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A look at the Media Consulting sector in India

By AnshumanChakravarty, Head Brand & Corporate Communication, Orient Electric

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AnshumanChakravarty, Head Brand & Corporate Communication, Orient Electric

As technological advancements and new age communication mediums continue to change the way content and information are consumed, the media consulting landscape in India is witnessing a paradigm shift. Indian companies, both startups and big establishments, are seeking strategic media consultancy services to survive cut-throat competition,improve ROI’s in communication spendsand creatingbrand reputation and communicating differentiation.

The media constitutes an essential element in any communication strategy and is one of the most important and credible tool in this process. If used efficiently, it provides an invaluable method of communicating key messages to the target audiences. The relationship between media and a firm is at its best when both sides see a mutual benefit to a constructive relationship. Media, always, wants to know everything, while a firm seeks to control and manage their media perceptions. However, like effective diplomacy, good media relations can effectively mediate between the interests of the company and its target audience.

Sounds easy! Not so really. Media is as complex today as never before, it has become an extremely specialised field with every medium of media requiring specialists to helps firms to plan their communication.The earlier scenario, where the client’s advertising agency could provide all solutions under one roof, has changed dramatically. Today, clients look for specialised agency for creating digital content and managing and engaging in social communication and have separate agency for online media buying as well. Thus it shows how specialised this field has become.

The media consulting industry in India has grown both in terms of size and service offerings over the years. The way information is consumed has changed with the sweeping digital transformation.The increasing Internet access and its usage in India has been the growth driver for various segments of the industry. The increasing use of social media and online media has brought a significant shift in the role of media consulting. A brand is much more exposed to its stakeholders than ever before and so it must understand how best to use new age media to its advantage.Social media has given businesses the freedom and power of interacting with their target audience in a more personalized fashion. Most Indian companies, whether new or established, are taking a holistic approach to social media and have integrated it strategically into their media strategies. We increasingly see ORM as a strategic tool for brands to hear what the people are talking and thinking about it on online mediums. Another aspect with increasing data consumption is mobile advertising that is growing as the fastest medium at the moment. With mobile internet user base growing significantly, we will see more action in the mobile advertising ecosystem in the near future.

Online mediums have also enabled data-mining and analytics, which precisely helps the communicators to know their target audience and their patterns of communication and consumption. This helps in developing pinpointed strategy to address aselective set of audience, which in turn gives a much better ROI and call for action than conventional mediums. Media consultants are therefore putting more focus now on how to use the online mediums for better use.

Despite the major lean over online media currently, print media still holds ground in the Indian landscape as its reach is still remarkable. A fairly large percentage of Indian populationis still consuming information in regional languages, moreover, India being a geographically and culturally diverse country, the nuances and capabilities of the regional media also cannot be overlooked.

The exponential reach of the television medium has brought down cost of reach, but today advertisers are looking for more value ads and innovation in this medium beyond commercials. We see more and more niche channels addressing typical needs and varied content, thus we can expect many changes in this medium as well. With BARC coming in, we can expect better statistical data to study this medium more effectively.

A good media consultant helps brands connect with their right audience through the right message and timing. Timing is equally important as the time to react is getting lesser. The scope of a media consultant’s role in the current market dynamics is wide and at the same time very challenging given the fact that his or her role in true sense is of a facilitator who helps plan, pre-empt and put the most appropriate communication plan for a business with the plethora of available options.

Reputation is hard to build and sustain in this holistic ecosystem of communication. Public relation today plays an even more important feat in connecting with the opinion leaders and stakeholders who matter and help in cultivating a positive reputation for a brand. Constant engagement with the media also helps to bring out opportunities which help the brands to voice their opinion and standpoint. It also helps in communicating on business plans, programs and projects of social and corporate responsibility.

A good media consultant is one who understands clearly the client’s expectations and deliverables and keeps in mind the perspective of media as well as its desired recipients while developing an effective communication strategy. By taking care of competitive research, media management, crisis and reputation management, a media consultant plays a key role in the success of an organisation. Hiring a media consulting firm brings to the table the benefit of rich media expertise, which is essential to create a strong communication plan that goes with the ever changing business and media landscape.

The times ahead

A good media strategy is about communicating credibly with key audiences of a brand who affect business results, such as media analysts, policymakers and policy influencers, customers and shareholders. It is an important element in supporting the power and value of an organization's brands to all stakeholders. All the elements of corporate brand, from tone and personality, functional and emotional benefits, core message and end goal, to its reputation – if fully leveraged with internal and external audiences – can help raise performance and credibility.

We live in an ever changing world open to risks and complexities, therefore it is essential to have a crisis communication policy and framework which can deal effectively with contingencies and eventualities in the age of viral. The media consultant can help map the risks and probabilities and accordingly create a crisis response mechanism with defined responsibilities, escalation matrix and predefined messaging which helps in cutting down the time for response and also help tide over the crisis with minimum or no damage to the reputation.

The future clearly looks promising and exciting for media consulting industry in India.Database and analytics will be a key, while greater specialisation will be needed to deal with mature mediums and evolving ones. With economic growth back on track, companies in the Indian marketplace will be embracing specialised media consulting more than ever before.

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