Rise of the Creative Class

The fast changing dynamics of the world economy is forcing organizations to fundamentally rethink the manner in which they have been communicating with their constituent communities and decision-makers. It is constantly being proven that conventional communication approaches that are designed to raise public awareness may often have the opposite effects of those intended. This is because they fail to take into account the public's profound resistance to the traditional communication stimuli.

Therefore, organizations are placing more emphasis on developing two-way and more open-ended methods of communication in their public advocacy strategies. This is in preference to the more traditional top-down methods based on elements of audience manipulation or persuasion. Attitudinal, behavioral and social changes are long-term processes. Research into modern communication methods indicate that it is imprudent to regard attitudinal change merely as a shift along a continuum, as it inevitably involves a reordering of individuals' cognitive structures.

To effect, then, any significant alterations in attitudes and values, or to explicitly form them, requires the identification of both cognitive and affective objectives and the examination and exposure of beliefs and prejudices. This cannot be achieved through the mere imparting of information. This implies that the following years will only reinforce the need for innovative approaches, for creativity and agility and communication agencies will be forced to restructure their strategies. Only those agencies that can keep pace with this transformation will succeed in this unforgiving world.

Quite a few agencies in India have shifted from their existing framework and are now focusing on niche areas of operation. It is becoming evident that increasing competition and the pressure to redesign strategies will force the agencies to identify and specify their particular areas of competence more clearly.

It does not come as a surprise, then, that some very prominent companies are revisiting the strategies presented by their communication partners. The clients' increasing preference for fast-footed, nimble and proactive agencies has shown dramatic change in their approach to communications.

Another interesting aspect of these changes has been the recent phenomenon of hiring prominent marketing professionals by agencies of all sizes even the mid-sized ones. The need to reorient communication strategies to the clients' business goals has fuelled such shifts. Soumitro Mukherji, an MBA from XLRI with over 18 years marketing and sales experience in giants like Asian Paints, HLL, Sony Entertainment Television, Pepsi and Airtel recently took over as COO of Blue Lotus Communications Consultancy, a mid-sized agency with capitalized billings of approximately Rs. 10 Crores. His move is demonstrative of the changing face of the mid-sized agency which is gearing up to meet the clients' imperative today. However, since the older agencies are too deeply rooted in traditional thinking, this trend is being witnessed in a mid-sized set up. The time has come that agencies look at the clients' brand from a marketing perspective and the migration of marketing professionals to agencies is definitely a sign of evolution in the communications industry. There are clear indications that creativity & results will drive the entire communications industry in the ensuing years.

N. Chandramouli is the CEO of Blue Lotus Communications Consultancy, a leading public relations agency in India. An engineer MBA with over 16 years of multi-functional experience, Chandramouli firmly believes in knowledge being a core driver for communications.

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