Exclusive: World PR Day - With AI and emerging tech, PR is at a transformative stage
The advent of the digital era has revolutionised the PR landscape, introducing new opportunities and challenges. Social media platforms, online influencers, and digital analytics have become integral to PR strategies, enabling professionals to engage with audiences in real-time, measure campaign effectiveness, and adapt swiftly to emerging trends. Additionally, the rise of fake news and disinformation has necessitated the role of PR in combating misinformation and promoting transparency.
World PR Day is an annual event celebrated on July 16, dedicated to recognising the importance of public relations (PR) in today’s interconnected world. It serves as a platform to acknowledge the role of PR professionals in shaping public opinion, fostering meaningful relationships, and driving effective communication strategies.
On World PR Day, Adgully reached out a cross-section of leading PR and Communications professionals to chart the future of the PR industry and what shape and form it is expected to take in the coming years.
Bhaskar Majumdar, Head - Corporate Affairs, Communication, CSR & Digital, Egis India:
“Communication now is a blend of earned, paid, owned and shared media. Digital & Social Outreach will now be an integral part of all Communication campaign planning. The industry has gone through a radical shift with the availability of data, wider reach of the Internet and growth of smartphones. Today, the line is blurring between traditional outreach, video production, event development, brand marketing, media planning/ buying, as well as content creation and influencer strategies. The lines between communications and marketing continue to blur, creating new challenges and opportunities.
Technology will continue to rule (even more than before) as the primary tool for PR practitioners, this includes digital marketing automation tools. Creativity & Content is going to be key in Communication going forward.”
Mahima Misra, Head of Public Relations, Good Glamm Group:
“The focus on digital and social media, incorporating AI and automation will continue to increase. AI and automation technologies have the potential to transform the PR industry. These technologies can streamline tasks such as data analysis, media monitoring, content creation, and personalised messaging. By leveraging AI-powered tools, one can gain insights, automate repetitive tasks, and enhance efficiency. This will result in a strong focus on personalised communications. By understanding audience preferences and behaviours through data analysis, PR professionals across will be able to tailor campaigns to specific segments, resulting in more relevant and impactful communication.
Influencer marketing will continue to evolve and gain focus. Authenticity and transparency will be crucial here, and there may also be a shift toward micro-influencers, who have smaller but highly engaged audiences. It will be important for PR to get more creative in its collaborations with influencers and leverage their influence in a way that aligns with brand values.
The industry’s future direction will be influenced by technological advancements and the changing consumer needs and focus.”
Ajey Maharaj, Head of Corporate Communications, Fortis Healthcare:
“It’s important to note that the PR industry is constantly evolving in response to technological advancements, changing consumer behaviour, and societal shifts.
Sharing some trends that will dominate the industry. The key for PR professionals will be to remain adaptable, embrace emerging technologies, and stay attuned to evolving audience expectations.
Personalisation and Audience Segmentation: PR practitioners will increasingly focus on personalised communication tailored to specific audience segments. With advancements in data analytics and audience profiling, PR professionals will have access to more refined insights into individual preferences, behaviours, and demographics. This will enable them to craft more targeted and relevant messaging, resulting in stronger connections with their intended audiences.
Purpose-Driven PR: As societal expectations continue to evolve, purpose-driven PR will become more prominent. Consumers are increasingly drawn to brands that align with their values and contribute positively to society. PR professionals will play a vital role in helping organisations articulate their purpose, demonstrate social responsibility, and engage in meaningful initiatives. This approach will enhance brand reputation and foster deeper connections with stakeholders.
Influencer Evolution: Influencer marketing will continue to evolve, adapting to changing consumer behaviours and platforms. While social media influencers will still be relevant, new types of influencers might emerge, such as micro-influencers who have smaller, niche audiences but higher engagement rates. Additionally, influencer partnerships may focus more on long-term collaborations and authentic storytelling rather than one-off endorsements.”
Atul Raja, Marketer, Brand Builder, Communication Expert and Strategist:
“The PR industry in India is well-positioned for growth in the coming years. The industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and PR professionals are playing a key role in helping businesses to manage their reputations and achieve their strategic goals. Certain trends will define the direction that PR will take in the near future:
The convergence of PR and marketing: The PR industry is moving towards an integrated approach that combines PR and marketing communications to deliver a more cohesive brand message. PR professionals are becoming more involved in marketing activities such as branding, advertising, and product launches.
The rise of regional markets is another trend that will impact the PR industry in India. As more consumers access the internet from rural areas, there is a growing need for localised content and language-specific messaging. PR professionals will need to adapt their strategies to cater to these new markets and audiences.
The increasing importance of data-driven PR: Using data to measure the effectiveness of campaigns and tracking TG-specific reach and engagement will become a must for PR firms.
The use of influencer marketing for PR will come in handy, esp. in augmenting engagement and crisis management.
The enhanced value of storytelling: In a world where people are bombarded with information, storytelling is more important than ever for PR firms to help their clients connect with their audiences on an emotional level.”
Tripti Pandey, AVP, corporate Communications, Honasa Consumer:
"PR is a constantly evolving function as it has to mold itself accordingly to the target audience. The media landscape has evolved extensively over the last 5-7 years, with social and digital taking center stage and serving as the primary mode of information. PR practitioners are fast adapting to this and tailoring their strategy to effectively connect and engage with their target audience. Apart from adapting to the changing mediums and channels, authenticity has become pivotal in every communication. The audiences are smarter than ever, they have enough tools to validate information, hence authenticity is critical to building credibility with the audiences. But this is a constantly evolving function and PR professionals will have to continuously innovate newer ways of communication to reach and connect with their target audiences."
Gulrez Alam, Founder, Teamology PR
"One notable observation is the shifting landscape of media consumption. With the advent of social media and digital platforms, traditional media channels are no longer the sole gatekeepers of information. This has given rise to a more fragmented media landscape, where PR professionals must navigate multiple channels to reach their target audiences. As a result, there has been a greater emphasis on integrated communication approaches, blending traditional media relations with social media engagement, influencer collaborations, and content marketing.
Moreover, the PR industry has become increasingly data-driven. In today's era of big data, PR professionals have access to a wealth of information that can inform their strategies and measure the impact of their efforts. Analytics and metrics play a crucial role in demonstrating the value of PR campaigns, allowing for more precise targeting, customization, and optimization."
Sharon Henriques, Co-founder, Mondial Kommunications:
“The function will continue to become even more crucial in a hyper-connected environment. The role of hybrid and branded media will gain prominence. Cross brand partnerships will also emerge to become a winning marketing tool for brands across categories that share values. Purpose driven and culture-oriented storytelling will drive conversations and the relationship with media owners and content creators will tighten to drive this messaging. Storytelling will become more universal and won’t be restricted by borders.”
Girish Huria, Head of Growth, APAC and EVP, Avian WE:
“The future will be data. All growth-focussed organisations have been pivoting to a data-driven approach for better business outcomes.
AI readiness will also be critical to the future of communications. How quickly and in what ways we embrace this emerging technology will determine the pace at which we transform and thrive.
Geopolitical shifts and rising concerns about economic and financial fragmentation will continue to impact markets and businesses. Brands often need quick solutions to fire-fight situations born out of these challenges. For this, communicators will also need to understand evolving geopolitical dynamics and react and act meaningfully.”
Pooja Chaudhri, Executive Director, Concept PR:
“The PR industry is already evolving beyond 2.0. While agencies are still grappling with including digital in their strategies, the clients are demanding greater bang for the buck.
I believe, among the new trends that will change PR, will be using AI to carry out better customer identification and targeting. Already AI is improving the content and making it more relevant to the target audiences. I think in the near future, AI will have to be assisted by Machine Learning (ML) to constantly improve and become more autonomous, in terms of messaging, targeting and delivery.
Agencies that are able to merge the advancement in Tech with constantly changing demands of targets will grow and thrive.”
Rucha Bhalekar, Director Corporate Communications, FCB Group India:
“Today, we see the PR industry investing in crafting narratives that align with their brand’s values and resonate with their eventual consumers. Integrating social media, content marketing, and storytelling has elevated the role of PR in brand communication; practitioners can now differentiate their brands and effectively convey their messages in a cluttered digital landscape. Remaining agile, proactive, and adaptable to emerging trends to thrive in this ever-evolving industry is essential.”
Madhukar Kumar, Founder & Chief Strategist, Grey Cell PR:
“Despite challenges, I believe the PR industry is well-positioned for a strong future. The demand for effective PR is set to grow in the coming years as businesses and organisations increasingly rely on the right professionals to communicate with their stakeholders.
I foresee the PR industry evolving further in the future, with a greater emphasis on digital media and social media. PR professionals will need to enhance their skills in content creation, social media marketing, and influencer relations. They will also need to be able to measure their PR campaigns’ impact to demonstrate their value to clients.
The PR industry will become more integrated with other marketing disciplines like social media marketing and content marketing. PR professionals will need to understand the full range of marketing channels available to them and be prepared to wear multiple hats.
I also anticipate the PR industry becoming more data-driven. PR professionals will need to measure their campaigns’ impact to show their value to clients. This will necessitate the use of data analytics and other tools to track PR campaign performance.
Importantly, the significance of human relations and interactions will continue to reign supreme in our industry for the time being and will not be supplanted by artificial reality, at least for now.”
Arjun Ramesh, Senior Tech PR Consultant:
“The PR industry is on the cusp of a technological revolution, driven by advancements in AI and automation. AI-powered tools will revolutionise PR strategies, optimising processes such as media monitoring, sentiment analysis, and content creation. This technological integration will streamline PR efforts and enhance efficiency. However, at the same time, authentic storytelling will remain at the core, captivating audiences amidst the information overload. The future of PR lies in embracing these tech advancements and staying ahead in an ever-evolving media landscape.”
Dr Sarvesh Tiwari, Founder & Managing Director, PR Professionals:
“The Indian economy is not only growing fast, to an extent that it is being dubbed as the engine of the world economy, it is also maturing well. With greater realisation of the importance of reputation, organisations now see their expenditure on public relations as a necessary investment. The future of PR in India seems very healthy with hardly any possibility of a downturn. More evolved practitioners are now joining this trade leading to specialists taking up leadership roles. The greater integration with the global economy is making it more diverse. It has also resulted in realising that there is a need to make it a knowledge driven industry to service the clients better, making it a competitive turf. The ensuing competition will bring the craving for overall excellence in its ecosystem.
With technology being a game changer, it is heartening to see the way the sector has not only adopted the various innovations, it has gained a lot from it. India is also a country where relationships matter a lot. And what is PR without a relationship? It will be important to be friends with technology but never lose relationships in the process.”
Sahana Rai, Founder/ CEO, Glocal Brand Solutions:
“The industry is undergoing significant changes, and thanks to the advent of new tools and technologies, the process has just got expedited. As a result, we can anticipate a decrease in the number of people working in specific jobs. Additionally, more precise evaluation metrics will be available, which boutique agencies can incorporate into their work. In contrast to the past, PR will become an increasingly non-negotiable factor for brands. Rather than being viewed as a one-off activity, brands will now consider PR from the inception stage.”
Girish Bala, Founder and Managing Director, ON PURPOSE:
“Depending on the industry’s pace of technology adoption and contextualising the tectonic shifts being brought about by generative AI, we could either be going the way of the dodo or, build our value as people who understand how to use it for better impact. As the world nears 2030, the focus on achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals will converge communication efforts from multiple stakeholders to drive some real behaviour change.”
Aanchal Kohli, Head of Corporate Communications, SoCheers:
“Considering this trajectory, I believe the PR industry will continue to explore new horizons and assume an even more strategic role within organisations in the years to come. As the lines blur between marketing, communications, and public relations, we envision a convergence of these disciplines even further thereby, forming a powerful alliance to shape brand reputation and foster authentic connections.
Furthermore, as society becomes increasingly interconnected and globalised, I see the industry navigating the complexities of a diverse and inclusive world. Embracing cultural sensitivity, ethical practices, and sustainability will become pivotal in fostering trust and maintaining transparency. I believe PR professionals will serve as catalysts for change, amplifying voices that have traditionally been unheard of and championing meaningful initiatives that contribute to the greater good.
Nonetheless, the technology will continue to reshape the PR industry, with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and data analytics. These tools will further empower PR professionals to gather real-time insights, personalise messaging, and deliver targeted campaigns with unprecedented precision. However, amidst the rapid technological advancements, the human touch to storytelling and relationship-building will remain at the core of effective PR practices.”
Shutapa Paul, Founder, Dharma Media Consultants:
“Post-pandemic, the entire PR industry has gone through a drastic change. PR is a more focused and evolving business at the moment. There will be greater use of AI and other tech tools. Going forward, traditional media will still hold value, but the emergence of meaningful influencer collaborations and new media will continue to be a powerful way to elevate brands. Communication efforts have shifted towards precise targeting, and well-crafted strategies that greatly enhance brand visibility. Even as Generative AI will continue to percolate into all spheres of life, the biggest challenge, and also the opportunity for the PR industry would be to harness the strength of AI while retaining human creativity in all brand-building efforts.”
Bhaskar Tare, Director, Gloocal Communications:
“Many stalwarts have been talking about how PR has transformed into the digital world and to sustain in the competitive world every agency or the professional should be well aware of new terminology. In the traditional approach we were unable to measure the impact of any activity, but digital transformation can showcase its impact and footprints as well. Agencies should have to work together with their digital marketing team/ influencer and other stakeholders.
Upgradation of technologies may change the entire landscape of industry but if agencies upgraded, evolved and empowered their team and added new services can be a saviour. Newly developed digital PR is speedily grabbing attention and most brands have shifted their budget towards the online space. In coming years media also will be entirely shifting their focus from print to digital and therefore unique content requirements are in demand but newly introduced AI applications may trouble everyone and it can lay down the Human Resources. But, I still believe that PR is domain expertise and if professionals upgrade themselves with new changes then definitely there is always a need. We deal with humans and their emotions. So, if we do storytelling creatively the future's still bright and a lot of new business opportunities await. India is a market for global players and the vision of a 5 trillion economy will open up new avenues of business.”
Priti Tiwari, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications at ting:
“In order to effectively connect with modern audiences that engage in real-time conversations such as podcasts and webinars, it is paramount to incorporate both owned and paid media strategies. Additionally, for brands to stand out, understanding new-age platforms such as social media and influencer marketing is crucial in fostering authentic connections with their audience.”
Sonam Shah, Founder and CEO, Treize Communications:
“The PR industry in India will now be in a phase where agencies and professionals will have to figure out ways to incorporate SEO, SEM, AI, and upcoming new-age technologies. Till now, there have been talks going around, but now steps will be needed.
The coming years are going to be transformational when it comes to the growth of the industry. There will be high demand to join the PR industry, as with more and more awareness the curiosity to know better and explore increases in the youth.
PR Trends will evolve at a very high rate. As consumption patterns, reading habits and consumer behaviour change, PR also will change. Brands and companies will have to adapt quick PR or will not be satisfied with the outcome.
Public Relations has expanded its umbrella from Press Release, Conferences, and launch events; the focus today is more towards Thought Leadership practices, Long-term strategy, Influencer Marketing, etc., and this shift will continue to happen. While Press Releases still remain the numero uno way of communicating with the stakeholders, all other tools need to be synced perfectly and in a timely manner. The amalgamation of this all will be important.”
Chetan Relhan Founder and CEO, The Achievers PR:
"In recent years, Public Relations in India has undergone significant changes, with the rise of social media and digital communication. PR professionals now have to find new ways of engaging which has created new opportunities for innovation and creativity but has also posed new challenges. Also with the rapid advancement of technology and changes in the media landscape, The future of Public Relations is set to be an exciting and challenging one. From the growing use of AI and data analytics to the increasing importance of authenticity and transparency, PR professionals will need to adapt to these new trends and stay ahead of the curve."
Kunal Gupta, PR Professional:
"The PR industry itself is evolving to meet the demands of the modern world. Today, PR professionals are expected to be versatile storytellers, skilled in both traditional and digital media, adept at navigating the ever-changing landscape of public opinion, and capable of managing crises in real-time. The role of PR has expanded beyond media relations to encompass areas such as corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, and brand reputation management.
In this dynamic environment, PR practitioners are also embracing new roles as strategic advisors, working closely with top-level executives to shape organizational messaging and drive business outcomes. The evolving nature of PR demands continuous learning and adaptation, as practitioners stay abreast of emerging technologies, cultural shifts, and evolving consumer behaviors."
Rohit Agrawal, AGM- Corporate Communications, Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals:
"Beyond crisis management and reputation management, we play a larger role. By utilising the strength of strategic communication to address social issues and promote advancement, we aim to inspire good change. We are devoted to helping organisations bridge the gap between their intentions and results because we believe in their capacity to serve as agents of social good.
We can tell stories that are real, compassionate, and purposeful by working together. We are aware of the ability of our words to alter perceptions, affect actions, and ultimately effect change. Let's take this World PR Day as a chance to consider the importance of our industry, reaffirm our dedication to moral behaviour, and use our abilities to create a society where sincere relationships, deep dialogue, and constructive change may flourish."