How did you get into the industry?
At the start of my career, I started working with Live World Inc., a WPP company that focused on engagement solutions. It gave me an opportunity of working with clients such as IDG Books, NBC, CNBC, Grammys, US Open, Microsoft, P&G and others at the age of 21. I also managed online interviews of a future American President and the then British Prime Minister. It gave me a tremendous exposure of the ivy league of PR industry and I was completely hooked!
Emerging industry trends?
The industry has just scratched the surface of the opportunities that it bestows. Social media has made so much positive change to the industry. Public Relations companies are changing from mere consultants to the soul of modern organizations. Those who ignore this important aspect of PR do so at their own peril.
Industry opportunities and challenges?
Change is the only evidence of life. Public Relations is an industry that sees frequent changes in the established norms. Those who are slow to adapt the changes are often left behind. You should really not wait for the change but be the change. There should be a continuous lookout at opportunities to improve and enhance your business. Paul Holmes says, “Disrupt or Be Disrupted.” Often PR agencies complaint about competition from other disciplines such as advertising agencies, digital agencies, management consulting companies, content specialists, and market research. However, doesn’t it mean that a PR agency can now do a lot more than what it used to before, and it has avenues of expanding its horizons to include areas such as brand building, data analytics, content, digital, and other areas. After all, PR agencies tend to know more about the client business than most other external partners. If they expand their scope of services beyond traditional PR, it will mean that they can do more for the client and in return make more revenue. There is also a scope for agencies to partner better. Often PR agencies use other agencies just for geographical reach. I think there are so many more opportunities to collaborate.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
I manage several businesses that had their origin in Public Relations but have become a full-blown business ventures of their own. This includes our specialized education marketing entity, which has become one of the top three players in Executive Education. Our consulting company focused on assisting mining companies is one of the leading specialists in Corporate Social Responsibility for the mining sector. PR agencies should always think beyond traditional PR but look at the ways that they can bring in more value. There’s so much that can be done if we just see the big picture.
What’s next for the Business in the near future?
The market needs a lot more consolidation. I foresee that large independent PR agencies may be either acquired by larger players or would take capital infusion to expand and become larger. More M&A is likely in boutique and specialized agencies. PR agencies will no longer exist in the way that we have known them – they either will have to become a full-fledged management consultant with a whole array of content and digital solutions, or will go into oblivion. Many old CEOs who are unable to lead the transformation will be replaced by young leaders in their late 20s or mid-30s. The industry needs young talent to lead it to the future.
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