We spoke to a few PR experts to find out what makes this industry tick, what has changed and what stays the same. Read on to glean insights, tips and tricks.
Public relations professionals help a business or individual cultivate a positive reputation with the public through various unpaid or earned communications, including traditional media, social media, and in-person engagements. They help clients defend their reputation during a crisis that threatens their credibility. To do this, they’re used to being out and about. What happens when a pandemic hits?
The pandemic took a toll on the PR industry and constrained many in this ‘outgoing’ profession to working from home.
As with many businesses affected by the pandemic, the PR industry was able to adapt to the current world events. According to Philip Da, Consultant, K2 Communications, ‘Business is slow and it has found new avenues despite the barrier imposed by the pandemic. We have advanced into the future. Indian media has found a newer and larger audience for the internet, online media and television’ indicating the impact of pandemic has increased the reliance and importance of digital technology.
Krithika Rao, Account Director, concurs and says ‘I think because PR is something where you have to do innovative things on a daily basis. I don't think, for PR, it was difficult to adapt to those’.
Although working from home, PR professionals still have a lot of expectations working with clients, no matter the change.
No matter the change, working with external clients can be difficult and expectations for production are heightened due to current circumstances. Krithika indicates one of the difficulties working as a PR professional is diplomacy, ensuring that a level of respect is maintained between the firm and clients even though the challenges are common.
Sumit Jain, Associate Vice President, also presents a challenge working in the PR industry. In particular, questioning the practicality of production, the value of news, what is captured in the article etc. Sometimes, ‘’There are too many expectations in terms of deliverables, they expect loads of articles to get published over a period of months or whenever they are engaged with us … but if we set the expectations right from the beginning, it's not much of a headache.’ These challenges and assumptions don't stop the industry from evolving.
Shivani Naik, Account Director, highlights another challenge PR professionals face - meetings! “The tough job of running a lot for client meetings or for media meetings...with all the stakeholders that we deal with, very busy in their own space.”
Interestingly, the shift to digital communications has made the challenge of communication easier.
Over time, the PR industry has changed from travel and reporting to digital online research. The industry will continue to change and people may struggle to break into the industry.
There will be a significant change to public relations in a few years’ time and it could fully transform into something completely new in a decade or so. The industry itself won’t go anywhere any time soon. Public relations as an industry is built through the use of communication and socially, the world runs on communication.
Shiv Shankar Devaraj, Executive Director and Founder, K2 Communications, suggests that the future of the industry is dependent on the future of digital space and trends. There will be a lot of opportunities for communication as that will never change. However, he also indicates that ‘the changes to how you connect with the world will change...Communications will play a very big role 10 years from now and everything is going to change.’
Due to this, career aspirants may struggle to break into the industry especially during these tough times. Some key advice from Sumit is this: the most important thing is communication skills and your content. These are the basic keys to success in PR’.
Here at K2 communications, the business has situated itself strongly within the PR world, and there is a positive direction for the firm.
Being able to adapt well as a firm, ready to face challenges and to take every problem straight on is a way to define a successful PR agency. Shiv indicates the positive future for PR as well as the organisation, ‘I would say we are a PR firm and an organisation that is going to be amongst the top five leaders 10 years from now’.
Although the pandemic has surfaced challenges the world was not expecting, the digital space has made it easier for people to work from home. With this new experience and adaptation the PR industry has become stronger than ever and it will continue to be successful over time as communication will always be an important pillar of society.