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More brands are looking at PUBLIC RELATIONS as a new tool

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Some of world’s best brands have been built with PR.

With rising media costs and lack of deep pockets to spend, many brands are seriously considering using PR in a big way to promote their brand in the most cost efficient manner. Recently I was chatting with few of my friends who are working on various brands starting from FMCG to Consumer Durables to lifestyle. During our intense conversation, most of these people felt that new and innovative options need to be discovered to promote brands as returns on spending huge money on mass media is not delivering the desired results.

Now why are these people questioning the ROI? The answer to this is very simple. Today with the increase in the number of channels and audience fragmentation; marketers are not able to catch their audience that easily. They need to increase their promotional budgets to reach a larger audience but the results are not satisfactory. Even the print and the outdoor medium have become equally expensive. One cannot get a great impact by taking a few hoardings in any city. Even if you take a good number of sites the sustenance factor steps in. How long I can continue the campaign? Marketers are looking answers for these. Do we have an answer? The answer is yes. Marketers need to start innovating to fight this rise in media prices, media fragmentation and high clutter levels by just revisiting their communication and media strategy.

Powerful Public relations strategy is one way to look at:

Some of the world’s best brands have been built though PR. Our own software company Infosys is both a leading Indian and global brand which has grown in manifolds by brilliantly planned PR strategy. We must also remember that the company has delivered value and has consistently performed. Apart from some advertisements during the IPO, this brand has been build brick by brick purely using public relations in the most effective manner. The brand has become almost a familiar brand amongst software engineers and aspiring engineers. We have more such examples of brands that have build their corporate brands through PR.

Google is another brand which is in everybody‘s mind starting from today’s teenager to the senior citizen. This brand has never advertised in India but the brand has grown in leaps and bounds to have the largest email service in India, Gmail. The brand Google has become so familiar and friendly that people use the phrase ‘Google’ it to get any information on the net.

TCS is also another brand that has taken its brand to new global heights through PR. While TCS has the support of the TATA name but to become a global brand on software space PR has played a pivotal role for TCS. The secret of success for all these brands has been their focused vision and commitment which PR has leveraged at every stage of the growth of the company. Also with PR this brand has managed to build credibility and faith with their stakeholder which has in the end resulted in raising the equity of the brand both domestically and globally.

It’s misnomer to think PR is just press release:

About two decades back PR was just about disseminating news via press release or through press conference. But over the last few years that has radically changed. More and brands are placing their faith on PR to build credibility which is difficult to achieve through the conventional advertising and publicity. While some of the reputed brands spend a lot of money on advertising but they still use PR to restore faith and confidence among its audience.

Two great launches or event in the recent period that has implemented PR effectively has been the announcement of TATA’S NANO. There was great PR build up before the official announcement and showcasing of the product at the AUTO EXPO. This was possible because there was a great story to talk about in terms of a ONE LAC car which was a great dream and aspiration for many Indian consumers to own a car. It was a good strategy on the part of TATAs to use PR as it is PR that built confidence and credibility among the prospective consumers to reassure yes we are giving you a car for ONE LAKH. Public relations in t his case could play a very important role as there was a great story to tell. In fact I hardly could see any advertisement on the day of the launch. The PR really overpowered the print campaign. And the reason for the same is that consumers need to know more about the product and PR was the best tool to sell this revolutionary concept in car. If you have a great story to tell then brands must strongly move towards using PR as a weapon. In case of TATA NANO if we count on the coverage they got through PR and convert it to advertisement rates it would be quite substantial may be even match the budget they spend on advertising.

Even the success for IPL must be attributed to a large extent to PR. While individual teams and brands did some advertisement what really caught cricket fans is this new concept which had great news and story to talk about. Today post the first IPL league many teams are seriously considering to revamp their image through PR before the champion’s league. All of us know cricket is a religion in our country and the hype generated through the press will create more excitement and interest than patriotic HINGLISH jingles and use of celebrities by various teams in their campaign. IPL really drew more viewer ship on channels more crowds to the stadium but more than this there was great buzz around in the social network media where different community groups were formed to track the matches with their own views and criticism. This is where social media network as a medium is being used to drive PR.

Use of new age media and innovative media opportunity in PR:

The advent of new media like blogs and social network has made PR more innovative and interactive. Facebook, My space and Orkut are some of the few social network media which are being used by many brands to touch the younger audience. Various movie reviews and play reviews are available if you are part of any community in the social media network. The audience you converse through this social network are becoming strong testimonials to tell you or give you more information of a movie or purchasing a music gadget. This of course is supplemented by the news that appears in the dailies and other media which helps in getting brands closer and into the consideration set.

I am told most of the electronic products such as the laptops the final decision in buying is made by the consumer only using the mediums like the internet by reading their product reviews etc. This also holds true with automobiles where the prospects reads reviews about the brand and product from various auto journals before they decide to arrive on the brand to buy or test drive it.

The other innovative ideas to get your brand promoted are product placement opportunity in various media which is relevant to the brand. For e.g. TV show featuring on real estate one can promote a microwave by displaying the product in such shows which is part of the accessories customers look at buying for their kitchen. Brands could also tie up with construction houses to get write up about their product in their brochures and website.

The use of PR needs to be tactically applied and one must have a good story to pitch for the media to talk about. In the coming years Public relation will move faster and more brands will seriously consider to use this communication tool to build the credibility of the brand as costs on the media front is just going up and up. With increase of more GEC in the electronic medium and TRPs fluctuating as channels are bringing freshness in the programming marketers are need take lot of risks to place their brand in these channels without knowing the right ROI from these programs.

Public relations will play a great role in providing marketers to infuse good strategy which will get them stories and credibility. One also needs to think beyond just coverage and come out with out of box thinking to get qualitative message through PR.

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September 26th, 2008 at 12:01 am

Posted in PR

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6 Responses to 'More brands are looking at PUBLIC RELATIONS as a new tool'

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  1. It is time for new nomenclature. Public Relations smacks of a bygone era when consumers were the only category of customers we knew, and when Marketing had not occupied center-stage in business. Employees and suppliers are now important targets of communication. Branding itself has moved from product features alone to sustained and consistent customer engagement. A revamp should start with Public Relations as a concept.

  2. Bang on. I have been shouting PR is more than media relations. The examples above are case in point.

    Palin Ningthoujam

    26 Sep 08 at 1:02 pm

  3. after a long read a good informative pr piece on the blog

    himanshu kapadia

    26 Sep 08 at 1:29 pm

  4. Fantastic article. Can’t agree with you more.

    Bina Emanvel

    27 Sep 08 at 10:56 pm

  5. Informative article :) Clearly outlines significance of PR. But is it like all brands have gone through the route of PR agency?

    Kavita Kapoor

    28 Sep 08 at 12:14 pm

  6. [...] are discussions around who should own digital within organisations – marketing or PR? As everyone knows, traditionally marketing mainly looks at generating leads/sales and PR mainly [...]

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