My language, My rules: Integrating Vernacular Languages in Public Relations in India

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’

Nelson Mandela

With 23 major languages in India, written in 13 different scripts, with over 720 dialects, linguistic diversity has never been a bigger challenge for public relations professionals anywhere in the world.

There are sound reasons for the existence of such diverse languages, yet most public relations companies appear to be intimidated by the complexity of the socio-demographic landscape.

Public relations executives swear by taking the safe route and cater for majority understanding, creating all campaigns and communications in English, only to realise that perhaps they should also be valuing the vernacular, creating content in mother-tongue and cashing in on the ensuing return-on-investment (ROI).

Value of vernacular communications

Whether it is writing a press release or a pitch note, authored articles or trend stories, use of effective vernacular communication in public relations helps inculcate cultural insight, nuance, and context. It helps a PR manager show that their client and the brand understand and resonate with their consumers.

Vernacular public relations can help build long-lasting and profitable relationships of trust with their market. Vernacular communication has the potential to add huge value to a brand. Global brands can successfully localise, and local brands can become more relevant to their target market if they talk in the language their customers can relate to.

Using local language helps in ensuring a high level of engagement, respect, and understanding of the targeted customer. The emotional connect that vernacular comments, quotes bring has a positive impact on the overall brand equity.

Readers place extra value on native advertising and place trust in it in a way that they may not necessarily feel about an English campaign, as most people in the country still converse and often think, in their mother-tongue. Talking in their mother tongue instils a sense of pride and ownership which far outweighs the initial investment of creating a vernacular campaign.

Innovation in Public Relations in the era of globalisation

Vernacular public relations offers an opportunity to view a PR campaign from a new angle and provides a lot of scope for true innovations in the way communications are handled.

The world is becoming a global market for companies who have a common goal- to sell their products or services to as many consumers as possible. Globalisation also means that companies are now addressing an incredibly diverse target, with many different languages, and more importantly- cultures. International Public relations in the new millennium is about understanding, accommodating and harnessing the cultural differences for global brand building.

Telecommunication (Telcos) , consumer durable companies as well as FMCG companies today engage with the consumer speaking a language of the masses.

K2 communications recently achieved noteworthy success for a healthcare client by refocusing the PR strategy with a focus on vernacular media. By retargeting the release with regional translated press releases, the client witnessed astounding ROI on their PR efforts in a short period of time.

Vernacular Public Relations- a must have across all mediums

Native public relations is significant because the target audience is given eh content they want to consume. The challenge on content creation for vernacular language is on the written side, especially for native quotes, comments, and press releases. From the cost perspective as well, it is easier and cheaper to create vernacular language content. Your target audience no longer wants just to read, they want to watch contextual, real-time, user-generated content.

In a country where only 10% of total population interacts in English, and only 74% are literate, the message from a PR desk needs to jump through several hoops of communication distortion- illiteracy, lack of connecting, contextual misunderstanding or pure ignorance. The challenge is to remain impactful, relevant and cross the language barrier to reach the target audience without distorting the core values of a brand.

Vernacular content is also becoming a big mantra for successful digital marketing. Traditional PR methods neither expect nor ask the audience to think. However, they do want the public to respond- a feeling, an impression, a desire, and finally a commitment to take some action but ironically, unless all the fodder conveyed in a language the target understands, it does not result in any thought.

To effectively influence attitudes,  and outcomes in the public domain, including the crucial public opinion and reputation management, PR executives must keep a tab on the local pulse.

According to a 2017 report by KPMG and Google, “Indian Languages — Defining India’s Internet,” there were 234 million Indian-language internet users and 175 million English users in 2016. By 2021, the gap between the two groups is expected to widen. Users of Indian languages are expected to more than double to 536 million, while English users will increase to only 199 million. Nine out of 10 new internet users between 2016 and 2021 will use local languages, said the report. (Source)

As the Indian technology industry builds the internet for the next 1 billion non-English users friendlier public relations communication strategies are the only way forward for the brands looking to reach out.

It, therefore, makes business sense for Public relations companies to encourage their clients to become pan-Indian, linguistically.

  • Additional Resource: Ordinary People Can Reason: A Rhetorical Case for including Vernacular Voices in Ethical Public Relations Practice, Calvin L. Troup Journal of Business Ethics Vol. 87, No. 4 (Jul. 2009), pp. 441-453

  • Image source: Mashable India

    About the Author:

    Bulbul Satsangi – She is a Digital Strategy Consultant at K2 Communications Pvt. Ltd. A Finance professional in her previous avatar, Bulbul, entered the arena of content writing to soothe her creative energy. In the past 5 years, she has worked on all the aspects of the internet and helped many businesses establish their online identity.

Why current scenario of the Indian media market requires PR agencies to do self PR?

According to a recent report released by the Public Relations Consultants Associations of India (PRCAI), the PR Industry in the country grew by 18% in the year 2017 with digital, social media and content-driven campaigns contributing as much as 29% of the revenue for the PR firms. (Source)  The report further shows that the industry is expected to touch Rs. 2, 100 crores by the year 2020. Several sectors such as retail, automobile, and FMCG are currently the key revenue generators for the PR firms and are driving its growth.

Although the industry is witnessing a boom, the awareness about the industry and its services are still at a very nascent stage. In India, the industry is still budding, and its services are often confused with advertising. Consumed with securing coverage for clients, PRs are notoriously bad at promoting their agencies and are often underselling themselves. This happens to be one of the biggest dilemma PR companies are facing today.

The devotion to our clients and their products allows us to give the best in class service and deliver them adequate representation in their industries. However, the same is not repeated when it comes to service ourselves.

Today, Self-promotion for PR industries is just as important as securing successes for others. PRing in the current scenario doesn’t always refer to advocating for puff pieces.

An engaging video, content, online and offline social media campaign can not only help in getting traction for the company’s website but can also increase its awareness among the several stakeholders.

The world is moving beyond press releases and press conferences, and this highlights on the need for PR agencies to adopt an integrated approach to self PR. Taking measures to attract new audiences, building the reputations of our agencies, and increasing the understanding and awareness about the industry will also ensure in bringing an appreciation of PR as a whole.

Promoting our work also leads to better client relationships and helps in boosting the morale of the company. A case study on how an agency successfully managed a crisis if promoted across all media channels, for example, not only brings the agency in the limelight but also showcases the hard work and effort of the team, bringing them more recognition. Acknowledgment of the work done by the employees and their contribution towards the company’s success not only promotes happy culture in the company but also help in garnering the interest of the new clients and employees. Talent retention is one of the key challenges which the industry faces today and thus a ‘slap on the back’ by both the internal and external stakeholder’s acts as a confidence booster leading higher employee retention.

Experts in reputation management communications consultancy, brand building, content marketing, and social media, we as Public Relations representatives understand how the media works. It is time that agencies utilised these skills to benefit their organizations.

How should agencies adopt Self- PR?

  1. Allocating budget and resources for marketing the agency
  2. Brainstorm the story angles on which you like to promote your agency
  3. Sharing the success stories, media clips, testimonials and employee experiences on all the social media handles of the company including WhatsApp and Instagram
  4. Participating in industry stories if the company following unique employee-friendly practices, undertaking CSR activities and adopting any green initiatives etc.
  5. Making use of several innovative social media tools such as GIF’s, memes to put forward your views about a recent political, social or an industrial issue.
  6. Organizing summits featuring experts and leaders in the domain of marketing and

Communications to give insight to the people about the PR industry

‘If I were down to my last dollar I would spend it on public relations’ said Bill Gates. What we as the PR industry should realize is that he did not just mean it for his organization, but this is very much applicable to the PR industry as a whole.

Background Photos from <a href=”https://pngtree.com/freebackground/business-technology-background-material_415885.html”>pngtree.com</a>

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

Who is writing the new code for Public Relations?

Public Relations professionals are tasked with a paradoxical feat- “How to create brands that are “human” and relatable to their customers, yet, employ the latest technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning into their strategies and services?”

We live in a fast-paced technology-enabled world where both- business and personal life is trying to thrive in a socially charged atmosphere. My truism could be another person’s “fake news.” Confrontation on social media is the latest game we all play, and any public comment could be misrepresented or misinterpreted, leading to serious tarnishing of a business’s reputation and brand.

A negative digital footprint which is the result of a single misstep on social media platforms used to spread messages far and wide may follow the company, the brand, and the leaders forever.

Companies and businesses are being extra cautious of what they do or say, but at the same time, they are vying for their customer’s attention. And while they struggle to gain mindshare as well as market share, they look for newer, creative ways to cut the noise and make their story an interesting value proposition for their customers. All this while the competitors are waiting with bated breath to pounce at a small error or copy their every move.

Who is a Communications Officer?

A CO/ CCO is a company’s eyes, ears, and mouthpiece to the outside world. They are actively engaged with employees, customers, partners, investors, media and other stakeholders and are in the best position to effectively manage a brand’s reputation.

By monitoring the pulse of the market, CO’s predict future trends or issues that might impact the business.

How the present scenario affects a CCO’s job ?

The role of the CO is not just restricted to generate attention and positive press coverage for the company anymore. The person at the help has to promote, protect and preserve the brand’s reputation.

In today’s high-tech, aggressive environment, protection needs to take precedence over promotion.

Apart from traditional media management, CO today has to broaden the scope of responsibilities to include non-traditional media engagement like establishing a strong social media presence and having more direct interactions with customers.

Today’s customers make choices about a brand based on criteria that go way beyond product features and price. Therefore, the communications with this audience, as well as internal communications within the company have to be expertly engineered by the communications officer.

Today, public relations for companies and businesses is all about creating a culture and vision that exists within as well as outside the organisation. A brand success story that everyone loves to be a part of and contribute.

6 Steps that CCO’s can take for an effective PR strategy

  1. Convey the vision & values of the company- Knowing what makes a company stand apart is important for today’s customers and is a part of a purchase decision. The CO has to share the company’s vision, purpose, values, belief, and strategy in a story that resonates with its customers.
  2. Engaging and empowering employees- Employees are the living breathing advertisements of a company’s corporate values.CO has to ensure that employees speak with one voice on the company’s vision and goals and has to collaborate with human resources and other functions to instil pride in the company they represent.
  3. Modernising the approach towards traditional media- The CO has to ensure that traditional media, especially the outlets that regularly cover industry news have a solid relationship. To make sure the company stays true to its character and values while shaping public opinion, the CO has to maintain a positive relationship with traditional media.
  4. Take the lead on owned media- Strong Co’s don’t wait on the sidelines for someone else to engage with their business, they take the lead with compelling digital content and attract new customers while maintaining a relationship with existing ones. Leading the pack to develop and deploy thought leadership to influence perception and behaviours.
  5. Double up as the communications coach– Not every one of the top brass in the company is an expert communicator. The CO may have to guide the senior management on how they can manage their own personal brand, and how to engage with various stakeholders to maintain consistency
  6. Take risks-The only risk to fear is the risk you didn’t take.” Nothing great can happen without risk. The CO challenges conventional wisdom, seek out opportunities that competitors might find too risky to attempt and ask uncomfortable questions. Leading by example, and providing support and counsel to the CEO and leadership team without fear is one of the most essential traits today.

Now more than ever, strong communications counsel and assessment of opportunities and threats for the company from the CCO is of chief importance to establish an impactful PR strategy.

With 15 years of experience in managing top-class PR for its clients, K2 has established itself as a one-stop solution provider for all PR related services. Contact us today!

About the Author:

Bulbul Satsangi – She is a Digital Strategy Consultant at K2 Communications Pvt. Ltd. A Finance professional in her previous avatar, Bulbul, entered the arena of content writing to soothe her creative energy. In the past 5 years, she has worked on all the aspects of the internet and helped many businesses establish their online identity.

PR trends 2017: Blurring lines of PR

PR has always evolved from chasing print media clippings for clients to securing a bite on visual media. But now digital media has changed the game forever. PR today is crossing over to its allied fields of marketing and advertising to conjoin and form a hybrid that can cater to the promotional needs of any company. This change has been brought about by the increasing advent of Internet and social media on the lives of consumers. If you aren’t on the Internet, you don’t exist at all. This is the raging new trend of the millennium and social media is its flag-bearer. The 450 million profiles on LinkedIn, 1.94 billion active users on Facebook, 328 million active users on Twitter–in addition to the millions on other micro-blogging and social media platforms–stand proof to the rising influence of social media.

You cannot reach your target audience unless you stay on top of the Google search results; and you won’t be on top of the Google search results if your blog posts, Facebook comments and Tweets don’t make the grade.

How does this connect to PR? Everything in the promotional space eventually entwines with PR. We need to understand how in the age of online adverts and digital marketing campaigns PR has been blending with various domains.

Content is your skeleton

High-quality content is a game changer in today’s SEO-driven content. Businesses that have a long form content and high-quality backlinks are ranked higher by Google according to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google. Today marketing and social media marketing have already stepped in to fill this need. But PR should ensure that quality content also follows the same route–bridging the gap between PR and marketing content. Good content can generate organic traffic into the sites and lift their search engine ranking. To succeed in the digital age, PR must generate quality content on social media, blogs and websites. It can catapult the ranking of the company on Google search engine.

PR, Digital Marketing and online reputation

Imagine you are selling a product and go all out on marketing. Chances are even when your online & outdoor advertising and marketing efforts pay off, the customer would first want to check product reviews. 81% of the customers read reviews online before making purchases according to Hubspot. Here is where your PR comes to play: A good set of reviews from reputed blogs, positive news articles on the company, a widely pronounced social media presence can make all the difference. Customers want an assurance that the product is good and the company has a visible presence in the market. Moreover, today’s customers also feel uneasy about bad ethics. They want to know where their money goes. Sustainability stories, stories on ethical practices of the company and corporate social responsibility all play a good role. PR not only fits the bill here but guides marketing too with such content.

 Image integration

A picture speaks better than words. Per a Backlinko study, using a single image within the content can raise search engine rankings. Most of the content today is filled with pictorials. Also, content creators opt for certified content-shareable nuggets of content. Unlike in the past when only advertising and marketing teams cared for such things, today PR also pays the same attention to pictorial details in their online content. Besides, social media PR is never complete without graphics. This is where PR works alongside with the creative and ad agencies to achieve its goals.

Social media marketing or social media PR?

Social media marketing focuses on how the brand wants to be projected, but social media PR engages influencers to push brand messaging. But where do you draw the line? Well, you don’t. Both have a job to do and make a perfect soul mate to each other. Customers like creative representations of a brand but also want to hear what others are saying about it. This can happen on the same platform fusing both verticals and offers the end benefit to the brand.

The sweeping march of social media has made cross-field working inevitable. Social media’s multidimensional oneness has weaved marketing disciplines together for a better brand promotion