MSLGROUP releases its latest executive report - ‘Public Relations in India: The Impact of the Economic Downturn and the 2014 Outlook’

Mumbai, Fubruary 3, 2014 – MSLGROUP, Publicis Groupe’s flagship strategic communications and engagement company and the largest public relations (PR) and social media network in India, today announced the launch of its latest executive report, ‘Public Relations in India: The Impact of the Economic Downturn and the 2014 Outlook’.

The report details the findings of a countrywide survey focusing on the business environment and how India’s economic downturn has affected the PR industry.

This is an annual report that is in its third consecutive year. MSLGROUP released the first edition in January 2012 in an effort to kickstart a much-needed debate within the industry on vital issues such as the shortage of talent, the low retainer fees, misconceptions about the size of the industry and the changing nature of its stakeholders. It has since evolved into the Indian PR industry’s primary platform for exchange of ideas and discussions about the industry’s challenges and opportunities.

This year’s survey focuses on those who deal most closely with the business end of things – revenue generation, clients’ changing expectations, budgets, growth, etc. MSLGROUP restricted the survey to senior PR professionals – account directors and above – to understand where they believed the industry was headed in 2014.

What emerged was a picture of cautious optimism. Most respondents felt that growth would be strong but there were serious challenges: squeezed cash flows, clients expecting more for the same fees, and shrinking budgets in some cases. The talent shortage continues to remain a major concern.

Some of the survey’s findings:

  • About 20% of the respondents said industry growth would be in the 15%-20% range in 2014. What’s interesting is that this growth would happen despite clients cutting overall communication budgets. This indicates that money is being diverted from other disciplines, such as advertising, to PR.
  • Despite the downturn, 30% of respondents said clients had increased budgets either ‘somewhat’ or ‘drastically’.
  • Most felt that the tough times would last for several months more.
  • An overwhelming majority – 90% – said clients were demanding more for the same fees.
  • Respondents identified integrated marketing communications as the best way to grow business.
  • Apart from digital, clients are demanding crisis communications, training, content and research and insights from their PR agencies.

Jaideep Shergill, CEO of MSLGROUP in India, said: “This is a time of great churn for the industry. Ground realities – from the evolution of media to the increasing number of stakeholders to what clients want – are changing fast and it’s a challenge to keep up. Thankfully, the industry has shown the capacity and resilience required, and this is evident from the survey’s findings.”

The second section of the report examines the rise of cheap smartphones and their impact on marketing communications. As India becomes the new battleground for high-end smartphones, there is a ‘sub-revolution’ bubbling under. Given the country’s price sensitivity, several firms have unleashed a range of cheap smartphones that have become very popular.

Mobile became an integral part of the marketing mix a long time ago, but how does this proliferation of smartphones in India impact the communications industry and PR in particular?

This section assesses how communications strategies are being aligned and integrated with smartphones and other handheld devices, and how the messaging and content have changed to engage a different set of demographics.

In first edition of the report – launched in January 2012, as mentioned above – MSLGROUP highlighted such critical issues as the need for integrated communications, sparking widespread interest and provoked much-needed dialogue.

For the second edition, released in January 2013, MSLGROUP commissioned a third-party India-wide survey of Indian PR professionals. The objective was to understand how they viewed a potentially tough year for business and the trends that would define the industry. In an industry where such studies are rare, MSLGROUP commissioned the survey across the executive hierarchy to ensure that the newest entrants had their say alongside the most hardened veterans.

To learn more about the PR report:

Public Relations in India: Impact of The Economic Downturn and 2014 Outlook by MSLGROUP