Changing, challenging, questioning
Upskilling has been key in the last few months. “Publicists are trying to understand the digital space, learn the metrics of how an Instagram Reels or YouTube functions,” says Anindita Kannan, an independent brand consultant based in Bengaluru. But what’s really changing the scene, she feels, is how clients are more focussed about what they want. “Earlier, they didn’t always have a clear objective. Now they are breaking it down for PR agencies, specifying that a campaign’s objective is to ‘help us boost our SEOs’ or ‘get new audience’.” They are also questioning everything. “If a client has to give an interview, they want to know why they should do it, if the reader of a particular magazine or newspaper is their right audience,” she says, adding that they are also more open to new mediums like podcasts and live sessions.
An integration of skill sets is also happening. “Pre-Covid clients would have to hire a PR, a digital agency, a creativeagency... now most PR agencies are trying to have this knowledge in-house,” says Sunita Suresh, of Chennai-based Red Consulting, adding that many who once considered public relations a luxury are now reaching out. “We’ve begun working with hyperlocal brands during lockdown [Tirumala Milk, Fipola, Shiva Texyarn] who found that they needed to make their presence felt to stay relevant.”