Friday, June 22

Public Relations - An Indian perspective

PR...oh Yeah! Public Relations is still a very niche space in the Indian market today. Being the business of influencing people and creating perceptions, PR is yet to go a long way in familiarising itself with the masses. To quote a very basic example, it is difficult to explain to someone what you do. An automatic frosty nosed stare of disdain awaits you the moment you utter something which doesn’t sound like ‘doctor’ or‘engineer’. Public Relations sounds too different even from other familiar terms like‘teacher’, ‘banker, ‘manager’ or even the adventurous ‘advertising’ or ‘branding’.You are lucky if you can drop the names of certain corporates or media and getaway with it. Many corporates are yet to understand the application of PR in the long run and need to see it as a strategic instrument to build the brand and not a cheap quickie to fifteen minutes of fame. India has a reasonably mature PR market, started with the Tata’s, later agencies like Good Relations and further down the entry of many Communication Conglomerates. But we need to clear the air and establish ourselves. Alienating ourselves from advertising, events and other formats also contribute tothe confusion. More emphasis needs to be laid on an integrated approach addressing the brand as a comprehensive whole. The Assocham report released in March 2010 shows the growth of the PR industryin India to grow to US$ 6 billion by end of 2010 with a CAGR of approximately 32%. The study reports the biggest challenges of the PR industry to be thefollowing: • Lure of better pay: Skilled manpower is scarce, professionals will be poached for higher salaries. • Leadership crisis: Not too many established players, presenting a crisis of leadership in middle & smaller firms, which makes people move to larger, more reputed PR agencies. • Lack of understanding of PR: Most people, even from sibling professions, don’tunderstand PR. • Perception issues: Many stakeholders, including media and corporate organizations,consider PR to be similar to that of a spin job. However, there is hope as things are slowly but surely changing for the better.Journalists and public relations practitioners have a more symbiotic relationship today. The industry experts need to adorn roles of academicians and theoreticians and groom the next PR community. Till then you have to face the music when asked,
“Beta, what exactly is it that you do.”

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