LinOpinion GH has successfully completed one year JV with GOLIN and is now in a new phase (in year 2) of business transformation. The partnership was inked in 2013 with a view to strengthen their presence in the Indian market intending to bring clients in India new integrated communications services with a focus on providing the deepest insights, the boldest ideas and the broadest engagement across both traditional and digital channels.
Adgully caught up with Jonathan Hughes, President, International, GOLIN and Ameer Ismail, Executive Director, LinOpinion GH & Lowe Lintas + Partners to know more about their future plans for the Indian market.
How has the PR function evolved in the last two years or so- and how do you see LinOpinion GH impacted by it?
Jonathan Hughes: Undoubtedly. Clients are now looking for more creative, more data driven and more integration campaigns. A great creative idea can come from anywhere and the ability to do this kind of work is a core part of the thinking behind our unique G4 model and has been part of the LinOpinion GH DNA from the outset.
Ameer Ismail: The PR function is fast evolving and this is very much in line with the evolving needs of clients today. From a corporate perspective, there is a greater emphasis on the role of PR in organizations due to the recognition of the importance of brand and corporate reputation. From an agency perspective, the function has become incredibly important and growth prospects look very positive for the future. We recognized this changing dynamic and LinOpinion GH has decided to move into a new working structure called G4, which delivers better what clients need.
As the JV completes one year, what would be the factors that make the Indian market different from the other markets?
Jonathan Hughes: There is very real sense of optimism and excitement within India now and that is driving demand and innovation across the board. Connected to that is a greater willingness to invest in building brands and to make sure that those investments are protected by treating a company’s reputation in the right way.
Ameer Ismail: We have an excellent talent pool in India that compares with the best in the world. The JV has seen learnings, integration and business opportunities flow from global offices to India and also from India to some global markets.
Key highlights of the journey for the last one year?
Jonathan Hughes: In 2014 we put many of the foundations we needed in place and it is now paying off. 2015 is shaping up to be a very good year for our venture and for our clients. In the past 9 months alone we have won 25 new clients and our work has been recognized with 3 industry awards.
Ameer Ismail: The journey has been very gratifying and I believe we made the right decision to partner with Golin. Nothing can give you more pride than seeing your initial belief of the power of a strong partnership translating to great results. Golin works with a mission to do bold work across the world and this mission is also being translated into the work we do for our clients in India. We have an enviable client list across various sectors, from Etihad airways to Starwood hotels and from Seiko to Inox to name a few.
Can you elaborate about “The Bridge”?
Jonathan Hughes: Sure. The Bridge is all about making your brand or company relevant to the people that need to know everything at the right time. At one end this might just be through monitoring at the other end it’s about producing content, promotions and engaging with customers in near real-time. You see something trending, you feel you have something of value to add and you engage. We sometimes refer to The Bridge, of which there are 24, as the world’s largest relevance engine.
Ameer Ismail: We launched the Bridge in Mumbai in May 2014 and have since scaled up the team due to huge demand for their services. Today the Bridge enjoys its own client portfolio apart from the internal LinOpinion GH client list. Their work which ranges from ORM to social media management has been very well received and the momentum has been much better than expected.
What are your growth projections for the coming five years?
Jonathan Hughes: In coming three years we see doubling our market in India.
Ameer Ismail: I believe we will continue to grow successfully and with the current environment that is fuelling good growth for the industry, our belief is we will outperform the industry growth YOY for the next 5 years. Our ambition is to thoughtfully scale our operations further and become one of the top 5 PR agencies in India in that period.
As pay media coverage is becoming quite common - do you see LinOpinion GH focusing more on the other fields vis-a-vis media relations?
Jonathan Hughes: Sure. The media mix is constantly shifting especially as the platforms evolve. Right now Facebook, for example, is really a paid media channel although not many people see it as such. So we will continue to work across paid, owned and earned media as this is essential if you are to offer truly integrated campaigns.
Ameer Ismail: Yes, absolutely. We have already diversified into digital services through the Bridge and I see this offering gaining increased traction in the long run. As we build out the G4 structure further, we will also see new services and revenue streams emerge in this dynamic media landscape. I see huge potential in the content creation.