Story telling

PR must learn the art of storytelling to come out on top: Geetika Bangia

Over the past 10 years, PR has taken on a different dimension, especially after the entry of social media and the rapid shift to digital, especially in times of pandemic. At the same time, the industry has faced daunting challenges. Additionally, customer expectations have also increased with more emphasis on digital and online reputation management. The industry has undergone a drastic change and the current times have pushed the industry into shifting gears.

In conversation with Adgully, Geetika Bangia, Corporate Communications Manager, Stryker Indiatalks about how PR has transformed 360 degrees over the past two decades, the importance of engaging content, developing good organic PR, and more.

You have spent considerable time with the client in corporate communication. How has public relations evolved over the past 10-15 years and what are the significant changes you’ve noticed?

In my nearly 2 decades of experience in this PR, Communications and Marketing industry and having played different roles on this journey, I would say this industry has transformed 360 degrees. Old rules have become redundant, and new ones are forming every day, due to the dynamic nature of this industry. Once heavily printed and newspapers and magazines considered the undisputed champions, it has now become equally important to have a presence in the online space. Additionally, storytelling that used to be in the form of articles, blogs, and infographics is now being creatively told through videos, captions, and memes. This change took place in the last decade, not so long ago. In my opinion, public relations is any type of marketing communication that positively influences stakeholders, including customers, partners, and even employees.

However, one thing that hasn’t changed and will remain constant in this industry is content. The success of every campaign has been, and always will be, dependent on the engaging content and novelty it delivers.

What are some of the challenges you face leading a corporate communications team when working with your PR partners? How do you set expectations to get the most out of your PR partner?

As essential as the role of corporate communication is in an organization, getting PR partners to understand its importance is always very difficult. Their industry has tuned them to measure success in a tangible way, which is not possible in the case of public relations and communications. This specialization focuses on building the brand, both for the company and for the leaders who run it. Additionally, developing good organic PR takes time and effort because it involves building relationships and nurturing them over a period of time. So, despite being part of the marketing function, there are still apprehensions about budgeting and the role of public relations, to some extent, is still seen as a tool to get coverage in newspapers or magazines. .

Therefore, in setting expectations, I follow the strategy of being open to listening but, at the same time, being honest in making them understand the pros and cons, because every action taken is a step towards building of a brand. Additionally, if a stakeholder wants their message, product, or service to be highlighted in every piece of PR content, I make it clear to them that PR is different from advertising or sales collateral. Here, content should inform, engage, or call to action through a story rather than feel promotional or commercial. However, things are a bit more positive and partners are receptive to the fact that it’s not all about coverage. This is the brand’s narrative approach, which will bring more tangible results.

Building your brand through PR takes patience and time. What advice would you give to start-ups on brand building through PR, as they are all in a rush to see quick results?

Based on my experience leading public relations for organizations, one piece of advice for start-ups is that you have come this far with your conviction and your faith. However, as they say, the game at the top only gets harder. So to stay in the game, where many new competitors will continue to join, it’s time to take a break from sprinting and walk the marathon for a while. In the world of marketing, public relations is that long-distance race that will build your credibility, increase brand awareness and backlinks to your website, and generate investor interest.

For this, developing consistent and effective PR campaigns becomes vital as they can help engage and build strong relationships with the media. Although time-consuming, this process will undoubtedly ensure that your business name is consistently in the press and online publications. The more the target audience hears and sees you in a credible publication or online portal, the more they will trust your brand. Many companies see PR as the last part of a journey, but make it a priority and start investing in it now. This will help project a favorable image to a start-up’s target audience.

Will the role of digital increase in public relations in the future? Has India adapted to digital changes compared to other countries in the world?

According to the global report, in India almost 658 million people or 47% of the total population use the internet. Moreover, people in the country spend about 2.36 hours a day on social media. According to statistics, it is difficult to ignore the presence of the digital world, especially with a significant part of the population active in it.

Thus, in public relations, which is a dynamic industry, this medium has indeed established itself as a reliable tool to build and promote a brand. This is done when marketers combine SEO and marketing techniques with PR strategies to increase a brand’s online presence. Plus, being a measurable tool, it helps increase brand awareness, website traffic, and links, which boost organic rankings, sales, social following, and engagement.

Moreover, the motive of digital being to connect the world, India is adapting well to the changes of digital compared to other countries in the world. Marketers are capitalizing on all existing and new technologies entering the field, be it artificial intelligence or the metaverse.

There is still a strong belief that PR in India still works on strong media relations. How about the same, and don’t you think we now need to think beyond media relations with more emphasis on strategic thinking?

The traditional form of public relations has always been highly publicized, as the way to building a brand is through media relations, which at present has taken the form of both offline and online. However, I don’t entirely agree that a strong media relationship can get you the coverage you want. My belief has always been that the story is the real winner, and how that story is told, presented, or delivered is what wins coverage, and all of this can only happen through strategic thinking. A campaign is created after analyzing the different aspects of all online platforms and its feasibility in print. Thus, people’s perception that the role is to garner newspaper coverage is incorrect. So learn the art of storytelling to emerge victorious.