Business Wire International: India

April 20, 2009

Today we continue our series of posts from colleagues outside the US with a look at our operations in India, from Archana Kachru at Business Wire India, a licensed affiliate. Previous entries in this series are available from London, Frankfurt, Paris, China and Japan.

The Rise of Social Media in India

Amongst the mayhem that recession has brought, the communications industry is witnessing an emerging trend in the Indian corporate sector. With constrained budgets, PR professionals are ready (or forced) to look at non-conventional and inexpensive modes of increasing brand visibility and recall. The communications teams in India at large are now more open to using online/social media as a possible way to reach out to target audiences effectively.

With the entry of online/social media the rules of the game are gradually changing; the masses have evolved and so has the medium. And this time around the epicenter of this media is not editorial desk, not the advertiser, but the consumer himself.  On the other hand, corporates are curious but skeptical about the New Media. As of now, it largely remains an unexplored territory for business brands, with perceivably unstructured format.

What scares them most is the fact that each news item that gets floated in this universe can be commented upon without any editorial gatekeeping. The larger picture for consumers, investors and the general public, however, outlines greater transparency and the power of accountability.

Over the past few years, the online media space has become exciting and has gained some momentum in India. This has largely been limited to social issues. Any event which has affected the nation at large has had a social media movement supporting it. From the Mumbai terror attacks, the 26/11 episode, to outcry over Hindu fanatics, social media has successfully engaged the audiences across the various segments to highlight the national sentiments. More recently, political parties in India have joined the league and have given social media a decent share in the media budget. Online and social networking platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, and YouTube have been used to engage their audiences for the forthcoming general elections.

There is no single process or formula to effectively use social media for public relations efforts. What may have worked for a particular product today may not work for another product tomorrow. While several organizations realize this and are totally avoiding the social /online media route due to lack of knowledge of the medium, a few of the companies are currently trying to play safe till they actually understand it. They are for now just letting their feet into the water by going the content marketing route. Conversational marketing may be the next step but does not seem to be very near in India.

The biggest beneficiaries of any change are the products and services which either have a futuristic outlook or have managed to successfully reinvent themselves in changing times.  As far as newswires in India (such as Business Wire India) are concerned, the dynamics may change at our end too.

The market in India is still in its nascent stages but is rapidly evolving. In the coming times, the newswires will probably be much higher on the checklist for a communications plan. However, once social media assumes a greater importance, as everyone presumes it would, the focus of the PR / communications plan will change from “print media generated coverage” to “real time content on online media” and later to “social media generated conversations”. The change from first to second phase is already in place and from second to third phase may not be too far off. This shift from a mass-medium lead communications to a micro-medium lead communications will probably change the way we define Public Relations and Corporate Communications function. We may then need to reinvent ourselves to suit the changing needs of the market.

Business Wire India plans to be ready for the change.             

Archana Kachru

Business Wire India


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