Year-ender 2022: PR industry needs to reinvent itself – Ameer Ismail

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Campaign India ends the year by asking the industry what they don’t want to see next year, the most-used jargon, the best piece of work from 2022, how they maintained a work-life balance, and more…

Like every year, Campaign India is celebrating the last month of the year by engaging with industry leaders and asking them about the year gone by.

This is what Ameer Ismail, president, Lintas Live, MullenLowe Lintas Group, had to say:

What do you not want to see in the PR industry the next year?

The industry needs to reinvent itself. There is such a fantastic talent pool available and so many changes and opportunities with digital that PR agencies can play an enormous role in shaping narratives for individuals, brands and even the country.

PR has direct access to the c-suite. It’s time that influence is leveraged. I am confident that we can (and will) do much more global work, and we will see this come alive in 2023 and beyond.

The industry suffers from a lack of confidence and belief in its inherent value, that’s reflected in the stagnant fee structures and the lack of scale. Globally, the PR industry is sizeable, the largest agency has grown to around a billion dollars in revenue so there is enormous potential to scale. Clients see a sea of sameness in agencies, a lack of innovation and very few powerful ideas that stand out and get recognition. It would be unfortunate to see the industry continue down this path.

On a brand level, one needs to find engaging ways and use technology and innovation. At the centre, content is the most critical. As individuals, we scroll through a football field of data every day. It has become a lot more challenging to capture the attention of people! PR needs to deliver the kind of content that needs to deliver talkability and shareability. That’s becoming the new currency of relevance because if you don’t share the content you consume, the message doesn’t get cascaded and then eventually the brand doesn’t get the kind of attention it deserves.

Your favourite ad campaign from 2022?

My favourite campaign in 2022 was the Yezdi campaign. We were entrusted with the responsibility of relaunching and reviving interest in this legendary brand – an icon 20 years ago.

A learning from this year?

I would say it was a year of complete resurgence. It was a year where we saw clients exhibiting significant confidence and backing that with budgets. I have been predicting that the silos and barriers between the worlds of advertising and PR are blurring. Increasingly more brand campaigns are emanating from PR agencies (we see this change even in Cannes with PR agency wins) where there is a confluence of creative thinking, PR, digital and influencer management.

Today a creative idea can come from anywhere. Our new live model ensures that our clients get an unfair share of attention by becoming part of conversations that are current, topical, and relevant. Digital gives us the landscape understanding and data-driven insights that we could not get earlier. The unique opportunity of digital when combined with the power of creativity and PR can transform brand narratives and helps brands build greater relevance in a cluttered marketplace.

The overused PR jargon of 2022?

Some industry-specific buzzwords are so deeply embedded in our parlance that we don’t even think of them as jargon, but simply as the language of doing regular business. However, the overuse of jargon can sometimes elicit several negative reactions, from eye-rolling frustration to confusion. One such phrase is ‘cracking media’!

Especially in this business, where the relationship between media and a PR professional is paramount. Just the idea of using this phrase is so outdated and has completely lost relevance in modern-day PR.

Were you able to maintain your work-life balance this year? If yes, how? If not, how do you plan to correct it next year?

I absolutely did manage to maintain my work-life balance, even during the pandemic. It is a core principle that is embedded in my mind, and I ensure that I practice this regularly. I have served in this industry as an agency head and a senior practitioner for the better part of three decades and this has helped me navigate my life with ease and ensure I don’t feel what many do which is the ‘burnout’ syndrome. I also ensure I exercise daily, am calm and confident and carry a passion for what I do every day. That’s the secret sauce of longevity.

While often, work takes precedence over everything else in our lives, it is equally important to constantly assess where you are [versus] your goals and priorities. Work-life balance is less about dividing the hours in your day evenly and, instead more about having the flexibility to get things done. What’s helped me the most is that I always take a realistic but planned approach to my daily schedule. Some days, I focus more on work, while other days’ might have more time and energy to pursue my hobbies or spend time with my loved ones. You see, balance is achieved over time, not each day.

(The article was first published on Campaign India)