Impact of PR in Today’s World


Public Relations has never enjoyed a position of greater prominence than it does today. In a competitive, fast-paced global environment, organisations across industry and geography are looking for new and more effective ways to influence customers, prospects and partners to build trust and reputation.  The growth of the Internet, coupled with 24/7 news cycles and social media, has accelerated the growth of the PR industry.
While I did see promise in the profession when I embarked on a career in PR, I never imagined that it will become so mainstream. In 1990, Public Relations was hardly understood. The practice of PR was confused with advertising or direct marketing or guest relations. Today, it is fulfilling to see that boardrooms make time for PR in their agenda! The strategic value of PR is being acknowledged and it is an integral part of the marketing mix. PR dons the hat of a ‘strategist’ to develop campaigns that contribute to business objectives.  At PR Pundit, we believe that the customer is at the heart of all propositions, and it is therefore imperative, that the PR approach supports the business objectives of our clients.
The PR industry is at an exciting phase of growth, with a rather sharp inflection from Information to Conversation. Institutions are increasingly realising that monologues or one-way marketing communications do not work anymore, and conversations or dialogues are needed to engage stakeholders. Technology affords us a new way to meet and interact. In fact, the new age mediums are enhancing the PR proposition of story-telling and thought leadership. As people become more sophisticated both in terms of using the Internet and at filtering the information they receive each daily, it is likely that they will develop more specific preferences for how, where and when they access information. We as communicators must understand and stay ahead of these trends.
With customers being increasingly swayed by cyber conversations, PR helps brands and organisations sift through the noise and identify influencers, determines what they are saying, why it sways others and how best to activate audiences. PR practitioners are keeping pace with the expanding universe of ‘digital influencers’, tracking the enormous volume of social media conversations and real-time mentions that surround a product, a brand, an organisation and its competition.
We therefore need a new set of hybrid communication skills, which marry elements of management consulting, business intelligence, direct marketing and an internet strategy. Owned and shared media are now a key part of the responsibility of the PR professional, in addition to earned and paid media! With augmented and virtual reality technology getting more and more accessible, PR practitioners are able to deliver customised content to specialised audiences to influence stakeholder sentiment. It could not be more interesting times.
I fell in love with the profession, in my first job as the Marketing Communications Manager at Hyatt Regency Delhi. I was less than 25 years old and an invitee to the management committee that managed the hotel operations. It made me feel valued. In my two years at the hotel, I was entrusted to manage a new advertising campaign, a public art project, extensive food photography and development of collaterals. I was managing a team of four including the in-house graphics department.
When I moved to the consulting side of the profession in 1992, I found the freedom to engage with senior management liberating. I liked being responsible for writing speeches for leading CEOs. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to make a company that sells insurance seem sexy. I was managing photo calls with celebrities, launching new cars at trade shows, networking with captains of industry and grabbing headlines for all my clients. Now almost 30 years later, the rush still remains.
In 1998, when I founded PR Pundit, specializing in consumer PR, my team was predominantly young women balancing their home, children and a PR career. I was at a point in my career where I wanted to give back and help other women succeed. For me, it was the natural progression to introduce flexibility for women who wanted to continue to pursue their career, without the demands of getting to the office each day. This also helped me bridge the biggest challenge facing the industry and a young start-up; the ability to attract and retain people. Today, we are almost 100 people strong with an over 80 per cent women workforce. But I would hate PR Pundit to be considered a pink ghetto.
Younger women may chose a PR career because they think they are going to be the glamorous Samantha Jones from Sex and the City where they will be opening restaurants and promoting hot new clubs. While managing a communications programme is exciting, it is more about being able to influence people, build relationships, the ability to tell a brand story, multi-task, meet deadlines, and survive in a high-pressure environment. It is about thinking creatively, yet strategically while staying ahead of conversation currents. Many of us who thrive on change enjoy PR and staying in-the-thick of events that are upending and driving businesses.
About the Author
Archana Jain, Managing Director, PR Pundit holds a Master’s degree in Business Economics from Delhi University, and has been practicing PR since 1990. She founded PR Pundit in the year 1998. She is also the principal trainer for PR Pundit’s media training and crisis communications programmes.

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