Arneeta Vasudeva: Brands' value mostly intangible

We are in a new era of Public Relations. In the last few years, the importance of reputation management has taken a sea change. More brands and clients, especially from the leadership teams, are viewing Public Relations from a close range. The industry has undergone a radical change with the advent of social media, which has to a large extent changed the approach to Public Relations. We have a relatively new and young audience that we need to face in the coming years so there are bigger challenges for brands and PR practitioners, who have to be more agile and proactive in their thinking to draw up business solutions for clients.In our exclusive column – PR Conversation – Adgully interacts with leading business leaders and obtains their exclusive views and insights on the various trends in the PR and communications industry.In conversation with Adgully, Arneeta Vasudeva, National Head, PR&I, Ogilvy India, delves into the current trends in the reputation economy, focusing on India in 2024. She explores how the reputation economy has evolved over the years and sheds light on the challenges and opportunities it presents.Additionally, Arneeta discusses the importance and impact of data-driven storytelling in the PR industry, showcasing how Ogilvy PR&I is leveraging data for effective communication strategies.What are the current trends in the reputation economy in India in 2024? How has the reputation economy evolved over the years in India?Speaking of reputation economy, one can see how brands are affected in today’s VUCA world. The intangibles play a huge role in building the value of brands. By ‘intangibles’ I mean factors such as customer endorsements, employee support, validation from industry, governments, and other influencers, that go on to add to the credibility of a brand.These are high value endorsements gained over time and with fast evolving platforms of digital and social, companies and brands must recognize the power and influence these channels have on their long-standing reputation.In the past five to seven years, digital platforms have provided numerous opportunities for businesses and brands to expand. This surely points to the significance of reputation economy in present times.As mentioned earlier, a large part of a brand’s valuation today hinges on intangible factors. This is deeply intertwined with the ongoing digital evolution and the changing social landscape, shaping how brands and individuals are perceived in the market.How does online reputation have real world outcomes for brands and individuals?From a communication standpoint, brands are delivering on their messaging and engaging customers, and a significant part of these interactions are happening through the digital ecosystem, often in real time. The space has indeed evolved into an opportunity to communicate more openly and freely, as well.In such a scenario, it is crucial to understand what you communicate holds great importance. Therefore, one must closely weigh in factors of authenticity, credibility, and genuineness, while putting outcontent. With that, it also becomes equally important to monitor and track online conversations and build an efficient and effective response mechanism.What are some of the best strategies implemented by brands for managing online reputation?As mentioned earlier, diligent monitoring is essential in this fast-paced digital landscape, where everything happens real-time. Having a prompt and efficient response mechanism is the key to managing a lot of the chatter that goes on in this space. On social and digital platforms, maintaining pace is totally vital, alongside being responsive.Some of the ORM tools we use help in building efficiencies, but reading into the overall sentiment and drawing an assessment is very important. It goes without saying, timing and relevance is at the center of creating the right content and response strategy.What are the challenges and opportunities in the reputation economy in India?The opportunity is huge as it opens up new avenues for brands to build their story. However, with this freedom of space and time, digital platforms also throw in a lot of uncertainty. It is difficult to always predict or preempt what may come your way. True for a lot of categories like food delivery and online shopping, for instance, where customer grievances can turn into a big dent in their reputation. While this may have nothing to do with the brand itself, there are consequences and fallouts of how the experience may end up being a negative.These operational challenges are part of everyday business, often affecting a brand’s reputation. In that sense, evaluating the digital ecosystem you work with becomes an important part of the overall customer journey and experience.What are the PR trends for 2024? How is AI being leveraged in the PR industry and where is the PR industry headed in the next five years?In today’s interconnected world, we shouldn’t be operating in silos. The boundaries between PR, advertising, and digital are blurring, with data, digital and AI, shaping our reality. This means being channel agnostic and adopting an idea-led and integrated approach to communications, is the way forward and we must embrace it.What is the importance and impact of data driven storytelling in the PR industry? How is Ogilvy PR&I utilizing the same?The role of data is crucial in supporting facts, credibility, and insights. From a communications and PR lens, this is absolutely key in shaping ideas for our clients and their brands. And even more today, as we get to see the interplay between data, digital and AI. One feeds and supports into the other, which actually amounts to a huge data paradox, if I may say so. There is data in abundance out there, and it is our job to make sense of it and channel this into creating meaningful content and assets for our brands.