ITL #226 Create, innovate and integrate: staying relevant in the new communication landscape12 months ago
Compelling storytelling is key, as evidenced by the communication campaign around hard-hitting documentary Daughters of Mother India. By Valerie Pinto.
When I began my career, PR involved measuring coverage with a ruler and looking in a directory to find out a journalist’s coordinates. Over the years, the industry has continuously evolved – but, with the tidal wave of technology, the entire PR fraternity has had to rethink its strategy beyond traditional media.
With newer channels of communication, PR practitioners have had to think beyond just securing coverage and strategically focus on integrating the trifecta of channels (i.e. paid, earned and owned media – including social media and content marketing) to reach wider audiences.
Technology has undoubtedly changed the way businesses and individuals communicate. As technology has become more interconnected and transcended into the physical world, communication has also followed suit.
The public relations industry has evolved and the way people communicate has changed, And the best firms have not focused on tactics, but rather on business goals and adopting the appropriate strategic approaches to
Unique communications market
In India, these changes have been particularly challenging. Our communications market is unique in the world. India plays host to 1.2 billion people – and over 20
However, with roughly 462 million
Finally, there are also over 1600 satellite channels to contend with – approximately a quarter of which are news platforms. Put simply, India represents a changing media landscape of almost overwhelming diversity of audiences and platforms.
In navigating these changes and platforms, however, there has emerged one consistent requirement for communicators – a need for cutting-edge content. Content that is original, snack-able (in different formats and across different platforms) – and, of course, content that appeals to audiences. In essence, a need for compelling storytelling. While a need admittedly being confronted in markets and industries across the world, it’s a need of especial significance to those working within India’s uniquely diverse communications market.
To truly win over modern Indian audiences, brands need to understand that
The use of video,
The importance of emotional, authentic, compelling storytelling is becoming increasingly
Our world has changed. It’s less insular, more global, and more interconnected. While some of us still prefer to read a paperback or to have a magazine or daily newspaper in our hands, the world has gone digital. Long gone are the days when we would hear big stories breaking only via news broadcasts or newspapers. Consumers are now also switching to social media to get their daily newsfeed of what’s happening – in their society and in the world at large.
While some may see this change as cumbersome, I’ve seen this as a huge opportunity for brands, PR
Brands have become thought leaders
Through social media, brands have ensured
Research indicates that, as far back as 2013, approximately 80% of journalists were investigating their stories on social media*. Today, if you can build hype around your brand on social channels, then it’s likely the media will pick up the story. PR agencies have
Integrated communication roles
Digital and social media have blurred the lines between marketing and PR functions, creating a need for more integrated communication roles. As a result, the PR umbrella has come to encompass paid, earned and owned media – including social media and content marketing.
As the media landscape has changed, marketers have needed to change their strategies to reach their target markets. With changing technology and social media platforms, less cash flow is being budgeted for traditional media such as magazines and more money is budgeted for “new media”. Regardless of the type of media used, PR experts need to use integrated marketing communications to deliver one consistent message to audiences.
This expanded PR toolbox opens the door for PR professionals to drive their messages, reach larger audiences, and deliver stronger results. But, only with the right content. Whether engaging through print media, live streams or social channels, compelling storytelling will likely always be the key determinant of success in our industry.
If there has been a single campaign that has demonstrated this to me, it has been our ongoing work with award-winning documentary Daughters of Mother India. If you’re unfamiliar, this documentary captured the aftermath of the brutal rape of Nirbhaya – a 23-year-old student from Delhi. At Weber Shandwick, we saw Daughters of Mother India as an opportunity to challenge the status quo and help change
To do so, we partnered with director Vibha Bakshi pro bono and used Daughters of Mother India as a foundation to communicate the idea of a larger social movement around valuing women. In keeping with the diverse audiences of the Indian market, we
While the campaign continues, the impact to date has been tremendous. The Indian police academy has made the film mandatory viewing (as have 163 Jesuit schools). The government of Maharashtra created three
The success of our work with Daughters of Mother India has only strengthened our resolve to present rich, compelling stories through our work – even as we do so across an increasingly diverse range of media. Our latest campaign Feed the Future Now is a movement for social change that aims to provide five billion meals to malnourished children by 2020.
It is based on the premise that every child deserves a nutritious diet, a fulfilling
We are envisioning a seminal movement that will bring everyone together to pledge to the cause of ‘Nourished India, Educated India’. As with Daughters of Mother India, it’s a campaign delivered across many platforms but grounded by an essential focus on compelling, evocative storytelling.
In the end, it will always be important for PR professionals to remember that focus. While communication platforms will change, audiences move and mediums evolve – the core of what we do will always be to deliver a compelling and effective story. Regardless of how technology shifts, audiences will always connect with genuine, compelling, human stories.
*Cision & Canterbury Christ Church University’s Global Social Journalism Study 2013.
Valerie Pinto is CEO of Weber Shandwick India. Under her leadership, the firm has won several leading awards for iconic campaigns, including PR Week’s 2017 Global Campaign of the Year for its work supporting the documentary Daughters of Mother India.mail the author
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