Track feelings, not revenues – Recalibrating PR deliverables

Effective, transparent and concise communication is the need of the hour during the global COVID-19 crisis – be it for spreading awareness, in giving instructions, assuring people, or avoiding panic reactions. Companies and brands have had to continue their communication with their stakeholders and customers even though the communication channels have been fewer.

Read Also - #TwitterChat: How new age PR agencies are carving a robust edge in COVID-19 times

The Role of Public Relations has been bigger than ever, which helps in providing communication solutions amidst a humanitarian crisis like the pandemic. Along with larger PR agencies, even the newer agencies are upping their game and are growing at a fast pace along with taking care of the communication requirements of the clients.

While we have already discussed ‘Power of PR During Crisis’ in an earlier #TwitterChat episode, where the leading communications experts discussed the role of Public Relations especially in an unprecedented global crisis such as COVID-19, Adgully now turned the focus on ‘How new age PR agencies are carving a robust edge in COVID-19 times’.

This episode of #TwitterChat saw leading PR practitioners chart the future roadmap for the new age PR agencies, how they have been building up a competitive edge, ways to keep business plans robust and adaptive, meeting the expectations of the evolving clients as well as consumers and much more.

Moderated by Sandeep Rao, CEO, One Source (@Husband_Diaries), the panellists included:

Indrajit Ghosh, Global Head – Marketing Communication & Design, Rebel Foods (@indrajitghosh89)

Vishaal Shah, Co-Founder, Moe’s Art (@vishaal82)

Komal Lath, Founder, Tute Consult (@Komall)

Abhilasha Padhy, Co-Founder and Jt. Managing Director, 80db communication (@abhilashapadhy)

Faiza Kapoor, Director, Mondial Kommunications (@faizahuq)

Sandeep Rao began the conversation by pointing out that print coverage is challenging in these times and asked the panellists how they are managing client expectations.

Abhilasha Padhy began with the round of answers by listing the ways to manage client expectations. She said, “The best way to manage expectations is: 1) to be transparent about what will work in the current scenario; 2) sharing updates on the changing media landscape; and 3) sharing data-backed information on the changing media consumption habits of their target audience.”

Giving her point of view, Komal Lath said, “The onus is on PR agencies to renegotiate client KPIs and move beyond the number of clippings as a measure of success. It is high time for the industry to link and align with clients’ business goals and results.”

While stating that COVID-19 has thrown up a challenge for all businesses, including PR, Faiza Kapoor pointed out, “Routine PR deliverables are being recalibrated every day, with the media scenario changing rapidly. While empathy with clients is essential, it is also important to communicate with them regularly about new opportunities which have developed and how that can be effectively implemented.”

She further said, “Among the various things that COVID-19 has taught us, one is the fact that size does not matter. In fact, a small agency has the advantage of agility to quickly manoeuvre strategies to use newer mediums of communication while trying to achieve the same ROI.”

Read Also - Why brands shouldn’t ignore the power of conversational content

Indrajit Ghosh here mentioned the four essentials of managing communication during COVID-19 or any major crisis, which were:

  1. Talk about it - let people know that as a brand you are cognizant about the uncertainties around
  2. Empathise through action - be it CSR, or customer experience don't just say you care, show it
  3. Inform about the measures that you, as a brand/organisation are taking. Inform to get feedback and work on that feedback
  4. Stay relevant! Do not start a party of your own before this crisis is over

According to Vishaal Shah, one of the mindsets to emerge from COVID-19 has been empathy. While there are challenges in managing clients, in the first 4-5 weeks, there was a general sense of understanding all around, which helps. “That said, as we have moved from adjusting to WFH and lockdown to being ‘OK’ with it, agencies have bounced back with ways to deal with all issues. There are sections of the press, where coverage continues to be a challenge. But it is important to offer alternates to the client,” he added.

Rao then asked the panellists about the retention and growth of business in these challenging times.

Padhy replied by saying, “Showcasing how communication continues to add value even in the current chaos is how one can retain and acquire clients. And as communication partners, one needs to move beyond just coverage led value.”

Kapoor added here that while print coverage has taken a hit, the way ahead was to quickly adapt to the situation and maintain visibility through newer avenues like webinars and Social Media lives. “Consistency, flexibility, innovation and open communication are probably the only ways to assure existing clients of the value we add to their businesses,” she maintained.

While the COVID-19 crisis has impacted everyone, including clients, at the same time Kapoor said, “This pandemic has given us an opportunity to move from Public Relations agencies to valued partners as we both try to tide over this together.”

Giving his opinion, Shah said, “This period has been instrumental in redefining the way we work and our perception of public relations. Lives and webinars were thought to be tools reserved for a few companies/ geographies. COVID-19 has made them mainstream.”

Meanwhile, Ghosh felt that it would be incorrect to make this comment from a business lens. “The lockdown has been extended, people are extremely worried. However, I feel in the long run, those businesses which are willing to consider and adopt a digital model will recover and thrive. Track feelings, not revenues.”

Lath observed, “Media is diversifying, which, in turn, is rapidly changing the definition of ‘coverage’ itself. Changing definitions creates ripples in the industry, and in volatile times like now, ‘business retention’ is as challenging as ever. The best way to retain and grow the business is to have a constant dialogue with the client and their key stakeholders; and make meaningful business impact via ‘relevant output’ than ‘relevant coverage’.”

Catch the complete conversation on our Twitter page @adgully. Follow Adgully for daily updates on such industry conversations.


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