Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Top 5 Predictions for Indian PR Firms in 2008

These are heady days. As India moves forward with a constant surge, it’s pretty much never say never; be it the stock markets; the string of acquisitions hitherto thought of as impossible. Clearly it is a time for innovation led consolidation.

The PR business as a microcosm of Industry and it too has had its share of innovation led consolidation too, and among the other notables have been a string of acquisitions, the latest being of Hanmer by Publicis. Things in general have been good with the entry of several brands as well as value corrections in revenues for most major firms or networks for existing business.

2007 was a year of slow tectonic change, 2008 promises to have far greater velocity and the trends point to some trends that would go down as big shifts in my opinion:

A Holistic Brand Experience Inclusive of Web 2.0 & Social Media Properties

Social Media in India has been a long time in the coming and 2008 will see a greater adoption of the social media and the whole web 2.0 space not just by PR Firms but also its use in a integrated marketing tool kit, using a combination of online PR / Advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a holistic brand experience that will use both traditional media as well as new media. What does this mean? Simply that, just like we have had domain specialists with financial, investor relations, issue based and other specialist skills, in a similar fashion, online and social media skills will become more mainstream as must-have necessities and not as isolated asks. You can look at the Le Web 3 conference online to look at the plethora of applications and paradigms in Social Media evolution so far.

Larger Offering Differentiation

Vanilla Media Relations serves as the mainstay for the PR business but over the year it has steadily devalued both in terms of revenue as well as in its effectiveness to be the answer to different communications problems. This commoditization has led to a desire for offering differentiation to go up the value chain in terms of dealing with complexities as well as higher paid quality work. Investor Relations, Government Relations, Corporate Affairs, Corporate Social Responsibility, Employer Branding are all different offerings that will find higher definition and better honing as practices.

2008 to be the year of Telecom & Auto

As India moves towards hectic telecom consolidation and the spectrum war gobbles up space in the media, this will mean an increase in specialisation by PR Firms. Similarly the small car explosion that is going to hit us in 2008 only will means higher levels of specialisation in Automotive Industry as a domain. The stakes are large and so are the budgets. Retail on the other hand has simmered, petered out and then simmered again, so the jury is still out on that front.

IT and IT Services to Stay Prominent

This space will continue to bring in good results and PR promises to be a tool of choice much more than traditional media. The BPO and IT Services business has weathered several storms and yet come out on top every time. The desire for brand differentiation has pushed many of the brands in this space including TCS, Infosys, Cognizant, and Wipro into running large branding campaigns. This is the fight for mind space both for business as well as talent where the competitors include the likes of IBM, Accenture, EDS, Deloitte, and Capgemini.

Emphasis on the Environment

Global warming seems to finally have arrived on the scene in the media and the din is getting louder. Everyone is talking green and hybrids are being talked of in a car market that has yet to get the basics of ABS and Safety equipment like air bags as standard fitment for most manufacturers selling in India. The Reva continues to survive as a green brand and even has export ambitions. Plastic bags are banned with lesser resistance and effluent treatment and water pollution have becoming real issues. As the glaciers melt, Tsunami’s strike and our carbon footprint becomes increasingly menacing, I don’t think it’s a year too early!

Finally, it promises to be one hell of a year to start your own business or company as people lose patience with traditional mindsets and opportunities explode. There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur since the dot com bust. Happy New Year!

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