By Rimjhim Bora
According to the report by the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI), the Indian PR industry has grown 12% to reach Rs 1,600 crores in 2019 and likely touched Rs 2,100 crores by FY2020. While conventional media relations continues to be key revenue garner for the PR industry players, the revenue share of digital and social media services too increased from 12% in FY18 to 16% in FY19. Several sectors rely on the PR industry’s expertise to amplify their voice. But, the Covid pandemic has hit the PR industry hard like other industries.
The global public relations market is expected to grow from $88.13 billion in 2020 to $97.13 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2%. The growth is mainly due to the companies rearranging their operations and recovering from the Covid-19 impact, which had earlier led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working, and the closure of commercial activities that resulted in operational challenges. The market is expected to reach $129.35 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 7.4%.
Public Relations as a practice has grown over the years with many advertising agencies including PR services in their portfolio besides mushrooming of independent PR consultants to full-fledged PR agencies.
Mankind is facing an unprecedented Covid-19 crisis that threatens the very existence of the human race. We are experiencing setbacks but are confident that a cure is not far away.
Most of the businesses are adopting the ‘wait and watch’ approach which seems to be the most logical at this juncture. The same is true even for a service-led industry like Public Relations (PR).
Since the world is under the effect of the Covid-19 virus since March 2020, it came along with many challenges to overcome. Everything went through a downfall be it business class or the service class. Everything has to go through some different challenges. So, there are challenges that the PR industry is going through and the alternative approach seems to be quite risky.
Clients have withdrawn their proactiveness towards continuing PR activities and most of them have put their PR partnerships on hold until the lockdown is called off. This creates a stalling scenario in the industry and most of the experts are not certain when this will go back to normal. The lockdown has also impacted product launches and other promotional or media events where PR teams play an important role. Now, with all the concerns and uncertainties in mind, should a company go ahead with the PR plan or should they just hold on for a bit?
In my opinion, “PR crisis’s effect may seem intangible at first, it will definitely affect your business in the long run. Customers and clients want to interact with businesses they trust.”
Few tips how to handle a PR crisis
Every business should have a PR crisis team and plan in place.
Appoint a response team
Your business should already have a response team in place before a crisis even hits. However, during a controversy, you’ll want to appoint a response team quickly to ensure the right people are speaking on behalf of your company.
Craft your message
Once you and your team have gathered all the facts about the incident, you should agree on how you will frame your response. Think about the most transparent way to address the situation and what your company has done or will do about it – without placing external blame.
Identify and address the affected parties
You should identify the people who need to know about the situation, such as employees, stakeholders, business partners, customers and the media. Gault noted that the audience will depend on the context of the situation, but regardless of who’s receiving your message, you should make sure it is sent out in a timely manner.
Challenges of shifting customer habits
As the coronavirus spread progressed across geographies, customer behaviour has also changed drastically. Customer habits are changing, and we can expect them to continue to change in the weeks and months ahead.
Challenge of operations and employee safety
One of the main concerns of a company leader during and after the Covid-19 pandemic is its impact on operations. Evidently, the epidemic has adversely affected sales volume and the ability to serve clients and customers as well as manage the business. Companies are faced with the challenge of employees being quarantined for weeks after business or vacation trips. They lack the tools required to organize remote work during the quarantine.
Challenges of finance and banking
Economic uncertainty and risk have either directly or indirectly impacted most finance companies. As businesses slow down, companies are seeing lower revenue due to reduced cash flow.
Managing cash and liquidity positions may become crucial in the coming months. This situation is worsened by inadequate digital maturity, staff shortages and immense pressure on the existing infrastructure as companies deal with the impact of the pandemic. You need strategies to safeguard your customers’ financial security while you safeguard their wellbeing and yours as well.
The pandemic has led all of us to go through a lot. We have to put it all back together and have to overcome it with time.
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(Rimjim Bora is a PR professional who provides PR strategy assistance to different organizations to put together effective PR strategies.)
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)