PR will be stronger & more relevant in the post-COVID world, say industry leaders

On e4m's webinar on the PR industry, a panel of experts discuss 'How are PR agencies bracing for a post-COVID business environment?'

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Apr 20, 2020 8:35 AM
e4m Webinar - How are PR agencies bracing for a post-COVID business environment?

The past months have seen a drastic change in the way businesses are being operated across sectors. With work-from-home becoming the new style of working and seminars being replaced by webinars, people have resorted to multiple ways of beating all odds and keep the momentum going uninterrupted. On similar spirits, e4m hosted its 4th webinar for the Public Relations community on the topic, “How are PR agencies bracing for a post-COVID business environment?”

The webinar consisted of an esteemed list of panellists including Nitin Mantri, Group CEO at AvianWE, President ICCO & PRCAI, Kunal Kishore, Founder Director at Value 360 Communications, Aman Gupta, Managing Partner at SPAG- Strategic Partners Group, Udit Pathak, Founder Director at Media Mantra, Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner at Nucleus PR, Vineet Handa, Founder & CEO at Kaizzen, Ruby Sinha, Managing Director- Kommune Brand Communications. The session was moderated by Ruhail Amin, Senior Editor at exchange4media group and Karan Bhatia, Business Strategic Consultant at exchange4media group.

The webinar kicked off with the panellists sharing insights on how PRCAI is helping the sector tide over the challenges posed by COVID 19. President of PRCAI, Nitin Mantri responded to the question by saying that The PRCAI’s sole mission is to provide support and advice to its member firms in these dark and challenging times. He said, "We are using all our resources, time and energy to make the situation less disruptive and stressful for our members and clients. We are constantly evaluating the crisis and its impact on our people and clients. We are holding virtual meetings with CEOs of PR firms every week to assess new developments.”

Mantri added, “Since communication is the business-critical need now, we expect our clients to have additional support requirements this year. We have discussed with member firms how to make our cost heads more efficient. We are confident that the industry will be able to offer additional support to brands efficiently and cushion the adverse impact of the pandemic. For our people, we are offering free training programmes through ICCO, running campaigns and webinars on mental health-related issues, and taking initiatives like virtual get-togethers to motivate them. Finally, we are sharing information on measures firms can take to ensure business continuity for themselves at this time.”

Speaking about how are agencies keeping the employee morale high during these tough times, Vineet Handa said, "We need to interact with internal & external stakeholders daily. People have issues at home which we may not be aware of. Finances are tight, re-structuring has been done and it is transparent. The communication strategy is the same for both".

Kunal Kishore added, "We need to encourage our employees and keep them motivated in order to run uninterrupted. We regularly keep doing meetings through video conferencing to be in touch with all of our employees and get the best results out of them”.

"We have always been stepping up if everyone thought PR can’t do work from home, PR employees have been working from 9 to 9, we have done a lot of WhatsApp sessions & Fb lives, every week we have a video call with each team member”, remarked Tarunjeet Rattan.

Shifting the discussion towards how the PR industry is bracing for a post COVID business's environment, the panellists gave different viewpoints on similar lines. They agreed on a common point that PR will rise more strong for a post-COVID business environment.

“This is the right time to talk as a consultant and not an agency for sure!”, exclaimed Udit Pathak. He added, “'We should keep talking to clients, make sure there is some kind of message which is going out for sure. It is very important to be consultants rather than an agency for sure''.

Rattan said that the pandemic has created a whole set of opportunities for us as an industry. She added,” Our entire scope of work has expanded drastically. This includes all verticals. We've done WhatsApp sessions, FB Live, have a video call with the entire team to keep everyone connected. We see and talk to each other to discuss challenges".

Ruby Sinha too spoke on the same lines. According to her, “Most brands are realising there are different ways to communicate. They understand the value of good content. There's a silver lining behind every cloud and we'll get through this much better". She further added, “It’s important to practice remote communication. It is easy to work with an agency virtually. All members of the team are equally responsible. Remember- We have to be responsive, be innovative, be empathetic and sensitive."

Summing up the discussion, the moderator asked will PR agencies have a bigger role to play in the post COVID world given there will be repositioning of the business. Group CEO at Avian WE prompted,” Current plans require PR agencies to help in situations. We'll help in building market competitiveness. The format will be more digital. PR firms will play a large role in controlling fake news".

He further added, “I think post-COVID, agencies will come back stronger, clients will re-arrange their strategies, they need PR Agencies to continue and help in building brands, PR firms can play a large role in terms of fake news”.

According to Aman Gupta, “This pandemic has brought in huge uncertainty. What emerges after this end will be very different. Right now it is helping each of us to help this industry stand tall and together. There has to be a business continuity".

"We are working with lots of startups and SMEs. They want us to help them get through the situation. Brands have to communicate. PR will keep playing an important role. Traditional communication will stay for sure", said Udit Pathak.

Handa summed up his discussion by exclaiming the fact that “PR will never get out of the picture, and will always remain even post COVID and will be strong as always “.

Kishore also agreed to the fact and added, "A lot of innovations are happening already. There would be new opportunities that would emerge out of COVID. We're in for a V-Shaped recession. When you see a dip, you see a massive rise as well. That's when PR firms will come up strongly".

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