Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, Pune
Pune, August 2, 2015: Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication (PG), Pune, hosted its annual Public Relations Conclave on August 2, 2015. The institute, having completed 25 years of academic excellence, kept its legacy alive by bringing together some of the best minds of the industry to discuss the theme ‘Reinventing PR.’ The Conclave discussed the rising importance of PR and social media in marketing communications and how aspirants should be equipped with the right skills for the changing dynamics of the industry.
The speakers comprised eminent industry experts such as Madan Bahal, Founder and Managing Director, Adfactors, Senjam Raj Sekhar, Head of Corporate Communications at Flipkart, Sanjay Tripathy, Senior EVP, HDFC Life, Valerie Pinto, CEO, Weber Shandwick India, Deepshikha Dharmaraj, Chief Marketing & Growth Officer at Genesis Burson Marsteller and Nitin Mantri, Director at Avian Media, Hareesh Tibrewala, Founder and Joint CEO, Social Wavelength; Business Owner and Joint CEO at JWT Social Wavelength, Bhairavi Jhaveri, Communication Manager, Twitter India, among others.
The event kick started with a keynote speech by Mr Madan Bahal, who emphasised the need to discuss the theme afresh and spoke about adding dimensions to the worldwide PR discourse. Dwelling upon the current trend in the industry, he said,
“The empowerment of the common man has created many citizen journalists.”
He further delved into the theme of the event by talking about the growth of digital, and the crucial role it plays in the reinvention of PR. He explored some of the key issues in the industry and how they need to be addressed to even out the process of adaptation. “Robust theoretical knowledge is missing in PR professionals. Many of us have become templates. Process is a structure that is against creativity.”
Mr Bahal concluded his speech by talking about the role of academia and students in defining PR in the Indian context. Building further on this he said,
“After going through the syllabi of several top media institutes, I must say that the syllabus of SIMC is highly robust.”
The first panel, comprising distinguished personalities such as Sanjay Tripathy, Valerie Pinto and Senjam Raj Sekhar, witnessed an interesting exchange of opinions and insights from agencies and corporate alike. The topic of discussion was ‘PR: Climbing the value chain in marketing communication ladder’. Shedding light on it, Mr. Sekhar said,
“Marketing campaigns are becoming a lot like PR Campaigns. Public Relations is about engagements, conversations and influences, and marketing is now talking that language. The recent marketing campaigns that you have seen are essentially Public Relations campaigns”.
The panel drew parallels between marketing and PR. They emphasized the importance of PR in bringing credibility to a campaign vis-a-vis marketing. “The marketers know how to spend money and get ROI. What PR essentially does is drive and shape the conversations with a lot of credibility,” opined Valerie Pinto.
Steering the discussion to one of the most important phenomena in the industry today, the second panel brought together experts such as Hareesh Tibrewala, Deepshikha Dharmaraj and Bhairavi Jhaveri to discuss the topic ‘Social Media- The Belle of the PR Ball’. They deliberated upon how social media has triggered the democratization of communication. “Agencies need to understand the power of digital as a medium, rather than developing ventures around digital,” said Harish Tibrewala. Identifying the problem of traditional PR professionals trying to operate in digital, Deepshikha Dharmaraj expounded on the need for working in specialized units of domain experts, “We have a dedicated team that works on social. We have a live newsroom which actively monitors and listens to conversations online.”
In an age when talent is the key driver to any industry, the third panel discussion deep-dived into the issue, ‘Talent Acquisition- Industry Expectation versus Trained and Untrained Talent’. The panelists included Nitin Mantri, Chetan Mahajan, Joint CEO of MSLGroup and Paresh Chaudhry, CEO, Madison PR. Highlighting the importance of dabbling with multiple skills, Chetan Mahajan said, “You can’t have one specialisation. Each one of us is a journalist here. Any person with a smart device, who is socially connected, is a journalist.”
Building further on this theme, Chetan Mahajan, noted that the industry must invest in people from the perspective of growth. “Once you have achieved that, there are structured training programs for everyone. These resources need to think in terms of India, of regional as well as of global.”
This congregation of industry stalwarts from a gamut of verticals provided the academia with valuable insights into the dynamics of the PR industry. The aspiring professionals had an opportunity to understand the various facets which will be instrumental in their careers as future PR Managers. Namrita Khurana, a first-year MBA (CM) student of SIMC, expressed her views on the Conclave. “I am extremely grateful to SIMC for having provided us with the opportunity to interact with such eminent personalities from the industry, who provided us with such valuable insights that changed many perspectives. The PR Conclave 2015 was truly an enriching experience.”