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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 estate 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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July 15th, 2008 at 4:34 pm

8 Responses to 'Austerity Follows Carnage in Corporate India, Will PR Get Hit?'

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  1. As you rightly said, the dwindling budgets have actually inspired a few clients to beef-up the lean PR budgets. Very often, analysing the massive reach and ease of the digital possibilities have lead to the corporate communications teams to not only revise retainers but also sign up for digital expertimentation.

    Bina Emanvel

    16 Jul 08 at 1:37 pm

  2. Good piece Shael. But I’d wish corporates look at online plans not as a cost cutting measure. The last online plan I made had a whopping INR 15lacs for 6 months, inclusive of online engagement and applications development.

    Palin Ningthoujam

    16 Jul 08 at 4:49 pm

  3. Best is the enemy of good. In the overall scheme of things, imagine what 15 Lakhs is compared to 100 crores of advertising on billboards, print and TV for a medium sized marketing budget.

    Shael Sharma

    16 Jul 08 at 7:02 pm

  4. agree road looks bumpy, but it provides opportunities to hire best talent at a good price, take over good business adding clients and talent, go into newer areas and provide better services to your clients thus not loosing him and showing value, above all be ready for the upswing in the rollercoaster.

    himanshu kapadia

    16 Jul 08 at 7:52 pm

  5. that was some good PR for the PR industry :)


    17 Jul 08 at 3:58 pm

  6. imagine what 15 Lakhs is compared to 100 crores of advertising on billboards, print and TV for a medium sized marketing budget.


    18 Jul 08 at 3:49 am

  7. In economics, austerity is when a national government reduces its spending in order to pay back creditors. Austerity is usually required when a government’s fiscal deficit spending is felt to be unsustainable.

    Adfactors PR is one of India’s leading public relations consultancies. We work for over 240 retained clients, which include some of India’s largest corporations and financial institutions. We deliver value to our clients through informed advice on communication issues that may impact their reputation, valuations and future business prospects.



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    19 Feb 09 at 3:30 am

  8. How informative! Not the bit about Adfactor, just the presumption of government, how would you answer that for cooporates sherlock?

    Shael Sharma

    20 Feb 09 at 4:50 pm

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