Public Relations in India
The tide of communication channels cropping up in India has transformed the sphere of Public Relations. This bodes well for marketing, advertising, promoting, mainly because as a growing economy and a progressing democracy we have room only for improvement. The issue with managing PR in India is the sporadic tectonic shifts in public mind set especially being armed with social media and numerous campaigns. The agenda of PR is to bond. To build bridges. To foster growth and relationship between the public inclusive of all stakeholders and the company. Although PR has been around for centuries through its various names, it found official foothold in India as a serious industry on in the 1990s. Back then it was mostly journalists and media persons who found a nexus with PR, and their backgrounds helped them build upon successful PR programs. Of course, after the explosive growth of entrepreneurs, young industrialists fighting to compete with established stalwarts, the need to positively assert their position in a competitive environment required some skilful manipulation of the public’s rising and falling interest.
Enter organized branch of PR. For the past few decades, PR courses and mass communication have generated interest in students. An example of successful of PR was the control of fallout after Satyam scam, with shareholders’ money on the line along with a shaky economy. The government conducted a bid to invite investors which was fiercely contested and won my Mahindra and Mahindra to integrate into a group IT company. This was a case of mitigation or crisis management, however long term solutions depend upon positive reinforcement through a religiously followed course of time. India has after a series of shocks and hits woken up to this reality leading to various PR firms successfully launching themselves on the global platform too. Here it is not just politics, corporates, private players but also individuals that need strong PR. Social media is a powerful tool to attain this. Instead of holding the client as the highest pedestal PR industry has now switched to client engagement while measuring the colour and impact of any strategy. The corporate class has graduated to relying on fresh graduates, students experiencing the steep learning curve. As a result, many colleges and universities offer specialised PR programs. Metros like Calcutta, New Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore have academically strengthened themselves in PR, recognizing the curriculum. This is also the reason for major PR agenciesbeing accumulated only in such cities. The economic slowdown in 2013 was an eye opener for agencies to tackle policy paralysis and marry marketing with PR for reputation management. Now, with the success rate of PR campaigns reflected in the public reception, more and more clients are reposing their faith in such agencies. The main reasons being:
- They make up for the trust deficit.
- They have to be in competition too.
- The sphere of PR is an essential, clandestine and very vaguely understood idea.
- They are well equipped to balance the profit agenda and the CSR of any company, making PR a comprehensive exercise, requiring delegation at the hands of experts.
There are obvious challenges existing in the PR industry:
- There is the lure of better pay that would lead to poaching of professionals, polarising the industry in favour of few. This is due to the scarcity of skilled professionals.
- Lack of understanding. Many persons view PR as a spin job, who manufacture truths to suit the client needs. There needs to be a change in perception towards the crucial contribution of PR.
- Requirement of leaders to spearhead this fledgling industry in the correct direction, calling for academic rigor and theoretical pedagogy.
India stands to gain heavily in PR industry. It already does. Public Relations is a weighty issue and should be recognized fairly to be given its due for revolutionizing the spectrum of client-consumer interactions, whether public or private.