Essence of PR in 2014: Listen to remain relevant

Nitin  Mantri, CEO, Avian Media

Nitin Mantri, CEO, Avian Media

Year 2013 was one of big headlines. Sachin Tendulkar hung up his pads; Odisha tamed Cyclone Phailin; the RBI gave us a ‘sexy’ Governor; the country moved towards stronger laws to protect women and we sent our first Mars mission. But, we took a giant step backwards when we continued to criminalise homosexuality; rapes went on unabated; India led the world in dengue cases; the highest number of tigers was poached, the rupee fell to its lowest, rains played havoc in Uttarakhand and V Anand lost his world title.

However, the winner of 2013 was clearly the aam admi. The AAP showed that a strong resolve can translate into results. A lesson for all of us and a great communication exercise as well. AAP used the media effectively to ensure their message reached the people.

So, how will the New Year treat the PR industry? With the general elections a few months away, the country may witness major political and economic changes. Businesses, therefore, will be slow and things will start moving only in the last quarter of 2014. But, that should not deter the PR industry -perhaps the only sector to have witnessed such rapid changes in the past year – to be more innovative and creative.

The focus this year will be Integrated PR, Relevant Content, Audience Engagement and Fresh Understanding of ROI. The past couple of years saw the advent of integrated PR that combines public relations, digital media and research. Year 2014 will see PR agencies taking integrated PR to the next level and building new communication practices that will help clients both promote and protect their brands.

Agencies will also have to focus on effectively understanding, reaching out and engaging with their audience. The idea is to engage with them where they are and not where you want them to be, and, to give them information in a format they want. With technology changing people’s preferred source of information every day, reaching out to your audience on all communication platforms and providing them with the best customer service will be a major challenge this year.

The game clincher will be relevant content that adds value to your target audience. Curating content will become critical and one cannot market irrelevant content anymore. Days of push marketing are over. If the content is not valuable, interesting, timely, engaging, it will end up in the garbage and the credibility is gone forever. Hence, content will need to focus on telling a credible, realistic story, using a variety of message delivery formats. Most importantly, make sure the promises made are kept.

Another focus area will be ROI. There will a greater emphasis on measuring the effectiveness of a campaign on the basis of insights derived from research. Social and digital technologies enable one to gain insights like who is reading or sharing your content and talking about products. These are real, tangible metrics that can increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and contribute to better ROI.

Stay abreast of latest technologies, communication tools, audience preferences and the rest will fall in place.

(Nitin Mantri is the Chief Executive Officer and Business Partner of Avian Media. Nitin has over 16 years of experience in corporate and high-tech PR and marketing communications.)

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