Trends that will define the PR industry in 2020: Nitin Mantri, Avian WE

Guest Column: Nitin Mantri, President PRCAI & Group CEO, Avian WE, says influencer marketing, social media & community management and multimedia content creation will drive maximum growth in 2020

e4m by Nitin Mantri
Published: Dec 31, 2019 2:23 PM  | 4 min read


Nitin Mantri

This decade we will see the growing up of the new PR firm – agile, digital, tech-driven. Our gift of communication would play a pivotal role in moving people, businesses, and society into positive action. Thanks to technology, consumers are more informed, engaged and empowered. Their expectations go far beyond wanting brands to use technology to innovate and make their lives better. They want brands to be real and human to the core. To tap into the new brand loyalty, brands need to act with bold purpose, they need to meet consumers where they are: in their communities, doing what matters to them most; and as their trusted advisors, we would help them define their purpose in a way that is meaningful to society. In short, we would help brands build a better and purposeful world.

Some of the trends that will define our industry this year:

Technology, Digital and Analytics

In 2020, technology will continue to drive conversations in the global PR agenda, with more automation and AI being introduced in business. This year we will see influencer marketing, social media & community management and multimedia content creation driving maximum growth with clients increasingly turning to public relations firms to lead non-traditional services, with digital media topping the list. The ‘State of the Industry Survey 2019’, an annual study conducted by the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI), pointed out that while large PR firms in India are still getting more than 50% of their revenues from conventional businesses, the younger firms have reduced their dependence on conventional media relations in favour of digital, social media, content and design services. Data and Analytics: With technology throwing up so much information every day, we will need big data to sieve through the ones that are relevant to our clients and design more creative campaigns. PR firms must take advantage of analytics this year.

Ethics – transparency, honesty and authenticity

Consumers want technology to improve their lives, but not at any cost.

  • 69% of the people surveyed by Brands in Motion Study said change was happening too fast
  • 97% said companies were responsible for using technology ethically.
  • 91% of brands could be adding speakers, cameras and sensors to products to collect more data
  • 92% said they would stop using a product or service due to the unethical use of customer data.

The new brand loyalty is clearly driven by more than a product or service — it’s driven by a shared understanding of humanity and respect. Consumers want to respect the brands whose products or services they are using, and in return, want brands to treat their data and privacy with the same respect. The study also found that consumers believed they had a role to play in ensuring that companies were using technologies ethically. Nearly all the respondents (96%) said there was a need for collective accountability beyond companies and the government. If brands want to survive in this new world order, they must strike a balance between tech innovations and thoughtful accountability. As their strategic advisors, it’s our job to find solutions that would help our clients take advantage of the latest technologies without sacrificing consumer privacy. Ultimately, transparent communication will cut through divisiveness, build new levels of respect between brands and customers, and lead to stability and peace, two critical things consumers expect from brands today.

Lead with purpose. Brands can no longer survive by being faceless entities that provide solutions through products and services. Consumers expect companies to care about social, environmental, and ethical issues and take meaningful action. WE’s Brands in Motion study found that 47% of Indian respondents want both functionality and purpose from brands. They expect brands to prioritise local issues over global issues, differing from the global consumer base that expects brands to address both local and global issues.

Globally, companies have started corporate purpose seriously. Agency heads surveyed by ICCO for the World PR Report said sustainability & climate change; diversity and social inclusion; education; and healthcare would be given propriety by brands in 2020. As their communications partner, we would help them to define their purpose and more importantly, ensure that they stay the course in difficult times.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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