Few days’ back I happen to read a piece in one of the news papers which had highlighted how clients are seriously viewing about their relationship with their PR consultants and partners. I completely disagree in what was mentioned in that story. On the contrary brands must seriously view other communication tools to keep their brand top of mind during turbulent times when the market has slowed down for various reasons. PR is one of those tools.
Over the past few months the buzzword has been recession and in the name of recession companies are revisiting their marketing budgets to keep a tight control on expenses. This is one of the old tricks most companies apply when there is recession and the first thing they do is to slash the marketing and promotion budgets. While the global meltdown and inflation has reduced the spending power of the Indian consumer but the recent terrorist attack has further shifted the gears of most companies in all sectors. All this is fine but brands still need to in the minds of consumer but at what cost is worrying the brand teams in most organization. And which is where the power of Public Relation can play a significant role.
Why PR and not other expensive medium?
The general mood has taken a deep dip after series of incidences. Today shopping and traffic at malls has dropped considerably in spite of Christmas and New Year around the corner. Even if marketers come out with killer strategy in terms of promotion the urge for shopping is being deferred due to various economic factors. With big ticket events like Champions league in cricket has been deferred has made the advertiser to rethink as to what new communication tools will help to keep their brand alive. Although GEC programs have given fairly good viewer ship the return on investment is not encouraging for brands to spend big bucks on the electronic media.
In this scenario brands must effectively use PR to maintain the some presence in the market. While I agree it will not generate rapid awareness for the brand the way advertising does through mass media it will most certainly help clients to look at a cost effective tool. And what is important here is brands should balance their strategy while using PR by judiciously managing advertising spends. This is where PR agencies also need to chalk out new strategy to pitch stories with the journalist to get favorable stories which will help not only brands to raise saliency but also build strong credibility.
PR cannot work in isolation:
Having said that companies should not completely depend on PR. Companies must use the 360 degree approach where PR will supplement and boost the brand awareness through sustenance mass media advertising and other innovative tools which is beyond advertising. For example companies can use branding through cybercafé by resting on the desktops of PC’s. With more cybercafés mushrooming both in cities and tier 2 and 3 cities brands need to exploit this new medium. Interestingly many brands have moved to this space as clients are able to capture the hits to the brands through well supported technology which is able to monitor the traffic. Also this is able to help marketers to extend their consumer outreach to smaller towns.
There is always a concern when one uses PR. Is it measurable? Yes it is measurable if companies seriously view in measuring this in a scientific manner. We have strong processes to measure this which not only helps in effective messaging but will also able to throw consumer insights which will help brands to check if the communication strategy and their messaging has met their defined objectives.
Finally as a brand custodian of the brand the brand manager has to believe in what he is doing and should have a complete faith in PR. Miracles may not happen but well thought out PR strategy will definitely yield results.