India is transforming.
We live in a time of unprecedented technology shifts, an era where consumer devices and social opinion are influencing enterprise businesses and most industry verticals are becoming horizontals, telecom is becoming mobile, banking transforming to payments, media being replaced with content and more. Much of this positivity has rubbed off on the Indian media landscape as well, encouraging them to move at the rate of ‘Phelps’. Journalists, who were associated with traditional media (print and television), caught the startup bug and have ventured out to start new-age media companies that cater to newer ways of consuming information.
As Gandalf the Grey says in The Lord of the Rings, “This is your realm, and the heart of the greater realm that shall be. The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun; and it is your task to order its beginning and to preserve what must be preserved”. While this might sound like a cheesy movie dialogue, the quote beautifully captures the ethos of what we are witness to in the Indian media market.
What does this mean for the PR industry? Public Relations in India continues to undergo rapid transformation in today’s co-created, collaborative and hyper-connected marketplace. The changing nature of traditional media, the continued evolution of social media, changes in media consumption patterns and real-time branding and crisis management requirements have changed industry dynamics. Consumers are rightly at the intersection of this Old and New Age PR. The focus is shifting to vibrant hyper-local strategies, creating digital assets efficiently and delivering engaging content. These assets are no longer managed in silos but are allied forces; critical to a brand’s integrated communications approach.
A recent report from the Public Relations Consultants Association of India stated that the PR industry in the country is expected to touch Rs. 2,100 crore (over 300 million USD) by the year 2020 and a one-fourth of those revenues would come from digital, social media and content driven campaigns.
Yet, in some cases, old habits die hard. We still love the smell of our daily newspaper in the mornings. The Times of India is still the most widely read mainstream daily in the country. One still comes across client companies who want to be featured only in the Economic Times. One’s media relations and personal network is still key to surviving in this multi-lingual, multi-faceted, multi-cultural bazaar. Budgets are still relatively small. But make no mistake because the new normal of integrated communications is here. While it currently co-exists with the traditional form of PR, it is slowly but surely shaping up to assume a much larger, definitive and permanent form. The country is indeed transforming.