“This pandemic has been setting a new normal in every step”

As part of the build up to Adgully’s first PR summit – IMAGEXX 2021 – we present the valuable insights provided by our esteemed jury panel comprising the leading names from the country’s PR and Corporate Communications field.

In the last 10 years, PR has taken a different dimension, especially after the entry of social media and the rapid shift to digital, especially in the pandemic period. However, at the same time the industry has been facing stiff challenges, moreover client expectations has also increased, with more emphasis being given to digital and online reputation management. The industry has undergone a radical shift and the current times have pushed the industry to change gears.

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IMAGEXX 2021 will turn the spotlight on the PR and corporate communications field like never before and highlight several current issues as well as explore ways to take this industry to even newer heights.

As part of our series of IMAGEXX 2021 JURY SPEAK, Sukanya Chakraborty, Head - Corporate Communications & CSR, VFS Global, speaks about the dramatic shifts that have happened in communications, information overload due to consumption of content across multiple platforms, successfully harnessing the power of digital and more.

The transition to digital is happening at an accelerated pace. Going forward, what will be the role of digital in PR and how brands and agencies will adapt to this in the new normal?

Communications have changed dramatically over the past two decades – Global dynamics, technology shifts, communication channels, speed of communication, the audience wants to know facts in real time.

The power of technology is today seen as of the most treasured aspects of brand communications, one which helped businesses sail through the COVID-19 pandemic and stay connected with consumers at a time when the world was practically shut. For PR agencies and communication professionals, it is vital to not just be well informed about the technological developments, but to also understand and explore a strategy to leverage these effectively. With the exponential rise in media platforms and hybrid content formats, there has also been a drastic shift in outreach functions and tools. Brands today can engage with a larger audience base through the wide digital media canvas. There are tools that help measure the impact and map progress on a real-time basis.

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The advent of digital media and the benefits of its strategic usage have transformed the way brands speak and engage, not just with consumers but also with their internal stakeholders. From a one-way transmission to an interactive always-on conversation, digital has paved the way for the future of PR & Communication – one that will be integrated with ideas cutting across owned, earned, and paid channels.

The onset of the pandemic only accelerated the use of digital and we have seen several shifts, ranging from in-person media rounds to pitching story ideas over phone calls, on-ground events to virtual launches, and conferences and brand-owned channels being leveraged to break critical business updates. This pandemic has been a learning for us in many ways, setting a new normal in every step, emphasising the need to be agile and flexible to make shifts whenever required.

AI and technology will be the game changer in the coming years, especially in the area of data. What are your views on this and how are agencies and brands gearing up to face this new challenge?

The world around is changing – it’s noisy, cluttered and there is certainly an information overload with people consuming content across multiple platforms. In this scenario, not only is it difficult to get people’s attention, but it is also challenging to drive effective communication that stands out and builds a higher recall for the brand. Audiences today expect that brands they follow, understand what they are interested in and this means getting to know who they are to provide content they want.

Leveraging advanced technologies, including AI-powered tools can help tackle these challenges and create solutions to identify potential customers, customise messages catering to specific needs, improve outreach tactics, and recognise the most effective means to communicate the message. AI enables quick learning and sophisticated pattern recognition and when used efficiently, it can create much more relevant outreach that have a greater influence on consumer decisions, ultimately leading to increased RoI.

Each year, we continue to see a rise in the introduction of innovative technologies that are changing the way businesses interact with their consumers. It will be interesting to see where the adoption of these new technologies leads us and the impact it can create across sectors.

PR has evolved a lot in the last 10 years and is still evolving. How does the road ahead look like and what are some of the new trends that we will notice in the PR industry in the next 5 years?

The operating environment for communication & PR professionals has transformed over the last decade. The media landscape has witnessed significant changes facilitated by technological advancements and mobile-first behaviour. The emergence and growth of social media and the rise in digital-only platforms have led to the decentralisation of content creation and professionals today have to must monitor news in real-time and respond quickly to a potential crisis, no matter big or small. This shift in the operating environment has added layers of complexity to the communicator’s role.

Another shift for communicators has been the accuracy and detail with which campaign results can be measured today. Be it an article in a traditional publication or a social media campaign – the sheer amount of data available to measure the reach, readership, website traffic, and engagement, gives the ability to develop and execute strategies more effectively with a near-precise RoI.

Going forward, PR professionals will continue to harness the power of the Internet, its reach, and its insights to provide customised and integrated solutions to brands. As we move ahead, success lies in being dynamic and adopting an approach guided by the new sensitivities of the world we live in.


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