Mumbai: Traditional PR today has come a far way from being a one-way tunnel to thrust information out to the public. It has evolved into a fundamental component of marketing and is no longer considered a stand-alone area of expertise. It is a function that works in tandem with a company’s advertising, social media strategy, new business efforts, internal communication, and more.
The second edition of PR & Communication Aces, organized by IndianTelevision.com on 24 August at Gurgaon’s Crowne Plaza, aims to throw light on these emerging and diverse aspects of the PR and communications industry, even as it brings notice to the industry’s rising stars, celebrating their achievements and rewarding their contributions.
The day-long conference saw keynote addresses and panel discussions focused on PR and communications. Apart from this, the summit also had representation from industry stakeholders, brands & agencies, advertising & marketing professionals & technology service providers.
The event’s first panel was on the topic, “PR and the 360 Degree Communication: Trends, Challenges & Opportunities” where thought leaders from the industry shared their insights on the current trends, challenges, strategies and opportunities in the highly evolving space. The ensuing discussion saw industry experts map the PR trends in the next five years, even as they took a deep dive into the challenges to manage perception and image in today’s times.
The speakers comprise Fortis Healthcare (group vice president) & Fortis HealthCare group head corporate communication & PR Ajey Maharaj, Policy-bazar head of communications & content Apeksha Mishra, PepsiCo India associate director corporate communications Amit Nanchahal, EnKash head of communications Amandeep Arora, Hero Electric Vehicles head of marketing & corporate communications Manu Kumar and BPCL chief general manager PR & brand Syed Abbas Akhtar. The discussion was moderated by Hill+Knowlton Strategies CEO Abhishek Gulyani.
The panel debated how communications agencies and the PR profession have evolved in the recent past, and what more could be done while strategizing for a win-win situation. The discussion also delves into the next generation of consumers (the Gen Z) who are primarily exposed to the internet, where digital PR and digital marketing dominate.
With the rise of everything digital, post pandemic, becoming digital-savvy is vital to continue in the PR and communication domain, noted Fortis Healthcare’s Ajey Maharaj. People have become very conscious about health issues, including post-covid mental health issues, hence emotional attachment is another aspect that a brand needs to be mindful about and take cognition of while communicating with the audience for effective communication, he added.
Panellists deliberated on the exponential transformation in the PR and space in the last few years, especially post-pandemic communications when a lot of things as we knew them changes. It is important to adapt to this change in consumer mindset, while communicating to the audience, the industry experts agreed.
The evolution of the role of PR into actually a communication function from merely a PR function happened during the pandemic, stated Policy Bazaar’s Apeksha Mishra. Purpose-driven communication is at the heart of our strategies and objectives, she added. “How we are bringing trust, compassion, and empathy while interacting with the customers has come out of this pandemic times.”
The significance of purpose-driven and authentic communication, which has manifested especially during the pandemic, was also stressed by the experts. In today’s environment, the corporate sector needs a good communication strategy that can be identified by the audience as genuine and not just a fad, noted Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Abhishek Gulyani at the PR and Communication Summit 2022.
Gone are the days where brands can run a campaign without a purpose. Today we need an outcome, PepsiCo India’s Amit Nanchahal agrees. In the last two years, a lot of brands have pivoted towards purpose-driven campaigns. They have also realized that they need to be solving a problem rather than selling, which they always do. “We need to live the purpose by ensuring that brands keep up their promise to customers and communities,” he added. Walking the talk is crucial when it comes to communication.
With paid media, online press, bloggers/vloggers, podcasts, social media influencers, content marketing, etc., the consumer reach outlets have a multiplied manifold today, making 360-degree integrated communication a necessity rather than an option, the industry insiders noted.