Posted in PR pitch, public relations

One trend to look for in PR.

You’ll read a lot of trend-spotting for this year, as we do in the dawn of every new year.

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Most experts foresee the big push of AI in the way PR is practice, the absolute firepower that content will play in the way agencies deliver results, and PR will be more data driven than ever before, thanks to the ability to churn out loads of client specific or media specific data.

This will all be there, and yes, they will shape the way the reputation business is done for a long time to come.

But, the most important trend will be this – Public relations aka earned media will gain more relevance and importance.  While companies sink their hard earned revenues into the well of conventional media spend like advertising, the results from them will get smaller and smaller, thanks to the unprecedented clutter, and mad rush for the consumer mind-space.

And despite the best of spends and creative efforts, the measurable or tangible results from advertisements across all media vehicles, online and offline, will get to the point of being abysmally low.

This will mean that companies will turn to PR aka earned media, more than ever before. This will by far be the most definitive trend in 2018. While this be, PR professionals will also see that their space is becoming fiercely competitive, so much so, that the biggest trend – shift to earned media from paid media – is not felt.

This means that there will be a call for absolute innovation in the way businesses are pitched for, and in the way client reputation is sold to the media.

There will also be a manifold increase in the number of agencies, big and small, global and local. As in the recent few years, glocal agencies (local agencies with a global mindset, and delivery capabilities cutting across media geographies) will possess the cutting edge.

On the media front, the shake-up of the newsrooms will continue, and there’ll be even fewer reporters, editors and TV producers to pitch. Thanks to the demand for superior quality journalism from the news consumers, the media will get more and more choosy, about what they will publish.

There is no denying that there is a plethora of startup news entities, offline, and online. But even in their voracious appetite for content, they will not be able to compromise on quality. Remember that most such start-ups are with their content behind paywalls, and that means their business model ought to be data driven.  It’s all about the traffic and the clicks.

Just sending a blast of press releases indiscriminately doesn’t get the coverage.

Public relations is the preferred destination for those who are looking to chose earned media. But, the need to stand out and succeed will be to show to our clients that we can deliver the goods in this competitive environment.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Pitch – journo request

Making this pitch and journo request to friends across the media, in India, and across the globe. This is for an exciting client of ours, in the tech legal space.

PracticeLeague is head-quartered in Pune. This is a technology company, catering to the legal space, with clients in many counties, including India.

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This is a bootstrapped start up, and is poised to grow leaps and bounds in the coming years. Their weblink is http://www.practiceleague.com/

They are in an exciting growth phase not just in India, but across the globe – they compete with the top names in this space like Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis.

 Just to add an important aspect, PracticeLeague is also the first of its kind company in the space to offer the  benefits of AI (artificial intelligence) build in into its product suites, to augment the immense benefits to the users in the legal fraternity.

 They are probably the only tech start-up in the legal space in India, now selling in entire APAC countries, Africa, and entering USA too.The top 100 law firms and top corporates in India are their clientele. Only players to push the advantage of AI into their product suite.

Will be too happy to share all information, and set up calls with the leadership team.

Happy to help – feel free to reach us on 9840935357

Gracias! Happy 2018….

Posted in crisis PR, executive communication, Media coverage, PR pitch, public relations, Uncategorized

So, what does PR do?

The title may sound so basic and rudimentary – but as an agency who predominantly handle a host of mid-sized clients across the spectrum of the industry, this is so important in our sales pitch.

Many prospects ignore our mails or introduction letters, just because they can’t fathom where exactly PR falls in the grand scheme of the marketing function. So much so that in the midst of many pitches we get confronted by an innocuous – but, we have so many business inquiries from our advertisements already, so, we may not need you.

So, we decided to come out with a cheat sheet to illustrate what exactly is the role of the various agencies that come to pitch in the marketing function.

Here is what we made – feel free to make use of it with any value add in content.

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So, what do you guys in PR do?

Off-late, when we feel that there could be ambiguity in the prospects mind as to what our role is, we send out a mail with this cheat-sheet.

In the process, we educate the customer, and also if not we, some other agency can see the benefit of this exercise.

PS – in case the image is not clear, and you would like to have a copy of the sheet, happy to help – please contact me at murali@prhq.in

Posted in crisis PR, Media coverage, PR pitch, public relations

PR disasters? Put your foot down, how hard?

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Put your foot down? walk out?

While most clients do agree with the broad strategy and plan to execute a public relations plan, there are some instances when the going gets tough for a PR agency. These are specific instances where the client side representative givens in to the top leadership of the company (mostly the Managing Director or CEO), and commits to something completely unworkable in terms of results.

Picture this – we as an agency had worked on a public relations plan for a  mid-sized group, that was primarily into consumer goods (FMCG in Indian parlance), with a bit of foot print in some other businesses.

While the going was good in terms of coverage in the target media, the management of the client came up with the idea of conducting a press conference, to coincide with an event – inauguration of a spa, which was another business the client was into.

Somehow, the idea of having a full scale press conference seemed unworkable – from a PR point of view – both the import of the event itself, and the media interest in so far as a presser was concerned.

This was clearly communicated to the client contact, and we had emphatically stated that getting the media to cover the event was fine, but the presser wasn’t a great idea, and was bound to flop.

The rejoinder to that was that the CEO had’nt had an interaction with the media for long, and so, he wished to address the media. When we had suggested that he could rather speak to select journalists, that again was shot down – we were told that the corp comm guy had confirmed to the CEO that they will have a press conference. It boiled down to the EGO of the CEO being managed, by the corp comm person.

The D day came, and as we had forewarned, the press conference was indeed a disaster.

Despite commendable work from our team, which resulted in copious coverage for the clients brands  and their corporate image, when the annual review happened, we were not offered a renewal.

We know well that the primary, rather singular reason was that the CEO’s ego took a beating as he did not see enough media at the press conference.

While handling a client, and managing their media visibility aspirations, how much can you put your foot down to something that will not work? Also, can we, in such a situation, chose to say that, we may not want to handle the client, if they do not heed to field advises? Can assertion border on a threat to walk out of the account, when demands from clients are a tad unreasonable?

Posted in crisis PR, executive communication, Media coverage, PR pitch, public relations, Uncategorized

Did we crucify Bell Pottinger too fast?

bpThe venerable agency, Bell Pottinger, we all know now, has been consigned to the dustbins of history. Atleast for now it look like that, as the immediate future looks bleak – most clients have walked away. The agency will rest in peace in its present form, but may be there could be a resurrection, with a different name.

All of us in PR know by now, that the Gupta family campaign, conducted the Bell Pottinggers South Africa office, was seen as grossly racist, given the country has a history of racism related issues, which they have coped up with grace and moved on. So, what the PR agency was doing by their #whitemonopolycapital campaign was to open the wounds in a highly sensitive nation. No wonder that the country’s opposition part rushed to complain to the PRCA, UK, where Bell Pottinger is head-quartered.

But, was it right for the PRCA per se, and most of us in the PR business to crucify Bell Pottinger, on the basis of a hashtag campaign, which in the strictest sense, is a social media campaign, and not a primary PR campaign?

While the campaign was driven by the South African office of Bell Pottinger, how can the parent office in UK be held responsible? Sure they had a moral accountability in the way their country office was breaching ethical practices, but was that good enough to ban the company from its PR practice, in the UK?

How much can a global PR agency, most of them who have business across different countries, and different cultural milieu, be help responsible for the behavior of an office is a far corner of the globe?

Also, what of the companies, that are not even member of the PRCA, but have practice in the UK, and elsewhere in the globe?

There are so many questions; while the end of Bell Pottinger was something they invited upon them by such controversial behavior (in some cases in the past as well), the decision of the PRCA, does open a pandoras box.

Posted in crisis PR, Human Resources, public relations

Pizza hut or Pizza hit (employees)??!!

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As the US was bracing itself for the impact of Hurricane Irma in its east coast, one company was busy telling its employees to be ready… with all the caution – well, not to protect them or the community from the eventual impact of the hurricane itself, but to make sure that the stores of the pizza chain continue to be business prepared, will all the needed supplies!

pizzahut

Other than the cursory mention that employees must be safe, the focus of the internal memo clearly was to get the employees back to work in double quick time, despite whatever be the impact of Hurricane Irma.

“Give your contact numbers” so that we are sure of your safety after the storm, clearly is saying “forget your welfare, we want to know if you are alive and kicking to get back to work”?!

“But we also have the responsibility to be available for the community when they most need us” – aint’ like Pizza Hut is throwing it open for people to get to safety, but to be sure they don’t miss out of selling a few slices of Pizza, even if it means the aftermath of a deadly hurricane??

And nothing to beat this – “in the event of an evacuation, you MUST return in 72 hours”. Who on  earth puts such employment conditions, when you ought to be concerned about the safety of the employee and their family?

Best to conclude that Pizza Hut was bloody insensitive in sending out such a communication! and needless to say, revenues rule even at the cost of lives?

By the way, which sane manager writes such inhumane messages? Does Pizza Hut have any SOP for internal communication, and employee safety – real and not lip service??

Posted in Data theft, executive communication, public relations

Equifax data-theft and a pandora’s box!

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Equifax response – throwing up a pandora’s box?

Equifax is one of the largest credit reporting companies in the US, and it had a fews days ago gone public that hackers had stolen data of sensitive personal information on as many as 143 million people from the credit reporting firm. That’s data of almost half of the US population.

This is by far the biggest data theft in recent times, by any standards, from any company across the globe.

Lawmakers in the US are now looking at how much more should such data driven companies be held accountable, given the sensitive nature of the information they store, and decipher.

But from a communications point of view, how pliable is the argument by Equifax, that they are reporting the incident of such humongous proportions,  almost late by 2 months or so?

Equifax learned about the breach on July 29 but didn’t reveal it for more than a month. The hackers stole credit card numbers of about 209,000 people and also got documents with personal information on 182,000 victims.

On the technical front, there are also so reports that Equifax’s data breach was the result of the company’s failure to patch a two-month-old bug in Apache Struts, despite multiple reports of the bug being exploited in the wild.

Equifax after the fall out of this incident, also offered a free year of credit monitoring known as “TrustedID Premier” to its consumers- but a careful read of the conditions revealed that those would be also giving up the right to sue over damages.

Some questions that come in mind in this issue are –

  • Was there a deliberate delay on the part of Equifax, in reporting the data-theft to the public at large and to the authorities?
  • If they say, they took time to discover the unprecedented volume of data stolen, what does it speak of the security systems the company had in place, that too, when the company’s business is on the bedrock of credit data of the public?
  • What kind of information security audits do companies like Equifax, who own public data, go through? and how rigorous are these I sec audits?
  • By having overriding conditions that the customer loses the right to sue, if he agreed for the one year credit monitoring, was Equifax  blatantly exploiting the misery of the consumer, and trying to protect it legally, than really wanting to do good after the data got stolen.
  • Can companies that thrive on data, not really be aware of such massive information leaks for more than a month? Is it really believable?

There are a volley of other such questions, that clearly point to, probably, a series of lapses on the side of Equifax.