“Lines are now blurred for PR, Marketing, Advertising & Talent Management agencies”

With the changing world dynamics around digital media, it has been observed that Public Relations has expanded its strategies and workings in line with expanding digital media presence for organisations and groups.

In conversation with Adgully, Alpa Turakhia and Sharlene Batlivala, Owners of Communique PR, speak at length about managing celebrities, how PR is done when a movie is released, brand ambassadors and much more.

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Does PR happen only when a movie is released?

I disagree with this statement, primarily because PR begins much before a movie is released. Yes, it is safe to say that the movie is most visible 15 days prior to release, but the work on the campaign starts months in advance. With the onset of digital magazines and cover shoots, one has to liaison with the right media to ensure there is maximum exposure on the Friday of the release week. Moreover, actoners’ timings and dates need to be blocked for the myriad of print, electronic, digital interviews. The PR strategy starts in advance, but the results are most visible in the week of release.

How does PR happen during brand ambassador appointment?

The lines are now blurred for PR, Marketing, Advertising and Talent Management agencies. Due to direct access to the stars, the PR agent is also now involved in closing deals with brands. PR agencies also have to ensure that their clients’ sensibilities resonate with the brand and vice versa.

Do you think IPL is a great platform for celebrity cricketers?

Yes, IPL has maximum visibility. The IPL ads, to its opening and closing ceremonies, everything becomes a matter of national news. Therefore, it’s a great platform for not only cricketers, but for all celebrities to be a part of. The lines between sports and entertainment are blurred and IPL is a prime example of how one can reach out to their fans. With it being telecast on OTT, the reach has widened further.

Do you advise your clients on sharing their views on certain key subjects?

The PR agent has to be clued in to what is happening around them, right from industry news to national headlines. Thereby they have to advise their clients on what to say and most importantly, what not to say as well.

Do you think that ad campaigns help to garner more mileage?

Yes of course, every campaign helps to garner mileage. But the PR agency has to be sure of the ad campaign, its values and ethos, and ensure that it matches with that of the clients’, because anything misleading can backfire as well. With the advent of social media, reactions to ads arrive in minutes.

Managing crises for celebrities is also a challenge when they land up in trouble, how do you deal with it?

Yes, Crisis Management and Damage control is a huge aspect of PR. Especially when it comes to celebrities and the times that we are currently in. Anything can become a controversy, even if there is no mettle to the story. Fake news seems like real news and has the capacity to become viral in minutes, therefore, one has to be alert. PR agents have to take advantage of their strong database of media relations and clients, and ensure that the correct news is sent out.

For PR agencies, is getting their time a huge challenge?

This depends on one’s personal work ethics. As an agent, you have to be available for your clients at all times. This is the ethos of Communique PR as well, we are always there to guide and respond to our clients, irrespective of the hour, because we believe that in the field of entertainment, our clients are not at structured jobs to follow structured hours.

Do PR agencies need to be agile and on their toes 24x7?

Yes, one has to be agile, on your toes, responsible and ready to work and speak to the media. The times when print media ruled gave us a breather as one had a day to reply, but with Instagram and Twitter, media can upload things instantly and it is all about the correct messaging.

Do you feel that the remuneration is not great for agencies, but output is highly demanding?

Yes, this is a peril of not only the PR industry, but several agencies in nature like Marketing, Advertising, PR and so on.

Can you comment on how PR agencies need to keep listening to posts on various platforms to douse any fire?

This is a part of the job. You have to be on guard and alert and aware of what is happening. And yes, your responses on behalf of your clients also have to be kept ready.


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