KS Narahari, director of comms at Texas Instruments India, talks about PR's role in the IT sector and the emergence of social media tools.
What makes Bangalore great?
When India gained independence [from Britain], the government chose Bangalore as the location for large industries such as machine tools, telephones, earth-moving equipment, electronics for the defense sector, aeronautics, and heavy electrical equipment.
IT companies set up their operations in Bangalore in the 1980s, and after India opened up to foreign investment, large multinational technology companies including IBM, Cisco, Intel, and Dell set up their bases here.
Bangalore is home to the Indian Institute of Science, engineering colleges of high standards, and major research laboratories. Today it is known as the Silicon Valley of India, with a population of 9 million.
Bangalore attracts people from across India to pursue higher studies and take up jobs and also a large number of expats, so it has a cosmopolitan culture. Malls with food courts and multiplex cinemas dot the city's landscape, along with parks and public gardens.
How developed is the PR/communications sector?
The public sector companies that were set up in the 1950s and 1960s introduced the concept of PR in Bangalore. The PR officer emerged as the face of the organization, establishing a strong niche for the profession, not only in Bangalore, but also in the rest of the country.
When multinational IT companies entered the region, PR began to get recognized as an important part of the company. As organizations grew their businesses in the city, corporate communications managers also handled corporate social responsibility functions. Positioning senior execs as industry thought leaders and creating the right messages for the company's varied target audiences emerged as key roles of this function.
The Times of India
SNB Towers, 40-1, Mahatma
Gandhi Rd., Shanthala Nagar,
Ashok Nagar, Bangalore, 560001
Tel: (9180) 4220-0000
Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce
3-4, Unity Building, JC Road, Bangalore, 560002
Tel: (080) 2222-3321
Public Relations Council of India
Oysters Advertising Pvt, 40, Abshot Layout,
Shanky Rd., Bangalore, 560052
Tel: (9180) 2225-3310
Is PR a useful tool for the booming IT and technology sector in the region?
PR plays the critical role of sifting and channeling the content and communicating what's relevant with credibility.
What are the challenges communications pros face in Bangalore?
PR leaders in the IT sector mostly report to the head of the company and are part of the leadership team. But in other organizations, particularly in the government sector, PR is still considered as predominantly a support function. The role of the PR manager is not defined clearly and PR is still mistaken for carrying out publicity and hospitality.
For a long time, there were not many institutes that could produce bright, young PR professionals. In recent years, this is being addressed with the opening of some good-quality institutes in the larger cities. But experienced professionals for senior positions in PR are still far and few between.
Has mobile and social growth affected how brands do PR?
Communications has moved beyond traditional print and electronic media. India has 900 million cellphone users and communications through recorded voice messages and SMS texts have emerged as a quick way to get the message across. Being a country where business is conducted almost entirely in English, social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have penetrated deeply in the area of communications.
Almost 40% of Indians are under the age of 30, and this large population belongs to the social media age. Companies have adapted well to this phenomenon and are encouraging their PR teams to use social media.
What do you love about Bangalore?
The weather in Bangalore is what I like best. Because of its altitude, Bangalore has natural air-conditioned weather almost throughout the year. I like its cosmopolitan nature, where you get to interact with people from many different cultures. I also like chilling out in the pubs and enjoying cuisines from different parts of the globe.