Supriyo Gupta, Vice President, Rediffusion-DY&R

We run with the news. We run for the mindspace, for our clients.

Supriyo Gupta, Vice President, Rediffusion-DY&R
We run with the news. We run for the mindspace, for our clients.

365 Days a year, at least three of Rediffusion Public Relations' clients are present in at least ten of the top 20 media in the country. "Mostly on the front pages," claims Rediffusion with confidence. And Supriyo Gupta, Vice-President, Rediffusion-DY&R and Head Rediffusion Public Relations, has much to explain. How?

A former journalist, Supriyo has worked with a number of publications, he joined public relations to supplement his learning's with real life marketing experience.

Rediffusion PR has worked for Amway, AirTel, Touchtel, Zee Networks, Playwin, SKF bearings, United Breweries, McDowell, Cavinkare, Maruti, Sail, Gillette, Braun, Oral B, Dell Computers in shaping their communication for substantial periods.

In a conversation with exchange4media's Nikhil Gupta, Supriyo talks about the concept of 'News brand', importance of media relations and the future of PR in India.

Q. What are the core values and ethics of Rediffusion? The core ethics and values of Rediffusion are very simple, its integrity, its honesty, its self -respect. We believe that we have a set of talented people, we respect ourselves, we respect our customers, we respect our clients, we respect the media and we work with them.

Q. Has the PR industry in India reached a stage where it can replace advertising? No, not really, but what will happen is more efficient use of the non-advertising marketing spend.

Q. Is the role of PR going to remain majorly in media relations? What are the other roles PR is going to play increasingly in the coming years? We feel that the role of PR is going to remain in media relations. In media relations there are essentially few things, one fundamentally- the information. The best PR Company works both from the company to the environment and from the environment to the company. That role is going to get enhanced. Then over a period of time the media becomes increasingly discerning about the information it uses, because of the ease with which it can access the competing information. Also, our role comes under a larger marketing role, in the sense that you are dealing in a form of credible space. The best PR is that PR which happens at the street level, you go out and ask the people what they think about of Company A, and they say, 'Acchi Company Hai.' That is not reference to a newspaper he has read, he has imprinted in his mind a picture, which has emerged from a combination of impulses. Those could be from media, from non-media, it could be your friend; it could be your relative.

Q. What is the Unique selling proposition of Rediffusion-DY&R? The USP of Rediffusion is first; we have an excellent appreciation of our client. We try and understand business; we try to get into the dynamics of the business. For us, it's not merely a communication exercise. The second USP is that we have good comprehension of the environment. Therefore I can look at my clients business, understand its dynamics, understand his environment and then able to counsel him on possible anticipated directions and able to deliver the message far better. Three sixty-five days in a year, Rediffusion clients are in the newspapers. You look, in the past we handled Maruti, right from their very difficult phase, at a point of time when the competition was coming in. You look at SAIL, when it was going through its modernization phase. We work virtually in tandem with media, as we are working with clients that make news everyday. We run with the news, we run for the mind space, which a typical audience is willing to give to us, rather than a mind space, that I have to hammer in. And that's really our third USP. At the end, in overall sense the proposition tends to be great thinking and superb execution.

Q. When you go out and pitch to potential clients, how do you differentiate yourself? First thing that works for us is that we have a superb set off clients, second thing that works for us, is that we think differently. At a given point of time, if you look at the solutions that we present, they are rooted in reality, while showing an appreciation of environment of the client. And the proposition of the client evolves every two months, so, we try and evolve the value that we add to our client. In the process we try to make sure that anybody in our agency should not feel that they are doing the same thing over and over again. We feel he should be on a continuous growth path of learning, because if you don't have that then after a point of time, this most exciting profession ends up becoming fairly dull.

Q. What is the concept of 'News brand' that you talk about? When we talk about a 'News brand,' really it's not unlike a customer brand. At any given point a news organization is going through about 1000 pieces of news items. It ends up making a choice, based on his perception on how important the company or the brand or the news brand is. You might have a really well known company, which is investing 1 crore, a slightly less known company investing 20 crores, and a very little known company investing 100 crores. They might be of equal standing, integrity. But the more well known company is on the front page, a slightly less known company is placed somewhere in the companies page. And the third company is put into the snippets. So, the degree is to really start working on the, what is the news brand that works best for the company. Does it needs to be high profile, because he has got stake holders in decision making to whom he needs to constantly talk to. Does he have consumers, to who needs to constantly talk to? Once we have defined the making of a news brand then we built it up accordingly. Therefore our news brand concept flows largely from the appreciation of how you built in a value for a media organization.

Q. How does PR competes with other below the line marketing activities? Very well, today we are doing a fair number of things, which are below the line. Suppose we decide that for some consumer goods company, which is selling perfumes, one key consistent messaging that you need to do is in the area of gifting. Now there are two aspects in which I go about addressing them. First and foremost would be that I look at every gifting occasion, that exists. Therefore, I will look at Valentine's day, I will look at birthday, engagement, marriage. I will surround him in areas where he is most likely to go for gifting. So, if he goes to an Archie's Shop, to look for gifts. So, when he goes out on a Valentines Day I have surrounded him with communication impulses. PR is about communication that surrounds the person.

Q. What are the future roles of PR in India? For say 5 years? I think three big trends will happen. One is that PR today is defined in very narrow terms. I see the way in which PR Practitioners address their task. In the future, a PR professional may not content with saying that I will address these many publications, a PR professional would go out and say I will address this market and I will give back to you this kind of visibility and exposure in this market. Secondly I see a greater degree of accountability coming, as of now the accountability happens in fairly absurd terms. We will probably see greater degree in terms of pre and post research. Third, I see a far greater degree of professionalism happening. Fundamentally today in Public Relations we are coming up with a generation, who is understanding the business from many dimensions.
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