10 Ways To Design The PR Agency Of The Future

The financial, political, technological and media worlds have changed dramatically since the start of the 21st century. The global economic crisis, stagnation in the developed economies and growth in emerging markets, the rise of digital and social communications channels and the fragmentation of mainstream news outlets—these changes have all prompted new threats, and opened up new opportunities, for the public relations business.

But to take advantage of these changes, public relations firms need new business models, new—and more diverse—talent, and new ways of thinking. To put it mildly, a public relations agency designed to meet the major challenges of the 20th century is unlikely to succeed in the 21st.

Yet many of the world’s largest agencies, and a surprising number of midsize firms, continue to operate as if little has changed. Their infrastructure is a legacy from a different age, they have the same practice areas (often conflating actual practices such as corporate communications and product marketing, with industry sectors such as healthcare and technology), the same geographic structures, the same silos that served them (not always well) a decade or more ago.

And many of them have failed to integrate new ideas, new technologies and new media, into the way they do business—often treating changes that ought to disrupt existing models as if they can simply be bolted on to the old model.

Every time they do that, they miss an opportunity to create something genuinely disruptive, and they double down on their investment in traditional, vestigial, thinking—increasing their vulnerability to new firms with new ways of thinking.

Many of the firms in this volume are already acting on some, perhaps many, of the ideas presented here. Some have radically restructured their business using their own ideas of what the future will demand. It’s doubtful whether anyone has all the answers when it comes to creating a new model for the public relations firm, but there are several ideas that all agencies should be exploring or considering.


1. Big data at the center

Three years ago, I found myself in Davos—at a conference called Communication on Top—debating the future role of public relations in a shifting world. My own optimistic view was challenged by Marshall Sponder, an expert in web analytics. His major complaint: that PR people did not understand how to use big data; his big prediction: that within a couple of years, every PR agency that wanted to be taken seriously would have a chief data officer, playing a significant role in the leadership of the organization.

To say that progress on this score has been mixed would be extremely generous to the industry as a whole. There has been plenty of evidence that putting data and analytics at the center of communications can be incredibly powerful—the Obama re-election campaign is the most obvious example—but there has been incremental progress at best when it comes to using data to drive marketing and corporate communications more broadly, and only a handful of firms have anyone in a role roughly equivalent to Sponder’s chief data officer role.

2. Insight to drive meaningful creativity

One reason data is important is that it lays the foundation for the kind of insight—into stakeholder attitudes, values, beliefs and actions—that ensure relevance.

For too long, many public relations people—like the baseball scouts in Michael Lewis’s Moneyball who believed that they could identify a good baseball player based on little more than attitude, posture, and physique—have operated on the assumption that their years of experience alone meant that they knew a good PR campaign when they saw it.

But all too often, the ideas they generated were creative just for the sake of it. They resonated with reporters, but not with the wider audiences they were intended to reach. They provided entertainment value but didn’t do anything to influence behavior. They were “great” PR ideas with no business benefit.

Great data alone will not ensure great PR programming. But better data will lead to better insights. And better insights will lead to more creative public relations ideas—ideas that solve real business problems.

3. Understanding the human brain

Edward L Bernays would insist loudly to anyone who would listen that public relations was “applied social science.” That was true in the industry’s early days, when Bernays and others were pioneering a new discipline, and it remains true today.

What has changed is that we have new ways of understanding how the human mind words, how people decide what to believe, how they process information, how they make choices.

Most PR people could benefit from going back and reading Bernays’ classic The Engineering of Consent. But they should also be reading more recent volumes such as The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, Made to Stick by Chip Heath, or Contagious by Jonah Burger. Or listening to neuroscientists like David Eagleman, who presented at our first Global Public Relations Summit in 2012 and provided numerous insights—some of them quite shocking—into the ways emotional responses can overrule the rational mind, and the unconscious supersede the conscious.

Understanding the latest thinking in this area is essential for anyone hoping to change attitudes and behaviors.

4. Managing reputation is about more than just communicating reputation

There are two necessary preconditions if a company is to have a good reputation (by which we mean a reputation that strengthens the relationship between a company and its key stakeholders, reducing risk and providing greater opportunity). First, it must earn that reputation; then it must communicate what it has done to earn it.

The first of those things is by far the most important; traditionally, public relations firms have spent far more time and energy on the second. There is probably still a very good living to be earned that way—effective communication remains important; but firms that can help their clients earn the right kind of reputation—by helping to shape policy rather than explain it—will deliver and derive far greater value in the future.

This requires an understanding of corporate culture, and corporate values, and how to communicate them so that executives communicate them through their words and—infinitely more important—their deeds; employees believe in them and live them; and external stakeholders understand them and believe that they are authentic.


5. Becoming real brand journalists

The public relations industry has always recruited former journalists. But historically, it has demanded that they stop acting like journalists. Their perceived value was their ability to craft stories that their former colleagues would find interesting or appealing.

But that approach ignored their true value. Real brand journalism is not just about telling good stories, it’s about identifying and researching and developing those stories.

By hiring people who think and act like journalists, and encouraging clients to allow these “brand journalists” full access, PR firms can provide tremendous value. A PR person who looks at a client from a true journalistic perspective should be able to unearth both positive news (authentic stories that reinforce the messages a company wants to communicate about itself) and not-so-positive news (helping clients identify areas of reputation risk).


Complete Article: http://www.holmesreport.com/featurestories-info/13365/10-Ways-To-Design-The-PR-Agency-Of-The-Future.aspx


Are the new T&C of the Service Tax not an issue for the PR Industry


I want to check something with the forum members.

I am sure all of you are aware of the rules that have changed in the
service taxes for the service industry. (For those of you who don’t
know about the issue please read :

Link :
http://www.audiencematters.com/columns-innerpage.php?title=29 ) ;

I want to know from the forum members how they are dealing with this
issue as the payment for most (99.9%) of the clients is a standard of
30 working days and there is even a bigger chaos on project 50%
payments. Earlier one had to pay the tax after the payment has been
cleared by the client. Now according to the new rule that was enforced
from 1 July 2011, you need to pay the service tax within 30 days after
you raise the invoice or the 5th of the month, whichever is first,
irrespective of the payments status from the client.

According to me, this rule is highly detrimental to the growth of our
industry . On one end the client expectations are rising everyday and
the payments are delayed by a standard couple of weeks and on the
other end the vendors will now not work with you till you pay them in
advance. To top it off you might just end up taking loans to pay just
the service taxes !!!! .

While the outdoor and advertising industry has gathered arms and
gotten together to write to the relevant authorities and have already
begun the process of lobbying for a change. (Read today’s ET for more
on the service tax rollout progress and please note that we are not
the ‘essential’ services) I think it is high time that we from the ‘PR
Industry’ as a whole take up the initiative to do so too for everyone
in the industry.

I do not have the know-how to take this up but I am sure we have
enough people on this forum who would have the relevant expertise and
know how to give some direction to this. I am willing to be a part of
this or take up this initiative at best.

Any advice from the forum members on how to go about this or do we
even need to take this up ? Is there a loophole that can be explored
in the clauses that will help circumvent the ridiculous terms and
conditions of this tax ?


Public Relations Division


By Abhijit Sengupta, CEO of Outdoor Adevrtising Professionals (I) Pvt.
Ltd.) & Touchpoint

Except for death and taxes nothing is certain. We all have heard it
several times isn’t it? When we look at the current changes in Point
of Taxation (POT) rules with respect to SERVICE TAX, we realise that
though the taxes (we are talking about service tax in particular)
certain the incidence of tax and its administration could keep
changing time and again. When it happens we keep complaining,
shouting, protesting and so on. And later on we realise that the best
thing would be to adapt and start following it. I am sure something
similar would happen in case of leapfrog changes in POT that would
come in effect from 1st July 2011.Without getting technical aspects of
those changes let us understand what has changed specifically for
media and advertising companies.

Till 30th June 2011 whatever invoice service provider raises, she has
to pay service tax thereon only once that amount is being collected
from the customer. From 1st July the tax has to be charged while
raising the invoice as usual and it has to be deposited to the
treasury on or before 5th of the subsequent month, irrespective of the
collection, In case, you operate in monopoly market and are privileged
to be able to collect the same in advance or in less than 30 days, you
need to pay tax element on or before 5th of the subsequent month.
The immediate reaction of many people has been, “oh in that case i
would raise my invoice only just before the collection and manage my
cash-flow.” People in finance ministry are very smart enough to take
care of the situation. The rules say that the invoice has to be raised
by service provider within 14 days from the “completion of the
“The completion of service” has to be a part of written contract and
cannot be left to the imagination of the service tax auditors. There
task is not to “imagine” anything but to increase revenue for the
What if any service provider fails to collect? In other words after
the payment of service tax on the invoice if the same turns bad, then
there no recourse for the same. The service tax paid on subsequent bad
debts is a cost any service provider has to bare.
What are the implications for outdoor advertising agencies in

Average collection period for any outdoor advertising agency is in the
range of 70 to 170 days. On a monthly billing you need to pay the
service tax within 5 days from the end of the month. For every agency
managing this cash-flow would be a nightmare. Some of us will have to
borrow only to pay the tax, which means there cost implications as
well by way of cost of funds.
The documentation with respect to the contractual obligations ahs to
be water tight to the extent possible and there should be as less grey
area as possible, to be left for the interpretation of the service tax
auditors. “Completion of the service” would give rise to all kinds of
disputes and litigations with the department.
The above measures are within the purview of the agencies and they
would be internal controls. The following should be done by forming
industry association:

Media owners have become aggressive and they have already decided what
they want and what they would do for the same. Agencies’ association
has to deal with it work towards preserving their own interests.
While competing within they need to define basic hygiene factors and
stick to them. For example
Today there are agencies that go out and get the business at ZERO
agency commission and on top of it they offer certain percentage of
saving in media buying to that customer (sic!).
Some agencies while pitching for business offer crazy collection
terms to the clients.
If such practices continue unabated they would turn out to be
destructive for the entire business as a whole.

Agencies association needs to create a mechanism to define aspects as
to what constitutes the “service” and what would amount to the
“completion of the service” to avoid the potential are of litigation.
Even after doing that when dispute arises with the department it
should be represented and dealt with at the association level.
While an individual agency will have no bargaining power with the
department.  Senior officers in the department are instructed to lend
an ear to trade associations and forward their grievances to the CBEC
and finance ministry for resolution.
The moment the new Service Tax rules were brought in, the first two
steps OAP took was first to write to the industry body to come
together to understand the implications. The second step was to
immediately realign and partly redesign our internal systems and
processes to narrow gaps on billing, documentation and collection. Our
ISO QMS was already in place. We are extending this QMS system with
new provisions that would facilitate speed. We have taken this
unfortunate ordeal as an excuse and also an opportunity towards
meeting OTP (On Time Performance) and top quality QMS.
“We would love to see our competitors as well adopting to this system
since it would help the entire industry to stay afloat, survive the
onslaught and thrive in times to come.”

Twitter Benefits for your Business

20 Benefits of using Twitter for Business

Twitter is the perfect platform to keep you updated with the latest happenings in your industry, market or domain.  You would be able to trace what people are talking about, the buzz of the industry, trends, and insights to build your business.  Twitter helps you to stay connected with the world in real-time.

Twitter has more beneficial to business over FaceBook, LinkedIn, blogs and other social networking sites. One of the reasons Twitter is so popular is due to its flexibility to support many other existing technologies and business strategies.  The benefits of using twitter for business listed below would be leveraged by most of the businesses that are active on the social media platforms.  Twitter would give you a priceless way to share your content and get connected with the world.

Benefits of using Twitter for Business

  1. Increase your online presence & build a global network of contacts for your domain
  2. The aim of all social media site is to engage with your target audience
  3. It’s a perfect social media platform to engage your customers and with twitter communities
  4. Reputation Management: Helps you to create and maintain your online reputation through quality tweets and engagement
  5. Brand awareness: It can bring the awareness of your brand globally since 51% of Twitter users follow various brands against just 16% in other social media networks
  6. You would be supported by your network when you are looking for answers; besides you would get new opinions and thoughts from like-minded people in your industry
  7. You can gain competitive advantage and knowledge from your audience by watching, listening to them on your timelines. Listening to tweets can identify market trends
  8. A perfect platform to promote your blog or website content
  9. Directing your tweets to the landing pages help to bring more traffic to your website and enhances conversions
  10. It connects you in a new way to existing members of your network on other networking sites
  11. It helps you to keep an eye on your competitor and on the competitive market at all time
  12. It can be used as a forum. Ask a question and someone will surely return back with an answer to guide you further
  13. You can share your expertise and knowledge globally
  14. Present your promotions on twitter.  Promote your deal of the day to the world through twitter
  15. Most effective word of the mouth marketing where your audience are global rather than local
  16. It helps you to collect feedback from your customers and help them serve better with the right customer service
  17. Following a company/brand on Twitter will keep you informed about what’s going on and upcoming with them
  18. The good thing about twitter is it always keeps you posted with the latest links and updates in your domain
  19. The content on the tweets make your life a little bit easier by giving newer ideas about business and market insights
  20. Following someone you know very little about, would return you getting to know them better

Nikhil Kashyap

A media obsession

Hi folks,
Need comments on the below mentioned story by R.Sukumar, Mint.
A media obsession
Edspace | R. Sukumar
Cleavage,” he said. I thought I hadn’t heard him clearly. He sensed my question even before I asked it. Big ones, he said, moving his hands out till they were at least 10 inches in front of his chest. I didn’t want to get technical, so I didn’t point out the obvious, that there was a difference between the two things he had described. His meaning was clear, though. The person, who worked for a business news channel, was telling me why the channel had hired a certain anchor for its morning stock market show. I didn’t want to hear more though my friend from the channel seemed keen to share with me the unsavoury specifics of what day traders and brokers do when they watch business news channels. I didn’t pay much heed to what he said till another person, from another business news channel, told me the same story. She got three times her current salary, for agreeing to leave the top two buttons of her shirt unbuttoned, he said, referring to an anchor who had recently switched channels. By Jayachandran/MintI have more or less reproduced their words as I remember them from our conversations, and I apologize if I have offended the sensibilities of some readers of this paper. Mint remains a family paper. I was reminded of these conversations in the wake of the coverage papers and channels devoted to Hina Rabbani Khar, the photogenic foreign minister of Pakistan. Even by the standards of the near-saturation coverage any visit by a Pakistani foreign minister to this country receives, this was a bit much. So, is the media obsessed with looks?The simple answer to that is: Yes, a lot. Is the media obsessed with shows of skin?Yes, a lot. You do not need to possess an IQ of 130 to figure this out; a casual perusal of newspapers, including some large English-language ones, will throw up a bunch of pictures of women who must be perennially cold given their dress sense, and used entirely out of context. A similar casual run-through of television channels will show, in many channels, young women dressed for a night out and reading the news. There are some media companies that do not do this. Since this column is, at one level, all about losing friends and offending people, I am going to go ahead and name the good ones. I have not seen any of NDTV’s channels do this, nor Times Now and CNN-IBN. And the business channels are the worst offenders. Why would they do this? (Sorry, silly question; let me try again)A senior editor at a popular US business channel once told me that his company had a simple rule for women anchors: high necks; comfortable hems. Then, India isn’t the US (although I still can’t understand how respectable media companies can indulge in blatantly exploitative behaviour). I know some women anchors on business channels. Many of them are smart-or are on their way to getting there-and I can’t believe they agree to go along with on-the-edge wardrobe suggestions put forth by their producers. After all, you don’t find the men anchoring shows on these channels modelling themselves on actor Hrithik Roshan (the word button probably doesn’t exist in his vocabulary). They are all uniformly dressed soberly, in dark suits, plain shirts and boring ties. The morning slot is an important one for business channels. Their viewership peaks between 9 and 11 in the morning and then tapers off before peaking, although not to the same level as the morning, in mid-afternoon, around the time the stock markets close. Their viewership also witnesses a small spike, lower than both peaks, in the evening, for prime-time business news. The programming on all channels remains the same during market hours, a mix of stock tips, market moving news, and interviews with in-house or external experts (some of whom are of dubious integrity, but that’s a different story). Most viewers watch these channels with the mute function engaged; they are interested in the tickers and the stock charts, not what the anchor is saying. And as any level-headed financial adviser will tell anyone who cares to listen, most business channels are aimed at day traders and punters, not long-term investors (shameless plug: read Mint’s personal finance section, Mint Money, for that). Under the circumstances, it isn’t surprising that the channels choose to differentiate themselves on the basis of how their female anchors look. It isn’t surprising but, in my book at least, it isn’t condonable.

Vikas Kumar
+91 9811054648

Skype ID: vikas_kumar83

Are Marketing and PR departments in sync?

Yesterday I received a call from a marketing manager from Eros. The
guy pitched that Eros is largest production-distribution house, blah-
blaaaah, anyway coming to the point he said that he wants to provide
us with wallpapers, posters, behind the scenes, synopsis, etc of all
the upcoming movies that the production house is associated with. Soon
coming to the point he said that in return he wants a banner to be put
up on our website in return.

I find it really weird, first of all the so called very exclusive
content is anyway available to us (and thousands of others) through
plethora of channels, besides it is this content only that PR people
so desperately try to push to us, rather in my opinion a good PR is
someone who provides access to such content to media as smoothly as

My question – Don’t you (PR) guys teach these marketers? Aren’t they
somehow making your job difficult, and in return making the
organization look stupid, where one guy is working day and night to
push that content to as many people as possible and another guy is
trying to sell the same thing!


Ayush Agrawal
Founder, FilmiTadka