Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Pujas Hunt for Brand Managers

Aritra SinghaKolkata: Durga Puja—Bengal's biggest festival—is now a brand unto itself. So much so that the traditional word of mouth publicity is largely on its way out with professionally managed public relations (PR) agencies stepping in.

A typical big-ticket puja, where spends could often be as high as ₹40-50 lakhs, is pushing organisers to go for that extra mile regarding publicity. With corporate sponsorship pitching in with nearly 75 percent of a puja budget, the need for recognition through awards, media coverage and footfalls is increasingly gaining importance with each passing year. Puja organisers are turning to professional help. Several Kolkata-based PR firms have their hands full with city clubs and puja organisers flocking to them.

Durga Puja is the biggest festival in Bengal
“This is a virgin market offering immense potential and growth,” said Dolon Dasbhaumik Basu, co-founder and chief operating officer, Carpe Diem Communication. This will be the firm’s association for the sixth straight year with Singhi Park Sarbojanin, one of the biggest pujas of Kolkata. The agency has already added another Salt Lake-based puja to its client list this year. 

Candid Communication, a leading PR agency, has bagged the offer of managing the Hindustan Park Sarbojanin Durgotsab this year. “We will be primarily responsible for gathering sponsorship and media coverage,” said Sayantan Das Adhikary, director. Typical event management activities range from celebrity endorsement to media coverage. 

“The scope of work also includes tracking or ensuring news reportage,” said Rajiv Lodha, partner, Launcherz. The agency had carried out PR activities for about five big banner pujas in the city last year. 

According to industry sources, PR activities typically start either a month before the puja, or from Mahalaya (the day of invocation of the goddess). Payments also vary accordingly. Packages, on an average, could range between ₹30,000 to ₹1,00,000 depending on the work. Agencies roping in celebrities are expected to charge more than those handling media coverage only. For the organisers, it is a matter of better all-round visibility. Bhaskar Nandi, secretary of Singhi Park Sarbojanin, said: “Pujas are more of a brand than anything else. Under such a scenario, the need for more visibility and having a professionally managed PR agency, has increased manifolds.” 

Even the small budget pujas, having their jubilee celebrations this year, are hunting for event management firms and taking the first baby steps towards brand publicity. The Tollygunge film fraternity was once the toast of Puja organisers, with each trying to outdo the other in terms of a bigger star draw. But now, with stars being roped in for smaller pujas in equal measure, event managers and PR firms are adding more feathers to their cap. 

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