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Value is the ongoing game for the future of Public Relations, say experts

Public Relations is all about communicating and carefully crafting the right message in the right tone, at the right time and through the right channels and to your targeted audience by telling them a meaningful and compelling story that will grab their attention.

Gone are the days when carpet bombing of press releases was a preferred mode and maximum newspaper & magazine clippings of press coverage of one’s client was taken as a marker for the efficacy of a PR campaign. In today’s era of always-on media, only what is relevant will find a place. That is why it has become important to delve a little deeper than just the volume of PR coverage obtained.

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Adgully’s premier #TwitterChat GullyChat episode this Friday, June 18, 2021, will focus on this pertinent topic – ‘Quality Vs Volume Game – Charting the Future Course for PR Communications’. Taking part in the discussions was an expert panel comprising:

Charu Raizada, Integrated Communication Consultant, Council Marketing

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

Meenakshi Sarkar, Head - Corporate Communications, Hero Future Energies

Pooja Trehan, Associate Director - Marketing, SugarBox

Shaina Wij, Founder, Bandwagon Communications PR consultant

Sandeep Rao, CEO, One Source Consultancy Pvt Ltd 

PR should be beyond number crunching

Bhaskar Majumdar, Head - Corporate Affairs, Communications & Digital, Egis India, noted, “Matching your business’ key messages is a far better strategy for getting quality coverage that will actually make a difference to a brand’s decision makers and thus, improve the chances of consideration. Measurement in PR has always been a subject of debate, mainly because campaign effectiveness is a mix of tangible and intangible aspects, both in short term as well as in the longer term.”

He further said, “Communications industry finds it difficult in identifying the outcomes of PR and their value to a brand. The problem stems from the fact that traditional media relations has become only one – and an increasingly narrow – aspect of public relations.”

Commenting on the same, Sandeep Rao, CEO, One Source Consultancy, said, “I find the #BarcelonaPrinciples a great way to explain to CXOs how measurement should work. In a country where outcome and objective are mixed up as frequently as CSR and Sustainability, it helps being thorough in global best practices.”

“Any content piece is a combination of what is being said, where it is being said, and who it is being said to. Anything beyond, to be honest, is vanity metrics”, he added.

According to Charu Raizada, Integrated Communication Consultant, Council Marketing, “Best predictor of success is the quality of messages delivered, and the ability to engage with the target audience through the messages.”

Meenakshi Sarkar, Head - Corporate Communications, Hero Future Energies, noted, “#PR works only when we know our objective, we craft the message and reach out to the right audience. Successful #PR is to be in the right place at the right time.”

Shaina Wij, Founder, Bandwagon Communications PR consultant, opined, “The ROI calculation on #PR activities must move away from the number of press clippings or #media impressions. However, some aspects need a thorough understanding. For example, Key message delivery, tone, and quality of the media.”

Agreeing with this, Pooja Trehan, Associate Director - Marketing, SugarBox, said, “We are living in the ‘age of Content shock’, literally! Do we need to add to that by pushing for quantity? Instead, work to generate organic quality through our campaigns!” 

Is AVE the key reason for the Volume Game?

Rao said, “I doubt. AVE is an obsolete and flawed metric. The issue I believe lies in the mindset of not knowing better, and the mindset of not counseling better.”

Adding to this, he said, “If there’s one good thing that has come out of this period of lockdown, it is that India has moved from earned to PESO. Recently a CCO, erstwhile agency lady, told me to measure the outcome in AVE. My first question was to ask the person how the AVE of a Twitter chat is measured.”

According to Majumdar, “Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communications and public relations.”

Shaina Wij noted, “Ad is a paid form of media, whereas PR is an earned form of media. So, AVE lacks crucial aspects like quality, tone, impact, sentiment analysis, and key message delivery.”

Charu Raizada added here, “We are still grappling with relaunching a new measurement matrix. However, one size cannot fit all.”

“Imagine getting a front page full pager inclusive of a masthead on ET for a client...which causes stock to drop by 8-12%. AVE in lakhs. Value? Zero,” mused Sandeep Rao.

Follow the conversation on Twitter – @adgully.

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