The future of communications in the ever-evolving media world

The industry claims to be much ahead on learning curve

NEW DELHI: With media channels multiplying and magnifying, communication agencies and departments will have a bigger role to play in the corporate structure of any organisation, a virtual panel, comprising of some of the leading communications and public relations personnel, discussing “communicating in the times of crisis and revival” with founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, noted.

The participants included Communicate India founder and CEO Akshara Lalwani, Spag Asia managing partner and co-founder Aman Gupta, Genesis BCW India CEO Deepshikha Dharmaraj, Piramal Group VP and group head-corporate communications and PR Dimple Kapur, Golinopinion, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group executive director Kavita Lakhani, Amazon India director public relations Minari Shah, MSL India executive director strategy and insights Parveez Modak, Weber Shandwick managing director strategy and consulting Rohan Kanchan, and Flipkart associate director corporate affair Sheetal Singh.

The panel insisted that they all are ready and prepared to mould themselves with the rapidly changing and demanding media ecosphere and Covid, in fact, has accelerated the process for them on many ends.

Answering the question on how they will be finding a balance between the paid and the earned media, as the lines have started blurring between the two, the panel noted that messaging sits at the core of all these functionalities and the right communication is going to be their focus.

Modak noted, “For us, it will always be a combination of paid and earned media. I think both of these serve different purposes. Also, content for us is media-agnostic. It will always depend on what we want to achieve with that content.”

Shah supported him sharing some examples from Amazon diaries, including their own blog, which they had started almost 4 years ago. “Last Diwali, we ran a campaign called House on Wheels, which worked fabulously for us. We also did another organic campaign for Alexa on Valentine’s Day. I want to say that we have to own this space about creating authentic content and getting closer to all the stakeholders, be it our own employees or consumers or partners.”

She added that it is no longer about earned media and paid media and the agencies will have to work towards more holistic servicing and building strong narratives for brands.

Dharmaraj pointed out that PR is not only about press relations anymore and communication transcends over media today. They have learnt to be more agile and nimble to adapt to the changing client needs and their role in the client cycle.

“But I think the first part of creating that content using technology to create some compelling content. That's exactly what we're going to be doing more and more of it. Also, we need to start thinking beyond the English speaking mainline business,” she added.

Kapur shared that the agencies and internal communications departments will have to work hard and evolve the way they analyse the matrix right now. “Most agencies that send out coverage reports at the end of the month, in small clippings (filed); those will perhaps have to really reinvent themselves. What will really make sense is how we are creating an impact with those coverages. What does it really mean in terms of business income? And therefore you will work with many more agencies and much more support function will actually emerge for prompts”

For Lalwani, the three things that will become more valid and important in the coming days are going to be clarity, collaboration, and communication. She insisted that macro will have to be kept in focus and not micro as there as businesses will be pointless without people. ;

But with more brands and agencies building up in house support agencies, like social media teams, will the role of corporate communications remain valid?

Gupta mentioned that they are well-positioned and well prepared to fit into every scenario that comes up.

Singh shared, “The difference between marketing and communications is that the latter’s purpose is to build corporate reputation and that will always remain. Obviously, we do play a role in driving sales too, but the main part of our function is to build brand reputation.”

Lakhani corroborated, “At the end, mediums really don’t matter. We might take them into consideration but the customer doesn’t care. The messaging is what that matters and that’s what all the brand partners need to do; come together around a problem or an opportunity and be ready to serve the best solution. Evolutions will keep on happening.”

Kanchan noted that similar questions were being asked to the industry a few years back too, but they still remained relevant and modified them to the changing needs. “Learnings have already begun now as well. Models will keep evolving and we are really far ahead on the learning curve.”

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