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Thursday, July 28, 2011

PR Strategies for MSME(Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) sector

Recently we were approached by a company, which is in the process of launching an innovative product for children, for possible PR support.

After talking to the client, understanding his business and going to the drawing board for a possible strategy, we were left in a dilemma. The dilemma stemmed from the fact that clients and consultancies centre their PR strategy around media.

This particular client also wanted, what we simply term as, media relations. While this was understandable, our problem was the fact that media in India has this tendency to only cover corporates who have already attained some sort of market leadership in their categories. Also the offerings directed towards children hardly has any space.

While we have had immense success in creating categories and media space where none existed, this was a tough challenge. The challenge was made tougher by the fact that the client who spends resources will not necessarily give you the time in seeding the space.

This set me thinking, as we have often in the past gone back to prospective clients and frankly told them that there is little we can offer them by way of Media engagement but we can strategize for them. Most of these potentials have shied away from engaging us. As a PR consultant is our role confined to only media relations? My firm belief is NO, even though most of us end up doing just that. So what is it that we can offer to the MSME sector?

To answer this question, we must examine as to what is it that we specialize in? My answer is Communication. What is a client trying to do? The client is trying to communicate with his target audience. So why can't we, as communication specialists, make his communication process more effective. Sadly we ourselves are not able to communicate this fact to the client.

Media (offline) is a tool to address the target audience. We can tap this through expensive advertising or lower cost media relations.

But if we do not have advertising budgets and media relations is likely to be ineffective, then are we supposed to call off the PR campaign? I think not, though most of us tend to.

My suggested strategy is as follows:

First, Identify the target audience - based on the likely users of the client's services or products

Next, Identify the vehicles that can be used to reach out to this audience - Offline Media (Print and AV), Online Media (Websites, Social Media, Blogs), Trade Channels Exhibitions, Trade shows etc.), BTL activities (direct contact programmes, roadshows etc.)

Then, Formulate Engagement strategies for this audience

And, Devise Communication strategies to begin a dialogue with the Target Audience

Finally, Identify where all can you plug in the Client initiatives / business / growth plans / products

Once these steps have been completed, present this to the Client.

If you can make a difference to the clients business and help him grow, there is every possibility that he will buy into your services. The key is to become his partner through your core competencies. We are in the process of trying this out and I will try and share our experiences on this.

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