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Monday, July 30, 2012

Paid Media Lacks Credibility

In an exclusive interview with Image Management, Rajiv Desai, Chairman and Chief Executive of Comma Consulting, discusses how the PR industry can grow in India, and how it needs to change.

Q. Some industry experts suggest that over 80% of the PR business is split between Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. How can the industry fuel pan India growth?
To fuel the PR industry’s pan- India growth, we need more business. The next big markets are away from the metros. For example, with Bharti, we worked in teeny- tiny rural areas, because that was their rural push. The next big thrust has actually been in telecom; there are now telecom related businesses in hinterland area. When you have businesses, then you have jobs, and the growth of business fuels the need for PR.  I think that is what can really help – more expansive businesses as opposed to centralized ones. It s not that  India didn’t have a very enlightened policy  because even during the Nehruvian era we had these public sectors mines, steel plants and chemical plants  in remote areas like Chattisgarh. That was enlightenment, but also a sort of forced migration into the hinterland. And without the appropriate the connectivity’s, they became white elephants.
With these modern businesses like telecom, and to some extent insurance and banking, they first built the linkages and then they locate. Whereas, in the earlier one’s you were sort of pushed into it because of the policy decision. That’s the kind of thing that will help. If for example if they stop hindering retail FDI and actually let it happen – this will create a huge rural pan-India growth.
Q. What is the biggest challenge facing the Indian PR industry?

Q. Do you see paid media as a tool or threat to the PR Industry?
If you think that the be-all –and-end- all of PR is to be in the media, then you might find this to be a factor. But it’s not for us. We are in the media because it serves a different purpose. Not just to have someone’s mug in there and make them feel great. So, if the be all and end of your PR campaign is media coverage, we get more coverage. We are a small company but no one generates the kind of coverage we do.
If it doesn’t serve the client’s purpose, then media coverage may not be the thing. If it doesn’t serve the media’s purpose, then you influence the media. Any paid media lacks creditability.
Q. How does Comma Consulting set themselves apart from the other PR agencies in India?

This article appeared on Image Management India Website on July 24, 2012.