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“Digital & Social Media Outreach will be an integral part of communication strategies”

As part of the build up to Adgully’s first PR summit – IMAGEXX 2021 – we present the valuable insights provided by our esteemed jury panel comprising the leading names from the country’s PR and Corporate Communications field.

In the last 10 years, PR has taken a different dimension, especially after the entry of social media and the rapid shift to digital, especially in the pandemic period. However, at the same time the industry has been facing stiff challenges, moreover client expectations has also increased, with more emphasis being given to digital and online reputation management. The industry has undergone a radical shift and the current times have pushed the industry to change gears.

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IMAGEXX 2021 will turn the spotlight on the PR and corporate communications field like never before and highlight several current issues as well as explore ways to take this industry to even newer heights.

In the first of the series of IMAGEXX 2021 JURY SPEAK, we share the expert views and insights of Bhaskar Majumdar, Head - Corporate Affairs, Communications, CSR & Digital, EGIS.

The transition to digital is happening at an accelerated pace. Going forward, what will be the role of digital in PR and how brands and agencies will adapt to this in the new normal?

As the global pandemic accelerated the pace of digital transformation, #digital platforms, #digitalMedia and #socialmedia started to increasingly become the de-facto choice for content creators and content consumers – there has been a paradigm shift in the role of PR professionals and corporate communications experts too, a move away from relying solely on media relations to a more strategy-centric approach – an omni channel integrated one. Given this aforementioned scenario, if we talk about the business of communication specifically, be it public relations, influencer communication, marketing, etc., we can clearly state that Digital Outreach and Social Media Outreach will now be an integral part of all well entrenched communication campaign strategies and execution planning.

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AI and technology will be the game changer in the coming years, especially in the area of data. What are your views on this and how are agencies and brands gearing up to face this new challenge?

With PR becoming more integrated in nature and digital and social taking over a large part of the business of communication, PR strategies, dynamics, essence and scope, all underwent sea-changes. This trend has even altered what was once thought to be outside of the ambit of public relations discipline, such as internal communication, efficient employee engagement, digital/ social campaign outreach (creatives, videos, podcasts), CSR (conceptualisation, planning and execution), investor relations, public affairs and policy, secondary research, brand audit, media sentiments analysis, on-ground intelligence and insights, data analytics, target audience sentiment analysis, so on and so forth.

Given this dominant scenario, the roles and responsibilities of public relations and communications agencies and consultants are also undergoing sea-changes. More and more agencies are now offering strategic services and are building competencies for new age storytelling. The need for building adequate capacities and offering services, which are more suited to the current times, will be critical for agencies going forward.

PR has evolved a lot in the last 10 years and is still evolving. How does the road ahead look like and what are some of the new trends that we will notice in the PR industry in the next 5 years?

Public relations as an industry came into existence almost three decades back in India. In earlier days, it was more focused and based on a journalism foundation, because brands always wanted to get in the news. Over the years, it has evolved and has become a sophisticated approach to creating the right messaging to targeting the right audience in the best possible way.

The #digital transformation and emergence of #sociamedia has changed their approach completely. Now, #communication outreach means a well thought strategic outreach with crisp messaging and new age content using digital, social, traditional outlets to promote a brand or services or launch of a product going along with advertising, marketing and more.

While traditionally public relations focused on editorial content, today it holds much more than understanding of traditional media environment and media relations. It is now a combination of paid media (KOL, bloggers, influencers, YouTubers, etc.), earned media (mostly traditional media – print and online), shared media (#socialmedia), and owned media (website, blogs, newsletters, etc.). While all these tools offer communications professionals a wide range of options in how they communicate their specific message, it has become more real time and engaging with your specific target audience. Now, with micro blogging, it has become easier to reach out to a specific city, specific place to a specific audience.

The industry has gone through a radical shift with the availability of data, wider reach of the Internet and growth of smartphones. #Covid has also fast forwarded the adaptation of the digital transformation.

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