Ganapathy Viswanathan
Guest Article

Brands are embracing PR, but challenges in talent and content creation loom large

Our guest author explores PR in 2024, predicting a delicate balance for brands embracing it while facing talent and technology challenges.

More brands will embrace PR in 2024. However, it will always be a challenge for agencies in today’s digital world to meet modern client expectations.

PR had enough struggle for both respectability and clarity of purpose but the industry has overcome that today and every brand is very closely embracing PR as an important communication tool when they draw their overall marketing plan for their company and their respective brands.

Clients must be now more open to trying and exploring new avenues in PR and will be looking at more innovative ways to explore Public Relations, especially in today’s digital world.

 The year 2023 saw more openness and embracing of brands with PR and it looks like 2024 will drive many clients to examine and explore PR closely in their annual marketing plans. I feel we may not see any major shift in 2024 as some of the challenges in the area of talent and content creation will continue to bother the industry. Agencies will have to beef up their technology set-up and operations with the right talent.

Many start-ups which depended a lot on PR played very carefully in 2023 as there was not enough budget to look at PR and promotions. With start-ups still finding their footing we may still see start-ups using PR but more diligently and judiciously. Where PR was concerned, most startup verticals revisited their strategy to ensure it proposed a view of moderation rather than going full hog. 

Data and insights will play a major role and are going to be very critical in drawing forceful PR strategies. Innovation and strategic storytelling with strong narratives backed by technology will help in crafting very focussed messaging.

This is where we may see the role of ML and AI coming into play to help in leveraging the data used more intelligently. So, technology will be crucial for agencies to gear up and get their talent in place to meet the client demands. Clients will expect more insights, sharp messaging and data-driven audience profiling to reach the right audiences.  

The year 2023 also saw several good IPOs so here the Corporate and financial PR had a major role to play and agencies who are specialists in this area played a significant role and there will be more opportunities in the coming year.

With the wind still moving in the positive direction as far as the economy is concerned it will help in bringing stability in the financial market and a better investment climate for both the institutions and retail investors and we could see more action on the corporate and financial PR in 2024. 

The recent election wins in three major states by the ruling party have also boosted the confidence of many industries more from the stability point of view. These election wins have brought in a strong foundation to have a strong and stable government at the centre. With reforms moving in the right direction, we can expect industries to be bullish and optimistic for better growth in the new financial year.

With a lot of political news present all around the media, brands will also be cautious in their PR strategy and PR campaigns for the next few months as the entire focus will be towards the general election campaign and it will be difficult to beat the clutter in these months and get your message across. 

On the PR agencies front, we have not seen any major takeovers from the international PR networks. A few happened but it looks like new network agencies entering India have slowed down.

On the contrary, the local PR agencies are now shining better and are in the limelight by offering new services and trying to be more innovative and technologically equally advanced, especially in the digital space which is going to be an architect for many social media-led campaigns. With new guidelines being framed for influencer campaigns etc. by the ASCI the credibility of influencer campaigns should go up considerably.

 One important change perhaps one can foresee is the role of the CEO and MD in seriously looking at corporate reputation. Reputation is going to be very crucial and pivotal for every organisation as the advent of social media and fake news are becoming very sensitive in today’s corporate world.

So, CEOs and MDs will closely work and monitor with the corporate communication team on reputation management continuously. So, in a VUCA world, the agility and alertness to avert any crisis will be paramount for brands to have a robust communication team to fight and manage crises. 

Overall, from a PR perspective, it will be a great time for the PR profession as the industry is heading towards the right growth path. Having said that agencies who can be more creative and innovative with good backing in technology will be able to drive the needs of the client in today’s fast-paced digital world.

The dynamics of PR have changed and will keep changing and those who adapt to the quick change will be able to manage brands and grow their business. This coming year will also be the year for learning new technology and therefore investments in training and development will have to be made by agencies to upskill their talent across the board. 

(Our guest author is Ganapathy Viswanathan, independent communication consultant)

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