TV Today, TV South Asia, NDTV, Hindustan times, Nextgen Communication, The Park Hotels, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, BMW India, Marriott International and The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.

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Vaishnavi Ramakrishnan joins Apollo Hospitals Group as SVP – Communications

She was previously associated with Ola as Head of Communications

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 17, 2023 3:15 PM   |   1 min read

vaishnavi

Vaishnavi Ramakrishnan has joined Apollo Hospitals Group as SVP – Communications. Here, she will be responsible to build the group’s communication strategy across businesses and manage leadership communication.

Previously, she spearheaded communications for Ola in both their riding hailing and electric business. Prior to that she held a position as Director of Communications with Flipkart.

Spanning a career in journalism and communications consultant with Edelman India, Ramakrishnan has worked for several brands and companies spanning varied sectors. She has worked with reputed media organisations such as ET Now, UTVi and Times Now.

Apollo Hospitals is India’s leading healthcare service provider that is known for clinical excellence, its hospitals, pharmacies and online health services.

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e4m PR & Corp Comm 40 Under 40: Jurors pick the best from 120+ entries

The winners will be unveiled and felicitated at the summit and awards ceremony on February 1, 2023

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 16, 2023 8:40 AM   |   2 min read

e4m PR & Corp Comm

The jury meet for the fourth edition of ‘e4m PR and Corp Comm 40 under 40’ took place virtually on Friday, January 13, 2023. The e4m PR and Corporate Communication 40 under 40 summit and awards will identify the generation PR and Communication leaders, who are shaping the industry through their forward-looking vision. The awards will honour those brightest professionals, entrepreneurs, game-changers, achievers of the industry under the age 40. The panel examined on the aspects of communication along with agility, technology, human interface and mentorship.

This year, Atul Ahluwalia, founding partner, First Partners and Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media and BW Businessworld, will grace the jury chair. The other members of the grand jury are: Atipriya Sarawat, vice president – brand, communication & corporate citizenship, Fiserv; Arpana Kumar Ahuja, head corporate communications and brand, Shell India; Chhavi Leekha, vice president – corporate communications and brand reputation, Indigo; Dimple Raisurana Kapur, vice president and head of corporate communications, Pernod Ricard India; Kinshuk Gupta, senior vice president and head – corporate communications, Airtel; Lovina Gujral, COO, Candour Communications; Pradeep Wadhwa, founder and principal, Kritical Edge Consulting Pvt. Ltd.; Pramuch Goel, VP and head – corporate communications, Mahindra Rise; Rachana Panda, country group head, communication and public affairs, India, Bayer; Rishi Seth, independent consultant; Subramaniam M, practice lead – technology, Hill+Knowlton Strategies; Trupti Vasudev, director, Actimedia PR and Digital; Vivek Satya Mitram, director – communications, Bobble AI and Varghese M Thomas, independent consultant.

The grand jury looked into the nominations on several criterion, including leadership, accomplishments, future potential, and contribution to the industry. Jury members independently inspected each entry and evaluated them based on their respective judging parameters. These best minds in the public relations and corporate communications industry talked on who should make the final cut with discussions that lasted for over five hours.

The jury members were fascinated by entrants who had a clear vision of their work, their presentation, nature of articulation of their work and accomplishments. Nominations that showcased a relevant and niche PR and communications approach and conceptualized something distinctive received close attention. The winners will be unveiled and felicitated on the day of the summit and awards ceremony on February 1, 2023.

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchange4media.com.

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'Campaigns with human experiences and storytelling at their hearts are often memorable'

In today’s Epilogue 2022 series, Shashikant Someshwar, MD, Current Global, The Weber Shandwick Collective, talks about how technology plays a big role in driving the evolution of PR and corp comm

By Ruchika Jha | Jan 13, 2023 12:04 PM   |   4 min read

Shashikant Someshwar

As we enter into the new year, it's time to reflect on our learnings, triumphs and mistakes of the year gone by. With this in mind, we present 'Epilogue 2022', a year-ender series from e4m PR & Corp Comm that will feature stalwarts from the Indian PR fraternity.

Today, we have Shashikant Someshwar, MD, Current Global, The Weber Shandwick Collective. In a career spanning around two decades, Someshwar has led many successful, high-profile communications campaigns across a diverse blue-chip client set. He was previously vice president at Perfect Relations and has deep experience of developing and managing high-growth operations.

Excerpts:

What are the changes you have seen in the industry this year (2022)?

I’ve noticed three significant shifts in the space this year.

Since podcasts are engaging, versatile, and very convenient for the audience to follow, it is no surprise that their popularity has seen a steadfast rise. With easily curated content formats like reels entering the space, targeting niche audiences and developing deeper connections with them has been the way to go when it comes to building brand affinity and loyalty.

Secondly, influencer marketing is coming of age, as content creators are becoming more creative with their expressions, and the kind of influence they enjoy regarding their followers is the real pot of gold for brands. Influencer marketing aids brands in expanding their target group and reaching a wider audience while growing their social media presence, following, as well as traffic on their site, at the same time converting leads and driving sales.

Lastly, there has been a major transformation in how corporates are embracing and promoting Diversity Equality and Inclusion (DEI) and exuding empathy in the workplace. The changing policies have made for many interesting storylines. The routinisation of remote work and the career shuffle set off by the Great Resignation have intensified DEI issues, as employees now survey their career options and evaluate softer factors alongside location and compensation.

What are the trends that have yielded optimum results this year? Are there any global trend practices that you would like the Indian PR/ Corp Comm fraternity to adopt?

Campaigns that put human experiences and storytelling at the heart of their messaging are often memorable ones. As data-driven as we are, we also realise that the secret is to look deeper when planning your next campaign. After all, campaign results rely on human cognition and the countless micro-decisions people often make without even realising it, and that’s the aspect that the human element of a campaign can influence. Creating that magic is possible only when all marketing departments collaborate in the creation of the campaign. These collaborative campaigns, equipped with the perfect balance of a data-driven and human-centric approach, are emerging more often in global markets and are an aspect that homegrown PR space should consider embodying.

We are rapidly moving ahead in the area of digital communications and will do more of it in the new year. Do you feel that new technology can co-exist harmoniously with the traditional ways of PR and corporate communications?

Technology is already playing a significant role in driving the evolution of PR and corporate communications. With the rapid digitisation of the world triggered by the pandemic, a substantial part of our audience exists on digital platforms, and it is only by leveraging technology that communicators can reach those audiences.

From a communicator’s point of view, it’s made us more productive with our time, which is a scarce commodity given our 24X7 jobs. Communicators have benefited immensely in areas such as monitoring, discovery, measurement, and tackling crises with the enablement that comes with technological advancements. Tracking results of work done, as well as foreseeing the probable outcomes of work to be done, has been made possible through technological advancements; and as a bonus, it helps justify and quantify the return on investments for our clients as well.

As we reach full-time normalcy, there has been a fresh revival in talent acquisition and salary restoration. What are the other areas that you are expecting a full revival in?

I reckon in-person events will make a comeback. In many aspects, in-person events are irreplaceable, and attendees are eager to return to face-to-face interactions. Over the past three years, event organisers have found innovative ways to utilise virtual events. And, to begin with, it was never a question of replacing live events per se. In-person events have been on the rise with the ending of the pandemic and will grow further in the coming year. However, with that, we will also need to rethink our story-pitching strategy. Customisation will win over mass pitches and embargos.

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchange4media.com.

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e4m PR & Corp Comm 40 Under 40: Jurors to shortlist from 120+ entries

The candidates will be selected on the basis of leadership, accomplishment, future potential, and contribution to the industry

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 13, 2023 8:30 AM   |   2 min read

PR and Corporate Communication

The jury meet for the fourth edition of ‘e4m PR and Corp Comm 40 under 40’ will take place virtually on Friday, January 13, 2023. Out of 120+ entries received, the shortlisted ones will be showcased at the grand event. The e4m PR and Corporate Communication 40 under 40 summit and awards will identify the generation PR and Communication leaders, who are shaping the industry through their forward-looking vision. The awards will honour the brightest professionals, entrepreneurs, game-changers, achievers of the industry under the age of 40. The panel will examine on the aspects of communication along with agility, technology, human interface and mentorship.

This year, Atul Ahluwalia, founding partner, First Partners and Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media and BW Businessworld, will grace the jury chair. The other members of the grand jury are: Atipriya Sarawat, vice president – brand, communication & corporate citizenship, Fiserv; Arpana Kumar Ahuja, head corporate communications and brand, Shell India; Chhavi Leekha, vice president – corporate communications and brand reputation, Indigo; Dimple Raisurana Kapur, vice president and head of corporate communications, Pernod Ricard India; Kinshuk Gupta, senior vice president and head – corporate communications, Airtel; Lovina Gujral, COO, Candour Communications; Pradeep Wadhwa, founder and principal, Kritical Edge Consulting Pvt. Ltd.; Pramuch Goel,  VP and head – corporate communications, Mahindra Rise; Rachana Panda, country group head, communication and public affairs, India, Bayer; Rishi Seth, independent consultant; Subramaniam M, practice lead – technology, Hill+Knowlton Strategies; Trupti Vasudev, director, Actimedia PR and Digital; Vivek Satya Mitram, director – communications, Bobble AI and Varghese M Thomas, independent consultant.

The grand jury will look into the nominations on several aspects like leadership, accomplishments, future potential, and contribution to the industry. For the virtual jury process, the grand jury will be divided into two groups - Group A and Group B - with one jury chair in each virtual room to judge all the nominations diligently.

The final awardees will be unveiled and felicitated on the day of the summit and awards ceremony on February 1, 2023.

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchange4media.com.

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