PR in the era of Social Media – Setting new ground rules

At the christening of our virtual panel, Adgully4um – a series of knowledge webinars conducted via Zoom Video Conferencing, we engaged with experts from the Public Relations industry to explore “PR in the era of Social Media – Setting new ground rules’. The discussion was joined by:

Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner, Nucleus PR | Founder - PRPOI | Vice President - PRBI – Moderator

Amit Nanchahal, Associate Director, Corporate Communications, PepsiCo India

Bhaskar Majumdar, Head - Corporate Affairs, Communication &  Digital, Egis India

Kiray Ray Chaudhary, Co-founder & Joint Managing Director at 80 dB Communications and Founder of Aether Marketing

Minita Kumar, Communication Head – India Region, HMD Global

Dr Subi Chaturvedi, Chief Corporate Public Affairs Officer, Zupee

Sujit Patil, Vice President and Head - Corporate Brand and Communications, Godrej

Commencing the discussions, Tarunjeet Rattan highlighted the topic saying it is always good to debate on ‘PR in the era of Social Media’, and the new ground rules where they should look at in the plain field. She went on to ask the speakers where social media fits in, whether it belongs to the advertising family or comes under the PR umbrella.

Bhaskar Majumdar responded saying that Social Media should come under PR only because setting up the narrative or story telling comes to the PR Professionals, but the social media campaigns that are now featured are becoming more creative and the usage of short video platforms is more in that case. “Hence, advertising, too, plays an important role in some part of it. So, it is a combination of both differing from brand to brand,” he added.

Read more: Image transformation is not a communications, but a business planning exercise: PR experts

According to Dr. Subi Chaturvedi, “We first have to decode what we want to achieve through various handles, be it social media or through PR. You first start with understanding why PR and then the role that social media plays in it in terms of products, selling or reaching out.” She further added, “Consumer on an average spends more than 2.5 hours online and these numbers have increased post data given by Jio and free data that we have got. There are certain key aspects which are critical to understand that includes, who are my target audience, where can I find them, what role social media will play and how I want my brand to be perceived.”

Agreeing with Majumdar, Chaturvedi further observed, “Even if we are looking at the government sector, the communication needs to be consistent. Looking at where we have to take this narrative to be in terms of communication, basic storytelling, marketing objective of the brand or to build awareness considering the startup you will have a very different perspective for social media. As a young consumer, I also want to join the voice with my brand and if social allows me to be part of that cause i will happily go ahead as I believe that PR and Advertising are working together.”

Rattan then asked Sujit Patil, “As per the marcom idea, if you look today to hire someone to work with you on managing online reputation, would you prefer having a PR agency that also has expertise in social media or would you look at two separate agencies to work with for the same?”

Patil replied, “I think we should look at it from a communication lens rather than marketing, PR or marcom agency lens. If you are really obsessive about your consumer, then you need to reach to your consumer what you want to communicate about your brand as it can be a combination, so my vote goes to a collaboration of working along with everyone because everyone has a role to play in their narrative. If not collaborated together then we will end up having different social media handles for all.”

In terms of reputation management, Patil preferred having people “who have ears for listening”, as Online Reputation management was all about listening for him. “There are 700 million consumers that buy our products every year and if I don’t listen to them, then that won’t be responsive on the consumer side,” he added.

Kiran Ray Chaudhury added here, “On the question of where does social sit, when it comes to perception, it comes under PR, but when it comes to more sales and product communication, it comes under Digital Marketing. Under the mandates that we managed, it is purely organic – when it sits under PR, there is no money to spend on campaigns, so that leads to the importance of storytelling to drive the engagement of the audiences. There has to be a lot more collaboration between the functions.”

Chaudhury also noted that when it comes to crises, PR agencies worked by sending out messages which was one way, but social media now has made it a form of communication. “The 24-hour news cycle has now reduced to 15-second nano cycle. So, according to me, PR’s role in a crisis becomes very important,” she added.


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