PR is the most effective way to create brand awareness: Amitabh Saksena, Actimedia
Saksena, Founder-Director, Actimedia PR, talks about his experience of running one of the oldest lifestyle PR agencies in the country and his journey in the industry
A 20-year-old organisation, ActiMedia has been a forerunner in the lifestyle PR industry. The company has now expanded its portfolio to include entertainment, lifestyle e-commerce, lifestyle sports and consumer PR. Having started with Esso Petroleum, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica & JW Marriott in India, Actimedia has gone from strength to strength working with some of the best brands in the world.
exchange4media had an interaction with Amitabh Saksena, Founder-Director, Actimedia PR, about his experience of running one of the oldest lifestyle PR agencies in the country and his journey in the industry.
How has your time in the PR industry been?
Since my early days, PR as a career has always fascinated me; developing strategies for brands not just to create awareness but also to create real business impact. Binita and I started Actimedia more than 20 years ago, at a time when PR was considered to be a sunrise industry. We were the first in the space to specialise in lifestyle with Esso (Exxon Mobil) as our first client followed by Sula Wines, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica & Gant, among others.
Tell us in detail about Actimedia PR
A highly democratic culture, with respect for the individual as the baseline, the Actimedia team has managed to defy the norm of ‘work has to be done’. We like to think that people enjoy coming into work every day because they look forward to a high-quality work environment, cracking challenges together, and at the same time, have their quota of laughs for the day.
What changes have you noticed in the working style of lifestyle PR agencies over the years?
Earlier, there were only a handful of people who even thought of lifestyle PR. And even those who did, focussed only on fashion designers. Actimedia PR was the first lifestyle agency that truly addressed all market segments within lifestyle – from JW Marriott to Diesel and to the iconic Kingfisher Swimsuit Calendar.
The not-so-great development is that under the pretext of being lifestyle agencies, solo operators are ruining the pricing for the industry. This, in turn, impacts the talent that the industry can attract. This, of course, is not an issue limited to lifestyle agencies, but the entire PR industry.
PR needs well-rounded brand managers who understand the business side of communication as much as marketing roles, and as an industry we need to address this talent issue.
What is the difference in the working of a PR agency handling lifestyle and other agencies?
There is no difference. In PR, it is the merit of the idea that matters, how laser focused is your messaging and how you drive more relevant engagement for the brand. We have shown what lifestyle PR can deliver via the work that we did on Bira 91, Sula Wines, Contest2Win, Force India Formula 1 and the Kingfisher Swimsuit Calendar. Before a single advertising rupee was spent, brand awareness was at a high.
How has been the growth rate in terms of client acquisition?
By design, Actimedia has always been a lifestyle-focused agency. For us delight is not in terms of how many clients we have signed, but what kind of work we are doing. We have signed up some fantastic brands with fantastic PR mandates, and that is exciting for us. We are the agency on record with London & Partners, Endemol, LimeRoad, Forevermark Diamonds, Switzerland Tourism, Metro Shoes, Avon & Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, among several others.
How can you trace your growth over the years in the industry as you are one of the oldest lifestyle PR agencies?
I think the best thing that has happened is that brands across sectors have started to understand that they all need a lifestyle edge to connect with consumers. Organic growth is limited – ‘if I don’t know you, I don’t buy you’. A brand needs to create awareness, and the most effective, credible & convincing way to do so is through PR. We have had some lovely relationships within the industry. The proof of the pudding lies in the eating, and brands who have worked with us for decades are testimony to the fact that clients have appreciated our approach.
What is your 5-year growth plan in the industry?
Our approach has always been to be the trusted communication advisory for clients, providing them the lifestyle edge. We will continue to do so with clients that we love to work with and choose to work with.
How has been your association with exchange4media?
Quite wonderful, really. e4m has emerged as a strong voice for the entire communications industry and not just advertising. PR has always been on the fringe of the communications industry, and it is gratifying to see that there is some amount of spotlight on PR now.
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