PR industry has come out with flying colours & done a stellar job in pandemic: Madan Bahal

IPRCCC: Madan Bahal, Co-founder and Managing Director of Adfactors PR, delivered the keynote speech

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Feb 13, 2021 8:37 AM

At the 11th edition of exchange4media ‘India PR and Corporate Communications Conference (IPRCCC)’ 2020, Madan Bahal, Co-founder and Managing Director of Adfactors, delivered the keynote speech. He shared his insights on economic revival and the role of communication in amplifying and channelizing the positive business sentiments.

Commencing the session, Bahl spoke about the impact of COVID-19 in general, “The pandemic has upended and disrupted, and no country or society on the planet has been spared. This time, it's a very democratized thing; the young & old, rich & poor and the east & west, are all impacted alike. It's difficult for us even to comprehend the scale of this, it is a Black Swan event that has impacted the world, including us and many sectors of the economy worldwide, and it will take a fair amount of time to recover to the full glory and operations.” 

Speaking about recovery of businesses and the economic growth, he remarked, “There is still a level of fear and anxiety all over, but life is limping back to some order as vaccination is in progress, but we are some distance away from normalcy. However, there are unmistakable signs of economic revival. Stock market indices are one indicator because they kind of predict the future. Nifty is about more than 120% higher than the March lows. It is 20% higher than the pre-Covid high. E-way bills are at the pre-Covid levels, they represent the movement of goods in the economy across the country. Electricity demand in January 2021 was at an all-time high, the housing economy is limping back, copper prices are at an all-time high. GST collections for example in January was Rs 120 lakh crores, an all-time high. The purchase managers index at 58.9 in October 2020 was the highest since 2008, rural markets were exceptionally strong, demand for tractors, for example Mahindra & Mahindra and even Escort were 50% higher in January on a year-on-year basis. And all these are great points of economic revival, which working from home we may not have experienced as well. Economic survey presented an efficient forecast of real GDP growth of 11%, after a fall of 7.7% in FY21, so the number 11% is for FY22.”

He further stated that there’s a strong tailwind for economic growth. “We have seen for the first time, a Budget in many years that has not been criticized by anybody. Driven by the attractiveness of this country as a stable and a predictable socio-cultural & political system, I think will go a long way in saying that this economic growth or revival is provided for the tailwind for a long time to come. Also, there’s a tsunami of techno-entrepreneurship happening, we are soon expected to have 100 unicorns i.e. about 60,000 to 70,000 startups. So I would say the best is not yet to come but about to come.”

Explaining about the opportunities for communications professionals, He shared, “As businesses, we understand the uncertainties and challenges. We must make an effort to understand, as we have been trying, as to what our stakeholders are dealing with, our customers, employees, neighbours, communities, vendors and suppliers, they are all impacted with this. And therein lies the opportunity for the communications professional to step in and take charge and we've done a stellar job in these last few months, but there is a significant role to play. It's safe to say that we have become the bridge between business and all its stakeholders. I think we played that part better, more effectively than all of the sister disciplines in the marcom business space.”

“We have helped interpret the challenges of our stakeholders to our leaders in the client organization, or in our own organizations. We are recommended, not just for communications but the right actions and behaviours that our organization should go to solve the problems of immediate stakeholders, and maybe at a larger social level of society and society at large. Finally, we have created communication programs that have become the bridge between the world of business and stakeholders. So we could say the PR industry has come out with flying colours, has done a stellar job to the pandemic, and whether you call it communications on the client side or the consulting on the PR side or all of it combined. I think we should feel reasonably satisfied with the way all of us conducted this.”

He opines that the recognition of the role and the importance of public relations and communications went up several notches through the turbulence of the pandemic. “I can say confidently we emerged as a consulting profession with a seat on the decision making table and I hear many interesting and exciting stories about our own client & corp comm heads that they now have a definite seat at the table where the board, not only sits and talks to them about what the right communication strategies ought to be, more important than that they have become the prism through which all the decisions of the organization, policies, actions of the organization are kind of run through before they are rolled out to the larger society to just understand that they're well connected. The scale of change in the absence has been rapid and one might say the profession has taken a quantum leap on both the client side and the agency side together. And I'm quite pleased with it.”

Concluding the session, Bahl urged the client side to navigate their paths within and asked them to consider the importance of Public Relations. “I urge the demand side to navigate their paths within, considering the importance of public relations for their own, even internal comms budgets and external budgets. I think we have to do better, because only then can we address the challenges, the risks and seize the opportunities that will help through communications and our organizations become more competitive, whether we are competing for consumers or human resources or natural resources or capital or policy, etc. 

“And therefore it's not a favour, it’s for your own good if you create the resources. And I will never get tired of making this point again and again because as an industry, I'm confident that the communication industry and my fraternity will rise up to deliver on the challenges, as well as seize the opportunities that the future has to offer, and meet the expectations that our own organizations, our clients expect of us, I'm very confident that we will achieve that.”


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