Covid19 - A litmus test for digital ready Nation

Udit Joshi, the author of the article is an Integrated Marketing Communications Specialist at Topline Consulting Group.

For the past 2 years, my International counterpart has been losing patience on why do Indian marketing plans have integration of traditional media. In her country, the Target Consumer has gone beyond what gets printed in a press. With an abundance of innovation, Digital is the only way the brands connect with their consumers there.

In a sluggish transition until now, the Indian Public Relations industry sees a catalyst in the Covid 19. Dealing with the pandemic, the brand managers, marketers and Corporate Communication specialists have realised that the money invested has to yield measurable outcomes. And, from where I see it, PR ought to deliver ‘sales’.  The ancient and gullible, coverage-seeking behaviour will now come to an end, thanks to the 40 lakh webinars and deliberations on ‘the new normal of PR’ and ‘Redefining PR’.

Do we marketers see our TG as ‘clusters and categories’ or do we see them as mass?

The huge investment in data-enabled marketers to form groups and segments of TG to deliver product awareness to them. Programmatic Advertising created by Google Adwords and Facebook were the pioneers in making a targeted brand-visibility. Today, because of the pandemic, the OOH has become redundant. Programmatic Advertising will see a huge boost in the times to come even while lockdown is over. Marketers will know where their return on investment is.

Does this at the same time apply to the business of PR?

It took a good 70 years for the world to evolve from what was mass such as the radio, television, newspaper, telephone, and then the desktops, the internet, Google, social media, smartphones and apps. As a user today, I am empowered with the choice to only select Brand Equity from the Economic Times or Marketing related news from BBC. I am so powerful, that I can choose to read my articles selectively from the Harvard Business Review or the Ernst Young App. Not just the genre, I can choose the format of the content too. Today is the best time to leverage on the niche and individual media.

Can we have a specific brand messaging delivered to that specific cluster?

One of the biggest problems that PR claims to solve is, ‘brand positioning’. Constant reinforced communication of actions and words pushes the desired brand perception. In the much-romanticised PR expression it is called as ‘storytelling to the niche’ consumers through optimised media’. Can we, therefore, utilise the technological machinery to become straight forward in our approach for brands to reach their consumers faster and more accurately? Oh, of course, we can. But, will it be fruitful? Will it get our ROI? Is our audience sitting there?

The Digital ready consumers

Reliance has done what Governments could not. Well, except BJP in this particular case. India’s digital divide is rapidly getting reduced as Technology acts as a unifier. India is the only country, with cheapest cost per 1 GB data consumed.

  • India’s digital video consumption = 2X in 2 years  i.e. 24 minutes per day
  • India’s digital consumer base is the 2nd largest in the world
  • India’s language internet users are expected to grow to 536 million
  • Absconding once a week, Indians now give 25 hours per week to their smartphones
  • India today tops the world in data usage at 9.8 GB per month,
  • Indians spend 30% of their mobile time on entertainment

*As per reports by Ericsson, BCG, Nielsen, BARC India.

Are the PR agencies ready yet?

Current PR Teams got to have the capabilities of content, media relations, evolving tools and the platforms. Their experience in the field of dealing with diverse brands will be the key. Their storytelling will comprise communication strategies utilising content, business goals, consumer segmentation and a choice of media.

The boutique PR agencies’ might see an end soon as their offerings will be limited to content execution and media relations. These companies will lack the sense of targeted business needs. About 60% of their services are traditional and only 40% are bold enough to try the new media and platforms. While Influencer PR is on, a large majority lacks the basics of New Media and Digital Media.

COVID 19 has made at least 50% of the media go completely interactive, online and digital. During this time there is a huge change in consumer behaviour and brand attitude. Marketers need to analyse this and bring out short, quick to implement result-oriented products.

What’s the deal now?

It is a moment in history that the fraternity is creating a new definition of Public Relations and its tools. 2020 is the year when I foresee an elimination of the uncertainties of the media. The revamp will give brands more opportunities to focus on content, story-telling, branding and an increased share of voice. PR will now be cognizant of revenue and contributing to sales.


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