Covid 19 and need for factual news|K2 Communications

COVID-19-the virus that brought back the era of factual news

The audiences across the country and demographics have tuned out due to sheer exhaustion. Here’s how a journalist turned PR pro looks at the journey for media coverage and how Covid-19 has brought the need for factual news in India to the forefront.

This is my 3rd year as a media and public relations strategist, offering my expertise to several brands including healthcare brands. Neither in my present nor in my previous journalist Avatar, I was testimony to a world that’s been turned over on its axis. The abnormality has only generated a revived appetite – a ravenous urge to feed on facts.

 

When I started as a journalist in 1997, we barely had internet, and smartphones were a distant dream. News and fact-based reporting were deeply valued across the country, and Twitterati didn’t even exist. Our world expanded beyond the mandatory 280 characters, and we were able to fit in our thoughts and opinions in a more elaborate, expressive manner.

 

My Views on News

It gave me immense pride to work in the news business. I was chasing real stories that mattered. It was when I decided to shift my career from news to public relations, the lines of journalism and marketing began to blur. I couldn’t ignore the mushrooming media platforms popping up around me, each having a different way of communicating to its audience. The content suddenly became king, but also a pauper since it had to be stretched, pulled, hashed, and hashtagged to make its presence felt in the feeding frenzy.

 

To add to my confoundment, the digital age and the “clickbait” side of business suddenly started taking priority over authentic, factual information. Graphics and videos started replacing words and editorialized programming took precedence over hard news. In the era of extensive graphic consumption, people can now see what they want to see, customized, and packaged to align with their individual personal values and beliefs.

 

Fast forward to 2020, and Covid-19 suddenly revamped the media landscape.

 

People sat up and started looking for the most relevant, accurate, and current information to protect themselves and their families. Be it the fear factor or fatigue, audiences no longer want the noise, they have again begun to prefer science over sensationalism, facts over fiction.

From the healthcare segment perspective, never before has healthcare communications and PR been so important. The humane sides of stories of real people, from corona warriors, frontline workers to the average Indian, the stories have made a comeback.

 

Also see: Corporate Communications Guidebook for navigating Coronavirus Crisis

The recent episode of Ayurveda major, Patanjali is a case in point where we are truly experiencing not just an unprecedented awareness and hunger for truth, the government has also been extremely quick in responding and allaying any kind of fears related to misinformation. The brand had to backtrack not just its claims, but it will also need to rethink on building its reputation and authenticity for its future product launches and campaigns.

 

The revitalized need for creating a conducive news environment has been augmented by the deluge and speed of information about the virus. It was overwhelming and confusing to the extent that newsrooms have an added burden of getting it right the first time, to avoid classic foot-in-mouth situations later.

 

So, how do I see it all unfolding for healthcare public relations? In my opinion, it means that if healthcare organizations are looking to continue being a trusted resource, our responsibility is to help them get it right to disseminate information to the press. We should stick with medical expertise, authentic and corroborated data, and patient stories. The bottom line is to maintain the honesty and integrity of all the information going out of our desks while ensuring that we can meet the basic tenets of “old school” journalism. Healthcare pitches need to be humble, gentle with as little propaganda as possible, and should resonate with the public emotions.

 

As a journalist turned PR professional, the past three months have been our moment to rise to the occasion and to help the real healthcare heroes shine. Never before have I seen such a wonderful synergy between newsrooms and newsmakers. The theme – to provide correct information at all possible costs has been valued and respected across the stakeholders. The partnership between healthcare organizations, PR teams, and news and media channels has been heartening and satisfying.

 

This being said, I feel that we may have reached the peak of the coronavirus coverage curve. Unlocking has ensured that COVID-19 fatigue is blatantly visible in news coverage. The time has come for all of us to respond to the call of returning to normal life as we knew it in 2019. The demand for entertaining, lighter, feel-good stories is rising, giving a break from the data induced dark and gloomy news.

 

Limited Attention Spans and the New Normal

If I could take one silver lining from the past few months it would be the return of my first love – “journalism”. This phase has also shaken me and reminded several of my peers to stick to our mission as a healthcare PR content strategists. We cannot deviate from the larger picture and must give the “normal” a fair chance to return in the era of limited attention spans. Across the channel of communication, from the organizations to PR companies and news and media companies, we have all happily agreed to slow down, cut through the noise, seek the truth, and stick to stories that truly matter!

 

This hunger for authentic and factual news is a good sign as it enables PR professionals and journalists to stick to accuracy in the context of fake news that has gripped the vast social media including the WhatsApp messaging service. Though fake news is rampant, there are also quick rebuttals of erroneous data and information. This is absolutely essential in the context of a blurred distinction between real news and fake news. There are journalists who have taken the responsibility upon themselves as ‘fact-checkers’ and built agencies and organizations to curb fake news on the social media and web. In print, unlike social media, as there is limited space to carry news and information, there is a natural tendency to carry only news that matters and news that is truthful. While web and social media have taken over news disengagement, it would be prudent to still believe in the old values of Print Media, which is seen as the source of trust on public matters, while the fact-checking on social media goes on. This combination of trust of the old world and the fact-checking of the new world will go a long way in building a new service that is authentic.

 

 

E-Commerce: Evolution and Future 

Ecommerce shopping cart with logo of K2 communications

Few Insights

Worldwide e-commerce sales topped $3.5 trillion USD, an increase of approximately 18% from the year before. Ecommerce is expected to nearly double by 2023 to more than $6.5 billion. – Shopify 

Their combined market share was 90% in terms of merchandise volume, with Flipkart leading at 60-62% and Amazon India coming in at 28-30%. – Business insider 

As you are reading this thousands of orders are being placed on various online e-commerce platforms. A few clicks and almost 2 billion searchers of products and services around the world are set to receive their orders in a couple of days. 

Coronavirus situation has slackened the growth of almost all sectors, except for online retail. More and more buyers are hoping to save time in going out and handling cash/cards for making a purchase. 

Over the years, the eCommerce industry has grown huge with great innovations and development. Recently Reliance Jio led by Anil Ambani has launched “Jio Mart” which has revolutionized eCommerce space. It brings all the small Kirana stores under one digital roof. Small companies like Flipkart and Myntra have achieved success and have become towering giants in a booming market, ready to lock horns with their global competitors like Amazon and eBay. 

Amidst success stories, there are also some striking failures that can be attributed to the inability to move in step with innovation and variety in product offerings. The best example is Snapdeal which failed in 2017 due to poor service quality, marketing missteps, and inability to innovate in tandem with the industry growth. 

End of e-Commerce mushrooms?

Ecommerce has come a long way since its inception. There are numerous factors that affect business growth. The Indian government has been supporting small businesses to go digital and increase their customer reach. The number of internet users is growing rapidly. The smartphones are now available at throwaway prices, internet plans are really cheap. But, due to the industry competition with the market whales like Amazon, these eCommerce mushrooms which pop out overnight have to face a lot of competition. 

Moreover, because of the pandemic and limited movements, managing various aspects like invoicing, shipping, delivery, and returns is difficult and is riddled with several unseen and contingent factors. E-Commerce companies will have to go out of their way to provide their customers with the best services, despite the hurdles. Apart from the pandemic issues, advertisement, and marketing have become expensive, especially in these hard times. 

Check out our similar blog on the Education sector future: pre and post-COVID analysis.

Future of E-Commerce 

The Indian government is trying hard with digital India campaigns to provide the best online infrastructure and investments. The results are showing up as we see a lot of small internet-based startups coming up but its a long way towards glory, and capital funding, for these mushrooming startups. Below are the 3 most essential trends that you might observe in the future eCommerce industry. Any eCommerce startup with these doing might give a hit in the market with precise executions: 

  1. Innovation: Its the key to surviving in such a competitive market. Users need the best and simple UI with ad-free content. Of-course Ads are one of the ways to earn but the whole advertisement thing needs to be changed and the content should be worth watching. 
  2. Investment: Being a mushroom in the forest won’t work. They need to amplify the business and reach. Investment is a powerful factor to increase marketing, advertisement, and operations. And if it’s coming from a foreign investor then your product really does have the potential to fight with a market giant. 
  3. AI, Big Data, and Machine Learning: Data is of high importance in every industry. Your customers, suppliers, and competitors behave differently. And this data helps in planning your operations. Amazon in the west and Alibaba in the east are based on data-driven sales. Whereas, machine learning or AI, can help grow your Ad-system. It shows customers what they actually want to see. “Getting hooked-up” is what it does. 

This may seem like a perfect time to start an e-Commerce startup as more and more people have started accepting the new normal of shopping in the comfort of their homes. However, any fledgling company should be aware of the uncertainties and lack of innovative capabilities that could hamper their growth. 

Companies with Solid Business Models can weather the volatility storm

Companies with Solid Business Models can weather the volatility storm

crisis management during COVID

Only time will tell the impact of the fiscal stimulus whose zeros are still difficult to count, and the repercussions yet to be deciphered

While the US $ is slipping consistently and the worst recession is about to hit the world economy, India is going the self-reliant way.

Coronavirus crisis has put the decision-makers on a fast track, and the latest fiscal stimulus is like a shot in the arm.

Almost 10% of the nation’s GDP, the industry players across the sectors have applauded the measures taken, but are they “too little, too late”, only time will tell.

The ease of doing business in China is being looked upon with skepticism, India is poised to cash in on the opportunity with an investor-friendly environment. COVID 19 severely impacted economies worldwide, and most companies are finding their balance sheets stretched as cash flows are drying up.

This has resulted in significant erosion in the stock prices of some of them. The risk-averse stance of banking sectors had made it even more difficult for companies to raise capital. There doesn’t belie the fact that investors worldwide are flush with liquidity, and are willing to bet on the companies provided they fit the right benchmarks. A strong crisis management plan and a new improved business model can bring in investors.

If companies can convince investors about their growth story, competitive advantage, the reason for raising capital as well as the need for it, investors would not mind looking at the picking up a stake in exchange for capital.

The rating downgrades of certain erstwhile market leaders have proved once again that markets have always rewarded companies that plan to raise growth capital provided their capital structure is balanced, they have low leverage and arrange liquidity fast.

Perform or perish!

As the markets are going into a stabilizing zone, there will definitely be a strong appetite for fresh capital as well as profitable investment avenues. While there will be a surge in capital raising activities in the country, we will definitely witness an influx of funds. Investors would now be ready to go beyond due diligence and the fund-raising models which have relied on numbers will definitely consider reading between the lines.

In a nutshell, only those companies will attract the most capital which has strong fundamentals, a great crisis management plan, a transparent and future-forward business model, and a brand narrative that can help them overcome the doom and gloom of the past 6 months. Now is our chance to divert the cautious optimism of investors in our favour.

Click here to understand how social media can help your company come out of the crisis.

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.

Reputation management by K2 Communications published article by Shiv Devraaj for Reputation Today

The Art and Science of Reputation Management in PR

management Reputation management by K2 Communications published article by Shiv Devraaj for Reputation Today

58% of Fortune 500 executives believe PR reputation management should be a core part of every organisation’s marketing and branding strategy.*

Companies risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search results and 70% of potential customers with four or more negatives.*

70% of consumers state that they would avoid buying a product if they don’t like the company behind it.*

Reputation is an important intangible asset of any organisation from a small kiosk to a billion-dollar organisation. Reputation is entrusted not just to a CEO but to every stakeholder of the organisation. Most of the CEOs do think that it’s one of the major risk factors to be taken into consideration but, many of them don’t have the reputation risk plan in place.

Public relation is a discipline that looks after reputation.  A detailed PR reputation management plan and sustained effort are needed, to establish the brand the public wants to see, through media exposure. A PRO should take ownership of the whole crisis and help the company and senior executives and pull them out of the frying pan. The idea here is to identify the crisis, not just by focusing on what and how it has happened, but, what is at stake – reputation, the paramount, the future of the company.

How reputation is affected?

In a world so advanced, with digitalisation and social media being the untamable beasts – a single act of negligence by the company stakeholders can gain huge attention in minutes, causing the impact on a large scale and downgrade the reputation. The best example of this is the current situation, where the world is undergoing a crisis – COVID19. Every story is revolving around the Coronavirus, there is panic all around. The public is emotional and putting on company news over the pandemic reeks out of self-centeredness and could negatively affect the branding.

One bad tweet or a Facebook meme shared by a stakeholder can have a huge effect on search engines. Negative stories on social media and reviewing platforms can have a huge impact not just on the company’s reputation but also on Google’s search engine result pages.

Is reputation measurable?

It is an intangible asset just like air. It has value and stakeholders use it to compare to competitors. But, is it measurable?

Well, it is. But there is no exact formula or procedure. Many scholars and practitioners have been working on this, creating models. One of them is “Corporate Reputation Quotient”  by Charles Fombrun (from the US) and Cees van Riel (from the Netherlands), which measures six drivers contributing to corporate reputation –emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership,  workplace environment, financial performance, and social responsibility. 

The business-owners measure the effect of a reputation crisis. The share price is a crude measure, which affects the company’s market capitalization. It provides an instant picture of the company’s value amongst the public.

Reputation Rebuilding through PR

Given the importance of reputation management in this fast pacing interconnected world, a PRO needs to follow three “R” policy – Repair, Rebuild, and Recover. It can be done via traditional PR as well as online reputation management (ORM).

The first thought is to focus on how to repair the damage before it develops further into a market rumour. PR manager should ask clients to be transparent and project that transparency through positive stories. Being transparent and being positive to what is kept on the table by the customer or reviewer is risky. But in the long run, it’s a saviour. Once the crisis starts quelling, one should initiate the rebuilding process. The idea here is to build a positive public perception of the business by starting a fresh PR reputation management campaign both offline and online. Lastly, help recover the business by ensuring to mitigate the effect of any negative reputation bombs by continuously monitoring, rapid response, strategic SEO, social media listening, etc.

Creating a good reputation takes time and effort. Be transparent; never falsify who you are just so people like you.

This article was originally published in Reputation Today

*Resources

A Framework for measuring Corporate Reputation

https://moz.com/blog/new-data-reveals-67-of-consumers-are-influenced-by-online-reviews

https://www.webershandwick.com/uploads/news/files/InRepWeTrust_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

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.

Public Relations Officers guidelines for corporate communications department during coronavirus crisis

Corporate Communications guidebook for companies to navigate coronavirus crisis

Public relations and corporate communications

Communication has always been at the root of all solutions. More so, during the Coronavirus crisis, Corporate Communications managers have an extremely vital role to play. As the organizations are looking up for strong and steady communications leadership- it is critical that your Corporate Communications Department helps address imminent concerns regarding safety and survival, work on stabilizing the business in the short term, and helping position it for future recovery.

The spread of novel coronavirus is not just a world-wide humanitarian and economic crisis, the events are unprecedented, with large-scale block quarantines, border closings, widespread lockdowns, and social distancing.

As everyone is looking at action points to “flatten the curve”, organizations have also braced themselves into concrete steps to protect employees, customers, suppliers, and bottom lines. With some companies losing up to 75% of their revenues in a single quarter and digital connectivity playing a fundamental role in continuity, even survival, of business operations.

As work from home becomes a global reality due to the coronavirus crisis, the need for frequent, transparent, and more engaging communications with internal and external customers has become paramount.

Public Relations Officers guidelines for corporate communications department during coronavirus crisis

Shifting roles

With conditions changing daily, if not hourly, the uncertainty about the future has made the role of the Corporate Communications Department (CCD) extremely vital for survival in the long term. The Public Relations Officer, or PRO for short, is the leader, after all, who most directly contributes to the intellectual capital of the company, the true strength of any organization.

Employees, investors, as well as all the contributors in the growth of the company in conducive times, must be kept closer now more than ever. Our experience in helping clients through both internal and external crises offers valuable actionable insights about the actions; PROs should take in the wake of the pandemic to put their companies on a sound footing and help reduce some of the fear and uncertainty.

 

Rewriting the communications code of conduct

Our in-house research team has reviewed a lot of case studies and the one thing that has come up on top is that the companies with strong communication fundamentals outperformed their competitors while coming out of previous crises –humanitarian, economic as well as socio-political.

While the present pandemic has been unprecedented and an entirely new rule book is being formed- with a new genre of communications being the new normal. Here are some points to ponder for communications during the Coronavirus Crisis –

 

Persistence and perseverance- How to address the imminent crisis

Companies have had to close their doors, albeit temporarily as the COVID-19 spread – leaving them under severe liquidity crunch and financial distress. As consumers are unable to make discretionary purchases, the communications team’s top responsibility is to straighten the messages going out. Now is not the time to hide behind the desks and cabins, but to roll up your sleeves and sit down with the marketing team and chalk out an action plan. Transparency in conveying the customers about your constraints in a tone that is emphatic yet sympathetic should be the core action plan.

 

Scenario planning

PROs can develop different scenarios based on the situations and potential paths of the spread, and roll out an internal as well as external communications plan.

A crisis is the most suitable time to bring out the leadership mettle. A leader who can be seen as standing with his team and managing the various challenges leading from the front would be perceived as strong, committed, and successful in all circumstances- even when the tides turn back in your favour! Bring out the small success stories and random acts of kindness as well as grit and determination of your team. From the office staff that is managing calls from home to finance team tapping into whatever available resources, your internal and external customers, as well as investors, would like to know how your team is facing the obstacles head-on.

 

Frameworking

All the teams of your company- finance, marketing, operations, and strategy, would need to rely on a range of scenario frameworks rather than individual KRAs. As different leaders present their point of view about two or maybe more scenario frameworks with multiple eventualities, it’s the role of the communications manager to come up with a uniform outlook that can include all concerns expressed as well as help articulate clear thresholds or trigger points or alternative action plans.

 

A well-networked professional PR company can bring the much needed unbiased approach to your communications strategy. Public relations firms that are experienced in crisis management have their ears to the ground as well as help cultivate excellent media relations to boost its reach and potential- reducing PROs’ concern of reaching the right platform at the right time to a considerable extent.

The goal should be to focus on the crisis’s actual and projected effects on the company, the actions being taken to protect the business interests and any changes to earlier earnings commitments.

Communication has always been the key to resolve any tricky situation, and the current situation is no different from the same. Connections with investors, suppliers, employees, as well as customers, are essential to demonstrate that the leadership is taking fast and resolute action based on their best understanding of the situation as well as their efforts.

A strategic communications plan worked out with the help of your public relations expert will help set a formal chain of command as well as priorities throughout the organization as well as act as a reinforcement of the leadership communiqué for all departments and business units to understand “why this matters now” and what is their specific role.

In order to be termed “Resilients” upon the return post this crisis, a strong communications strategy is the way forward.

Click here to understand more about how your company can weather out the pandemic and rise up a brand

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.

Golden Chariot- A Golden Opportunity to test our PR mettle

Golden Chariot- A Golden Opportunity to test our PR mettle

 

“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad”

Richard Branson

The news that Indian Railways is going to resume The Golden Chariot – an alternative for Southern India to the Palace on Wheels for Golden Triangle up in the north, brought back a litany of memories of an uphill task that our team executed to perfection.

Déjà vu

Almost a decade ago, K2 Communications Pvt Ltd was proud to be associated with KSTDC to help position Karnataka Government’s gem-in-crown project -‘The Golden Chariot’- in a higher brand-bracket. Through a well-chalked out process for Press and Media Relations, our PR team was able to bring out the best-known features of the brand, and garner a lot of positive press publicity with media junkets that ensured experience traveling.

Press and Media Activity results by K2 Communications for The Golden Chariot train by Indian Railways

The game plan that our team came up with had three major milestones

  1. Reinforcing brand ‘The Golden Chariot’, underlining luxury, comfort-and high-end fine dining traditions onboard a running tourist train
  2. Positioning ‘The Golden Chariot’ as the ultimate luxurious travel on wheels with real value for money proposition in terms of travel, but without losing its ‘high-end’ charm.
  3. The popularization of the brand to reach out to domestic as well as international tourists

The proof of the pudding:

With our concerted efforts to organize a press contingent(media junket) to travel on-board and report a firsthand experience to the public, as well as ensuring that the postponement of the launch didn’t dampen the enthusiasm and media frenzy that was created, our team managed to pull off this feat and helped establish the brand organically. The service received a lot of rave reviews in India as well as internationally.

Its relaunch is indeed welcome news for travelers, heritage enthusiasts, as well as Indian Railways, as it is also a much-needed measure to promote the culturally rich heritage of the Southern peninsula with a route covering myriad destinations like Bandipur National Park, Mysore, Halebidu, Chikmagalur, Hampi, Badami-Pattadakal-Aihole and Goa in a week-long sojourn.

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.

Get Real- You don’t need that stole/jacket/pullover here!

Get Real- You don’t need that stole/jacket/pullover here!

Are you on your pullovers when you enter your office? Are you in it throughout your day when your office A/c that supposedly conditions the temperature is playing a role?

You have come to the right place! Yes, we finally thought of you and decided to be vocal about the warm fashionwear in a city like Bangalore! Don’t worry we are all dead confused and on the same page when it comes to deciding our daily office wears and then we are feeling- why all that effort when we have to be inside our pullovers, jackets, stoles- throughout the day!

Early mornings are turning Bangaloreans into Eskimos as they rush out to their work stations. Is it really worth it? Or they are just boastful about the pleasant weather that the city offers to them? May be with Bangalore winters just laying over a pleasant atmosphere over the city is constantly making its residents crave for the chilled to the bone kind of winters which the northern cities of the country are still experiencing.

And when these Eskimos reach their office premises they are under the freezing A.C with their extra layers on. Maybe they are just trying to vicariously enjoy how a hill station feels a far-out land which they can just dream of sitting in their office chairs a tough scheduled day! Or is it the cloudy, summery, and confusing weather and equally confusing economy that they can’t help but gloom to? Let’s not! It’s time we come up with some colors as we greet the day and be on our best versions!

While having this feeling cold-mode on to beat the office cold that is quite artificially generated and entirely man-made, we often forget that it is making us go soft on our crisp dressing and on the point fashion sense.

Smart dressing is one of the key aspects of the PR industry. A PR professional being out there as an opinion leader is marked by his or her smart dressing sense. We can never overlook that! Moreover, going to work in an outfit that makes us look good also gives us that confidence in our body language and gives us a cutting edge to face our hectic days.

‘I have an open-door policy, but only until the air conditioner is repaired.’

It’s a good idea to be unfazed and avoid overdressing for the sake of weather. Let’s be free and conquer the world where you are more confident being yourself in your best outfit.

It’s just super confusing to us humans when we first install A/Cs in offices and homes, and then invest in warm clothing in a pleasantly weathered city like Bangalore during winters. It is not just confusing, but absurd as well as we are not only wasting electricity, we are not using the already existing beautiful weather and creating an artificial, uncomfortable eco-system to live in. Aren’t the escalated global warming issues enough for us? Cutting on A/Cs would surely make it better for mother Earth if not for the office Eskimos.

Though it’s true that air-conditioned offices are a retreat to steam off the incessant deadline pressure, and they also help cool down heated discussions by reducing the blahs and replacing them with brrrs, this AC culture is not healthy, for the climatic condition or our personality.

Reducing the usage of A/cs makes a big difference in the emission of the greenhouse gases resulting in the planet-warming to as trivial as not cloaking our crisp professional outfits. Hence, keeping us more sharp and confident in our professional outcomes and making others feel less sick about our presence and be healthier and happier!

About the author:

Koyel Saha – She is an MA in Media & Communication Studies from Christ University, Bangalore, has worked in corporate communications, social media, and marketing. She has been an integral part of content generation teams in her previous roles. At K2 Communications, she is currently working as Account Manager, and her flavourful writing skills and sharp as tack insights have successfully made a mark.

The first rule of Entrepreneurship- Cultivate meaningful friendships!

Public relations firm K2 communications provides supports to companies, businesses and CEOs for image management and crisis handling. Our wet-blanketing strategies are drawn from years of experience in the field of PR
Looking for support before its too late?http://www.k2communications.in/Contact-us.html

So much has been said and written about the legacy Mr. V G Siddhartha, Founder, and CMD, Cafe Coffee Day has left behind. His entrepreneurial skills are eulogized. The odd interviews of this extremely shy and reticent man are being shared by news channel lucky enough to get him to speak then.

The man might have thought that this is the end, but his story has just begun.

Things are entirely different and much easier to manage when you are just a nobody with eyes full of dreams. There are more than 250000 coffee growers in India. No one thought of packaging it as a beverage and serve it in style before a maverick Siddhartha asked his father to play the gamble on him. Little did he know that he would be making cafes a cult, and drinking coffee an ultimate style statement! Young or old, everyone felt that a lot could happen over coffee. And for a young Siddhartha, a lot did happen.

When you follow your dreams so passionately, you are bound to climb the ladder of success. But while you are racing ahead and reaching to the top, it does get lonelier and lonelier. There is no sane voice except yours to guide you. No wonder that VGS found himself surrounded with people who were ready to invest in his dreams, but no one to share his nightmares.

It does get lonely at the top. But is this the way a genuine, hard-working man deals with the allegations, blames and censure coming his way?

Thousands of coffee growers, who pledged to sell their crop only to VGS, are now stunned. They pledged allegiance because they had faith in the man, his stature, and his integrity. In the last 16 years of my career as a PR professional, I have never come across a CEO who would defend his honor with his life.

It also makes me think of the futility of it all. We all have heard- “Winners never quit, quitters never win.” Isn’t jumping off a bridge, leaving a confounded 5000+  employees, a bereaved family and old parents too numb to react, quitting?

What could make a man, who remained undeterred with so many lives’ challenges, the threat from global competitors, literally jump off the cliff? Wasn’t there a better way?

As the head of a 23-year-old company, having more than 5000 employees and a revenue of Rs 4,331 crores (US$630 million) in 17-18, you have a public image to live by. People looked up to VGS as a beacon of hope, possibilities, and immense desire to succeed. Scores of entrepreneurial dreams were seen, drafted, and executed in the coffee shops he set up. A lot did happen over coffee for several generations, which found common ground to come together and share a cup of Joe.

It’s hard not to see the stark irony – There was another Siddhartha who relinquished his thrown, his riches, and his newborn- in search of greater knowledge. His restlessness to achieve oneness with the Supreme being fuelled his quest for wisdom, earning him the title of Buddha the enlightened one. He did come back to impart whatever he learned- selflessly giving back to the very same society that waited patiently for him, looked up to him.

 And then there is the Siddhartha of today, who took the extreme step, never to return — leaving a huge question mark over his legacy.

Could he hear the same voice in his head that had always guided him till now?

Was it so lonely at the top that he didn’t have a single friend who had no interest in his business and his success? Someone who wasn’t looking for a partnership, but just a genuine, innocent friendship- someone he could open up his heart to?

 Before we say that the system failed him, we must remember that we, as a society, failed him. In the whole world, there wasn’t a single person who could understand what the man was going through, someone he could trust to reach out to, who could tell him not to take the extreme step and that there is always a way out.

With my extensive experience and long term relationships with pivotal clients, I can vouch for the fact that you will not have a greater friendship than a fearless PR manager by your side. In more ways than one, PR people tell you what you NEED to hear, rather than just beating your drum to create enough noise. Because we are the ones, who need to deal with crises for you, help in image enhancement, and creation of long-term relationships.

Even before I realized PR was my calling, I had always been big on cultivating lifetime friendships. I am still in touch with my childhood friends, my high school and college batchmates,ex-colleagues, employees and have always been there long before we all moved to social media.

I have realized that the work I do in PR is a lot like what it takes to cultivate good friendships. To me, relationships come first, and profit comes later. And there are quite a few PR principles that rely entirely on developing deep and lasting relationships.

A famous phrase goes- “Familiarity breeds contempt”. VGS was a friend to many, but no one was a friend to him, in the end, it seems. Going away in disgrace, leaving unanswered questions and not fighting back wasn’t something he would have wanted for himself if he had that one sane voice of a single friend, telling him to stop, breathe, and listen- There is always a better way!

VGS didn’t just rewrite entrepreneurship code in the country. He left a stark reminder for all the entrepreneurs- when you reach the top, make sure you have someone who has your back. Invest as much in your life and friends as you would in your business.

Entrepreneurship needs Friendships that rise above vested interests.

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.

Dare To Win- How We did it in PR

Entrepreneurship is a voyage of self-discovery, which requires the optimum blend of hard work, financial acumen, the right resources at the right time, timing and luck. And most importantly—pluck. I am reminded of Walt Disney’s quote here:

Entrepreneurship is a story of passion, joy, angst, learning and unlearning. It’s definitely not an easy journey and no one can teach you how to traverse this journey. While books and management programs can give you broad guidelines on how to run a business, they cannot prepare you for the road ahead.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

Courage was my ticket to hop onto the entrepreneurship bandwagon 16 years ago. As the chief driver of K2, I have had the proud privilege of steering the company through many ups and downs and twists and turns with fortitude, thus embracing success along the way.

We believe every courageous step counts and K2’s journey is ample testimony to that.

The name stands tall

Let me start from the very beginning. The name ‘K2 Communications’ was coined after several deliberations, for we wanted a bold name that would stand the test of time.

Our gutsy vision of being second to none was inspired by the second highest peak in the world K2. ‘K2’ stands for ‘Knowledge Kingdom’, for I believe PR is all about knowledge. Over the years, the K2 team has developed a wisdom-based approach coupled with an uncompromising attitude towards ethical practices, which has earned the company a good reputation in the business.

Courage runs in our team

K2 has always believed in injecting fresh blood into the system, as new people bring in fresh

perspectives and the ability to shake established patterns. Whether it is working with clients or the media, our team has always risen to the challenge with audacity and confidence.

In the last 16 years, K2 has built an army of talented people who can adapt to any environment. This has helped us bag marquee clients like Wipro and Reliance Communications and subsequently live up to their expectation in every way.

Adapting to changes

The PR landscape is vastly different from what it was when we started our journey. The money market in 2003 was tight, and PR did not woo investors’ attention. But we did not let this deter our resolve to win as we managed to not only attract attention but also carve a defining niche for ourselves.

PR is all about packaging & managing information flow. A PR professional should know to converse well and mingle within the industry and become popular amongst the media. A well informed PR executive is most preferred by the client and media alike.

With the changing landscape in PR and social media taking a centre stage , a skill set in Digital Marketing and creative content is gaining momentum and today’s need of hour for all PR entrepreneurs.

The new millennium saw us ride through the dotcom bubble burst and recession subsequently with smart strategies and determination and emerged triumphant. 

Today, we are witnessing challenges of a different kind. The technology revolution is disrupting the industry in mind-blowing proportions and we are gearing ourselves to face a world where AI, IoT and blockchain will soon become the norm.

Prepping for the road ahead

As K2 stands at the cusp of an exciting growth trajectory, there is only one way forward: arise and adapt! We are eager to innovate and improvise to stay relevant and remain on top of the game. We are ever ready to learn—from experience and from the best in the business.  We will be the change the world wants to see. With digital media taking center-stage,we are investing in upskilling ourselves in social media marketing and generating creative content.

Needless to say that, in all this, we will dare to go that one step forward and create significant impact. But let me assure you that, even as we embrace new tech and skills,there will be no compromise on core hygiene factors such as commitment toquality and ethics and nurturing long-term relationships.

Birthdays are also a reminder to express our sincere gratitude to all our stakeholders- media, clients, partners, and peers, for their contribution in building this institution. It would be ungracious of me if I didn’t thank the K2 alumni, former colleagues, who have contributed in building our brand and are still hoisting our flag high while on their journey to different milestones. As we keep building fond memories, here at K2, every stone that paved the way to success matters. Thank you all for growing in this journey together!

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.

Consumer PR- No, it’s not Marketing!

How Consumer PR is different from marketing. By K2 Communications.
Public Relations is the missing piece of the puzzle to marketing efforts in reaching out to consumers.

Public relations revolve around the use of news and content to put forth a message about a product, a business, an organization or an endeavour using an effective medium to reach out to consumers. Over the years, PR has taken a lot of faces depending on the effectiveness of the communication channels. Public relations are all about storytelling and shaping a company’s image. But with technological advancements interfering and reshaping every aspect of communications and interaction, it is only fair to ask whether PR is really storytelling, non-advertising, image-shaping tool that we have known it to be?

For consumers, as well as for companies, the influence of effective public relations has been able to withstand the test of time. As companies aim for more ambitious depths in reaching out to the customers, more and more focus is shifting towards building and gaining an audience.

Public relations provide a fascinating and opportunistic landscape for building a brand. 

A consumer relations program is not a marketing initiative. Consumer relations program aims at developing positive relationships with consumers rather than selling a certain number of products. The loyalty won may help in higher sales; consumer relations is more of a public relations job than that of marketing.

The line between Marketing and Public Relations often gets blurred. Public relations and marketing do share some basic concepts like research methodology, finding the right target audiences, communication, and action plans as well as evaluation of various outcomes. Despite these similarities, the two have a fundamental difference, and that is while marketing is all about the product and is highly field-specific, PR is much broader.

PR takes into account aspects overlooked by marketing, like internal relations, surrounding environment and non-consumers in it, and overall consumer behaviour. Public relations require a deep understanding of the role each of these aspects plays within an organization. Public relations and marketing need to realign themselves and attempt to create a whole new field – “relationship marketing.” 

Relationship Marketing:

Relationship marketing is all about understanding that consumers make buying decisions based on their habit. The underlying principle is that customers want to be served, not sold. Usually, while making a purchase decision, consumers look for the following things:

  • Quality
  • Handling customer complaints
  • Crisis management
  • Safety of the product
  • Trading and business practices

Relationship marketing must work in the direction of delighting customers, so they become regular, repeat and loyal consumers. If you promise a consumer some benefits, they must meet consumer’s expectations and also maintain the customer base and handle service requests.

In today’s competitive environment, a company’s success depends on understanding your customers and exceeding their demands for service. With the internet, the world is shrinking, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate products. Profitability of a business depends on its ability to find, expand and retain valuable customers.

Everyone knows that it is far more cost-effective to build loyalty than to keep replacing existing customers. Valuing customers and making consumer relations a vital part of an organization’s PR strategy is extremely important as it helps tackle consumer issues effectively and create positive company perceptions.

Public relations involve communicating with the public, and your business will be subjected to a range of ethical and legal considerations. Every message released influences consumers’ opinions about you. Therefore, the public statements should be consistent with your brand and key messages.

If your PR efforts are focussed on crisis communications, you will be required to managing your reputation because of the situation or the issue. Effective consumer relations will help you tide over even the trickiest of the situations with ease.

How to launch an effective consumer PR campaign?

Staying true to your ethics and yet reasonably satisfy all consumers sounds like a tightrope walk. Maintaining one’s credibility while reducing the risks for potential damages to your reputation is very critical. Here are some tips:

  • Staying honest and consistent with your messages. Consumers today can easily make out double standards, distorted facts, and hypocritical statements.
  • Steer clear from paid media coverage. Effective consumer PR thrives on independent, third-party reports, stories and information. If you have to pay for good press, which means something is wrong at the very fundamental level with your product or service.
  • Maintain graceful composure with your competitors. Keeping your criticisms and disagreements with your competitors out of the spotlight is a great PR tactic.
  • Create platforms to interact with consumers. Consumers today want companies to be more proactive and keep up with their demands, or be left behind. As customers are turning to social media to communicate, it is imperative the companies reach out to them there.
  • Prepare a detailed digital PR plan- Today’s consumer engages with companies to give feedback, ask questions and discuss features, affecting their buying decisions. You can use this information that you gain during interactions and build relationships rather than just talking online. Growing relationships and attracting customers should be a part of the digital strategy of any PR effort.
  • Get influencers on board. Reliable third parties, backing the brand is a valuable function of consumer PR. It could be through a paid or unpaid agreement. Getting a brand an honourable mention or good reviews is the hallmark of effective digital PR.

Consumer PR is all about translating what the company wants to say and relay it in a manner that it becomes what consumers want to hear. Consumer PR is a company’s most valuable asset in today’s market. It helps a company position itself for success and weather the storms in the future.

Background photo created by mindandi – www.freepik.com<a href=”http://Designed by mindandi / Freepik“>http://<a href=”http://www.freepik.com”>Designed by mindandi / Freepik</a>

About the author:

Prashanth – He brings on-board his enriched journalistic perspective to K2 communications. Armed with a Degree in Sociology and a Masters in Philosophy Research from the University of Hyderabad, where his thesis was on Human Rights, his vast experience in the field of writing, reporting and editing in print media is highly valued and appreciated by our clients.

The balancing act- PR- the place where women are on par with men

As women try to find more balance in every sphere of their lives, how is PR industry faring?

The Public Relations (PR) industry has been one of the key sectors which have continuously pushed the envelope for greater inclusivity of women. According to a study conducted by Bureau of
labour statics, the PR industry in the US comprises of almost 61.3% of women “specialists” which is a far cry from the business and financial sectors, where women make up 43.6 percent of the workforce.

Every year, International Women’s day hopes to honor the women for their contribution to society and the world. None has made such an impact as the theme for this year- striving to achieve #BalanceforBetter.

We all have seen how a colleague was denied a good pay hike because she was soon to go on maternity leave, or two employees joining at the same level had varied pay structure because one of them was a female. As we applaud the little victories of these heroes, we also need to put an end to the bias that exists against women only based on their gender.

Do you think a female tennis player works any lesser on her game than a male player? Why then, should there be a difference in the prize money? Or closer home, take the example of Indian Women’s cricket team. They are playing shoulder to shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts in the same playgrounds under similar conditions, but the media coverage they get is maybe 2 or 4 columns while a full page is devoted to the men in blue.

Discrimination comes in many forms, and as the overt ways of discrimination are no more possible, the society has resorted to subtle means of conveying the message. A girl from the time she is born is expected to make way for her brother, whether he is younger or older to her. Women are allotted a “quota” in entrance exams at reputed colleges, which essentially means that they are “presumed” to not succeed on their merit and abilities. 

We have made women to vote, to opt for same courses as their male counterparts, to apply for same jobs, but then we create glass ceilings and boundaries and nominate them as “fairer, weaker sex” based on our patriarchal notions.

As the world enters the exciting phase of grassroots activism and global action in this regard, the call to build a gender-balanced world –  #BalanceforBetter resonates like a war-cry where equal opportunities also mean equal growth.

Public relations: A place where balance is nurtured and celebrated

Gender balance is an essential tool for the smooth functioning of society, communities and organizations. A balanced and diverse workforce also leads to increased business performance and higher retention of the employees. Acknowledging its benefits, today, more and more companies in several sectors are creating policies to create a more gender inclusive environment at their respective organizations.

The Public Relations industry (PR), has been one of the key sectors which have continuously pushed the envelope for greater inclusivity of women. According to a study conducted by Bureau of labour statics, the PR industry in the US comprises of almost 61.3% of women “specialists” which is a far cry from the business and financial sectors, where women make up 43.6 percent of the workforce.

Why is PR becoming a safe workplace haven for women?

There are several reasons why women are choosing PR as a career option, but several reasons such as people driven atmosphere, skill development, challenging roles and positions, relationship building and expanding lines of communications in which women have historically excelled have assisted in garnering women’s interest in this field.  

To be an expert PR specialist, PR professionals are not only required to be good listeners and excellent team players but also have to be strong advocates and believers of their client’s work. These qualities are often inherent in many women which makes them emphatic communicators and efficient managers. The Bureau of labour statics data further highlights that women run 30% of all PR agencies and 59% of all PR managers are female showcasing how over the decades the industry has helped in empowering women in taking up leadership roles.

The ground rules for achieving a better balance:

PR firms can further increase women participation and can create more opportunities for them by adopting a few measures –

  • Increasing flexibility: Maintaining a balance between their careers and life often becomes a huge challenge for women as several responsibilities like eldercare and childcare often fall on their shoulders. Many women prefer opting for workplaces which offer more flexibility.  Hence by providing benefits like a paid maternity leave, four-day working week and telecommuting can further assist the PR agencies in not only retaining the right talent but also in attracting one. For example, by not trying to schedule a meeting after 7:30 P.M. can further increase the ease for women.
  • Acknowledging the hard work and celebrating success: Often shy and sensitive, women have been found to less likely self-promote themselves and their work. Initiatives such as sharing the news of a new client win by a woman employee, a successful campaign which was headed by a woman employee and promoting her contribution to a company on the various social media handles of the organization can be a huge confidence booster for the women employees and can encourage them to be loyal to their company.

Gender-inclusive policies like these will further promote gender equity and growth in the industry.

This year on the occasion of International Women’s Day, let’s take steps to create more opportunities for women in the workplace and work towards building a gender-neutral ecosystem.

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.

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.

Looking for a renaissance in the PR industry? Embrace diversification and be inclusive

You may have come across specially-abled stewards at KFC or gone through some of the inspiring headlines in newspapers and social media about an individual representing the LGBT community appointed as the principal of a college in West Bengal, India a couple of years back. Reputed companies like Accenture, IBM, and Infosys sometimes get featured for hiring human resources on wheelchair or open-heartedly accommodating employees with specific disabilities. While India goes gaga over sporadic examples of a diversified and inclusive workforce across the employment sector, it is hard to find a similar culture in India’s Public Relations (PR) industry.

Although ideally, the PR industry should be more open to all identities as they build up the edifice of mass communication and connecting with people of all kinds, colours, races, genders, abilities and more, unfortunately, the concept of openness is not that impressive in the country. Encountering with a PR professional belonging to the third gender or someone who has a hearing disability or cannot speak is still a far-fetched dream. Interestingly, not just India, the landscape of a diversified and inclusive eco-structure is not much different in the US or Europe as well. According to a report, African Americans and Hispanic Americans constitute only 10% of all PR professionals. Thus, the global PR industry, as well as that in India, has a long way to go in terms of diversification and inclusion, although a remarkable shift  is happening  in the field of including female workforce over the last decade.

Unlike earlier days, diversification and inclusion are no more all about including women in the workforce. With all the noise around feminism and women empowerment in the last couple of years, the PR industry along with the other sectors have voluminously grown in terms of including women. In fact, for India, women have been the face of the Public Relations Industry. According to the top female PR professionals in the country with 15 to 25 years of experience in the field including Shefali Khanna, partner and Chief Marketing Officer at Astrum – Reputation Advisory, Shravani Dang, Group Vice President, Corporate Communications at Avantha Group, Vasundhara Mudgil, Head of Communications at Spotify, India, Stuti Jalan, Founder and Managing Director of Crosshairs and more, PR is an inherent skill among women as women are better multitaskers, more creative and understanding that make up the three most vital pillars of PR. The PR industry may no more be gender specific or biased, but it is lagging much behind in terms of embracing a diversified and inclusive intellectual capital structure compared to the corporates.

Experts say that a diversified and inclusive work culture enhances the accessibility of Public relations (PR). It creates an open and credible workplace which is must for a profession representing the views of multiple stakeholders. In case you are into this profession, always remember your client will choose you based on how open you are in expanding your client tile by promoting diverse talent. Also, the more inclusive you are, the better you will be able to provide multiple viewpoints during a crisis that your client faces and thereby save your client’s reputation. Furthermore, India is a multicultural and pluralistic nation and you ought to be inclusive and diversified if you want to understand your customers better. Similarly, your customers will have deeper trust on you if you are a PR brand that can realise their needs and expectations from an array of backgrounds including social, political, economic and cultural topographies. This will definitely boost your client connections and help you provide insights into trends.

Enough has been spoken about why it is crucial for the PR industry to be diversified an inclusive. However, not many talks about how that can be done. It is not rocket science, say experts. All you need to do is tweak your hiring policies and make some cool administrative changes. These may include inclusion of paid period leaves for women employees, pooling in women from underprivileged, low income backgrounds, hiring those who are wheelchair bound or may have to use a hearing aid to hear and sign languages to interact, making the workplace design friendly for the specially-abled and driving in those from the LGBT community based on their talent and skills and not on their gender preferences.

Being a PR is not that easy and being a diversified and inclusive PR is even tougher. However, once you can brace up with the openness, your public relations skill will touch the sky and bring about a dynamic makeover in the existing PR industry. Let’s hope for the day when India will produce the best of PR professionals based on their talents to connect, skills to innovate and not based on their gender, colour, caste, religion, ability and so on.

Sources : http://www.prmoment.in/category/pr-insight/the-power-of-women-in-indian-pr

Image courtesy : <a href=”https://pngtree.com/”>Graphics from pngtree.com</a>

The Changing PR Landscape

The suspension of two talented young cricketers recently due to their off-field demeanour points to two pertinent things: one, professionalism and success are not just about performance on the field, and two, the pressing need for sound PR (public relations) advice for people under constant public glare. Whatever is the nature of the recent episode, there is no denying the fact that professional efforts are required to build a public persona—to ensure the person is socially aware and responsible, gender sensitive, and doesn’t offend anyone.

Undoubtedly, PR has become a critical strategy of any brand management exercise, more so today than ever—whether the brand is a celebrity, a politician, a product, a service or even a nation.

But the role of PR today is not what it used to be many years ago. Today it has taken on a newer and bigger dimension, starkly different from what it used to be.

Transition in the last few decades

In the early 70s, the PROs, as they were called, were mostly seen in government departments, banks, and PSUs. They were mainly liaison officers, transport managers and sometimes travel agents too. In short, the PRO was an odd-jobs person with a status like an executive secretary to the chairman or managing director, accompanying the Bureaucrat to ministry level meetings.

Over the years, with outsourcing becoming more commonplace, PR was no longer an in-house function. As companies understood the importance of PR in the competitive marketplace, the task was outsourced to professional agencies well-versed in the art of managing people.

The mundane role became more well-defined. Media relations became a vital part of the job, comprising assignments like creating press release content, reaching out to the media, arranging press conferences and meetings of company spokespersons with the press, maintaining professional relationships with journalists, and attending to Public Affairs functions like lobbying with the government for positive business output & Media advocacy to influence the policy bills.

With so much conversation happening online, and in traditional media too, the role of the PR professional has transformed significantly to encompass a gamut of functions. The PR professional now has to don multiple hats, that of an image consultant, a brand manager, a liaison officer, and a media coordinator, among many others. This means PR professionals have to upskill themselves in technology, social media etiquette and other New Age skills.

Let’s look at the skills that modern-day PR professionals have to possess in their repertoire.

Articulate and analytical

Today, a PR executive has to be more understandable, interpret better and be a good conversationalist too.

Socially savvy and globally aware

As companies go global, PR professionals have to be more aware of what works in a genuinely international set-up, transcending boundaries of language, geography, and region. Knowledge of diverse cultures, awareness of social norms and nuances across different regions, and language proficiency are big plusses in today’s age.

Well-informed about various topics

People who engage in forums convene debates and moderate panel discussions are sought after by corporate.

Managing media      

Some PR functions never go obsolete, and this is one of them. PR professionals should be able to talk to the press and present their views in a professional manner and network with journalists across the world to strengthen the organisation with positive media imprints.

Media education

A good PR person should train CXOs on how to handle the media and draft relevant question-and-answer sessions for them. The training should involve aspects like gender sensitisation, social awareness and avoid stereotyping.

 Crisis handling

Today, thanks to technology, any situation can blow up into a crisis in no time. PR professionals should be able to think on their feet and rise to the situation to save the day without getting hassled.

Tech-savvy

Needless to say, the PR professional should be aware of trends in technology, social media, and digital marketing to advise clients appropriately.

People-centric

No matter what changes have happened, one thing has remained constant. PR is still about people, and it will continue to be so. Thus, empathy, sensitivity, patience and tolerance are essential traits that need to be nurtured to maintain relationships for a lifetime.

Today, PR includes relationship management and image building by managing media and information flow. It also involves strong internal communication across all levels of the organisation, consulting, and engaging in trade body associations for networking opportunities. As a result of this, PR has become more complex, intricate and challenging than earlier.

 

Adapted from the article authored by Mr. Shiv Devraaj first published in Reputation Today – bit.ly/RTViews155 

Image Courtesy: <a href=”https://pngtree.com/”>Graphics from 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.

How social media and big data are changing the game of Indian politics

Standing by Jim Morrison’s words, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind,”

We have been witnessing a drastic evolution in the way political campaigns have changed rapidly in the digital world.
India accounts for one of the largest social media markets in the world. A handful of tech-savvy politicians are adeptly taking social media by the storm to have the edge over others as technology, social media, and big data are playing a pivotal role in connecting with the voters.
Gone are the days, when a politician could live from one election to the next without bothering to engage the citizenry of his constituency. An increasingly demanding citizen population seeks a more responsive and transparent representation from the elected representatives. This necessitates constant participation of the electorate, being sensitive to their sentiments and acting accordingly in parliament – to deliver their expectations.
Today, you can not expect your fan base to follow you blindly. Citizens prefer social media over traditional media as the latter lacks active engagement.
When the whole world is moving towards digitalization for creating a better brand for themselves can any political party, however famous or powerful it may be, afford to harm its image? No, not even unintentionally!
The situation is such that any political party, irrespective of its size could be shown the door if there is no accountability and transparency in their work.
World over, the ‘political power’ of the digital media was first realized and harnessed almost a decade ago by politicians like Barack Obama, Narendra Modi and David Cameron (through their official accounts).
Closer home, Shashi Tharoor was one of the first politicians of India who started tweeting and got his share of ridicule for being active on a public forum despite holding an office.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has taken over Twitter by addressing grievances, rescuing Indians in distress abroad, impressing her foreign counterparts with prompt replies and luring Twitter fans with her witty, humorous and personalized tweets.
Trump’s victory in American elections is a reminder of how things can be turned around through digital messaging, data mining and public perception. It is the inherent desire of every single candidate to repeat this mysterious win of Donald Trump and his election campaigning.
Technology has reshaped the way the world communicates. So, while the use of digital communication channels or social media to reach the electorate is now commonplace – citizens are now turning back and using the same technology to demand accountability & drive transparency in governance.
From crises management to figuring reactions of the public, the new-age digital tools are fast replacing age-old door-to-door campaigns, questionnaires, and tele-surveys. Social media has created an ecosystem where voters, candidates, communities and party workers are all inter-connected. Serious debates or political disputes, reactions and opinions expressed online can help to build a digital footprint successfully indicating public perception. Additionally, politicians in India have also come a long way to create personal brands through personalized public communication.
Now a new era in “electioneering” is here that promises to change the way elections are fought from here on which uses scientific data analytics to real-time monitor people’s reactions in policy, politics, and crises to turn the wind around before it’s too late. Barack Obama was among the first to adopt big data as a differentiator in the elections during his campaign in 2012.
Data is exploding rapidly all around you. The trick lies in converting it from scattered formats to refined goals. Political pundits being well aware of the immense potentialities of this media in shaping public perception are making maximum use of the platform to give wings to their dreams. With the humungous growth in internet penetration and the growing evidence of recent electoral victories being shaped by effective social media campaigns, it will not be wrong to say that the digital footprint and social media conversations would potentially play a significant role in driving the shape of our politics and predict the future of our country.

About the author:

Sumit Jain -He has been associated with K2 communications for more than 11 years to date. A PGDBA from Christ University, his passion for everything related to PR has been instrumental in K2’s growth. He is a multi-tasker who spearheaded the servicing team while working on multiple accounts.

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.

5 strategies to implement AI in your PR verticals

AI and PR strategies to implement AI inPRFrom industry stalwarts like Elon Musk and Bill Gates to pioneers like Stephen Hawking, everyone has been fascinated by the subject of intelligent robots taking over. A favourite topic of science fiction enthusiasts for decades, from “Terminator” and “Matrix” to more recent- “Ex Machina” and “Blade Runner 2049”, machines are being designed to think, feel, and reason the way humans do.

Is it the beginning of the end of PR as we see it? We explored how AI can help critical PR functions by removing the monotonous and routine and freeing up more time for strategising and creativity. The next stage is to understand how to implement AI in PR spectrum so it can be a beneficial tool rather than the proverbial elephant in the room.

One day, the PR industry may rely on AI more than it is apprehensive about it.

Consider this example- You want to take headlines and rewrite them for social media so that you could highlight your client’s or their brand’s role in the story. You may assign a  person to copy and paste URLs, cross-referencing the right hashtags, and then you post. Now imagine having algorithms that are able to manage the same social media promotion and your social media engagement.

Something similar happened at Associated Press: You see, Associated Press was able to post no more than 300 quarterly earning stories, and despite every business, reporting journalist had to face this nightmarish moment of compiling and presenting quarterly earnings, many potential companies remained unreported.

With AI technique called natural language generation, NLG, AP is not able to post more than 4400 quarterly earning stories- a 15 fold rise from their manual effort, and of course, freeing up the business journalists for more creative pursuits.(Read the case study here)

How should the PR sector prepare itself to implement AI?

Think of Apple and Google, who have kept user experience (UX) of their products at the forefront by smart use of data and informatics. AI is here to stay, and here are some strategies to implement it successfully in a PR agency’s operations

  1. Brainstorm with your team– Do you need AI to solve big problems like planning a media strategy? Or is it about reducing the grunt work like scheduling tasks and follow-ups? Discussing the pain-points and bottle-necks with your team and coming up with small, but smart solutions to most common efficiency drainers.
  2. Automate, automate, automate– most of the AI-enabled processes work smoothly only when the firms have already crossed the hurdle of automating areas that were manual and error-prone earlier.AI gives you results when you give data to machines to work on and make patterns. The more data you have, the better your AI processes will work.
  3. Ask questions– Become the student of AI, and be the inquisitive journalist for a change. Don’t believe whatever you see and hear. The best program that everyone swears by may not bring any value to your firm. Ask a lot of questions, count your pennies. Then count it again.
  4. Make AI not the replacement, but a part of your team-Remember, AI is part of your team, and in the long run, it may be one of the most valuable team players, but first, you have to train it to do as you want. AI will simplify tasks like listening, recording, analysing and reporting. However, it cannot replace the human touch in building trust and relationships.
  5. Evaluate and forecast the skill sets needed – with AI in the picture, you may have to let go of certain skill sets and may ask the employees to adapt to the new order. Focus on training the existing staff, while keeping an eye on the new recruitments with defined skill sets like AI and big data. You would want a more heterogeneous mixture of team members who can work on a variety of functions, from technology, analytics, to media management and content writing.

AI is already making a massive impact on our lives. The tasks and skills can be automated or can be hugely benefitted from AI, but there will still be a need for human intervention in editing, applying good judgement and ethics. Experiential learning combined with continuous development and upskilling will be extremely helpful for PR professionals. Talking about AI and facing resistance is something similar to the slow-to-modernize copywriter who resisted computers in favour of his trusted typewriter.

Unless we up-skill and learn about AI and how it works WITH PR, PR companies can’t really make the transition. With machine doing the heavy lifting – the categorizing, detecting and reporting, PR professionals can do a lot of strategic and creative work. The future is all about embracing AI and the amazing developments that come along with it.

How is AI changing the face of every industry, and more so of PR? Read it all here!

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.

Artificial Intelligence & Public Relations- The Game has just Begun!

Artificial Intelligence & PR - Blog by K2communications“(Artificial Intelligence is) either the best or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity “Stephen Hawking

Talk about artificial intelligence in Public relations, and you would either get blank stares or talks about how machines will one day rule the world. Many people are afraid that AI could make their PR jobs obsolete. The fear not entirely unjustified either.

Look at the way AI has changed the way we communicate and get things done. From Google Assistant which can tell you a joke to self-driving cars by Uber, there is no industry that has not been affected and influenced by artificial intelligence. AI has brought in a revolution where machines are replacing jobs us as humans have been doing ourselves for decades.

Mckinsey & Company estimated that around 45% of paid activities might get replaced with technologies that are currently not yet fully developed! In the US, a whopping $2 trillion in US wages could be wiped out as a result of automation.

Before you hop on to jobseekers bandwagon and start sprucing up your resume, here is a quick look at what the furor is all about.

Wikipedia defines Artificial Intelligence (AI) as – the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence.

How does AI fit into Public Relations (PR)?

Before thinking that AI will rob you off your job, let’s first understand how the use of technology in PR functions can revolutionize the entire PR agency ecosystem.

Imagine getting your computer does all these aspects of your work-

  • Writing data-driven stories,
  • auto-creating media lists,
  • scenario assessment to help in crisis management,
  • transcription,
  • prediction of media trends, and
  • social media management,

As you are reading this, the wheels are already moving. Companies like AirPR and Trendkite have started providing everything from cutting-edge research, analytics, to PR measurement and PR attribution tools, delivering audience insights, targeted outreach and impact analysis right into the mailboxes of their clients.

In more than one way, using AI and machine learning is helping PR agencies deliver quality information that enhances how they do their job and augments their client servicing abilities.

AI is removing mundane, monotonous work from the PR agency’s hands and giving them more tools to organize their job better. For example, creating media lists, arranging meetings, writing standard follow up emails, all this can be handed off to machines. The author of this piece got a chance to check out the immense possibilities of HubSpot CRM and came out thoroughly impressed. There indeed are areas where machines can do routine work better than humans.

However, soft skills aspects like relationship building, creative strategy development, building trust, and telling a story- remain in the domain of PR professionals, as at the end of the day, we are dealing with humans across the table.

AI can help sharpen your stories

When you write a press release, you need to use your experience, powers of anticipation, and intuition to framing the release that effectively conveys your client’s brief. AI cannot take your place. What it might help you with is

  • Finding and validating facts
  • Assessing the target market
  • Researching the trends
  • Timing the release

This blog on AIRPR sums it up well:

“By taking advantage of massive quantities of data and using AI to draw insights on it, PR pros can now . . .  cut through the clutter and find useful, relevant data, quantify buzz and press hits, properly attribute revenue, know which tactics are working, spot brand and revenue indicators and identify PR funnel accelerators.”

AI can help improve digital DNA

Data is the DNA for all PR companies.AI can help PR firms to sift through big data and help them assess readership’s core attributes, for example. PR companies will be able to process their data at a rapid speed, giving them improved insight on what their consumers want, and sharpening their messages to be more robust and direct.

Google is already doing it. With YouTube targeting ads based on your search and the content that you are watching, optimization is happening in real-time, producing higher results due to the messaging being relevant and pertinent for the consumer.

AI will help in a focused, customised approach to journalists and social influencers

When it comes to reaching out to social and news media influencers, PR professionals always are in a quandary. Too generic a pitch and the influencer might go ahead and ignore you, while too specific and you may not reach out to a majority of them. Besides, who has the time to curate a hyper-relevant, eye-ball grabbing pitch for each influencer?

As we shared in our hugely popular Framing- A double-edged sword in PR content strategy, every individual’s perception of reality is guided by many factors, which themselves are dynamic.

Now imagine a world where, by using AI, we can analyze previous articles written by social and news influencers to find out who is often writing about healthcare or education. Using AI techniques like natural language processing, we can even curate a list of these specific influencers, analyze their writing styles, and find their core focus on most of the articles written by them. With this list, we can see the most relevant match of the likelihood of which influencers will be interested in covering the story.

As you maintain the relationships with these influencers, AI will also help in sorting out who have higher response rates to your pitches and would suggest them to you for future. From pitch analytics to automated pitch personalization, media outreach strategies could be automated to add more effective tools in a PR agency’s kit.

AI can help in assessing Brand Insights and analytics

As our world is becoming more and more visual, unless important news and social posts don’t have images or videos to hook up the target audience, all the PR efforts might be in vain. It might not be possible to accurately pinpoint the number of times a brand was mentioned in the form of images, photos, blog posts or videos unless you have someone explicitly sifting through analytics software. And still, at least images will not be a part of that purview.

Now imagine what it does to a CEO’s PR.

If you have an image recognition technology that can automatically detect faces, as well as actually name the people, brands and even products within the images, it can ensure that in addition to monitoring the text mentions on social media and news, you are also able to capture, record and report visual impressions of the brand to your client.

Any positive or negative experience shared by consumers by posting photos can be covered in this way, whether they have hashtagged you or not.

AI can help gauge market sentiments before, during and after the events

Although PR is not as data-centric as many, AI can be helpful in gathering and analyzing data to help demonstrate the ROI of a campaign.

PR pros are often making data-driven decisions based on the past performance of campaigns, social media exposure, and competitors benchmarking. This means having to build reports on all of these activities by wading through an ocean of data from a variety of sources, turning spreadsheets and charts into easily understandable graphs.

Media Intelligence tools are already here, and by detecting patterns and changes over time, AI lets PR firms translate trends into words in a matter of minutes. Sentiment analysis is an integral part of any progressive PR company report about brand perception. Traditionally it involved a ton of tedious manual work, market research, and still, the results will be inaccurate as they are often based on “cumulative sentiment” and often ignore the grey areas.

New advancements in sentiment analysis combined with natural language processing help drill down to each specific person, product, place, or company in an article and even analyze the surrounding sentence for how the writer feels particularly about the brand.

For example: “ I loved the website, but the delivery of my product took a long time” by a journalist, could be bad news if you are the supplier of the product, but good news if you are into website design and development, and for the PR firm on either side, it’s a lot of work and PR intervention!

AI helps in designing intelligent but smart tools for PR

PR companies today need quick as well as intelligent tools that answer the requirements of fast-paced PR accounts executives and also cater to the most complicated in-house communication department. AI can help design tools that understand a PR executive’s workflow and offer an error-free process by eliminating duplicity of tasks.

AI can help in automating the mundane daily chores

A significant chunk of a PR professional’s time is spent on scheduling calendars, structuring meeting notes, and summarizing actions, to-dos, delivery dates, creating Gantt charts, and following up with everyone concerned… If all this is automated, the productivity of PR people will dramatically improve, and the risk of delays, errors, miscommunication, and losing it in translation will be minimum.

Problems in introducing AI in PR

Artificial Intelligence is mathematical, based on iterations and logic; it needs patterns to build hypotheses, algorithms, and programs.

For AI to be able to add value to PR, it will require vast amounts of data. Something like Amazon does when you look for a laptop; you are also shown accessories, frequently bought together items, even laptop bags. To help AI reach that level where it tells you what to pitch and to whom, there is a significant hurdle- context.

PR is potently context-driven, and recommendations might work for those who have no prior experience or time, to do research, but the best PR agencies are known for doing their homework, and most likely won’t rely on technology to select the best pitch for them. For AI to add value to an experienced, seasoned PR professional, it will require a lot of data and training. A real AI system is the one that can learn. By improving on past iterations, these systems get smarter and more aware, allowing them to enhance their knowledge and potential. And this learning will be provided by the PR professionals themselves!

To sum it up, AI is not an existential threat to PR professionals, yet.

There is a widely held belief, that machines cannot, have the creative ability and emotional insight to supersede the PR professional. Human intelligence combined with cognitive computing skills renders the best outcomes. PR analytics is useless if the output doesn’t tell you the story on the parameters specified by your clients. AI is a helpful assistant for PR pros, which allows them to focus more on developing and executing creative strategies to create better brand awareness, stronger audience engagement, and influential thought leadership. Although you don’t need a degree in computer science to build an AI strategy, PR pros can’t sit on the sidelines and let AI takeover their decisions without their input.

 “A bot can’t lay claim to emotional intelligence, a cornerstone of all PR work. Teams employing AI handling external communication would be wise to have plans to manage reputation should anything go awry…Humans build trust with humans — not bots.”

 Ivan Ristic, Diffusion, in PRWeek 

Here is how you can take the first steps towards AI implementation.

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.

©K2Communications Pvt Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction of excerpts or parts of this article without expressed permission from and due credit to the author is strictly prohibited.

 

The Value of Video for Education & Healthcare Brands

The success of videos as the most powerful content marketing tool proves that we all are visual creatures, who love their videos. For a healthcare or education brand, a video is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional storytelling experience. It is arguably the most powerful communication tool to engage your audience and tell your brand’s story.

  • As of the second quarter of 2018, Facebook had 2.23 billion monthly active users
  • Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video every day. More than 65 %  of those views happen on mobile devices.
  •  The video is the leader when it comes to engaging online audiences. Internet users using social media platforms have a voracious appetite.
  • According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, the Live video will grow 15-times from 2016 to 2021, whereas internet video traffic will grow 4-times from 2016 to 2021, a CAGR of 31 %.

It is natural for a business leader or thought leader to be wary of social media accounts. Especially in industries like healthcare and education, platforms like Facebook will not hold too much worth for your PR efforts, right?

You can’t be farther from the truth!

As of October 2018, India claimed the first place with 294 million users, ahead of second-ranked United States with 204 million Facebook users.

These users are talking, watching, interacting with their fellow virtual world inhabitants, and to them, their online community’s endorsement or rejection of particular healthcare or educational institution matters a lot.

So what is this online population generally feeding on, when they are using Facebook?

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video about 1.8 million words to be precise.

1 minute of your video is worth 1.8 million words according to Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey.

Whether your brand is 30 days or 30 years old, you must know that video the number 1 preferred content type of your average consumer.

What exactly should you do?

  1. Use it! Of course!
  2. Maximize its performance!

Are you using video to reach out to your target market? Do you have tracking tools in place to check how your videos are performing? Have you ever done a peer to peer analysis of how your videos are performing compared to your competitors?

The success of videos as the most powerful content marketing tool proves that we all are visual creatures, who love their videos. For a healthcare or education brand, a video is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional storytelling experience. It is arguably the most powerful communication tool to engage your audience and tell your brand’s story.

As a healthcare or education executive, you may argue that video is relevant only to your end customers, but HubSpot has an entirely different story to tell.

  • 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week.
  • 96% of B2B organizations include video in their marketing campaigns, and 73% report a positive impact of videos on their ROI
  • 50% of executives want to know more after they see a product/service in an explainer video
  • 65% of executives are likely to visit your website, and 39% might end up calling you after viewing your video.

It’s time that video’s far-reaching influences are cashed in for healthcare and education sectors.

From just being viral content and home videos posted on YouTube, the video has come a long way. It can be packaged in various formats-low cost, d.i.y.  vlogs or video blogs to sophisticated corporate promotional ads. You must have a clear understanding of your audience’s needs and accordingly provide strategic, targeted content that gives some value to them.

CEOs of most of the leading PR companies in India agree that today the boundaries between  PR and advertising are constantly blurring, with many PR agencies pitching in to create creative videos to help their clients tell stories. Many PR companies are also creating their own talent pool because they do not want to leave the content to other creative agencies who may not be able to do justice to the message their client is trying to put across.

Let’s take the example of healthcare first-

Both patients and healthcare practitioners want to hear from people like them- patients struggling with similar illnesses, or doctors practicing in the same specialty. Doctors in particular, especially value peer-to-peer communication.

Some ways the videos can be packaged, so they resonate with healthcare audiences:

  • Healthcare tips or “how-to” guides
  • Explainer or tutorial videos on complex procedures
  • Patient stories of testimonials to emotionally connect with audiences.
  • Case studies around a new hospital program
  • Live videos, webinars, and on-demand information sessions.

Similarly, for the education sector, videos can provide an effective platform for institutions to put forth their vision, values, a sneak peek into the daily routine and establish themselves as an active, vibrant and thriving place for imparting education to young minds.

Educational institutions like schools, colleges, and training institutions can benefit a lot from videos that resonate with their audiences.

Here are some examples of how the education sector can use videos in digital PR

  • Parent’s testimonials about the educational institution
  • Videos by teachers sharing pedagogy and teaching methodology
  • Coverage of special events like the annual day, sports day or any social awareness activity like cleanliness drive
  • Explainer or tutorial videos on handling various parenting-related issues
  • Live videos, on-demand webinars
  • Thought leader interviews on education, industry trends, any legislation, innovation, etc.

Whether it is Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or any other platform, videos have become an essential way of communicating everything that your brand stands for. Earlier, the PR firms would have a handful of writers and journalists who could put the message across, but with the internet, the target market itself has become influencers and PR companies have to re-strategize their role and content strategy. Today’s audience is always rushing and reading long texts about a particular company is the last thing on their minds. A video goes a long way in brand recall, creating a direct connection and also conveying the message about a product, service, or company.

Want to know how Twitter and Instagram can be used effectively in your digital PR? Contact us today!

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.

K2 Communications- PR redefined

K2 Communications- PR redefined

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.
– Prof. Daniel J Boorstin

At K2, the first thing a newcomer is taught is –”to be second to none”

Back in 2003, when we started our PR company, the technology industry was booming, and everyone was enjoying a strong wave of growth and innovation. Opening the public relations business was an attempt to provide an efficient, effective, incisive and impactful Public Relations platform to clients. 15 years on, from a one client company,  K2 communications is now a formidable player.

We have redefined the way PR is perceived and have come far away from the days when PR was just a poor cousin of strong –muscled Advertising. Our humble attempt to bring Public Relations domain into the limelight and make it stand as a distinct force in its own is our biggest strength today.

PR today has seen a transition from just a marketing activity to a management discipline.  Our team understands the concept of creating value for its stakeholders. With a finger on the local pulse and sights set on global outlook, our team has ensured some of the longest partnerships and symbiotic relationships with clients  like Wipro Ltd, Azim Premji University, BASE Education, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting ( FMCG), House of Hiranandani, Columbia Asia, AO Smith and Trio World Academy.

In an industry like PR where attrition levels are high, we can proudly boast of having a team which has been there with us since the inception of this dream. Our team is our biggest asset, and we aim to remain the same by maintaining less hierarchy and more teamwork.

It has been a challenging and exciting journey spanning over a decade and a half when we have learned, understood, strategized, brainstormed, listened, engaged, curated, and even argued with our clients- innumerable times.

A PR agency’s true mettle and worth are tested not in the good times, but in bad times. K2 has, time and again, proved its worth in gold. Whether it is creating modules to manage issue based crises, salvaging PR gaffes and tricky situations, to wet-blanketing of articles, K2 has always been there for its clients.

Our success mantra is collaborative communication. We understand the ideals of our clients’ business the way an employee would, and there on we are a part of every move the company makes.

K2 communications will never be just another agency. We have painstakingly developed a reputation for always being ahead of the learning curve, and we will continue to keep it that way. We can’t help but keep thinking big and deliver the best client service possible.

We have always strived to dig deeper and find out what’s new, what works for our clients, and then use our collective experience and insights so our clients can achieve their business goals.

We thank everyone of you- our stakeholders, partners, team members and peers for an amazing 15 years, here’ s  to a new successful chapter together.

About the agency:

K2 Communications Pvt Ltd – is India’s leading Public Relations agency headquartered at Bengaluru. Now in its 15th year of successful PR, K2 has registered its presence in more than 45 locations across the country as a public relations company rooted in India but with a global outlook. K2 has an enviable list of clients to its credit- Wipro Limited is the leader of our client brigade since more than a decade. The other names that we can boast of having a long-term association are Azim Premji University, BASE Education, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting (FMCG), House of Hiranandani, Columbia Asia Hospitals, AO Smith and Trio World Academy, to name a few.

Click here to check out our work.