“Owned media” is on the mind of clients and is changing the PR mix

COVID-19 makes everything happen faster – and using “owned media” is on the rise. Of course, with Covid-19 dominating all traditional media, opportunities for “earned media” have declined. On top of that, major media is shrinking the numbers of journalists.

Add technology to this mix and you have a big change for PR.

India is leading this change in the PR mix.

Kunal Kishore, founder director -Value 360 Communications makes a prediction – “Previously earned media made up the majority of external communications. In the future there will be a good balance on earned and owned media for brands. This balance could be 70-30 or even 60 -40 (Majority going to earned media).”

PR firms in India have been alert to this shift and many are hiring aggressively from journalism for this shift to “owned content”.

One of the leading innovators in this PR shift is Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited, who says: “Consumers today prefer to have a direct channel of dialogue with brands, there is also sadly a shrinking trust in media channels due to the fake and paid news. The issue of authenticity and the blurring lines between earned content and paid content has resulted in activating a sense of ‘ad-blocking’ in the minds of consumers.”

Patil describes “owned media” as a slow burn process.

“The key aspect of any communication strategy is to generate awareness and engagement amongst the existing and potential audience of the brand. While earned, paid and social media are mediums to do this, essentially, they offer lesser control on the narrative.

”Owned media gives brands the opportunity to share stories creatively with their customers, and vice-versa albeit with more control…it builds a bridge between customers and brands to engage with each other more experientially, authentically and effectively.”

Kunal Kishore makes the point that “owned media” was always important. Brands were using it reach their end stakeholders even before.

”For example, Lufthansa worked with TiE to create a start-up symposium to communicate with entrepreneurs. After COVID-19, this has become multifold. Discovery of content by brands has become very important, and they have discovered that a digital footprint travels”.

Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, chief executive officer, Ideosphere says, “In today’s post-COVID digital world, established brands as well as emerging businesses are finding the first opportunity in owned media to not only reach out to the external world, but also bring their internal teams together, spark engagement, and fuel collaborative innovation in remote, omni-present work environments.”

Partha Ghosh, vice president and head, corporate communications, Samsung India & South West Asia commented that, “The pandemic has transformed the way people are consuming media, with a definitive shift towards digital. During this period, brands have developed great appreciation for owned media as a platform to tell unique and authentic stories to consumers and other external stakeholders.”  

Examples of Owned Media PR driven properties 

Sujit Patil explains the thinking and impact of the PR led property Godrej L’Affaire, In the last four years it has grown as a strong community and platform that brings together brands, influencers and customers. The platform provides experiences in all things’ lifestyle – food, fashion, travel, music and wellness.

“We launched it as over 7 our businesses and many brands at Godrej are in the lifestyle space. Making the platform brand agnostic (meaning external non-competing brands in the lifestyle space also made a part of the platform) has actually helped create a positive rub-off on smaller brands,” according to Patil.

Nandita Lakshmanan, CEO, The PRactice says, “We believe we will see more clients who will recognize the value of owned assets like resource portals, blogs, newsletters, magazines, podcasts, video channels, documentaries, short films. For example, for a real estate client, we decided to focus on LinkedIn and blogs as well as launched a podcast series, while focusing on the work they did with their foundation.”

Getting Owned Media Right 

Patil says the theory of gate-keepers of journalism is offset in owned media with the theory of RECCE (Relevance, Engagement, Content, Community, Experience). Since the customer experience and brand ethos are the core of owned media platforms, it pushes brands to create Relevancy among its target consumers to drive Engagement using interesting Content which eventually leads to Community building through Experience (RECCE).

Kishore suggests organisations should be alert to the quality of content, the credibility and authority of the person sharing the content, transparency, interactivity, listening and curating content.

It’s the fast changing world of Public Relations.

Australia and international students after Covid19 – we have a problem!

Australia has damaged its reputation as a location for international students. This damage is partly due to government action and partly due to our universities.

The damage can be repaired but we will have to start now.

What went wrong?

First, international students were caught in a double whammy – they could not qualify for Job Keeper or Job Seeker – and many could not “go home” because of border closures. That means they were stuck in Australia with no money.

The Australian Prime Minister’s messaging made matters worse, suggesting that those unable to support themselves should “make [their] way home”.

Second, a quarter experienced verbal racist abuse and a quarter reported people avoiding them because of their appearance. More than half of Chinese respondents reported experiencing either or both of these.

These were the findings of a nationwide survey of 6,105 international students and other temporary migrants conducted in July – finding that 70% lost all or most of their work during the pandemic, while thousands have been left unable to pay for food and rent.

A report from UNSW Law Associate professor Bassina Farbenblum and UTS Law Associate professor Laurie Berg – co-directors of the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative – revealed more than half of survey respondents (57%) believe their financial stress will deepen by year’s end.

“Over 16,00 participants described being targeted with xenophobic slurs, treated as though they were infected with Covid-19 because they looked Asian, or harassed for wearing a face mask”, said Farbenblum.

It is a disaster for Australia – three in five international students, graduates and working holidaymakers said they are now less likely or much less likely to recommend Australia as a place to study or have a working holiday.

It is time for Australian universities and Governments to repair the damage.

How does Indian democracy work?

Pictured above is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

I am often asked about India’s democracy – most people know of India as “the world’s biggest democracy” but few know the structure of it. Here is a short summary:

Indian government

The Republic of India is a federal democracy comprising 28 states and nine union territories. The Head of State is the President and the Head of Government is the Prime Minister – currently PM Narendra Modi.

Indian Parliament

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The Indian Parliament is bicameral, comprising the 545-member Lok Sabha (‘people’s’ or lower house) and the 245-member Rajya Sabha (‘states’ or upper house). Lok Sabha members are elected by universal adult suffrage every five years (except for two appointed Anglo-Indian members) using the ‘first past the post’ voting system. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one third of its members retire every second year. One third of Rajya Sabha members are elected every two years by the legislative assemblies of the Indian states.

BJP is the current Government

The 2019 Indian national election for the Lok Sabha saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win a second consecutive term with 303 out of 543 seats.

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India and Australia are perfectly placed to become closer allies in the post-Covid19 world

The relationship between India should flourish in strategic and defence areas plus trade and investment.

Both Australia and India are significant powers in the Indian Ocean region.

India, the world’s largest democracy, is a major power.

The trade relationship

India was Australia’s eighth-largest trading partner and fifth-largest export market in 2018-19, driven by coal and international education. Two-way goods and services trade with India was $30.3 billion in 2018-19, and the level of two-way investment was $30.7 billion in 2018.

Strategic relations much closer now

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has worked hard on the India relationship and his personal connection with Indian PM Narendra Modi.

On 4 June 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, participated in the Australia-India Leaders’ Virtual Summit. At this meeting, the two Prime Ministers elevated the bilateral Strategic Partnership concluded in 2009 to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).

The CSP is based on mutual understanding, trust, common interests and the shared values of democracy and rule of law. Through the CSP, both countries have committed to work together across a range of areas.

The CSP also marks a step forward in the two countries’ ambitious agenda to expand our trade and economic relationship, as outlined in the India Economic Strategy (IES), which was released in July 2018 and endorsed by the Australian Government in November 2018.

India’s growing economy and young population need Australian goods and services

Over the next 20 years, a growing India will need many of Australia’s goods and services, including agriculture, education and skills training, and healthcare. There will of course be growth across most areas – but these are the standouts.

Since 2000, India’s GDP has grown seven-fold to reach USD3 trillion. India’s economy is forecast to become the third largest by 2030 (currently seventh) in market exchange rate terms. India already has the third largest economy in PPP terms and is set to maintain this ranking. The two-way stock of investment was valued at AUD30.7 billion in 2018. In 2018, Australia’s investment in India was valued at AUD15.6 billion and India’s investment in Australia was valued at AUD15.1 billion. India was Australia’s 18th largest investment destination.

The Aussie “India Economic Strategy”

Australia’s economic engagement with India is underpinned by the India Economic Strategy (IES), which was commissioned by the Australian Government in 2017 and led by Mr Peter Varghese, former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2012-2016) and High Commissioner to India (2009-2012). This document is the guide for future growth.

Education is huge but facing challenges

Education is Australia’s largest service export to India, valued at AUD5.5 billion and accounting for around 85 per cent of the total. Indian students in Australia number almost 110, 000 (year to date September 2019), which marks a 33 per cent increase over the previous year. These students made 132,079 enrolments in Australia, comprising 15 per cent of international enrolments. As an education export market, India is second only to China, with exports valued at AUD12.1 billion in 2018-19 and 246,454 enrolments in Australia. Adapting to post-Covid19 education market changes will be a challenge for Australian universities.

Austrade is showing and creating the way

The Australia-India Business Exchange (AIB-X) is a new, Austrade-led, Australia-India business marketing platform that will build on the success of Australian Business Week in India, last held in 2017. This multi-month campaign included a coordinated program of activities and events. Minister Birmingham led a business mission to India in late February as part of AIB-X, with sectoral events and workshops to be held in five cities.

This will provide an opportunity to deepen trade and investment ties, focusing on small and medium across the IES’ priority sectors. Further information can be found on the Austrade website.

Plus Austrade has set up The Australian Store at Amazon India – primed to take off over the next few years.

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People-to-people links

Australia and India are building strong and lasting ties through our people-to-people links.

The Indian diaspora (comprising both Australians of Indian origin and Indians resident in Australia) is now Australia’s fastest growing large diaspora. According to the most recent (2016) Census, the number of people born in India amounts to 592,000, representing 2.4 per cent of the Australian population, or 1 in 50 people. Around 700,000 people claim Indian ancestry.

India remains Australia’s largest source of skilled migrants and the second largest source of international students. Hinduism is our fastest growing religion and Punjabi is our fastest growing language.

The Australia India Council

The Australia-India Council is also advancing Australia’s foreign and trade policy interests with India. Each year it provides grants for programs linking the two countries. I was fortunate to support the Genesis Horticulture Services research mission to India in November – part funded by AIC.

(Thanks to DFAT for lots of the above information)

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India’s cricket “captain of calm”, MS Dhoni, retires from the international game

Picture above – MS Dhoni (left) hits the six against Sri Lanka that won the 2011 World Cup final for India, one of 359 sixes that the wicketkeeper-batsman struck across all international formats.

So Mahendra Singh (MS) Dhoni has retired from international cricket.

Two of the “greats” sum up his legacy:

England’s former captain Nasser Hussain: “Probably the best white‑ball captain there has ever been. A great finisher. It wasn’t over until you got Dhoni out. A phenomenally calm, cool customer.”

India’s master Sachin Tendulkar: “Winning the 2011 World Cup together has been the best moment of my life.”

You have to be in India and see people playing cricket wherever they can – in streets, sometimes in dusty parks, on any vacant spot they can find. Once you see this, you know the high level of passion India has for the game.

Dhoni will still play this IPL season, no doubt hitting more sixes for his Chennai Super Kings.

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What an amazing record – 60 Tests, 27 wins, 18 defeats and 15 draws; a mountainous 200 in one-day internationals, with 110 wins, 74 losses, five ties and 11 no-results for a winning return of 58% in completed games; and, in Twenty20 matches he captained India to 41 wins out of 72. And he hit 359 sixes in his career!

But above all, with Dhoni at the helm, India played with a calm certainty that they had never managed before – it was his leadership that is the great legacy.

So, who would you pick for wicketkeeper-batsman – MS Dhoni or Adam Gilchrist? We have been fortunate to see them both.

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This will not be the last contribution MS Dhoni makes to Indian cricket – I think other key roles are ahead for this global sports leader.

India’s Reliance second to Apple in “FutureBrand Index”

Who said India could not produce strong brands?

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries has been ranked second biggest brand after Apple on the FutureBrand Index 2020.

“This year’s highest entrant at number two, Reliance Industries excels on every attribute,” FutureBrand said, releasing its 2020 Index.

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“One of the most profitable companies in India, Reliance is, very well respected and is seen as behaving ethically as well as being associated with growth, innovative products and great customer service. People have a strong emotional connection with the organisation,” it added.

FutureBrand, a global brand transformation company, said part of Reliance’s success could be attributed to Mukesh Ambani’s recasting of the firm as a one-stop-shop for Indians.

“The chairman built on the existing petrochemicals business, transforming it into a digital behemoth designed to meet every customer need. Today, this company is engaged in several sectors including energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications. Now that Google and Facebook are taking equity stakes in the firm, we may see Reliance jostling for the top spot in the next Index,” it said.

Britain’s invasion of India, the power of the Muslim rulers and Ayodhya

Indian PM Modi’s emotion in Ayodhya, “British” rule and the power of the Mughals – how can we understand what is happening today?

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To understand modern India and even PM Modi, I feel we need to turn to Swami Vivekananda – who said:

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We talk about the British conquering India and this defines today, but as William Dalrymple writes in The Anarchy, the seizing of power in India was done by a private company – probably the first outsourced act of violence in history.

That company was the East India Company and as Dalrymple writes: “The Company’s conquest of India almost certainly remains the supreme act of corporate violence in world history.” Worth reading that line again!

It is hard to know and even relate to how my Indian friends feel about the two major invasions of their country in recent centuries – first, the Mughal empire and then this East India Company.

Which brings me to Ayodhya.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sprinkled sacred water and flowers into a small hole on Wednesday, part of a ritual marking the start of construction of a grand Hindu temple in the city of Ayodhya.

With emotion Modi said: “Today centuries of waiting are over.” For many of my Indian friends, this was a shared emotion.

Western media persists with the line that all this is “Hindu nationalism”. I am not so sure.

It will be up to Indians – and not to people like me or the media – to define what is happening under PM Modi and what the national motivation is. Most change is painful at first but in lifting people out of poverty and restoring confidence, he has brought great optimism to India.

Now India faces another struggle – Covid 19 – which makes arguments about history seem like something of an indulgence.

From our hearts to yours, we wish India success in this life and death battle against the virus.

With Covid19 we are seeing the vast and deep truth of that classic Indian saying Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – meaning “the world is one family”.

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India attracting investment during the pandemic and USA is the largest trading partner for a second year

Since March, India has received over $20 billion of new investment from Western companies despite the pandemic.

Thanks to John Bell, Client Relations, Amritt, Inc, Malibu California for this information.

Here are  four examples of significant improvement in bilateral trade between the two countries (India and USA) during the pandemic:

Dozens of large and small organizations depend on Amritt as their trusted advisor to succeed in India, whether selling, sourcing or leveraging talent.

You can Email John Bell at johnb@amritt.com

 

Covid19 could lead us to a cleaner more innovative world – if we rethink what we do

About seven million people are killed by air pollution every year. The current model of modern society is unsustainable.

Two leading Professors say that looking through a COVID-19 lens provides us an amazing picture outside and shows some innovative pathways on living in harmony with nature, i.e. new-modern society.

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They are Professor Suresh Bhargava, RMIT University, Australia (pictured above) and Professor Seeram Ramakrishnan, National University of Singapore (below).

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Here are some points from their recent paper on the topic:

Contrary to devastating effects, the COVID19 had positive outcomes in terms of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of natural resources, and climate change.  Satellite imageries confirm the reduction of NOx, SOx and other pollutants in all cities of the world.

COVID19 provides an opportunity to rethink everything humans do. The current model of modern society is unsustainable. Reversing the clock and going back to pre-modern society built on fulfilling just the needs of humans is not realistic.

Pollution

Sustaining the modern society built on fulfilling the needs and wants of humans requires out of the box thinking. In the current climate of COVID, companies are struggling to survive on top of challenges in industry 4.0 or digitalization of products and services. How will they be able to think about sustainability while their worry is about resilience, and make the necessary adjustments to their business for the long term?

Sustainability has tended to be a secondary priority for many industries and especially SME businesses. Now faced with business survival and viability concerns, what is the status of existing sustainability initiatives in companies and across industries? How has the pandemic affected existing initiatives and longer-term targets, plans and ambitions on the sustainability front?  How can organisations get back on track with regard to their sustainability ambitions e.g. are there synergistic business-led propositions that can serve these aims? What countries can do in terms of sustainability, circular economy and Paris agreement to decarbonize while growing shrink economies and rising employment opportunities?

Using a COVID19 lens, there are opportunities for decarbonisation while not compromising the modern ways of living and economic growth.

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Countries and companies will shorten the supply chains and value chains.  Globalization will take newer form relying more on digital technologies and internet.  This will be facilitated by yet to emerge innovations in finance and commerce.

COVID19 has unexpected effect on food industry. Clean meat is touted as a solution to zoonotic diseases associated with current methods of producing meat from the animals.  Clean meat is made from plant based, cultivated cells.  Hence the carbon footprint is lower than animal sourced meat.

Critics will argue for slow and careful introduction of clean meat to the mass population.  Therein lies huge opportunities for innovations, technologies, new jobs and new pathways of economic growth while caring for the Earth.

Importance of safe water and its adequate supply is highlighted by the COVID19.  Sustainable future lies in the zero-waste water innovations and technologies.

The single use plastic wastes have been identified for their pollution of the marine ecology and subsequent negative effects on the food chain and human health.  Science, business, standards, and policy innovations are needed to replace the petrochemical derived plastics with degradable bioplastics derived from the renewable sources.  Designing products with end-of-life considerations and life cycle engineering opens up opportunities for economy growth and new jobs creation while improving the quality of environment.

The Energy sector is also affected by the COVID19.  Oil futures went into negative. It is an opportune time for the governments to eliminate the fossil fuel subsidies and invest in renewable energy infrastructure as long-term nation building.

Perhaps, governments and companies should together accelerate the electrification of transportation.  New jobs and new economic growth to happen in vehicle design and manufacturing, digitization, as well as charging infrastructure.

COVID19 transformed shopping and brought almost the whole of humanity to on-line shopping.  The on-line shopping for groceries and food deliveries are on par with electronic goods and accessories.

Similarly, work has moved to telework, and the Education moved to on-line learning and assessment.

Digital services for virtual meetings, online learning, telemedical diagnostics, government services, ecommerce, grocery delivery, e-banking, and entertainment all experienced unprecedented growth in demand. The hyper scale data centres with their 24x7x365 resilient operation, are the heart of digital transformation.

Looking to the coming decade, the introduction of 5G will further accelerate the digital transformation era with its clear alignment with Industrial 4.0, in which real time data and automation will power more of the industrial world.

Clear messages emerged from the COVID19 pandemic include, the digital transformation is a necessity to keep society running; mental health is important for the general well-being and productivity of a person; and a healthy living environment is a basic human right.

The circular economy vision, decarbonisation and sustainability efforts mitigate climate change thus create opportunities for sustained economic growth and new jobs creation. 

Amazing research work by the two and continues the innovative and collaborative approaches of my friend Professor Suresh Bhargava – well done!

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Start your India journey with Chennai – and start your India outsourcing with Sundaram

Tamil Nadu has the second-largest economy in India and by area is the fourth largest state of India. The capital is Chennai and over 60% of the state is urbanised.

Chennai is one of my personal favourites – doing business there is good and there is plenty of tourism and activity to keep life interesting.

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One of the leading firms is the Sundaram Finance group, led by Managing Director TT Srinivasaraghavan. The firm has a code of ethics and behaviour which it calls “The Sundaram Way” – an inspiring document worth looking up.

Within the Sundaram group is an outsourcing and business consulting arm, Sundaram Business Services (SBS).

SBS is strong in Australia and provides services to many leading brands, including a major superannuation outsourcing practice.

SBS is led here by Harish Rao who pioneered Australia’s superannuation outsourcing to India (pictured below, Harish Rao has won several awards in Australia).

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As a southern India state, it is highly courteous, very friendly, conservative in approach to business and a good starting place to find a trusted business partner.

Tamil Nadu has a diversified manufacturing sector and features among the leaders in several industries like automobiles and auto components, engineering, pharmaceuticals, garments, textile products, leather products, chemicals, plastics, etc.

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It has a well-developed infrastructure with an excellent road and rail network, three major ports, 15 minor ports, and seven airports across the state providing excellent connectivity.

As of February 2020, the state had 54 formally approved Special Economic Zone (SEZs), 50 notified SEZs and four with in- principle approval SEZs and has total 40 exporting SEZs.

For most of you, Chennai and the state of Tamil Nadu make a good starting point on your India journey.