Vocal for Local: How PR & Communications can help brands be self-reliant

Experts agree on the need for strategic and targeted communications from brands in being Vocal for Local while cautioning them to not be protectionist and isolationist

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: May 20, 2020 12:36 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has made countries realize the importance of being self-reliant. Backed up by the Prime Minister's recent address to the nation for being "Vocal for Local", businesses across boards have started working towards it. The clarion call for being “atma-nirbhar” has once again ignited the “Make In India” sentiment. The important question here is how can the public relations and communication industry aid brands in realizing the call?

Bhaskar Majumdar, Head - Corporate Affairs, Communication and digital media, Egis India commented: “The PR and Communications industry has an instrumental role to play in this journey, as given the challenges faced by businesses and establishments the world over, identifying the right target audience, relevant stakeholders and reaching out to them effectively with the right messaging will be the key decisive factor for brand salience, equity, and success. For brands, relevant local media, vernacular language press, social media, and digital platforms will witness increased traction as they would be crucial for reaching out to where the consumer is.”

Public relations and communication industry defines the art of engagement and are the gateway for brands and consumers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Indian consumers to support local brands. By local, it does not only mean products of Indian origin but also manufactured in India. Supporting the naïve initiative, Ashwani Singla, Founding Managing Partner said, “A self-reliant India is a welcome move for the nation but it is also pertinent to remember that our Hon. PM also said in the same breath that a self-reliant will not be protectionist and isolationist. Therefore, any company that invests in India, creates local jobs, pays local taxes and contributes to nation-building is an Indian company. Would Hindustan Unilever today be any less Indian? I believe India’s interest is best served when communicators take the real meaning of PM’s message to the people.”

The “Make in India” sentiment has further been cemented by the pandemic. Contributing to creating jobs, promoting hyper-local markets and hence boosting the Indian economy will be of paramount importance.  Sectors like fashion, health, FMCG and others will have strong padding in the country in the initiative of being vocal for local. Abhilasha Padhy, Co-Founder and Jt. Managing Director at 80 dB Communications too spoke on similar lines. According to her,” Vocal for Local campaign is expected to boost pride for homegrown brands. Indian communication firms can gauge the user's perception and connect with this broader campaign by using tools such as research and surveys, brand sentiment analysis. This can help them identify areas of alignment with their own brand and associated messaging and tweak their market messages accordingly. This shouldn't be a force-fit, it is essential to establish the salience and relevance - in the brand's narrative.”

Padhy further added, “There is an opportunity for brands to carve out core messages around what "Make in India" means to them and their offerings and align it with customers. Brands will need to illustrate what "Vocal for Local" means for them and how it fits in with their purpose. Communication firms can help them fine-tune this messaging and develop contextual storytelling and brand narratives.”

With the ever-growing need for public relations and communication, the post COVID world will witness a paradigm shift in the corporate budget allocation of firms with greater impetus on public relations. Agreeing to the above statement, Majumdar concluded saying, “In the post-COVID 19 world, marketing spends will continue to plummet further, as brands will struggle to garner maximum ROI and minimize expenditure. Therefore, the role of PR will evolve and become indispensable for brands to reach out to their relevant audience.”

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