Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Austerity Follows Carnage in Corporate India, Will PR Get Hit?

It is a mess and it is all over the place and it is not going away in a hurry. The stock market is toast, the oil price is freaking out in the USD 150s, real easte and financial services are tanking like the titanic! Everyone knows that we are in the middle of a meltdown and the effects of inflation have just about started to ruin the financial results of companies.

The politics of the nation are in the gutter and the uncertainty that clouds all decision making both in the public and private enterprise will continue well into the next year, if and when another government comes into being. A government that is cross subsidising the oil bill and some other future government will reap the whirlwind and some whirlwind it will be for sure, and I quote Rahul Bhasin of Barings in the DNA, where he said, “We are frittering away our gains made in the last 15 years”.

Against the background of this carnage in corporate India, the bean counters are finally seeing resurgence, like desert plants, they have waiting out the decade of exuberance. Today they are rising like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes, and promise to be the bane of many brands, marketing campaigns and other assorted still born initiatives. Austerity is back like the rude shock of a cold water bath in the freezing winter!

When the accountant’s chop does come down on big-ticket advertising, out-of-home and television commercials, these being the pet peeves of the accountant PR promises to stay untouched. Having said that budgets for travel, off sites, media training, and all those nice fuzzy things are bound to dry up real quick, if not disappear all together. In all this skirmishing, fortunately for PR, most corporates have come to understand that it is not an on-and-off thing and if anything, some might even find it the last refuge of the marketing to reach their target publics in times of budgetary paucity.

The job market for PR professional and Communicators promises to retain traction and the moaning for talent will stay the wail it is, so here is one area that I again see no effect of the slow down, if anything it could lead to many more corporates hiring for the reasons above.

Challenges bring opportunities and usually constitute the need, the same need that spurs innovation and fosters new paradigms and discoveries. These are the times to service your customer better and to vow to be closer to the business and not lose accounts on reasons of tardiness, inefficiency or downright stupidity! I see many avenues that were shoveled into the “not important or urgent” quadrants due the presence of other ‘lazy cheque’ populars suddenly becoming fashionable. The medium I am talking about and maybe one who’s time has finally come in India, is the online medium.

This is the time to knock again and dust off those online plans, whether it is a programme to engage key bloggers in your space, or kick off that e-mail campaign or spend your remaining rupees in the pursuit of a web-only viral marketing or buzz marketing campaign!

I wish you well in these nasty times, so get dug in and wait it out, this too shall pass, maybe not soon enough but you can always take the time to do something you always wanted to attempt, something forbidden, constructive, intellectual, delicious and inspiring! I look forward to comments here!

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