Tuesday, November 30, 2004

CEOs rely on PR professionals for reputation management

From Strategiy:

The results of the 2004 PRWeek/Burson-Marsteller CEO Survey reveal a continued increase among corporate leaders who believe public relations professionals play an important role within their organizations. More than 90% of CEOs surveyed said communications is "very important" or "important" for managing reputation, safeguarding the company's image and crisis management.

Read full article here

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Microsoft Search - PR gaffe!

The Firefox browser screenshot of MSN search Posted by Hello

Microsoft's PR agency Waggener Edstrom released this photo of the new MSN search to AP. Only, they used the IE competitor browser, Mozilla Firefox, for their screenshot!

Brian Peterson, of Microsoft's PR firm Waggener Edstrom, said: "None of our approved/distributed screen shots of MSN Search were made using a Mozilla Firefox browser. Moving forward, we will not be commenting on this issue".

Well, look closely at the image. You can see the text 'Mozilla Firefox' on the top blue bar, as well as Firefox's integrated Google search button.

Talk about having a bad day!

New links: Plasma Mango

PR myths by Marc Jampole

Many public relations people are headed in the wrong direction, says Marc Jampole of Jampole Communications.

In an article in post-gazette.com, he says, "Every profession has its myths that are eradicated through time and advances in knowledge. In the 17th century, physicians thought they could break fevers by opening a vein and letting the patient's blood flow out. And in the 1920s, some prominent physicians prescribed deadly radiation treatments to promote longevity. In the medical profession, these and many other myths have long ago given ground to rational, scientific analysis. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for public relations. To an alarming degree, public relations practitioners, especially at agencies, continue to make important strategic decisions based on myths developed in long-dead eras."

The myths in PR, Marc Jampole says, are: 1. Always release bad news, and never release good news on Friday afternoon.
2. You have to write long case histories to attract feature coverage
3. I have friends in the media who will cover the story

I frankly do not know whether these are real myths abroad. In Indian PR, however, I believe the last two may be two abiding myths.

Read the entire article here

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Measuring PR: Article from PR Week

The idea of measuring PR has not been seriously approached in India so far. But I am sure the more we are exposed to globalized business, the more the need for this will arise.

Claire Spencer
In PR Week, Claire Spencer, IPR fellow and director charged with policy in the measurement area, describes what she believes the PR industry needs to do to win the continuous battle with evaluation. She says, "In recent years, the industry's twin values of truth and knowledge have been challenged; the former by the derogatory term of spin, the latter by measurement.Knowledge is fundamental to PR planning and evaluation, but this is where we have made the least progress as a profession, despite having a mature media evaluation industry and a trade body committed to best practice in measurement, and countless award schemes to recognise the best of the best." Read the full article here.

Freelance UK: Offshoring of PR workers set 'in motion'

Follow-up to the Sunday Herald story on offshoring of PR -

British PR professionals could be the next crowd of unhappy workers to lose their jobs through cheaper solutions overseas.

Most think jobs will be lost to India, where their employers are sizing up savings from workers costing only a fifth of the price.They argue the close nature of public relations means there is a limit on how much of the trade can be done overseas, unlike other sectors without localised requirements. Read rest of the story

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Amul - India's lovemark!

Amul - India's lovemark? Posted by Hello

'BRANDS' have become bland expressions, thanks to the excessive commercials and the multitude of television channels. Instead, companies and organisations need to focus on creating `lovemarks' that bring their products very close to consumers' hearts.

According to Mr S. Gosh, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Saatchi and Saatchi, brands were having a rough ride because of the over-use syndrome. Telecasting a 30-second capsule across all the channels would cost a fortune for companies. In most cases, such spends might as well cross the annual budgets of many mid-sized companies. Mr Gosh was delivering the keynote address at a day-long seminar on `Branding and Advertising' organised by the Bangalore-based Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship here on Saturday. Indian viewers were being bombarded with an average of 500 commercials a day. "We do not have the ability, let alone the time or patience, to absorb even a fraction," he said. On the other hand, those brands that carried emotional attachment with them lasted for long. To build a relationship, one needed to invest. "It is like growing a sapling," he said. Citing examples like Amul, he said some brands evolved into `lovemarks.' They meant a lot to some people. "They simply can't do without them," he observed. He said there was a vast change in the texture of consumers. (From Hindu Businessline)

Amul is definitely one of India's most loved brands. Here's their website.

And you can read excerpts of Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi here

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Corporate Voice | Weber Shandwick wins Asia Pacific PR 2004 award

WHO ORS Campaign from India Declared a Winner at the Asia Pacific PR Award The WHO ORS campaign by Corporate VoiceWeber Shandwick has been declared a ‘winner’ at the Asia Pacific PR Award 2004 in the 'Healthcare/ OTC' category. The award ceremony took place in Hong Kong yesterday. This is one of the most significant recognition of best practice in the public relations industry in Asia Pacific.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Where is India headed?

I am writing this because of a lot of businesspeople seem to be distressed about the departure of India's reforms-friendly NDA (National democratic Alliance) government. The new government of UPA (United Progressive Alliance) is supported by a pack of parties, and a separate communist grouping - and reforms do not seem to be its priority, at first glance.

You can read a detailed article on the Indian government's travails on Newsweek International, or you can take a quick look at my perspective below.

1. India needs economic reforms, globalization, liberalization, disinvestment by the government, removal of read tape etc.

2. The NDA government made major strides in those directions.

3. The effects of all those reforms were visible, and the government was much appreciated by the upper and middle classes of India.

4. That was not enough, and the government was thrown out in an unexpected rout.

5. We have to draw up the right lessons from this. In a country with such large disparities, you have to be extremely careful, and the approval of the industry and middle-classes is not enough to bring the government back to power a second time.

6. The last government's PR machinery was extremely succesful in selling globalization to the vocal classes. It failed to sell it to the poor.

7. It is natural for the new government to learn from the mistakes of the last government. The new government does seems to be very cautious in how much of noise it creates about the reforms process. The new PM Mr. Manmohan Singh and his finance minister P. Chidambaram are the original initiators of economic reforms in India, and its clear what comes naturally to them. However, the lessons of the NDA government's defeat have not been lost on them, and an effort is on to play up the welfare aspect of governance in an attempt to bring the poor on the government's side.

There is nothing wrong with that approach. Because however reform-minded a government is, if the poor are not not its side, it will be dumped. The toning down of the rhetoric about liberalization, and a toning up of the rhetoric on helping the poor is only natural, and is even welcome. Without it, the poor are against reforms, and then the government is booted out. That is smart public relations!

However, over the last four months of the new government, I do not believe the real reforms process has slackened. Occasional backtracking on some proposals serve to comfort the lower classes that their voice is being heard. On the other hand, on the larger questions of less regulation and red tape, free market and a desire for high growth rates, we have not seen any departure from the path taken by the NDA government.

Rhetoric, as well as action to improve the welfare of those who make less than a dollar a day is critical. Without taking them along, keeping them happy, feeding them and offering them jobs, there will never be a sustainable reforms process in India. Pro-poor does not necessarily have to be anti-business.

This is not a country where you can choose between the free market and entrepreneurship, or the welfare state. India can't be the US, or Canada. It has to try and be both at the same time. Nothing like a few famine deaths to throw a reform-oriented government out of power.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

PR is but a speck of dust on the blogosphere beach!

No. of blogs - - 4.5 million
PR practitioners in the US - 140,000
Total no. of PR blogs - a 100, maybe?

Trevor Cook wonders what why PR people - who are trained writers and communicators - are so slow to take up blogging. "As a profession are we technophobes, change-resistant or just plain unused to being in the role of speaking with our own voices? Probably, as with everything in life, this is a multifactor problem," he writes.

It was this post by Mike Manuel PR Blogosphere Introspective that set Trevor Cook on this track. According to the chart he has made, the most prolific PR blogger is Steve Rubel.

Change-resistant, technophobic - that more or less describes PR people as I know them! But I suspect the bigger issue is a narrow focus. A tendency to focus on the client, his specific needs of the moment, the interactions with journalists in the immediate future, the immediate publicity... The pressures of the job tend to narrow the PR executive's horizons dramatically.

But then that's probably just my pop psychology :)

(Anybody knows the total number of PR people in India?)

Business Standard debates PR vs. advertising

Business Standard, the no.2 business newspaper in India, was where I used to work almost 5 years back.

Their weekly business strategies supplement, The Strategist has published a debate between some of India's top advertising, brand consultancy and PR personalities on which is effective - PR or advertising. You can read it here

Well and good. SMS (short message service) on cellphones is mentioned as something that was powerful enough to unseat governments, as an example of unexpected stuff that throws corporate image and advertising plans into the gutter. Nothing about blogs or the internet. Understandable, we in India still have a long way to go for blogs to be tthat powerful here.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

PR firms consider passage to India - Sunday Herald

Back from a Diwali weekend trip where I got all excited about paragliding, stood on tiptoes etc and resolved to overcome my fear and try and learn it next time, I am back in Mumbai - and I found nice food for thought and dark mutterings waiting for me.

The topic that never dies is back - can PR be outsourced to India? Elizabeth Albrycht thinks its definitely within the realm of possibility. Now the Sunday Herald has published an article by Steven Vass: PR firms consider passage to India

But then I also found another article by him with the same dateline there: Offshore threat to PR work met with ridicule

Salient points:

1. There are dark mutterings at the high tables of PR about offshoring...

2. The industry is bitterly divided on whether it is possible or not.

3. Several big PR companies have a presence in India - Weber Shandwick, Burton Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton. Edelman recently acquired Mumbai-based R&P Management Communications.

4. Simon Quarendon, secretary general of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), which represents PR consultants in 24 countries including the UK, believes that the wheels are in motion.

5. Anne Gregory, the president of the Institute of Public Relations (IPR), says: “I think some of the elements of practical PR are becoming commoditised and therefore price sensitive..." ...this kind of work accounts for 25% to 30% of industry billings in the UK, and that much of it could have relocated over the next few years.

6. If some of the agency side of PR work is set to follow suit, the next question is who might move first. Hill & Knowlton is seen as a possibility. Weber Shandwick, the number one PR company in India, is another.

Those, of course, are the sensational points I have gleaned. There are many more less sensational, but important points of veiw within the article. Read it and mutter darkly at your high tables... :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Happy Diwali!

diwali lamps Posted by Hello

The festival of lights, and big shopping is here in India. If you have Indian friends, wish them happy dee-waa-lee!

Its lights, fireworks, shopping and marketers and ddistributors going crazy for the next 3 days.

Cheers! Happy Diwali!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

If not Blogger, what else?

I have preferred to start blogging with Blogger; and it is what I have suggested to anyone else who wanted to blog too.

However, the intermittent problems with Blogger has made me take a re-look at all the options available.

I believe a serious blog should have the following features:

Full HTML editing of the template, just in case you want to fool around.

Comment, and comment moderation. Normally in the spirit of free speech, I believe comments should not be moderated. But this is not always practical. I can't tell a CEO that if someone calls him names, he should not delete it. That's... too conversational!

Image-hosting or easy image-hosting using some service or the other. Blogger does this with Hello. I think Typepad has it built in.

Trackback. I haven't seen PR industry bloggers using Trackback too much, but I think its a sweet feature. You comment on someone's else's post in your own blog, and notify them, and point yur readers towards your source of inspiration too. Blogger does not have built in trackback, the Haloscan service you can use feels clunky when integrated into Blogger.

The capability to make your blog part of your site. Blogger allows you to publish files to your own server. This means a company can easily integrate a CEO blog into its website itself. The company will benefit from the extra traffic, the extra deep links to its site's blog pages and readers will not need to be pointed to which company the blogger belongs to. Typepad, for all its sophistication, does not offer this I think. They do have a URL mapping or something, which essentially lets you type something like www.ceobloggers.com and let it automatically move to http://prplanet.typepad.com/ceobloggers/. Not what I want :(

Movable Type looked brilliant. I am hardly a UNIX guy, and I am sure while the instructions are child's play for those new-age teens, I fumbled badly and could not proceed much. If you got a UNIX guy, or probably even someone who just knows a bit or PERL, I suppose its nothing.

If you can get it to work, it could be the best possible option. You can install it to your own server, and get all the above features on a platter. I suppose Wordpress can do the same; will try my luck with Wordpress next.

The decision is in: Blogger unreliable

It was bad for me on Friday, in India.

Blogger just could not be used, and blogspot-hosted blogs could not be accessed. It also did slight damage to my efforts to get a sincere, but technophobic CEO to blog as he could not figure out why his posts were not getting published.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Tradewind Strategies and 'headcount' explanation

Last week, I posted on the launch of Tradewind Strategies, and wondered about how the 'headcount' problem can be dealt with.

Well, here's the response from them. This was posted as a comment, so I will just quote it here:

Terrier, many thanks for your interest - and for pointing out the error on the media section. The correction will be made swiftly.Regarding, the headcount comment - remember, most PR programs for US companies are run (for better or worse) from the US. While anything international requires local experts such as an agency, the process of identifying and contracting with an agency in another country, as well as managing the day-to-day activities, requires a great deal of effort and know-how. Typically, US corporations add to their internal PR teams as their global programs expand. Even if there is PR staff in a specific country, their work must be coordinated on a worldwide basis and with Corporate HQ. Tradewind Strategies was formed to assist companies in the expansion of their global PR programs (including to India, of course) without needing to add internal US-based headcount.

Thanks for the clarification, guys.