Friday, February 24, 2006

Ad Age poll on GlaxoSmithKline's PR plan

Jim Horton talks about this week's Ad Age report GlaxoSmithKline Drafts Employees to Polish Industry Image.

"The pharmaceutical giant is so troubled by the worsening reputation of its industry that it plans to turn its entire 8,000-person US sales force into an aggressive public relations team."

Do you think this is a practical strategy for drug corporations? Will Glaxo employees' advocacy for the drug industry improve its image? You could cast your vote .

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Communications and threat of delisting

Less than 10 days after the Sensex zoomed past the 10,000 mark for the first time on February 6, 2006 came a report in The Financial Express that around 4,000 companies might be delisted as they had not been traded on the Indian stock exchanges.

Quoting Securities and Exchange Board of India Chairman M Damodaran, the report said only 2,500 of the 7,242 companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) were being actively traded.

The move was expected…. Just a couple of months back, a Survey revealed that 38 per cent of the small investors held shares in delisted companies. The survey was sponsored by the Investor Education & Protection Fund of the Ministry of Company Affairs, Government of India.
The alarming situation is a cause for concern not only for the regulators but also those entrepreneurs who sincerely strive to create wealth for investors. Such developments further mar the credibility of India's equity environment, and wean retail investors farther away from the stock markets.

Amidst this welter of skepticism a question that springs to one's mind is: Are all the 4,000-odd companies that face delisting bad? Isn't it possible that some of them might be getting the axe because of their inability to communicate their success story/ growth potential/ strengths?

Absolutely. Estimates suggest that there are around 600-700 such companies. In other words, about 15-17.5 per cent of these companies are well-run entities. Several of these companies might have a consistent track record of growth but might be faltering consistently in communicating it to their stake-holders and the investment community in general. There might be other entities that could be tottering because they are small -- and perhaps young. There might be still others which are steady players without any growth potential.

There is an urgent need for the promoters of all such companies to reach out to their stake-holders and explain their story. Each and every enterprise has its own strengths, and it is the communications consultant's job to ensure that they are communicated to the stake-holders.

The promoters have to build their reputation with a strategic investor relations programme. This will help them further burnish their reputation.

Reputation is the perception of quality in a person, organization, product, or service, as distinct from the quality itself. Likewise, the market value of a company depends as much on its financial performance as on the perception of its performance in the investing world.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Blogs, brands and public relations

“Some companies have realised how blogs can make or break a brand and they have tried to reach out to online groups through corporate blogs,” Priyanka Jayashankar writes in The Hindu Business Line.

"Skillful blogging can boost your company's credibility and help it connect with customers," says Preeti Desai, President, Internet and Mobile Association of India….

"Since both customer retention and acquisition are extremely expensive, companies can ill-afford to ignore bloggers," says Meenakshi Sachdev Varma, CEO and Managing Director of Good Relations India Pvt Ltd, a public relations firm.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Public relations and brands

exchange4media has interviewed Vivek Sengupta, President, IPAN. "PR can always play a concrete role in communications solutions for brands, whether it is 360 degree or as part of integrated communications," he has said. "PR can be a very tangible, a very credible and a very useful input in the overall communications solution for any brand/ company."

Himachal chapter of PRSI launched

The Tribune reports that the Himachal chapter of the Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) has been launched. This is the 34th chapter of the society.

The Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University, Prof L R Verma, was the chief guest on the occasion.

Samir Goswami, national president of the PRSI, said that the society had a membership of more than 3,000 all over the country.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Yes, President!

President, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam's speech at the weekend was a stunning example of development communications.

Speaking at the silver jubilee celebrations of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living in Bangalore, he praised the Non-Governmental Organization. He said its motto, "Life is sacred. Celebrate life," reminded him of the advice of Mahatma Gandhi's mother to her son. "Son, in your entire life time if you can save or better someone's life, your birth as a human being and your life is a success. You have the blessing of the Almighty God," she had told Gandhi.

With his words of wisdom, Dr Kalam should have succeeded in unleashing a flood of positive thoughts in the minds of the people who have heard him. The mammoth Bangalore gathering -- and millions of people across the globe, thanks to the live telecast -- heard him in rapt attention. He recited a divine hymn, and urged people to join him in chorus. The hymn was:

Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home.
There is an order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world.

With ripples of positive energy spreading across the globe, television viewers too joined the chorus. Dr Kalam might not have heard their voices. He might not have also heard the murmurs of resolution made by the crowd -- and the viewers: "Let me try and help others."

India needs a downpour of such development communications with the media too pitching in. How? By giving widespread coverage to such speeches -- and, if possible -- capturing their impact on the people, particularly the youth.

Lokesh Tiwary joins Rediffusion PR

Exchange4Media reports that Lokesh Tiwary, President, Enterprise Public Relations, is joining Rediffusion Public Relations as President. He joins on February 22, after spending 16 years at Nexus.

Commenting on Tiwary’s appointment, Diwan Arun Nanda, CMD, Rediffusion DYR, India, said, “Lokesh brings along with him tremendous experience in advertising and public relations, which is bound to make us offer superior value to our clients. Today, clients are increasingly looking at public relations to work strategically for them, and under Lokesh’s leadership I am certain that we will enhance our reputation as being able to provide a complete communications package to our clients.”

Sunday, February 19, 2006

March ahead, LIC!

Life Insurance Corporation can effortlessly turn this challenge into an opportunity, thanks to its rich talent pool. Like the State Bank of India, LIC is a giant that is capable of many miracles. In fact, it is one of the most trust-worthy brands in India.

In in The Economic Times Brand Equity’s survey of most trusted brands, which was released on February 15, 2006, LIC stood Number 6 (its rank was number 39 in 2003). It is the only service brand to figure among the top 10 in the survey.

As for the financials, LIC has total assets of Rs 4380.79 billion and a Life Fund of Rs 3856.39 billion as on March 31, 2005. Its total income in the last fiscal was Rs 1123.46 billion. What is more, LIC has been maintaining a solvency margin of 123%. It also has huge hidden reserves through its investments in real estate and equity.

As LIC sets out to take on the challenge, it can bank on support from several quarters. Consider what Professor Laxmi Narain, a reader of The Economic Times, wrote in the paper on February 14, 2006, “… to be fair to LIC, the government should also consider the removal of handicaps tilting the field against the Corporation…Let LIC get a level playing field on all scores. It cannot be ‘heads I win, tails you lose’.”

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Chairman C S Rao said on February 14, 2006, “LIC would not require infusion of additional funds to jack up its solvency margin even if the government withdrew guarantees on policies provided by the Corporation. We did not consider the fact that LIC policies are backed by sovereign guarantee while calculating its solvency margin.”

March ahead, LIC! Millions of policy-holders are with you!