Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Working Towards Firmer Ground

Published in May-Jun 2022

Aamir Abbasi looks at progress made by the PR function in Pakistan and what needs to happen next.  

In the past decade, PR in Pakistan has seen an expansion in its work scope due to challenge-driven opportunities offered mainly by new trends in digital and social media. From traditional media relations to modern-day digital interruptions, such as SEOs, Pakistan’s PR fraternity has done well to learn, unlearn and relearn the constantly unfolding trends in the profession.

Gender Ratio

It is heartening to see that the gender ratio has seen massive improvement and one can safely say that this is a female-centric profession in Pakistan. Many successful PR companies have been formed by women, and at the same time, they are heading PR and corporate communications functions in different organisations. Their success stories are likely to propel this trend in the future as well. 

Specialised Agencies

A profession that was mainly about corporate PR has witnessed the emergence of specialised agencies and freelancers which manage celebrities, influencers, sports, music, etc. Today, every celebrity seems to have PR support.  

Crisis Communications

Although advertising and brand management professionals in Pakistan feel enthusiastic about the placement of press releases, articles and interviews, in addition to their work scope, PR professionals have excelled in crisis communication, an area which is mainly responsible for the survival of the PR profession in Pakistan. The growth in fake news and misinformation virality on social media has allowed PR pros to produce more work and gain recognition.

Social Listening

In the developing world of digital PR, monitoring software has a role in listening to social conversations. Not all but good PR functions and departments are using specialised online monitoring to make better data-driven decisions. This becomes most relevant during crisis communications when it is crucial to follow the discussions and the direction they are trending in.  

Visual Content

Like other markets, Pakistani PR pros have also been producing more visual content, realising the receding concentration spans of social media users who are bombarded with information and have little time to stop and read details. 

Looking ahead to the next decade, the following developments are required.    

Measurements and Showcasing

The PR fraternity needs to measure their work and showcase it. Luckily, due to the advent of digital PR, monitoring software is available which is of great help in gathering data and converting it into information to make data-driven decisions. Developing the capacity to conduct good quality descriptive and inferential analysis is at the heart of all the measurement exercises in PR.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Not just Pakistan, but the PR community the world over, needs to own this disruption. Who can write better content than PR pros, studded with key messages and keywords? Who knows better how to win more backlinks and who can strategise better than us to attract website traffic? There is a technical side of SEOs as well but Google algorithms usually revolve around these two aspects. PR agencies in particular need to inculcate this in their DNAs. Luckily, good SEO professionals are available in the Pakistan market.

Become Part of the Sales Equation

Traditionally, PR professionals are found deflecting their role in sales generation. However, this trend is changing the world over as ROI is now considered the main element for any business function to survive. It is time that sales should become part of the objectives section in our PR plans. However, this will not be possible without mastering SEOs and digital and social media PR.  

Activism PR

This is a new trend that is developing in the West and it would be a good idea if Pakistan PR catches on to it early on. Manchester United star Marcus Rashford is the most glaring example of Activism PR. He is working for free school meals for children in the UK. Maple Leaf’s CEO in Canada is another example to study this new concept. Not to forget the England football team taking the knee in Europe Cup 2021 to support diversity. 


Ethics should become a buzzword in Pakistan’s PR industry. PR professionals the world over face this problem where they are asked either to lie or do things that are not ethically or morally correct. Once we start talking about truthfulness with more intensity, demands to act otherwise will phase out slowly but surely.  

PR Education and Training

PR bodies and fraternities must convince universities to offer PR as an exclusive discipline for their master’s programmes. At the moment, universities are either not offering PR as a major subject for specialisation or if they are offering a course, it is titled something like ‘Advertising and PR’ which does no justice to the depth of the body of knowledge our profession offers.

Functional PR Bodies

Perhaps the most needed aspect for Pakistan PR is the existence of functional and professionally managed PR bodies. Business models of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) in the UK and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in the US may be studied. These bodies are self-sufficient and expenses are met through memberships, quality training programmes, conferences and advertising in magazines, etc. These bodies work with universities and the corporate sector to take the profession ahead. They also have a charity wing that helps struggling PR professionals in whatever way they can.

This article is based on the author’s notes made for his presentation at the Comms Hero Conference held in the UK in 2021.

Aamir Abbasi is a chartered PR professional based in the UK.