“Any publicity is good publicity!” is an old and famous saying in the business sector. Its significance though is not too applicable any more. Today, companies look out and struggle to maintain a consistently positive word of mouth, a strong image and an ambient relationship with their customers. “Reputational risk” is no longer optional and now taken seriously.
The competition is forever increasing and it is difficult to stay ahead in the race. Companies resort to different means for achieving the above mentioned objectives, all of which constitute a good PR. Conventionally, advertising, both print and digital, was the prime means of communication with the consumers. Companies used to pay hefty money to stay in the news through advertising. But then emerged the concept of public relations; a way of increasing your visibility, strengthening your image and therefore building consumer trust.
An important field of marketing mix, public relations, first started to become popular in Indian market during the 90’s and has since then gained momentum with the advent of internet and further, with the expansion of social media. Reaching out to your target audience today has become much easier than what it used to be earlier; and yet, equally challenging has become the task of maintaining a strong and positive image of your name.
The prime reason businesses today have come to realize the increasing importance of a good PR is because publicity is more effective than advertising. It is cost effective and has longer impact. An article about a business or a company is remembered far longer than an ad. But that does not mean that building a good PR can happen without effort. It calls for careful planning, persistent effort and spending money to hire PR consultants or firms, copywriters etc.
Besides, social networks have made marketing very interactive. Online behavior has significant impact on the buying pattern of the consumers. These days, every product is researched on the internet- before a decision is made to purchase it. The role of PR is very instrumental in creating a social engagement strategy.
Since the initial scope of PR was limited to media relations only, it drew professionals from the journalism background. But today, in a more advanced business set up, there is a lot more to public relation which requires going beyond media. It includes an understanding of the consumer behavior, right audience, market scenario and ability to think out of the box. This has attracted many MBA professionals these days to pursue their careers in this exciting field of marketing, both as executives and entrepreneurs, aiming to venture into their own PR consulting business.
For MBA professionals, an entry into the PR field could be through marketing communications. Here you work with a company’s marketing team to help launch new products or re-positioning the existing ones. PR firms hire MBA professionals for the reason that they understand the various concepts of marketing crucial for generating good PR. For instance:
- Understanding the USP – Unique selling proposition of a product and how to leverage it through effective communication
- The sense of targeting the right audience and finding the right placement to ensure the message reaches the target audience.
- Exploiting the competition’s weakness and what differentiates your client’s product.
- An MBA credential can provide networking opportunities
An emerging field of PR is also in community relations, where you work on finding ways of attaching your client’s name to the positive events in the community, for instance asking them to sponsor a children’s sports event or a cultural program, having to volunteer for city cleaning initiatives etc. Tata group for example has established the Tata Council for Community Initiatives; it acts as a central body to facilitate the entire group’s social initiatives.
An interesting aspect of a PR profile is facing the ethical dilemma. A PR professional is constantly tied between fulfilling its client needs and the public’s right to be honest and fail-dealing. Hence, various associations of PR provide professional code of conducts to help professionals and enhance public trust. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) website offers a detailed code of ethics for its members to help them overcome ethical challenges.
The PR job prospects in the Indian market are abundant and assuring for well skilled professionals. Once entered in the field of PR, some people further take up courses in photography or visual communication and expand their horizon to work with film making agencies. The growth of advertising agencies that promote various events has also boosted the number of jobs in the field of PR. You can also work for celebrities or rich tycoons who want to maintain a good public profile.
Many believe an MBA degree might not enhance your chances of starting to climb the PR career ladder. It is true to a certain extent if you are willing to work on the agency side, because they look out for hiring creative problem solvers. But I always believe that an MBA is not just a degree targeted to launch your career in a specific field. It hones your skills such as team work, problem solving, analysis, critical thinking. All these skills are valuable in business sector communication and PR.
If you are willing to get into the field of PR, there are a few key things that you should know:
- It is different from advertising. In fact, it is a form of sales. It calls for maintaining a good network with the media personnel and some field work for planning and arranging participation in public events, conferences and conventions etc for your client or your company. The major part of public relations work involves generating publicity for your client.
- Building a good PR requires knowledge of utilizing the best possible potential of social media.
- PR isn’t always all glamour and jazz, it can involve a challenging career as you sometimes have to work on turning around a company or a client from negative or defamed image. It is important to have the ability to multitask and a flexible attitude as you might be expected to stretch hours and work under deadline pressures.
- It requires good verbal and written communications skills, as well convincing ability. You handle and communicate with the press and work on writing press releases to journalists and publications.
If you hold a passion for the field of communication and PR, you might want to add on a specialized course or certificate in media relations or public relations alongside your MBA. This would not only improve your placement prospects in this specific sector, but will also provide you a more thorough knowledge of the domain. And yet if you are naturally creative with the ability to bring out of the box ideas, PR is the field for you with incredible scope of success.
Contributed By : Isha Jajodia (IBS Gurgaon, Class of 2010).