Regional & localised PR is helping brands engage at a micro level this festive season

(Edited and additional inputs by Shanta Saikia.)

Festive season this year is expected to bring about a stronger revival than last year as brands look to leverage the positive consumer sentiments. Raksha Bandhan and Onam saw considerable brand activity, even though the threat of a third wave of COVID-19 looms. Despite Kerala seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the opening up of the markets during Onam saw a heavy rush of shoppers.

With Ganesh Mahotsav, Dussehra/ Durga Puja and Diwali coming up soon, brand activities and marketing are heading towards a crescendo. This time, the festive season will see the added boost from IPL and ICC T-20 World Cup. Categories ranging from FMCG, Consumer Durables, Real Estate, Household Electronics to apparel, jewellery, personal grooming and Automobiles are seen as the big spenders this festive season.

The festive campaign blitz is expected to begin in a few weeks. Along with the usual marketing strategies, Public Relations is also giving a boost to brands’ efforts. While the build-up of PR is slow, the credibility that it delivers is always an added advantage for brands to bring in that trust factor. While advertising through mass media generates quick awareness, it is PR and advertorials across various media that lend brand campaigns a stronger credibility and a deeper connect with the consumers.

PR drive, supported by a sound social media strategy, especially influencer marketing, is a combination that is hard to beat. The focus of many PR agencies today has diversified, wherein they are offering a gamut of services by moving ahead of the curve and thinking beyond the traditional PR approach. According to a recent survey by influencer marketing platform Zefmo, nearly 92% marketers will turn to influencer marketing campaigns this year. This will certainly shift the focus and an upsurge in PR investment is expected, followed by continuous flow of fresh content across media. This really opens up the market to smartly dwell on PR during the festival season and brands can be expected to seek more engagement and value creation for their customers via some well-thought-out PR strategy.

Commenting on how PR has been playing a pivotal role in the recent years for many brands, Pooja Garg Khan, Head - Corporate Communications, Panasonic India, remarked, “Given the current dynamics, we look at strategic PR campaigns that not only helps drive organic engagement, but also delivers the message effectively. Keeping that in mind, we at Panasonic India are taking an integrated approach towards PR that caters to internal and external audience. And the key is to reach out to your audience across touchpoints, be it online or offline. For instance, for our camera and microwave category, we are driving awareness and engagement through relevant KOL and influencer engagement, brand contests, workshops and on the other hand, to reach out to our offline audience we are using press releases, advertorials, product reviews to name a few. In the current digital era, we are leveraging our social handles to amplify news related to announcements.”

Adding further, she said, “Come Diwali, we will be reinitiating our #DiwaliWaliSafai campaign, which aims to address the need for responsible disposal of e-waste. Last year, we received good response and we are hoping to make it a success this year as well. To ensure maximum mileage for any campaign, it is key to have a 360-degree approach and work hand-in-glove with all divisions so as to reach out to the target audience.”

Digital and PR will go hand-in-hand this festive season. Deba Ghoshal, Vice-President and Head of Marketing, Voltas, commented, “This festive season, our focus is on leveraging the synergies between our campaigns and offers and our PR efforts at a national scale. For Consumer Durables, especially Cooling Products and Home Appliances, like last year, Digital will be the priority and one of the key pillars to drive consideration among the respective target groups. Two years back, Digital used to be around 10% of our overall media mix; today, it has reached more than 25%. We will also continue to drive our omnichannel presence within the category by integrating Digital and Activations. Within Digital, our thrust on Reach, Social, Programmatic, and e-commerce will continue this year. We are also aiming to amplify our messaging through a region-centric approach that delivers results via vernacular media and helps us expand our presence in Tier 2 and 3 markets.”

Neha Kant, Founder, Clovia, noted that the festivals round the year, which are celebrated in different regions and ways, give brands immense opportunities to explore and connect to their customers through promotions, ads, and authentic PR stories. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a drastic change in the way that a customer responds to a brand. Increased screen time and Internet penetration have played a vital role during the pandemic and we have witnessed a higher than usual shift towards digital influence. Along with a high digital presence, social media channels are playing a significant role in reaching the masses. As a D2C focussed brand, we are spending more on digital campaigns with relevant emotional messaging during the festivals like Raksha Bandhan, Onam, etc., and leveraging the same across platforms through integrated PR campaigns,” she added.

Clovia is not limiting itself to just Tier 1 or the metros, but is stronger in Tier 2 and 3 markets. “Regional and localised PR is an effective medium to engage at micro level,” Kant added.

Swati Bhattacharya, Communications and Brand Leader, pointed out that a few years ago, festival season meant that every B2C company was trying to get their products featured in lifestyle magazines or lifestyle pages of mainline and business publications. It had a really long waiting period, and was not the easiest thing to achieve. Now much of these have become paid coverage. “Today, the most effective form of PR for brands is through influencers. What is most important is to do it in a creative and innovative manner so that it captures the imagination of consumers. It is proven to deliver a higher ROI since the endorsement of a trusted expert works better than advertising or coverage in a publication. With time, PR, too, has elevated to create engagement for consumers where it matters to help grow business more effectively,” she concluded.


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