AgTalk | Focus is on growth: Lowe Lintas' Ameer Ismail

With a pan India presence, LinOpinion is a leading public relations agency having a large talent base of senior communication professionals spread across the country. Set up in 1994, it is a division of Lowe Lintas and is owned by the Interpublic group. It is also the exclusive Indian partner for Golin Harris, a leading international PR agency. Over the years, LinOpinion has emerged as a leading Brand Image Consultancy having aided several top notch clients in developing and implementing communications strategies and programs that project the goals and vision of the organization. To further boost its ambitious plans, LinOpinion has also brought on board senior talent from the industry and widened its reach to new cities which the agency has identified as important news hubs.

As part of its overall growth strategy, LinOpinion has been winning new business at a scorching pace. The agency has recently announced several new businesses wins across key sectors including education, real estate and retail. Some of the prestigious brands that have chosen LinOpinion as their preferred communications partner include Shapoorji Pallonji Group, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS University), ScribeTECH, Herbalife, ATS Infrastructure, Rapid Metrorail Gurgaon, NEC India Pvt. Ltd., Merino Industries, Isenberg, Poddar Developers, Wadhwa Group, Rio Tinto Diamonds and ITC Grand Chola. Apart from these, the consultancy has also added three more channels - Discovery Kids, Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo from Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific (South Asia) bouquet and will now represent its seven channels in the country.

The reason behind client wins, says Ameer Ismail, Executive Director, Lowe Lintas & Partners, is that “we follow a solution-focused approach and often advise clients to adopt a strategy, apart from traditional PR. It is our ability to bring creative solutions beyond the obvious and executing our ideas with maximum impact that has set us apart in the industry.”

Who knows this better than Ismail who has been instrumental in setting up LinOpinion, ever since his joining Lowe Lintas in 1996. Under his leadership the PR firm has today transformed itself into one of the fastest growing and most respected agencies in the country.

Adgully spoke with Ameer Ismail on the recent client wins and the roadmap ahead. Ismail began his career in 1992 with stints in Good Relations India, Enterprise Public Relations and Profile (the PR division of Trikaya Grey). An alumni of The Cathedral and John Cannon School, Jai Hind College, Mumbai and Hamline University, USA, he is a member of the Public Relations Society of India and serves on the advisory board. Ismail was recently awarded the “Best Contribution to Corporate Communication” at the CMO Awards in Singapore. Currently, besides running LinOpinion, he also leads the design division of Lowe Lintas, dCell.

Following is the excerpts of the brief conversation.

Adgully: What does the new clients’ addition mean to you?

Ameer Ismail: We are delighted to have been selected as the partner agency to such a prominent list of clients/brands. This serves to enhance our service and grow our business in areas where we have a proven track record of strong performance. The fact that many of these wins were in competitive pitches is also testament to the strength of our brand in the PR industry.

AG: Given the tough economic environment but going by your recent wins, how do you find the overall situation – tough or fairly conducive for the communications/PR industry?

AI: I believe that there is no substitute for a good product and service, even in a difficult economic situation. While clients are careful in committing spends, especially in the area of marketing and communications, we have seen good growth since the beginning of this year. This I believe will continue for the rest of 2013. The industry I believe needs to rationalize rates and define clear parameters for performance. In my view there is a lot of hype associated with some players and that results in clients having to pay inflated fees to get the same results. This needs to change. I will submit that PR agencies can give clients/brands a greater value in difficult times.

AG: How do you see the scenario going forward?

AI: There will be two realities that will unfurl, one where clients will get sharper in their demands from their agency partners and second, PR agencies who will realize the need to further develop and refine their product and service offering and take it to the next level. There will be a lot more of a focus on measurement and digital PR going forward.

AG: What are Lowe's plans going forward?

AI: As a strong and respected group, our focus is to continue to grow successfully in all our businesses. PR is one of the key focus/growth areas and in this regard and we have spent a considerable amount of time planning a road map that will build LinOpinion as an even stronger player for the future. There are significant investments planned and several initiatives which we will announce this year itself.

AG: What are the challenges that PR faces in today's dynamic environment and rising client expectations? How do you overcome them?

AI: PR businesses face a huge challenge in talent retention. Agencies will have to invest significantly in training and innovate remuneration models to ensure that good talent stays committed and motivated. In an ever changing environment, agencies will need to innovate at every level and redefine the service model that exists currently.


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