From Storytelling to Story Doing: Human-First Communications

Authored by Shashikant Someshwar, Managing Director, The Weber Shandwick CollectiveIntroduction:In today's oversaturated digital world, consumers are increasingly tuning out traditional advertising. This trend has led to a significant shift in the PR industry, with a growing emphasis on Human-First Communication. This transcends mere 'storytelling' and embraces a more action-oriented approach known as 'story doing'. Brands are now prioritizing authenticity, simplicity, respect, and inclusivity in their narratives to forge deeper connections with their target audiences. Failing to embrace this shift can result in significant losses due to consumer apathy. By fostering genuine communication, brands can build loyalty even in a crowded digital landscape.Empowering Audiences through Participation:The digital era has empowered audiences like never before. Brands are leveraging social media platforms to proactively engage with their target audience, fostering interactive two-way conversations that strengthen connections. This is particularly important for Gen Z which values authenticity. Per a 2022 study, 80% of Indian Gen Z respondents consider authenticity to be a key factor in their brand choices. By fostering genuine interactions and transparency, brands can build trust and loyalty with this influential demographic. Brands are now placing significant emphasis on initiatives like Social Media Customer Care, taking prompt action to address customer grievances and ensure satisfaction in real-time. Furthermore, they are increasingly favoring everyday storytellers and micro-influencers over celebrities. This amplifies diverse voices and fosters a sense of familiarity and authenticity with the target audience. Live sessions and social polls further facilitate two-way dialogues, valuing audience input for product development and fostering a sense of belonging. These inclusive approaches transform audiences from passive receivers of information into active brand advocates.A prime example is PVR Inox’s famous #PVRHeardYou campaign on X (formerly Twitter). The brand responded proactively to customer feedback on high food and beverage prices in theaters. By directly addressing concerns and offering tailored solutions like food combo offers, PVR regained trust and fostered a sense of community empowerment among audiences.Celebrating Diversity and Inclusivity:Gone are the days of stereotypical portrayals in marketing. Brands are taking significant strides towards diversity and inclusion, featuring a broader range of individuals in their messaging. They are also mindful of the language they use, ensuring it’s respectful and culturally sensitive. Campaigns are now tailored to connect with diverse audiences, showing an appreciation for cultural nuances. Additionally, some brands are championing social impact initiatives, advocating for underrepresented communities. By prioritizing accessibility in their designs, they are fostering inclusivity and acceptance among all audiences.Mattel’s commitment to inclusivity led to the launch of Barbies in 22 ethnicities, 35 skin tones, 97 hairstyles, and nine body types, including the introduction of a Down syndrome Barbie. This move challenged traditional beauty standards and empowered individuals to embrace their uniqueness. The campaign garnered widespread applause and resonated with audiences on a global scale. Building Genuine Connections for the Community:PR campaigns have the power to be a catalyst for social change. By raising awareness, shifting public opinion, mobilizing resources, and promoting behavior change, PR can go beyond just promoting products or gaining brand visibility. Forward-thinking PR professionals are tapping into societal issues that resonate with their audience, creating a deeper, more authentic bond. Many brands are embracing a purpose-driven approach, aligning their PR endeavors with broader social causes such as environmental awareness, sustainability, and community empowerment. By presenting compelling narratives and framing issues effectively, PR can attract volunteers, donations, and sponsorships, amplifying the efforts of non-profit organizations and advocacy groups. Additionally, PR can rally support for critical causes and pressure policymakers and corporations to act. Finally, by encouraging positive changes in individual behavior, PR campaigns play a pivotal role in fostering a more socially conscious and engaged society.TATA Trusts’ "Kaise Ka Cancer" initiative is a powerful example. The campaign encourages women to participate in open discussions on early breast cancer detection and self-breast examinations, fostering awareness and a sense of community support. Conclusion:The shift from “storytelling” to “story-doing” in human first communications signifies a profound transformation in the PR industry. By empowering audiences, celebrating diversity, building genuine connections, and driving positive social and environmental change, brands are redefining their role beyond mere profit-making. Through authentic communication and purpose-driven initiatives, brands are fostering deep connections, driving meaningful impact, and ultimately, shaping a more inclusive, empathetic, and socially conscious world. As the PR landscape continues to evolve, human first communication will remain at the forefront, shaping a future where brands and consumers connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it.

Weber Shandwick bolsters UK creative team

Weber Shandwick has announced a significant expansion of its UK creative team, including promotions for existing staff and the addition of new talent.Promotions:Klein Borrill has been promoted to the newly created role of UK Head of Design. Borrill brings extensive experience from his previous role as Head of Design at That Lot, a social creative agency that joined the Weber Shandwick Collective in 2018.Jack Duffield and Chris Marsden, who joined the agency in 2022, have been promoted to Associate Creative Directors. They recently led the creation of a successful pop-up for eBay UK.Charlie Powell has been promoted to Conceptual Creative after transitioning from the consumer team to the creative team.New Hires:Carly Illston joins Weber Shandwick as an Art Director, teaming up with Copywriter Marley Muirhead. They previously worked together at multiple agencies.Leadership:The expanded creative department now reports to UK President Amy Garrett, who emphasized the team's role in empowering clients to achieve their business goals.Recent Appointment:This news follows the recent appointment of Yan Elliott as Weber Shandwick's Chief Creative Officer in London.

Kunal Gupta joins First Livingspaces as Asst. Manager PR, Media & Corp Comm

Kunal Gupta joins First Livingspaces (FLS) as Assistant Manager PR, Media & Corporate Communications.He extended his excitement on linkedin, stated "Thrilled to embark on this new chapter It's with great excitement that I join First Livingspaces (FLS) powering Ziki & as Asst. Manager PR, Media & Corporate Communications. As I reflect on my journey, I wanted to share this update with everyone. Here's to an exhilarating journey ahead, adorned with challenges, learning experiences, and the beauty of meaningful accomplishments."In addition to his role at Ziki and, Kunal is also the Founder of Media PR and Folks Group, a premier networking platform for PR and media professionals. Designed for journalists and PR professionals, Media PR and Folks Group provides a dynamic space for collaboration and networking.

Team Pumpkin Wins Marketing Mandate for Crown Rice by DRRK Foods

DRRK Foods Pvt. Ltd., a renowned producer of premium quality basmati rice, has announced a strategic partnership with a leading digital marketing agency, Team Pumpkin. This collaboration aims to strengthen the digital presence of DRRK Foods Pvt. Ltd. flagship brand, Crown Rice. As part of the collaboration, Team Pumpkin will handle social media management and PR initiatives for Crown Rice.We are excited to embark on this journey with our digital marketing partner, says Amit Marwaha, Managing Director at DRRK Foods Pvt. Ltd. Our goal is to enhance the visibility and engagement of Crown Rice, solidifying its position as a leading choice for the consumers.” This collaboration is expected to enhance thepositioning of Crown Rice, says Vikram Marwaha, Joint Managing Director at DRRK Foods Pvt. Ltd. With its success in the market, Crown Rice has proven itself as a top choice for premium basmati rice. Now, we are looking to build on that success by boosting its visibility and engagement. We have high expectations from our digital partners to help us achieve this goal. Together, we aim to solidify Crown Rice position even further and ensure it remains a preferred brand for consumers” he added.Team Pumpkin will oversee digital marketing efforts across various channels. By leveraging data-driven strategies and creative solutions, they aim to drive brand awareness and growth for Crown Rice. Team Pumpkin will handle social media management and PR initiatives for Crown Rice, ensuring consistent brand messaging and engagement with consumers.Swati Nathani, Co-founder of Team Pumpkin, remarked, “We are truly excited about our partnership with Crown Rice. As a leading digital marketing agency, we understand the importance of innovation and excellence in today competitive landscape. Crown Rice dedication to quality and 5 decades of experience in paddy sourcing, aligns perfectly with our values at Team Pumpkin. Together, we are confident that our collaborative efforts will not only elevate the Crown Rice brand but also set new standards of success in the market.ët-hennessy-taps-special-pr-in-new-zealand

Moët Hennessy taps Special PR in New Zealand

Luxury drinks giant Moët Hennessy has chosen Special PR as a preferred partner for integrated communications in New Zealand. The appointment comes after a competitive pitch involving three agencies.Special PR will handle a range of projects across Moët Hennessy's prestigious New Zealand brands, including Cloudy Bay, Whispering Angel, Veuve Clicquot, and Glenmorangie. Their responsibilities will encompass media relations, influencer marketing, content creation, events and activations, and trade partnerships.The agency can also leverage expertise from the wider Special New Zealand team for design, art direction, and broader communication campaign support."The Special PR team has consistently impressed," said Tony Bradbourne, CEO/CCO and Founder of Special New Zealand. "They've become a regional leader, and this partnership allows them to combine their PR skills with our creative and strategic firepower. This model is already proving highly successful for many of our clients."

BigBrandTheory appoints The PR Stop. as its PR agency

Leading branding agency BigBrandTheory (BBT) has appointed The PR Stop. as its PR agency on record (AOR). The outfit recently launched by Rohini Saldanha, VML’s Former Head of Corporate Communications, aims to elevate BigBrandTheory's brand presence and solidify its market position. BBT’s synergy with The PR Stop. will harness the power of compelling content, strategy, and innovative thinking to deliver integrated communication solutions that drive growth and engagement for BBT’s businesses across industries. With its distinctive capability of delivering value while driving growth, The PR Stop. aims to foster greater awareness, and engagement for BBT while setting new benchmarks for industry leadership.Commenting on The PR Stop.’s appointment, Pravin Shah, Founder, BigBrandTheory, said, “As an entrepreneur, I have always known and valued the power of PR. In The PR Stop. we have found a partner that understands our business needs and can support us in strengthening our brand identity and reputation in the industry. Rohini’s expertise and capabilities along with her strong work ethic and passion for excellence perfectly align with BigBrandTheory's vision and values. We are excited about joining forces with The PR Stop. and look forward to unlocking new possibilities together.”Talking about their partnership, Rohini Saldanha, Founder, The PR Stop., said, “Pravin is a dynamic and inspirational leader who has built his brand from the ground up. BBT commands a formidable standing in the industry with a client roster of marquee brands of long-standing relationships. I am humbled and honoured that they have decided to partner with me on their ambitious growth path. I look forward to doing some great work with the incredibly talented team.” The PR Stop. offers a range of services, including content development, media relations, crisis management, brand positioning, and strategic counsel. The company's current portfolio includes clients from various sectors including creative, branding, recruitment, and DE&I.

Unlocking AI potential: Survey calls for clear communication strategies

A new global survey by WE Communications, an integrated communications agency, reveals a significant gap between executives' high expectations for AI and their organisations' concrete plans for communicating its adoption. While 83% of surveyed business decision-makers (including C-suite executives, senior management, and executive directors) are optimistic about AI's potential, less than half (37%) have established programmes to amplify its impact.The survey, titled "Bridging the AI Expectation Gap: Effective Communication Strategies," polled 2,900 executives and technology business decision-makers to understand how AI is impacting organisational culture, trust, and business communications.Key Findings:  Vision-Action Gap: Despite high optimism, most organizations lack a plan to fully capitalize on AI's potential. Only 17% are actively changing current behaviors to fully leverage AI's impact.  AI Communications Imperative: While recognizing the importance of clear communication, only 37% actively communicate AI's benefits internally.  Call for Collective Transparency: Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents believe their organizations should be more transparent about AI use compared to vendors and partners.  AI Opportunities: Customer service (47%) is seen as the area most likely to benefit from AI adoption, followed by Marketing & Communications (46%) and Product Development (45%).  AI Concerns: Security risks (92%) top concerns around AI adoption, followed by over-reliance on AI (58%) and job displacement (52%).Effective Communication is Key:The survey underscores the critical role of effective communication in driving AI adoption. WE Communications offers a range of services to help organizations bridge the AI expectation gap, including:  AI Engagement & Communications Strategy Development  Company Transformation Narrative Refresh  Executive Communications & Thought Leadership  Crisis & Issues Preparedness Plan Updates  AI Narrative Workshops & Storymaking  Executive AI PlatformOrganisations must act quickly to engage stakeholders with clear and compelling communication about AI. By bridging the expectation gap, companies can lead their employees and customers through a new era of AI-driven innovation and growth.

Vanessa Yanez promoted to Senior VP at Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Vanessa Yanez has recently been appointed as the Senior Vice President and Public Information Officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In her new role, she oversees the Reserve Bank's external communications and public information endeavors within the district. This entails guiding a team of 30 professionals across various areas such as insights, messaging, and strategy, encompassing corporate reputation, crisis management, executive communications, web and social media presence, media relations, influencer outreach, and visual communication across both internal and external creative projects, including video production. Prior to this, Yanez held the position of Group Vice President and Public Information Officer, focusing on external communications.

Sphere PR launches new cyber crisis communication service for tech firms

Tech security PR leader Sphere PR is celebrating 18 years by unveiling a new service designed to help organisations navigate cyber-crises and IT outages. This comprehensive offering goes beyond reputation management during an attack.Sphere PR's cyber-crisis communication service provides a multi-pronged approach:Strategy Development: Sphere PR will guide organizations in crafting a robust cyber-crisis communication strategy, ensuring all key stakeholders are prepared for potential incidents.Preparation & Training: The service includes developing communication response plans for various cyber threats and IT outages, allowing for a swift and measured response.Effective Communication: Sphere PR's expertise empowers organizations to practice cyber-attack scenarios. This ensures everyone understands their roles and responsibilities in the event of a data breach or outage."This new offering is designed to address the unique crisis communications challenges today’s organisations face in an environment of heightened cyber threats. It will enable them to respond in a timely manner and communicate the key facts effectively to their customers via the media," said Louise Roberts (pictured), Managing Director, Sphere PR.  "It's about leveraging our expertise to ensure organisations practise cyber-attack scenarios and everyone knows their responsibility when a data breach or an outage does occur. Being open and honest when communicating with customers is critical in the early stages of an incident to explain the implications for customers and how they will mitigate these risks in future."

Cognito strengthens Asia leadership with key promotions

Independent communications agency Cognito has announced a series of promotions within its Hong Kong and Singapore teams, bolstering its capabilities across the South East Asia region.Emma Arora (pictured) takes the helm as Managing Director, Asia, overseeing operations and service improvements across both Singapore and Hong Kong offices. Emma brings over 15 years of experience in managing integrated multi-market campaigns and providing critical crisis support for corporate, financial services, and technology clients throughout the Asia Pacific and Europe.Felice Tobin steps up as Managing Director, Hong Kong & General Manager, Asia. She will continue to lead the Hong Kong business while supporting Emma in managing both offices.Hannah Polson, now Director, will leverage her experience to provide strategic counsel, crisis support, and mentorship to the team, while driving new business opportunities.Team Growth:<img src='\9d463f95e5f944c50e4e5f2b7f503663.png' class='content_image'>Promotions were also announced across both offices:Karen Lee (Hong Kong) is promoted to Senior Account Manager, focusing on client relationships, business development, and campaign delivery.Janet Lin (Hong Kong) and Emelda Then (Singapore) are promoted to Account Manager, responsible for managing client accounts and achieving impactful results.These promotions demonstrate Cognito's commitment to fostering talent and strengthening its presence in Asia.

Prerna Dalakoti: Steering PR success with innovation and integrity

As an Associate Account Director at PR Professionals, Prerna Dalakoti brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. With a keen understanding of strategic communication and public relations, she plays a pivotal role in driving impactful campaigns and fostering strong client relationships. Dalakoti’s dedication to excellence, coupled with her innovative approach, ensures that she consistently delivers results that exceed expectations. Her dynamic leadership and collaborative spirit make her a valuable asset to both her team and her clients, driving success in an ever-evolving industry landscape.In conversation with Adgully, Prerna Dalakoti, Associate Account Director, PR Professionals, speaks about the importance of the importance of compelling storytelling, proactive reputation management, and leveraging diverse communication channels to engage audiences effectively. She advocates for adaptability and innovation in PR strategies to navigate the evolving media landscape and maintain trust and credibility with stakeholders.Reflecting on the past decade, could you share with us how your professional journey has unfolded and evolved within the PR industry?My journey within the PR industry has been quite a ride! Over the past ten years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a diverse range of brands and campaigns across various sectors, from infrastructure to government/ PSUs, education, social development, technology, and retail. One of the highlights of my career has been my involvement in some groundbreaking infrastructure projects, such as the implementation of Namo Bharat Trains – India’s first Regional Rapid Transit System, and the redevelopment of railway stations across India. Besides, I’ve also had the opportunity to contribute significantly within the development sector, partnering with organizations like UNICEF and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on various advocacy and media outreach campaigns. It’s been quite a journey of learning and growth, and I’m grateful for the experiences that have shaped me into the professional I am today.In my brief 10 years in the PR industry, I have learned that being a communicator is no walk in the park. It is a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment where you juggle multiple stakeholders and uphold uncompromising standards of quality. To excel in this role, one must consistently deliver high-intensity performances. However, true success in communication isn’t solely about linguistic expertise; it is about investing in one’s character and nurturing meaningful relationships.How has your organization contributed to your growth and development as a PR Professional over the past ten years?Starting my career with PRP has been instrumental in shaping my professional journey. Being part of a dynamic and growing organization like PRP has provided me with ample space and opportunities to learn, experiment, and evolve. Unlike being a cog in a well-established corporate machine, working with PRP has exposed me to a multitude of experiences both internally and externally. This environment has not only allowed me to refine my client management skills, but also enabled me to develop valuable people management abilities, which I consider a significant asset in my career today.Who have been your role models or mentors, and how have they influenced your approach to PR?My mentor in the PR field is undoubtedly Dr Sarvesh Tiwari, Founder & Managing Director of PR Professionals. His distinctive approach to work, empathetic demeanor, practical approach, and exceptional skill in relationship building have deeply influenced me. Among the many lessons I’ve learned from him, two stand out: the importance of cultivating and nurturing relationships with honesty and integrity, and the significance of effective people management, which entails valuing and treating everyone with equal respect and dignity.Another individual whom I admire and consider a role model is MS Dhoni. His leadership style is something I greatly admire and aspire to emulate. Dhoni’s ability to lead his team both on and off the field, with solid control over his mind and emotions, is truly commendable.What are your plans and aspirations within the PR field, considering your experiences and achievements thus far?I firmly believe in the transformative impact that effective communication can have, not only on businesses and organizations, but also on communities and society as a whole. I aspire to continue working with organizations and brands that are committed to making a positive impact, collaborating on campaigns and initiatives that aim to drive social change, promote sustainability, and advance the well-being of individuals and communities. Additionally, I wish to continue to collaborate with large-scale infrastructure projects that have the potential to transform lives and shape the future of generations to come. Furthermore, I look forward to exploring new horizons and venturing into uncharted territories such as the FMCG and Banking industries, where I believe my skills and experience can add unique value.In your opinion, how do you perceive the current state of the PR industry, and what trends or changes do you anticipate shaping its future trajectory?I believe we are at the brightest phase of the public relations industry, because everyone has realized its importance more than ever. Where earlier we used to be one of the functions of any business, but now PR has become a key function of businesses. One of the key trends shaping the future trajectory of the PR industry is the increasing integration of digital media and technology. With the rise of social media platforms, online news outlets, and digital communication channels, PR professionals must adapt their strategies to effectively engage with audiences across various digital platforms.Another significant trend is the growing emphasis on transparency and authenticity in communications. In an era characterized by widespread distrust and skepticism, businesses and organizations are under greater scrutiny than ever before. Additionally, the evolving media landscape and changing consumer preferences are reshaping traditional PR practices. Overall, while the PR industry is facing many disruptions, it also presents abundant opportunities for innovation and growth. By staying agile, embracing digital transformation, and prioritizing authenticity and transparency, PR professionals can navigate the evolving landscape and continue to drive impactful communication strategies in the years to come.

Vero announces leadership appointments, promotions across Southeast Asia

Vero, a strategic communications consultancy serving Southeast Asian clients, recently announced leadership appointments and staff promotions that advance the firm’s communications consulting ambitions in Southeast Asia.Vero appointed Supreeyaporn Sihawong as Chief People Officer, Sasha Alwani as Chief Strategy Officer, Thanpitcha Suksawad as Chief Finance Officer, and Umaporn Whittaker-Thompson as Chief Commercial Officer to fortify the management team and complement the leadership of current Chief Executive Officer Brian Griffin and Chief Operating Officer Raphael Lachkar.Sihawong joined Vero in 2021, managing HR as the team in Thailand grew from 50 to more than 120 team members today.With over 13 years of communications consulting experience across Asia, Alwani has played a pivotal role in expanding Vero’s client portfolio and significantly enhancing the capabilities of the firm’s strategy team across the region.Suksawad, who joined Vero from a Big Four accounting firm, brings 10 years of finance experience to the business and supports Vero’s growth ambitions via M&A.Whittaker-Thompson, a 10-year Vero veteran who leads commercial, brand communications, and influencer marketing initiatives, will be instrumental in forging new top-tier partnerships between Vero and the region’s leading content creators and business organizations.Two Vero team members will take on additional roles: Lin Kuek, who serves as Managing Director for Vero in Singapore, is taking the lead in the firm’s new Sustainability Communications Advisory, while Pham Hoai Anh is helping expand Vero’s Vietnam presence to Hanoi, where she will focus on enhancing brand partnerships.“Today, more than ever before, we have a clear view of what Vero can achieve in the industry as a consultancy, employer, and member of society. Supreeyaporn, Sasha, Thanpitcha, and Umaporn have each been critical in shaping this vision, and in their new roles they will help us execute it,” said Raphael Lachkar, Chief Operating Officer.“Reflecting on where we were, where we are, and where we’re going – the journey has been rapid, the growth has been substantial, and the vision we share is inspiring. I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned over the years to deliver both a creative and strategic lens in my new role for our clients, our leadership, and most importantly, our people, to implement our collective aspirations,” says Sasha Alwani, Chief Strategy Officer.“Aligning with Vero’s core values, we embark on this new chapter with a firm commitment to innovation and excellence in delivering communication solutions across the region. In my new role, I’m excited to harness my expertise and vision to pioneer solutions that empower our teams, enhance client experience, and forge impactful partnerships that will help elevate Southeast Asia’s influencer marketing landscape,” says Umaporn Whittaker-Thompson, Chief Commercial Officer.Vero has appointed a total of 28 team members across its offices in the region. The firm currently has 260 PR and creative experts in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar.

Dig & Dig launches as The PHA Group's First International Agency

The PHA Group, an independent PR, digital and creative agency, has launched Dig & Dig, its first international agency. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Dig & Dig will offer a comprehensive suite of digital and social media services to propel brands forward.Dig & Dig boasts a robust service portfolio encompassing organic and paid social media, influencer marketing, digital PR, SEO, PPC, and content marketing. The agency is spearheaded by a seasoned Boston-based team led by Executive Vice President Matt Raven. Raven will oversee day-to-day operations, supported by Desiree Dileso, the agency's Vice President and Head of Paid Media. Both report directly to PHA's joint Group MDs, Shelley Frosdick and Stuart Skinner.Dig & Dig launches with a roster of impressive, fast-growing clients, including Workstorm, a leading secure work collaboration platform. Teams across the group's UK and US offices will collaborate seamlessly to service these programs.Matt Raven brings over 16 years of experience in digital marketing, search, and content strategy. He has a proven track record of success across owned, earned, and paid channels. Prior to Dig & Dig, Raven led the Digital practice at Look Left Marketing as Vice President and Head of Digital, crafting and executing breakthrough, insight-driven integrated programs for technology companies. Previously, he played a pivotal role at Boston-based agency SHIFT Communications, where he developed and launched the industry's first performance-based earned media offering, Optimized PR. Raven's experience spans renowned brands like Warby Parker, Citrix, and GoDaddy. He is a highly respected figure in the Boston business community, regularly engaging with students at Boston University and sharing his expertise at local industry events.Desiree Dileso is a digital media powerhouse with over 14 years of experience in planning, buying, and executing successful Paid Media campaigns. At Dig & Dig, she leverages her extensive expertise gained from over 13 years with independent media agency PGR Media. Dileso served as VP, Media Director at PGR, leading all aspects of integrated channel planning, from audience development and communication strategy to forecasting and reporting. Her deep understanding of the paid media landscape encompasses social, programmatic, CTV, audio, display, custom content, and outdoor advertising. Her hands-on approach and strategic vision have empowered numerous brands, including Vera Bradley, Sheraton Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Celebrity Cruises, and StriVectin, to confidently scale their marketing investments. Deeply involved in Boston's ad community, Dileso is a member of the Boston Interactive Media Association (BIMA) and has served on its board for over eight years.Dig & Dig marks a significant milestone for The PHA Group, following a period of substantial growth and investment spearheaded by Frosdick and Skinner since their appointment as joint MDs in April 2020.“The launch of Dig & Dig is the culmination of 18 months of meticulous planning and research,” commented Shelley Frosdick and Stuart Skinner. “We are incredibly proud of the Dig & Dig brand, which will be the first of many new agencies to join The PHA Group family.”“Client demand for international support and access to a new market were the driving forces behind Dig & Dig,” they continued. “Boston, with its thriving sectors and exceptional talent pool, is a perfect fit for our first international venture. We're excited to establish a strong presence here.”Frosdick and Skinner emphasized the collaborative nature of The PHA Group, highlighting how entering the international market with a digital and social-first agency will provide a competitive edge. Teams across all five of the group's office locations will work together seamlessly to deliver exceptional results for clients.

LLYC acquires Dattis, strengthening Latin American expansion

LLYC, a global corporate affairs and marketing firm, has acquired Dattis Comunicaciones, a leading Colombian communication services company, to become the top player in Colombia and solidify its leadership in Latin America.LLYC has been operating in Colombia since 2001, and with this recent acquisition, the company has consolidated its revenue in the country to over 12 million euros. LLYC serves over 140 national and international clients and is strategically located in Bogotá and Medellín, with a team of 175 professionals."Colombia has always been one of our key markets in Latin America. Adding Dattis' talent, scope, and expertise to our value proposition represents a significant leap in our business vision in the country," said Juan Carlos Gozzer, LLYC's CEO for Latin America.LLYC is acquiring 78.69% of Dattis at a valuation of six times EBITDA. Andres Ortiz, Senior Partner, will retain the remaining 21.31%. Dario Vargas, the company's founder, and other minority partners will sell their stakes."The acquisition strengthens LLYC's influence in Colombia, allowing for the advancement of communication, public affairs, and marketing in line with societal and business needs," said Maria Esteve, LLYC's partner and general manager of Corporate Affairs for Latin America. "This acquisition will enable us to amplify LLYC's impact, further driving our evolution to address the new realities. I'm deeply excited to see this deal come to fruition as it materializes a vision that I've shared with Jose Antonio Llorente for years""This milestone fills us with excitement. Over the past 25 years, Dattis has solidified its position as a leading communication company in Colombia," explained Andres Ortiz, Senior Partner of Dattis. "Now, with our integration into LLYC, we're embarking on an exciting new chapter. This marks a tremendous opportunity for our team and boosts our client solutions. It's the realization of a vision that began with Dario Vargas, Dattis' founder, and has been strengthened by our current management team. This acquisition not only benefits our shareholders but also secures a promising future for our organization."Dattis will operate as Dattis by LLYC in 2024, alongside LLYC Colombia, with Andres Ortiz leading Dattis and Camila Gomez Pardo as President. Starting in 2025, under the LLYC brand, Ortiz, Gomez, and Alejandra Aljure, LLYC Colombia's current general manager, will lead the unified structure."Dattis and LLYC share a vision of excellence and added value. Together, we'll explore complementary opportunities to grow our current offering, benefit our clients and nurture our team," said David Gonzalez Natal, LLYC's Managing Director for North Latam.Dattis Comunicaciones, established 25 years ago, is a leading provider of communication services in Colombia. It has over 100 employees, serves 80 clients, and has offices in Bogotá and Medellín, with plans to expand into Peru and Ecuador.The company has established itself as a key partner for many businesses, particularly large national organizations, providing innovative brand reputation management and positioning across corporate communication, crisis management, public affairs, PR marketing, influence, creativity, and content areas.This acquisition aligns with LLYC's Strategic Plan to invest 40 million euros in high-potential markets, solidifying its position as the leader in Colombia and driving accelerated growth in Latin America. LLYC has now concluded its twelfth operation in nine years with this acquisition, including the notable purchase of Lambert in the US for 16.8 million euros, the firm's largest acquisition to date.LLYC operates in 27 locations worldwide and has been recognized as a top global communication company by PR Week and PRovoke. Since 2020, the firm has doubled in size and recurrent EBITDA, with operational revenues growing by 14% last year, reaching 83.1 million euros.

Edelman names Lisa Sepulveda as first Global Chief People & Culture Officer

Edelman has appointed Lisa Sepulveda as its first Global Chief People and Culture Officer. Previously serving as the Global Chief Client Officer, Sepulveda will now be responsible for global talent development, recruitment, retention, and addressing the needs of both employees and clients.With 30 years of experience at Edelman, Sepulveda will also focus on fostering the company's culture across its 65 offices. She will report to Global President and COO Matthew Harrington.In addition to her new role, Sepulveda will continue to act as a senior advisor to global clients. Smita Reddy, Global Sector and Client Lead, and Courtney McCraw Bigelow, Managing Director and Global Client Leader, will take on the additional responsibility of managing the global client portfolio.Lisa has played a pivotal role in some of Edelman’s most notable campaigns, including the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and its ongoing self-esteem initiatives, the eBay/PayPal split, Kellogg’s “Open for Breakfast,” and the transition of Advil and Claritin to OTC. Lisa oversees a diverse portfolio of clients, such as eBay, Johnson &amp; Johnson, Mars, PayPal, Shire, Starbucks, and Unilever. Beyond leading acclaimed communications campaigns for top brands, Lisa is a master mentor. She has been instrumental in launching and nurturing numerous careers, offering guidance, coaching, and motivation to many professionals.Lisa has previously held leadership positions at Edelman and served as the CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR. Before returning to Edelman, she was the President of Global Consumer Marketing at Weber Shandwick.Matthew Harrington said: “Lisa’s track record of cultivating great talent and building destination teams, most recently with the global client leader community, is a hallmark of her career. She is one of the industry’s best mentors and strongest advocates for the importance of culture and belonging. As the workplace and employee experience continue to evolve along with industry and client needs, finding the right balance between those ever-changing dynamics has never been more important.”

The Shipyard acquires Fahlgren Mortine

The Shipyard, an independent full-service advertising agency based in Columbus, Ohio, has acquired Fahlgren Mortine, one of the top 20 firms in the nation (O'Dwyer's), and the two-time reigning Mid-Sized Agency of the Year as designated by the Public Relations Society of America. "Fahlgren Mortine is recognized as a leader in the industry," said The Shipyard founder and CEO Rick Milenthal. "With our shared values, combined resources and a galvanizing mission of 'Engineering Brand Love' wherever audiences consume media, we are creating the leading independent platform in the country that creates great value for our clients."The Shipyard will maintain the Fahlgren Mortine brand, which will now have access to expanded media buying volume, creative firepower and data and analytics resources.The combined company represents $350 Million in billings, with 400 professionals and 10 offices throughout the country. The companies already share clients in addition to B2C and B2B industry expertise in tourism and economic development, financial services, consumer products, energy, retail, building products, logistics, technology and healthcare.Fahlgren Mortine leadership remains in place with CEO Neil Mortine, and Marty McDonald, who was named president in 2022. Neil Mortine will also be named vice chairman for The Shipyard and Christine Turner will continue as president of TURNER, a subsidiary brand of Fahlgren Mortine since 2014. TURNER focuses on integrated communications for travel, tourism and active lifestyle brands with offices in New York City, Denver and Chicago. Mortine confirmed: "We are certain this is the right next move for Fahlgren Mortine. We complement each other's strengths and specialties with a shared love for our community, bold national vision, and a commitment to doing work that makes a difference."Fahlgren Mortine was previously owned by Eastport Holdings, a leading communications network, which acquired the firm in 2018.The Shipyard announced last August a minority investment from Alaris Equity Partners which provided funding for this strategic investment in growth.

Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation taps Group Gordon for PR support

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF), an organisation solely dedicated to childhood brain tumors, has named Group Gordon as its public relations agency of record. This exciting partnership will leverage Group Gordon's expertise to elevate PBTF's brand awareness, messaging, and media relations.Through strategic communication initiatives, Group Gordon will play a key role in amplifying PBTF's mission and propelling the organization towards even greater impact. This win came after a competitive agency selection process, with Group Gordon emerging as the ideal partner to support PBTF's goals.Founded in 1991, PBTF is a champion for children and families battling brain tumors. They provide comprehensive support throughout the entire journey, while also being the largest patient advocacy funder of pediatric brain tumor research."At Group Gordon, we are deeply committed to partnering with organizations doing truly impactful work," said Andrew Jarrell, Chief Strategy Officer at Group Gordon. "Our extensive experience with large non-profits and health causes positions us perfectly to empower PBTF's advocacy efforts, expand their reach and influence, and ultimately offer even greater support to the thousands of families facing this unimaginable challenge."

Gregory FCA acquires BackBay Communications, forging a financial PR powerhouse

Gregory FCA, one of the top 40 largest public relations firms in the US, has acquired BackBay Communications, a specialized financial strategic communications agency with offices in Boston and London. Based on O'Dwyer's 2024 ranking of financial PR firms, the deal creates the country’s sixth largest financially focused strategic communications firm.The BackBay acquisition is part of Gregory FCA's broader growth strategy and its third acquisition with minority investor Copley Equity Partners. The deal adds to Gregory FCA’s deep bench of financial expertise with a stable of public relations and content professionals, including former journalists and analysts from The New York Times, Money, S&P Global, Celent, and American Banker.“Talent wins,” says Greg Matusky, CEO and Founder of Gregory FCA. “While AI promises to disrupt our industry, talent is still the key driver. Complementing our award-winning, industry-recognized team, BackBay brings an impressive lineup of the brightest minds in strategic communications. We welcome BackBay into our verticalized practice, serving financial services, technology, real estate, healthcare, supply chain, nonprofit, and sustainability clients.”For BackBay, the move provides an expanded suite of offerings through Gregory FCA's investor relations, creative services, and digital marketing capabilities. In addition, BackBay gains access to Gregory FCA’s portfolio of AI tools designed to add efficiencies to agency workflows and amplify client outcomes.BackBay will continue to operate under its trade name, with founder and CEO Bill Haynes leading the 27-person BackBay team as Executive Vice President and Managing Director. Haynes joins Gregory FCA’s New York Managing Director Brittany Bevacqua and newly elevated Chief Operating Officer Brittany Liberatore on the leadership team alongside Matusky and agency co-owner, President and head of Gregory FCA’s financial services division, Joe Anthony.“We are proud of the culture, client base, and firm we have built at BackBay, so it was imperative for us to find a partner that shares our focus, approach, and values. We found that and more in Gregory FCA,” says Haynes. “The acquisition will provide enhanced career opportunities for our team members and additional value-added services for our clients, including Gregory FCA’s pioneering AI-enhanced workflows and its creative center of excellence. We are bringing together the best in the business to usher in the next era of strategic communications for financial services companies.”Both agencies have played significant leadership roles in the financial agency landscape, and their combined expertise positions the firm to handle large-scale clients and those operating in the more nuanced segments of the market. Companies within the wealth management, asset management, private equity, private credit, fintech, wealthtech, insurance, capital markets, banking, sustainable investing, and digital asset sectors will now have an even stronger lineup of experienced, qualified professionals to lead and execute their strategic marketing and communications programs.“BackBay and Gregory FCA are operating with a shared vision for the future, one that brings better strategic and tactical execution to our clients and career opportunities for our people,” says Anthony. “We have led with the approach that industry-specific knowledge is the power we need to make an outsized impact for clients. Our combination with Bill and his team allows us to deliver on that promise to an even greater extent.”In addition to the acquisition of BackBay, Gregory FCA has continued to fuel growth through the effective and responsible use of AI, establishing itself as a thought leader in AI's transformative impact on human communications. The firm's first-mover position in AI development, testing, training, and deployment, and its passion to share its conclusions and findings with the broader communications sector, has led to industry-wide recognition and increased demand for its PR and marketing services. Gregory FCA was recently named to the 2024 Observer Tech & AI Power Player List, honored as a 2023 PR News Top 100 Agency Elite, and was the first-ever recipient of the PRSA Pepperpot Award for AI.

Victim Services Toronto announces PR partnership with Strategic Objectives

Victim Services Toronto (VST), a lifeline for those impacted by crime or sudden tragedy, has joined forces with Strategic Objectives, a leading PR agency. This strategic partnership aims to significantly increase public awareness of VST and the comprehensive support they offer.Strategic Objectives, now VST's agency of record, will develop a year-long PR programme. This programme will showcase the breadth of VST's services, encompassing everything from safety planning and emotional support to advocacy and crucial referrals.The programme kicked off this week, coinciding perfectly with National Victims and Survivors of Crime Week in Canada. Throughout the year, targeted campaigns will highlight key services, primarily focusing on the Toronto market. However, a national campaign will champion the relaunch of Reclaim, a program specifically designed to help human trafficking survivors across Canada eliminate fraudulent and coercive debt.The communication strategy will bring VST's unique initiatives to the forefront. These include:Trauma Dog Programme: Specially trained canine companions offering emotional support to victims.Revamped Reclaim Programme: Aiding human trafficking survivors across Canada by removing fraudulent debt from their records, empowering their recovery.Victim Crisis Response Programme: Providing immediate support to families and individuals navigating the aftermath of a crime or sudden tragedy.This collaboration with Strategic Objectives aims to ensure that individuals in need are aware of the crucial support readily available through Victim Services Toronto.Victim Services executive director Carly Kalish said: “Every year, our organisation supports thousands of people across the city during the toughest moments of their lives, yet we remain Toronto’s best kept secret. We want to increase our profile and know that Strategic Objectives is the right communications partner to help us. We have long admired their team for its smart approach to raising awareness for difficult and sensitive topics, especially its work to end human trafficking. We can’t wait to work together to help foster a thriving community where people feel safe, supported and empowered.”

Finn Partners strengthens APAC leadership with key promotions

Finn Partners, a global integrated marketing and communications agency, has announced significant leadership changes in the Asia Pacific region. These moves aim to solidify their presence and drive further growth.Previously a senior partner, Annouchka Behrmann has been instrumental in securing new clients for Finn's Hong Kong office since joining in 2023. Now, as the new Managing Partner, she'll lead the agency's Hong Kong operations. Her focus will be twofold:Strengthening Finn's position in key sectors like travel & tourism, hospitality, design, wellness, and luxury.Expanding service offerings, particularly in corporate communications and purpose-driven campaigns.Behrmann reports to Howard Solomon, the founding partner overseeing Asia for Finn Partners.Cathy Feliciano-Chon, previously a Managing Director, will now focus on propelling business development, brand strategy, and thought leadership initiatives across the entire Asia Pacific region. Since joining Finn in 2019, she's played a key role in establishing Finn as a leading global travel & tourism agency and managing a portfolio of prestigious brands.Feliciano-Chon reports to both Solomon and Peter Finn, the agency's CEO and founding managing partner."Cathy's expanded role strengthens our regional leadership and positions us for long-term, sustainable growth across APAC," said Solomon, highlighting her extensive experience, proven leadership, and vast network as invaluable assets.Peter Finn acknowledges the crucial role strong leadership plays in their phenomenal growth across Asia. He emphasizes the unparalleled market knowledge and exceptional client service offered by Cathy, Annouchka, and their fellow Asia Pacific leaders.Finn concludes by highlighting Finn Partners' advantages:Extensive regional presenceDeep expertise across various sectors"One Finn" model – providing integrated, full-service solutions with agility and collaborationThese strengths, according to Finn, position them perfectly as the go-to agency for clients seeking top-tier marketing communications solutions.

SourceCode unveils AI tool to maximize earned media impact

SourceCode has launched Amplify, an innovative AI-powered tool designed to extend the reach and effectiveness of positive press coverage.Traditionally, earned media success has been measured by the initial article or placement itself. Amplify goes beyond that. This tool utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze media placements and automatically generate additional content specifically tailored for various communication channels. This allows companies to leverage the power of positive press mentions across their entire communication strategy, maximizing its impact.Imagine using positive media coverage to boost employee morale through company-wide emails or social media posts highlighting the recognition. Amplify makes this a reality. Sales teams can create even more compelling content for prospect outreach, featuring media mentions that showcase the brand's value proposition. And for social media managers, Amplify can generate content specifically designed to broaden brand awareness, ensuring earned media coverage resonates across all social media platforms.By automating content creation based on media placements, Amplify tackles a significant challenge for PR professionals: maximizing the return on investment (ROI) from earned media efforts. "Our goal is to ensure each piece of positive press coverage acts as the catalyst for a comprehensive communication strategy," explains Kevin Dulaney, Executive VP and the creator of Amplify.SourceCode isn't just offering Amplify as a tool, they're already using it to benefit their clients. They understand that every company's needs are unique, so they tailor the Amplify process to each client. Factors like the reputation of the media outlet and the messaging reach are considered to personalize the content generated by Amplify.With Amplify, companies can finally turn earned media mentions into a springboard for a strategic and impactful communication campaign, said Robert Tomkinson, CMO at TouchTunes, a current user of Amplify.

Role of senior leadership in driving social impact during crisis

Authored By Aman Gupta, Managing Partner, Health Practice Asia Lead, SPAG/FINN PartnersIn times of crisis, organizations face the daunting task of not only ensuring their survival but also playing a meaningful role in the wider community. Senior leadership has a unique and vital position in driving social impact during these challenging times. Their vision, decision-making, and commitment to corporate social responsibility can make a significant difference in how a company navigates crises and supports society.By setting a clear vision and leading with empathy, C-suite executives can align their organizations with community needs during times of crisis. Through swift decision-making, leaders can mobilize resources for immediate relief and long-term recovery. Ensuring transparent communication also builds trust with both internal and external stakeholders. Additionally, fostering collaboration and strategic partnerships amplifies impact, allowing companies to contribute effectively to crisis management efforts.Fostering unity and resilience by setting the tone at the topSenior leaders are the architects of a company’s culture and values. By setting a tone of empathy, transparency, and ethical behaviour that resonates throughout the company, they can inspire their teams to prioritize social impact. They can also create a supportive environment that acknowledges the diverse challenges individuals face during a crisis. Furthermore, transparency builds trust and encourages collaboration, as everyone understands their role in the larger context and works together towards common goals. The decisions and actions made by senior leaders reflect the company’s values and commitment to social responsibility, enabling the organization to adapt and thrive.Mobilizing resources promptly and decisively for the greater goodIn a crisis, swift and decisive action can make a difference. Senior leaders should be proactive in assessing the situation, understanding the needs of their employees and community, and making prompt decisions. By redirecting resources toward community support, such as funding local initiatives, offering expertise, or volunteering time and talent, organizations can become agents of change and hope. For example, reallocating resources to produce personal protective equipment during a health crisis or donating funds to relief efforts during a natural disaster can provide immediate support.Promoting collaboration to maximize benefits for all involvedSenior leadership can facilitate partnerships with other organizations, government bodies, and non-profits to amplify their impact. Collaboration fosters a sense of solidarity and combines resources and expertise, leading to more comprehensive and impactful solutions. For instance, a business may partner with a non-profit organization that has deep knowledge of community needs, while offering financial support or logistical assistance. Partnerships also enable organizations to extend their reach and influence to deliver support where it is needed most. They not only address immediate needs but also lay the groundwork for long-term recovery and resilience.Communicating effectivelyTransparent and open communication is a cornerstone of strong leadership during crises. Senior leaders should keep stakeholders informed of the company’s actions and plans, as well as the rationale behind their decisions. This builds trust and demonstrates the company’s commitment to its values, ensuring alignment across the organization and beyond. Moreover, clear, honest, and consistent messaging helps reduce uncertainty and anxiety. Additionally, providing open channels for communication allows stakeholders to engage directly with leadership and fosters a sense of inclusivity and collaboration. While it is important to remain hopeful and positive, senior leaders must also maintain a realistic outlook. Communicating potential challenges and uncertainties helps manage expectations and fosters a culture of preparedness and adaptability.Making a positive differenceCrises often expose vulnerabilities and gaps in systems and strategies. Senior leadership should use these moments as learning opportunities, assessing their response, and adjusting plans for future resilience. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, leaders can better prepare their organizations for future challenges.By embodying empathy, decisiveness, and a commitment to social responsibility, senior leaders can guide their organizations through challenging times while making a positive difference in the world. In doing so, they not only build stronger communities but also establish a lasting legacy for their company and its stakeholders, ultimately shaping a better future for all.DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it.

Nannette LaFond-Dufour joins Publicis Groupe as Chief Impact Officer

Publicis Groupe has appointed Nannette LaFond-Dufour as Chief Impact Officer. In this newly created global role, Nannette will be responsible for driving immediate impact across the Groupe’s long-term ESG commitments. These include Publicis’ ambitious SBTI-approved climate goals, its concrete diversity, equity and inclusion action plans, as well as its flagship initiatives like the Working with Cancer pledge and the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society. A leading industry figure over the course of her 30-year career, Nannette joins Publicis from McCann Worldgroup where she was Chief Client Officer and McCann’s inaugural Chief Sustainability Officer, responsible for driving sustainability goals across its global environmental footprint. Nannette will head a centralized team in cultivating and partnering with the Groupe’s ESG community around the world. Together, they will design and deploy a consistent strategy on impact, with clear and measurable KPIs, to enhance and expand Publicis’ existing initiatives and implement new ones, at the service of its teams and its clients. Her appointment underscores Publicis’ ongoing commitment to creating positive change through environmental and societal impact. Consistently ranked first in the industry by leading ESG rating agencies, in the past year Publicis was the only holding company in the sector to appear in the S&P Yearbook, which evaluates the sustainability efforts of global businesses. Through the Working with Cancer Pledge, over the last 18 months the Groupe has also rallied more than 1500 of the world’s most iconic companies to commit to erasing the stigma of cancer in the workplace. Nannette will join the Groupe’s Management Committee and report directly to Arthur Sadoun, Chairman & CEO. She will work hand in hand with Agathe Bousquet, President of Publicis France and Directoire+ sponsor for ESG. “With the Directoire+ we are delighted to welcome Nannette to the Groupe” said Arthur Sadoun. “Thanks to our transformation, we have been outperforming the industry on every business and financial KPI for the past four years. But we know that for our growth to be truly sustainable, on every front, it also needs to be responsible. That’s why we have also worked to lead the way through our best-in-class ESG initiatives. With Nannette on board and her proven expertise in delivering impactful change with some of the world’s biggest companies, we are confident we can take our ESG agenda even further, faster, for the good of our people, our clients, and our planet. “ "I deeply admire the work that Publicis has done to transform itself, demonstrating both the ability to anticipate the future, and do the hard work required to prepare for it through tangible environmental and societal commitments. At this moment when evolution is the mandate on every front, I look forward to joining such a visionary, courageous and agile team" added Nannette LaFond-Dufour.é-canada-selects-citizen-relations-for-confectionery-pr

Nestlé Canada selects Citizen Relations for confectionery PR

Nestlé Canada has selected Citizen Relations as the Public Relations Agency of Record (AOR) for its confectionery division. This follows a competitive agency selection process.Citizen Relations will be responsible for:Media Relations: Both traditional media coverage and influencer marketing for Nestlé's confectionery brands, including Aero chocolates and Kit Kat bars.Brand Activations: Creating engaging experiences to promote Nestlé's confectionery products.Citizen Relations will also provide PR support for other Nestlé brands beyond confectionery.Previously, Nestlé Canada collaborated with various agencies on a project-by-project basis for different brands. These included Rethink for Kit Kat, Golin for Essentia Water, Strategic Objectives for Nescafé, and Zeno for Häagen-DazsJenn Duggan, president of Citizen Relations Canada (Ontario & West), said: "There’s so much delicious potential we can unlock for a brand that’s a staple in almost every household. And we’re thrilled for the opportunity to partner with such a talented and passionate group of brand leaders.”

Arneeta Vasudeva: Brands' value mostly intangible

We are in a new era of Public Relations. In the last few years, the importance of reputation management has taken a sea change. More brands and clients, especially from the leadership teams, are viewing Public Relations from a close range. The industry has undergone a radical change with the advent of social media, which has to a large extent changed the approach to Public Relations. We have a relatively new and young audience that we need to face in the coming years so there are bigger challenges for brands and PR practitioners, who have to be more agile and proactive in their thinking to draw up business solutions for clients.In our exclusive column – PR Conversation – Adgully interacts with leading business leaders and obtains their exclusive views and insights on the various trends in the PR and communications industry.In conversation with Adgully, Arneeta Vasudeva, National Head, PR&I, Ogilvy India, delves into the current trends in the reputation economy, focusing on India in 2024. She explores how the reputation economy has evolved over the years and sheds light on the challenges and opportunities it presents.Additionally, Arneeta discusses the importance and impact of data-driven storytelling in the PR industry, showcasing how Ogilvy PR&I is leveraging data for effective communication strategies.What are the current trends in the reputation economy in India in 2024? How has the reputation economy evolved over the years in India?Speaking of reputation economy, one can see how brands are affected in today’s VUCA world. The intangibles play a huge role in building the value of brands. By ‘intangibles’ I mean factors such as customer endorsements, employee support, validation from industry, governments, and other influencers, that go on to add to the credibility of a brand.These are high value endorsements gained over time and with fast evolving platforms of digital and social, companies and brands must recognize the power and influence these channels have on their long-standing reputation.In the past five to seven years, digital platforms have provided numerous opportunities for businesses and brands to expand. This surely points to the significance of reputation economy in present times.As mentioned earlier, a large part of a brand’s valuation today hinges on intangible factors. This is deeply intertwined with the ongoing digital evolution and the changing social landscape, shaping how brands and individuals are perceived in the market.How does online reputation have real world outcomes for brands and individuals?From a communication standpoint, brands are delivering on their messaging and engaging customers, and a significant part of these interactions are happening through the digital ecosystem, often in real time. The space has indeed evolved into an opportunity to communicate more openly and freely, as well.In such a scenario, it is crucial to understand what you communicate holds great importance. Therefore, one must closely weigh in factors of authenticity, credibility, and genuineness, while putting outcontent. With that, it also becomes equally important to monitor and track online conversations and build an efficient and effective response mechanism.What are some of the best strategies implemented by brands for managing online reputation?As mentioned earlier, diligent monitoring is essential in this fast-paced digital landscape, where everything happens real-time. Having a prompt and efficient response mechanism is the key to managing a lot of the chatter that goes on in this space. On social and digital platforms, maintaining pace is totally vital, alongside being responsive.Some of the ORM tools we use help in building efficiencies, but reading into the overall sentiment and drawing an assessment is very important. It goes without saying, timing and relevance is at the center of creating the right content and response strategy.What are the challenges and opportunities in the reputation economy in India?The opportunity is huge as it opens up new avenues for brands to build their story. However, with this freedom of space and time, digital platforms also throw in a lot of uncertainty. It is difficult to always predict or preempt what may come your way. True for a lot of categories like food delivery and online shopping, for instance, where customer grievances can turn into a big dent in their reputation. While this may have nothing to do with the brand itself, there are consequences and fallouts of how the experience may end up being a negative.These operational challenges are part of everyday business, often affecting a brand’s reputation. In that sense, evaluating the digital ecosystem you work with becomes an important part of the overall customer journey and experience.What are the PR trends for 2024? How is AI being leveraged in the PR industry and where is the PR industry headed in the next five years?In today’s interconnected world, we shouldn’t be operating in silos. The boundaries between PR, advertising, and digital are blurring, with data, digital and AI, shaping our reality. This means being channel agnostic and adopting an idea-led and integrated approach to communications, is the way forward and we must embrace it.What is the importance and impact of data driven storytelling in the PR industry? How is Ogilvy PR&I utilizing the same?The role of data is crucial in supporting facts, credibility, and insights. From a communications and PR lens, this is absolutely key in shaping ideas for our clients and their brands. And even more today, as we get to see the interplay between data, digital and AI. One feeds and supports into the other, which actually amounts to a huge data paradox, if I may say so. There is data in abundance out there, and it is our job to make sense of it and channel this into creating meaningful content and assets for our brands.

Kaizzen appoints Ankita Malik as VP for North Operations

Kaizzen, a leading independent Communications Agency, announces the strategic appointment of Ankita Malik as Vice President-North. With more than 14 years of experience in the communications industry, Ankita brings a wealth of expertise in crafting impactful strategies and fostering client relationships.Ankita's appointment underscores Kaizzen's commitment to enhancing its presence and service offerings in the Northern markets. In her new role, Ankita will spearhead initiatives to drive growth, expand client engagement, and elevate Kaizzen's standing as a trusted partner for strategic communications solutions across verticals."We are thrilled to welcome Ankita to our team as Vice President for North," said Vineet Handa, CEO, Kaizzen. "Her proven track record of delivering results and her deep understanding of the communications landscape will be instrumental in propelling our North operations to newer heights. Ankita's strategic vision and leadership will undoubtedly reinforce Kaizzen's position as a preferred communications partner in the region."Ankita’s expertise spans technology, telecommunications, auto, and lifestyle sectors. With her dynamic leadership, Ankita is poised to deliver top-notch services and drive competitive advantages for products and services, bolstering Kaizzen's revenue portfolio.Welcoming her to the team, Nikhil Pavithran, Group President, Kaizzen said, “Ankita’s experience will not only help us in growing Kaizzen’s portfolio but will also be instrumental in expanding our other specialized verticals. With her appointment, we reaffirm our commitment to fostering diverse leadership perspectives and working towards a more inclusive organization. I welcome her formally on-board and wish her the best.” "I am excited to embark on this new journey with Kaizzen and contribute to the company's continued success," said Ankita Malik. "The opportunity to lead the North operations presents an exciting challenge, and I look forward to collaborating with the talented team at Kaizzen to deliver unparalleled value to our clients."Ankita has served on senior counsel teams and contributed to renowned PR consultancies such as Zeno Group, MSL Group, and Six Degrees BCW. She has also led marketing communications for notable brands like Intex Technologies and Comio Smartphones. With over 14 years of experience, Ankita has managed brands across India, China, the USA, and APAC regions, showcasing her versatility and global perspective. Based in New Delhi, she brings a wealth of international expertise to her role at Kaizzen.

PR industry faces mental health crisis, new research reveals

There has been in increase in diagnosis of mental health conditions in the PR industry, according to new research carried out by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).The research – conducted by Opinium – revealed that on average, 91% reported poor mental health in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, the proportion of PR professionals that have been diagnosed with a mental health condition has risen from one in four (25%) to a third (33%).The number of PR professionals who find their jobs stressful has stayed consistent year after year. In fact, three out of ten (29%) continue to rate their stress levels within the range of 8-10 (with 10 being extremely stressful). This figure has remained stable since it first rose from 26% in 2021.As in past years, PR professionals continue to have a higher risk of poor mental health than the general UK workforce. In the last year, 63% of UK workers report having poor mental health.Before the pandemic around 70% of UK PR professionals worked from an office all the time. This is now down to 9%. Professionals largely agree that working from home has positive aspects, with 81% appreciating a better work-life balance and 78% finding the lack of commute good for mental health.Other key findings:  An average wellbeing score of 45.3, indicating a slight decrease from the previous year.  60% of respondents have told someone at work that they have struggled with their mental wellbeing, up from 51% last year.  59% said that having too much work to do is the biggest barrier for taking time off to deal with mental health.  58% cited an overwhelming workload as a key source of workplace stress.  60% reported that having too much work is the biggest barrier to taking time off for mental health reasons.PRCA CEO, James Hewes, said: "Amidst the rapid evolution of the PR industry, we must refuse to normalise stress as an inherent part of our culture. The past five years have brought significant change, with more on the horizon. As we navigate the shift to hybrid work environments, it's urgent to grasp the implications for our workflows and communication dynamics. A constant barrage of updates can hinder focus, and an 'always-on' mentality isn't sustainable. It's time for leaders to amplify the conversation on mental health. While progress has been made in acknowledging and addressing mental health challenges, lip service alone won't suffice. We must ensure our actions match our words. By prioritising wellbeing, we pave the way for a healthier, more resilient workforce, benefiting both our businesses and our people."CIPR CEO, Alastair McCapra, said: “I am immensely proud of this partnership and the publication of this year's mental health audit. The findings shed light on the progress we've made and the challenges that still lie ahead. Notably, the data reveals an issue that is both unacceptable and unsustainable, with workload stress remaining the primary culprit.The report marks another pivotal moment in our journey toward creating a healthier, more supportive future for our industry. I encourage our respective members and the wider profession to carefully consider these insights and share them with your teams. By working together and taking decisive action, we can drive meaningful change and build a resilient, future-ready, and thriving PR profession.”

OpenAI unveils upgraded AI model GPT-4o

OpenAI has unveiled a major upgrade to its flagship generative AI technology, GPT-4o. This advanced model, freely available to all, offers enhanced human-like capabilities in understanding and responding to user prompts across voice, text, and image formats.A key highlight is the free availability of GPT-4o to all users. This move reflects OpenAI's commitment to democratizing access to advanced AI tools. Paid tiers will offer additional benefits, but the core functionality is freely available."We are thrilled to bring the power of GPT-4o to a wider audience. This advancement represents a significant leap forward in natural language processing and human-computer interaction" said  OpenAI CTO Mira MuratiThe launch comes amidst a period of rapid innovation in the AI field. OpenAI highlighted its focus on responsible development and collaboration within the industry.GPT-4o's New CapabilitiesThe new model boasts several improvements over its predecessor:Multimodal Understanding: GPT-4o can process information from voice recordings, text prompts, and images.Enhanced Conversation Skills: The model can engage in natural, human-like conversations, including humour and banter.Multilingual Support: GPT-4o sets new standards for understanding and responding in multiple languages.Advanced Problem-Solving: The model can assist with tasks like code generation and complex problem-solving.The FutureOpenAI showcased GPT-4o's capabilities through a live demonstration. The model interpreted user requests, translated languages, and even offered assistance with technical problems.While the focus remains on core AI advancements, OpenAI acknowledges the evolving landscape of generative AI applications. The company emphasized its commitment to responsible development and collaboration within the industry.The launch of GPT-4o underscores the rapid advancements in generative AI. OpenAI remains committed to responsible development and exploring new ways to leverage this technology for positive impact.

Linkin Reps to handle PR for Aurika Hotels & Resorts, Lemon Tree's upscale brand

Linkin Reps is thrilled to announce the newest addition to its esteemed portfolio: Aurika Hotels & Resorts, the upscale brand of Lemon Tree Hotels. This collaboration underscores Linkin Reps' dedication to offering exceptional Public Relations services to its valued clients, with a special focus on the hospitality vertical. Aurika Hotels & Resorts epitomizes sophistication and luxury, presenting a curated collection of distinctive properties that encapsulate the essence of their respective locales. From the majestic grandeur of Aurika, Udaipur nestled amidst the Aravalli Hills to the tranquil beauty of Aurika, Coorg enveloped by verdant coffee plantations, to the vibrant charm of Aurika, Mumbai Skycity, paying homage to the city's cinematic legacy, each property promises unforgettable experiences that transcend the ordinary. "At Aurika Hotels & Resorts, we believe in exceeding expectations and creating memorable experiences for our guests. We currently have three operational properties, which includes the two resorts, Aurika, Udaipur and Aurika, Coorg and the city hotel, Aurika, Mumbai Skycity, which is India’s largest hotel by number of rooms. We also have properties coming up in leisure destinations, including Rishikesh and Kasauli," said Akriti Arora, Director – Communications, Lemon Tree Hotels. She further commented, "We have partnered with Linkin Reps to showcase our properties to the most appropriate audiences and create unique story-telling experiences for the brand. We eagerly anticipate welcoming guests to our distinctive properties and curating moments that leave a lasting impression." Aurika Hotels & Resorts are designed to captivate guests with their impeccable service, exquisite design, and innovative amenities. Each property promises a bespoke experience tailored to cater to the diverse preferences of modern travellers, whether it's hosting a fairy tale destination wedding amidst the opulence of Aurika, Udaipur, indulging in coffee plantation escapades at Aurika, Coorg, or immersing in Mumbai's dynamic culture in the grandeur of Aurika, Mumbai Skycity – India’s largest hotel by number of rooms. "We are excited to welcome Aurika Hotels & Resorts into the Linkin Reps family," said Komal Seth, Founder and Director at Linkin Reps. "Their unwavering commitment to excellence, coupled with an emphasis on providing guests with extraordinary moments, perfectly aligns with our mission of taking Aurika to the world. We are confident that Aurika's distinctive offerings will resonate with travellers seeking destinations that inspires journey."

Porter Novelli taps James Ruane to Lead EMEA corporate and brand practice

As part of a global reorganization driven by CEO Jillian Janaczek's 2024 plan, Porter Novelli has established six key practice areas: Corporate & Brand, Food & Ag & Nutrition, Government, Health, Purpose & Impact, and Tech.James Ruane has been appointed to head the newly formed EMEA Corporate and Brand practice. Ruane brings extensive experience, having served as managing partner at Stonehaven, leading their global communications and campaigns division since 2022. Prior to that, he held leadership roles at National Grid, Edelman, and BAE Systems.Sarah Shilling, recently promoted to CEO of Porter Novelli EMEA, is confident in Ruane's capabilities, said: “James possesses a wealth of impressive client experience, ambition, and commercial smarts. Our Corporate + Brand practice is expanding in EMEA, and I know James is the right leader for its continued growth.”James Ruane's appointment follows other recent senior hires at Porter Novelli, including Sakima Johnson as global chief people officer.

PRA Communications wins 2024 SABRE gold award

PRA Communications (PRA) has been awarded the Gold SABRE Award in the Energy and Natural Resources category for its work on Seabridge Gold KSM Project: Navigating Environmental Assessment and Beyond. The SABRE Awards are the world’s largest PR awards programme dedicated to benchmarking the best PR and communication work from across the globe.“It's truly an honor to receive this prestigious recognition, especially for our PR and communication efforts within the mining industry. Often, the extensive consultation, stakeholder engagement, and communication with rights holders required to successfully navigate provincial and federal environmental assessments, negotiate benefit agreements, and earn social license to operate go unnoticed. This acknowledgment underscores the importance of these efforts,” says Robert Simpson, (pictured), President and CEO of PRA Communications.The KSM Project located in Northwest British Columbia is the world’s largest undeveloped gold deposit and third-largest undeveloped resource of copper. Canada’s provincial and federal Environmental Assessment (EA) process was a rigorous eight-year undertaking that became the largest and most comprehensive ever conducted in North America. It required Seabridge Gold to demonstrate the KSM Project, when built and operational, would not have adverse environmental effects and that it has clear support from the five affected First Nations, three cities and towns, three municipalities and the British Columbia, Canadian, Alaskan and US governments and Tribes. Upon completion of baseline research and perception audits, PRA Communications created and implemented a multi-year communications strategy that encompassed a broad suite of activities.“The PRA team was integral to our success at KSM. Often strategic communication and reputation management is either overlooked during the environmental assessment process or relegated to scientists and engineers. We understood professional, comprehensive, strategic and measurable communication and public relations was critical for our success. PRA stood shoulder to shoulder with us, boots on the ground and professionally guided our whole team to be better communicators, from our executive to our environmental scientists,” says Brent Murphy, Senior Vice President Environment, Seabridge Gold.The KSM Project was granted Environmental Assessment (EA) Certificates by both the British Columbia and the federal government, as well as approval under the terms of the Nisga’a Final Agreement. Upon submission of the Environmental Assessments, community and First Nations supported the KSM Project by a 76 percent approval rating as measured through an inclusive polling and interview engagement model. The Tahltan Nation voted 83 percent in favor of the KSM Project and their negotiated Impact Benefits Agreement. The Province of British Columbia recognized Seabridge Gold's KSM project as an exemplary model for industry-wide consultation, engagement, and external communication, thanks to its strong support from the community.

Luxury PR agency Ellyse Management launches in Dubai

Ellyse Management, a new luxury public relations and communications agency, has officially launched in Dubai. Founded by entrepreneur and former supermodel Elvira Jain, (pictured), the agency aims to fill a gap in the market for innovative and strategic luxury brand representation.Jain brings a wealth of experience to the table. Her illustrious career in the fashion industry, including collaborations with leading brands like Gucci, Dior, and Armani, has provided her with a deep understanding of the luxury market. Additionally, her entrepreneurial spirit, evidenced by owning and selling a business at a young age, positions her well to lead Ellyse Management.Ellyse Management offers a comprehensive suite of services, including luxury PR consultancy, event management, and talent management. The agency leverages a 360-degree marketing approach, combining traditional PR excellence with influencer marketing and tailored strategies to amplify brand presence. This, combined with their access to diverse communities across Dubai, ensures a bespoke and impactful experience for each client.Ellyse Management boasts a global footprint, strategically located in Dubai, Paris, Milan, and Miami. This allows them to offer clients access to key markets in the Middle East, Europe, and the USA.Elvira Jain, Founder of Ellyse Management, states: "The launch of Ellyse Management marks a new chapter in my career and the culmination of my journey in luxury fashion. We aim to bridge the gap between luxury brands and discerning audiences, crafting unique and sophisticated narratives that resonate with them. We are thrilled to be located in Dubai, a city synonymous with ambition and innovation, and look forward to shaping the future of luxury PR and event management."The agency differentiates itself by creating sophisticated narratives that go beyond traditional marketing. They focus on a curated selection of high-profile individuals, offering unique collaboration opportunities and perspectives for their esteemed clientele.Despite being a new agency, Ellyse Management has already secured collaborations with iMaker Group, Alpago Properties, Retail Abu Dhabi, Atlantis The Royal, and Botsi. Additionally, they have participated in prestigious events like the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals and secured cover features on L'Officiel Arabia and Glamour magazine.

PR giant Edelman retains Shell account

Public relations firm Edelman has extended its contract with Shell to provide communication services, according to media reports. This decision comes after a period of public scrutiny regarding Edelman's work with fossil fuel companies.The account is reportedly worth millions, making it one of Edelman's most lucrative clients.This decision extends a relationship that has lasted over a decade. Consequently, Edelman remains a target for environmental groups urging the PR industry to cut ties with fossil fuel companies.Clean Creatives, an industry advocacy group, has been at the forefront of this push. Their efforts include public campaigns, such as posters displayed during Climate Week 2022, urging agencies to drop clients like Shell.

Bud Communications strengthens APAC presence with Australian expansion

Bud Communications, a PR and content agency, has set up shop in Australia to strengthen its regional capabilities across Asia Pacific (APAC). The agency will focus on providing both strategic public relations and content creation services, designed to maximize the impact of earned, owned, and paid media channels to help businesses expand their audience reach.Leading the Australian charge is Richie Kenzie, who has been appointed as the country manager for Bud Communications. Kenzie brings a wealth of experience from senior editorial and strategic roles at major publishers and content agencies. He's tasked with spearheading Bud's growth in Australia and driving success for clients in the region."We're entering the Australian market with a clear vision and unwavering commitment to our core values: creativity, integrity, and collaboration," said Kenzie. "Australia is a breeding ground for innovative and dynamic brands, and we're thrilled to partner with them to amplify their stories and achieve exceptional results."Oliver Budgen, founder and CEO of Bud Communications, emphasized the strategic importance of Australia: "Our core mission is to empower founders, leaders, and visionaries who are transforming industries or creating entirely new ones. Australia has always been a key market for our existing clients, so opening an office here feels like a natural and significant step."Since its launch in Singapore in 2020, Bud Communications has established itself as a go-to agency for challenger brands seeking to make a splash. This expansion into Australia builds upon their existing presence in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, where they have a team of 15.The agency has also been bolstering its leadership team. Last September, Patricia Malay joined as Client Services Director and Urvashi Raizada as Content Director, both based in Singapore and reporting directly to Budgen. These appointments further solidify Bud Communications' commitment to growth across APAC.Previously, Malay served as Deputy Managing Director at BCW Global, where she oversaw new business development and client acquisition. She also held various leadership roles at FleishmanHillard, including Global Director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI) announces New Office Bearers for 2024-25

Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI) is India’s primary platform for corporate public affairs practitioners, with its members leading public policy initiatives for over 100 major Indian and global companies. It is at the forefront of driving ethical and respectful dialogue and interaction amongst stakeholders and serves as a professional resource for public affairs practitioners. PAFI today announced its new office bearers for 2024-25. Deepshikha Dharmaraj took over as the President of PAFI for 2024-25 with immediate effect from Vinita Sethi, who completed her very successful tenure as President for 2023-24. “This is a pivotal year as the world turns its attention to India and its influence in geopolitics, climate change, and business uncertainty," said Deepshikha Dharmaraj, CEO of BCW India Group (soon to be Burson India Group). “With the collective experience and guidance of PAFI’s exceptional past presidents, office bearers and the PAFI Secretariat, I am looking forward to foster meaningful ideas and facilitate dialogue to support the government, policy and corporate decision makers.” Vinita Sethi, the outgoing President of PAFI and Senior Vice President & Chief Public Affairs at the Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “Over the last year, we have implemented steps towards increasing member engagement through sectoral councils, hosted a very well- received 10th Annual Forum, and continued our efforts to build capacity among young public policy professionals. We also initiated a focused initiative towards accelerating the participation of women in the workforce and leadership. Looking ahead, I believe PAFI will continue to deepen this work and lead public policy practitioners across more areas.”Chetan Krishnaswamy, Vice President, Public Policy, Amazon India is the new Vice President. Medha Girotra, Vice President- Communications, Asia Pacific, Mastercard is the new Secretary, and Shivnath Thukral, Director and Head Public Policy, Meta India is the new treasurer.

Ashbury expands to Middle East with Dubai launch

Ashbury, a financial consultancy specializing in sustainability and technology communication for clients in the financial sector, has set up its first office outside of Asia in Dubai. This marks a significant expansion for the firm, which previously operated solely in Hong Kong and Singapore.The Dubai office will begin with a team of two: Audrey Kabilova, formerly the communications VP at Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking in Hong Kong, will serve as associate director. Joining her is Jason Wincuinas, who is relocating from Ashbury's Hong Kong office as associate director and senior writer/editor.Once visa approvals are finalized, both will officially join the new entity. The Dubai team will focus on supporting Ashbury's existing global clients in the Middle East while also advising regional clients on building their reputations and establishing thought leadership on a global and Asia-specific scale.This expansion comes alongside the addition of a new client, Seagrass, a climate finance company based in Abu Dhabi and owned by E.ON. With the launch of the Dubai office, Ashbury now boasts three offices and a total team of 17 employees across Asia and the Middle East."Opening in the Middle East is a natural next step for Ashbury. The region is critical to the global energy transition and financing for innovation from climate technology to AI. It also has increasingly strong trade and investment links with markets in Asia, which is our heartland. We’re excited to work with global clients to articulate their opportunity in the Middle East, and with clients from within the region to illuminate a complex, fast-moving economic transformation that will impact the rest of the world," said Adam Harper, (pictured), founder and managing partner, Ashbury.

When you become a mom, you'll understand - Himani Rautela

Authored by Himani Rautela, Deputy General Manager - Communications Lead at Redington LtdIn the hazy corridors of my childhood memories, echoes of my mother’s words with newfound significance. "When you become a mom, you'll understand," she would often say, her tone combined with a blend of wisdom and knowing. At the time, these words seemed like a distant insight, wrapped in mystery and intrigue. Little did I know that they would serve as the guiding light on my own journey into motherhood.As Mother’s Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on these words, unfolding their layers of meaning like a cherished gift passed down through generations. What once appeared as mere clichés now stand as pillars of truth, anchoring me amidst the turbulent seas of parenthood.With each passing day, I inch closer to resolving the enigma of motherhood, embracing the depths of this role. From the moment life stirred within the confines of my womb, I embarked on an expedition of self-discovery, navigating the muddled waters of love, sacrifice, and boundless devotion.The journey of motherhood is an embroidery woven with threads of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, each moment engraved into the very fabric of our souls. From the exhilarating rush of holding my newborn in trembling arms to the quiet moments of solace amidst the chaos, every experience has shaped me in ways I could never have imagined.Yet, it was in the quiet whispers of the night, cradling my child in tender embrace, that I truly grasped the essence of motherhood. In those stolen moments of intimacy, where the world fades into silence and all that remains is the rhythmic melody of our breaths, I found solace. It is in these moments of vulnerability that the true strength of a mother is revealed. As I navigate through the web of motherhood, I am constantly reminded of the sacrifices my own mother made, the silent battles she fought, and the love that sustained her through it all. Her words, once wrapped in mystery, now serve as beacons of wisdom, guiding me through the darkest of nights and the brightest of days.This Mother’s Day, as I pause to honor the women who have shaped my journey, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and respect. To my own mother, whose love knows no bounds, and to all the mothers who have walked this path before me, I extend my heartfelt thanks.In a world that often measures success by tangible achievements and material possessions, let us not forget the quiet heroism of motherhood – the late-night feedings, the tender lullabies, the whispered prayers into the night. It is in these moments, steeped in love and sacrifice, that the true essence of motherhood is revealed.So, as we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, let us take a moment to pause and honor the women who have shaped us, nurtured us, and loved us unconditionally. For in their strength, their power, and their boundless love, lies the true essence of motherhood – a force unparalleled, a love unmatched.

Burson appoints Adrian Warr as South Asia-Pacific CEO

Burson has appointed Adrian Warr, former Edelman leader, as CEO of South Asia-Pacific, a position initially designated for Matt Stafford, the former president of BCW Asia-Pacific who has departed from the company.Stafford's departure from BCW comes after his tenure as Asia-Pacific president since 2016, having joined BCW's predecessor, Cohn & Wolfe. Additionally, Stafford held the role of BCW global president of practices & sectors since 2022.In February, BCW and H&K had announced Stafford as Burson's CEO of South Asia-Pacific, as part of the initial round of regional leadership appointments. However, details surrounding Stafford's departure were not disclosed by a spokesperson.Warr will be responsible for overseeing Burson's operations in India, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. His tenure with Burson will commence on September 16, approximately two months after the official launch of Burson on July 1, following the merger of BCW and Hill & Knowlton Strategies.Having spent the past decade with Edelman in Asia, Warr held various roles, including APAC vice chair of practices and sectors. Before that, he served as APAC head of employee experience, CEO of Southeast Asia, and CEO of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand.Prior to his tenure at Edelman, Warr spent 12 years in London, holding positions such as a partner at Portland and an associate board director at Freuds Communications. Additionally, he served in various roles during his seven-year tenure with H&K.Corey duBrowa, the global CEO of BCW, who will also hold the same title at Burson, expressed confidence in Warr's ability to lead the South APAC business. He highlighted Warr's expertise in blending creativity with innovation to assist clients in navigating challenges and building their reputations amidst geopolitical, social, and commercial complexities.

Milk & Honey PR unveils Nu for ethical AI adoption

Milk & Honey PR is embracing the future of communications with the launch of Nu, a dedicated division focused on integrating new technologies, particularly hybrid human-AI solutions. This move underscores the agency's commitment to responsible AI use, both internally and for their clients.To ensure responsible implementation, Nu will be guided by Milk & Honey's existing AI ethical steering group. This group will oversee the new division and a comprehensive AI roadmap.The roadmap outlines Milk & Honey's commitment to using AI in a way that aligns with their B Corp values, which prioritize social and environmental responsibility.Nu's launch is accompanied by strategic partnerships with key players in the AI space:IntelliAIM: An AI platform that leverages existing client data to develop campaign assets.Lazy Consulting: A team of senior consultants specializing in driving business growth through generative AI.These partnerships will allow Milk & Honey to seamlessly integrate these advanced services into their overall client offerings.The creation of Nu stems from Milk & Honey's ongoing exploration of generative AI, a process that began three years ago and culminated in the publication of their AI Ethical Playbook.Recognizing the mixed client sentiment towards AI, Milk & Honey conducted a survey revealing:An even split (50/50) between those who see AI as a positive force and those who have concerns.Specific concerns include potential job losses (25%), loss of human touch in communication (50%), and data privacy issues (83%).Nu will be spearheaded by Sanjiv Winayak, Client Services Director and newly appointed Head of AI at Milk & Honey. He will report to Manuel Hüttl, CEO of Milk & Honey Germany, who will oversee the division's operations.Winayak emphasizes Nu's focus on a future where AI complements human capabilities, not replaces them. He highlights the importance of human understanding in communication, a core principle guiding Nu and its AI roadmap.Hüttl acknowledges the transformative potential of AI in the communications industry. He positions Nu as a hub for innovation, creative collaboration, and responsible AI adoption, ultimately aiming to inspire positive global change in PR practices.By launching Nu, Milk & Honey PR positions itself at the forefront of responsible AI integration in the communications landscape.

Discord appoints first chief communications officer ahead of IPO

Gaming chat platform Discord has named Stephanie Hess as its first Chief Communications Officer (CCO), signaling a focus on enhanced communication as the company gears up for a possible Initial Public Offering (IPO) later this year.Hess, a seasoned communications leader, will be responsible for:Repositioning Discord as a leading gaming platform: This involves improving communication with various stakeholders, including users (gamers and parents), game developers and publishers, and policymakers. Discord currently boasts over 196 million monthly active users.Protecting brand reputation: Hess' team will tackle the growing concerns around online safety for children and content moderation on the platform.Leading a unified communications strategy: She will oversee internal communications, external communications, and policy communications, working closely with the marketing team.Building the communications and marketing team: Hess is actively recruiting for key positions, including a Global Policy Communications Lead and an Internal Communications Manager.Hess brings a wealth of experience to the role, having previously served as Head of Global Communications and Marketing at Asana, where she played a key role in the company's IPO in 2020. She also held communication positions at Zynga, Sun Microsystems, and Oracle.This appointment by Discord highlights the company's commitment to strengthening its position in the gaming industry and addressing critical issues like online safety. With a robust communications strategy and a seasoned leader at the helm, Discord appears well-positioned for its potential IPO.

Broadcast Revolution launches content production arm

Broadcast Revolution, a Lond-based specialist broadcast PR agency, has expanded its offerings with the launch of BR Studio, a new content production practice.Broadcast Revolution provides broadcast coverage for brands across TV, radio and owned channels.BR Studio will focus on helping brands create and produce content across various platforms, including broadcast television, social media, and their own branded channels.Led by industry veteran Sean-Taylor Williams, BR Studio offers a comprehensive range of services:  Content Strategy Development  Film Production  Video Production  Live Streaming Production  Podcast ProductionWilliams, who joins Broadcast Revolution as Director of Content Strategy, brings extensive experience in advertising and brand strategy for lifestyle and luxury brands, particularly in the drinks sector.His previous work includes campaigns for high-profile clients like the Government of Japan (promoting sake in the UK) and Belmond Hotels (luxury travel brand).Broadcast Revolution CEO Phil Caplin emphasizes the growing demand for integrated broadcast strategies that go beyond traditional media appearances."Our clients are increasingly recognizing the value of broadcast-first approaches," says Caplin. "However, it's not just about getting them on TV shows. BR Studio allows us to create impactful, multi-channel campaigns that leverage the power of broadcasting to connect audiences across different touchpoints."Caplin highlights Williams' creative expertise and brand strategy experience, expressing confidence in his ability to lead BR Studio to success.Williams himself is enthusiastic about joining Broadcast Revolution at this pivotal moment. He sees BR Studio as a powerful tool for clients to achieve real impact and stand out from the competition.Founded in 2019 by former Good Relations broadcast director Caplin, Broadcast Revolution has grown to a team of 18 with a revenue of around £2 million. The agency boasts a diverse client base, including major global brands alongside Bumble, Virgin Media O2, Guide Dogs, and Logistics UK.

The evolving role of PR professionals in the digital age

Authored By Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director, Sherpa CommunicationsIn the ever-shifting landscape of public relations, the role of PR professionals has undergone significant transformation. The digital age has reshaped traditional responsibilities, demanding new skills and approaches. Here, we explore the substantial shifts and expanding responsibilities that define modern PR practice.Integration across disciplinesPreviously difficult to define, the role of public relations is becoming more clear as the industry evolves. Nowadays, PR professionals need to break past traditional limits, becoming skilled in various areas from marketing to social and digital strategy. As the boundaries between these fields blur, PR specialists must develop a comprehensive set of skills, enabling them to boost brand visibility and interaction across different verticals. This change has turned PR from a niche role into a broad discipline that is key to an organization's overall strategy.Shift in hiring practicesThe criteria for hiring within PR and marketing fields have also evolved. CVs that once dominated recruitment processesare no longer a key element; the focus is on candidates' soft skills now. Abilities such as quick adaptation, analytical thinking, and multitasking are highly valued.Today’s PR landscape needs professionals who possess a proactive 'go-getter' attitude, who can adapt quickly to the fast changing business landscape.Emphasis on digital proficiencyDigital proficiency is now non-negotiable for PR specialists. The digital age demands more than social media platform proficiency alone; it requires a deep, intuitive grasp of digital tools and strategies. From managing influencer relations to navigating social media algorithms, PR professionals must engage audiences in real-time. This digital savvy enables them to craft compelling narratives and run PR, social, and digital campaigns in sync.Data-driven decision makingAs the whole world is using data, analysis of data is a must now. Modern PR professionals must be adept at analysing and leveraging data to guide their campaigns. Utilizing metrics to gauge campaign effectiveness, monitor brand sentiment, track competitor activities, and identify emerging trends is essential for developing informed, strategic plans that align with business goals. This data-driven approach not only bolsters the impact of PR campaigns but also ensures that they deliver meaningful business outcomes.Strategic role of content creationAs the role of PR professionals expands in the digital space, there is an increasing expectation for them to actively engage in content creation. The ability to craft impactful, SEO-driven content that improves client visibility online has become crucial. PR professionals are now at the forefront of strategic communication, developing messages that not only inform but also engage and persuade the public across various channels. This responsibility covers everything from writing press releases and blog posts to creating video content and podcasts, requiring a blend of creativity, strategic thinking, and media savvy. This evolution has positioned PR specialists not just as facilitators of communication but as key content creators, influencing public perception and brand reputation directly.Crisis managementThe rapid pace of digital communication presents new crisis management scenarios to address. In the UAE, industries such as aviation, FMCG, retail, and F&B may require rapid response capabilities to effectively manage crises, requiring in-house PR teams and their agencies to be ready to handle potential crises quickly and efficiently. In such cases, it's important to develop and regularly update a crisis comms strategy that includes key messaging, communication channels, and especially live monitoring to react fast to online waves. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, so too does the role of PR professionals. These experts are at the forefront, adapting to new technologies and methodologies while upholding the core principles of their profession. The future of PR promises further changes, with professionals continuing to expand their skills and strategies to thrive in this dynamic field.DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it.

Arkreach unveils first contextual media sentiment analysis for communicators

Arkreach, an India-based communications analytics product company that was launched in December 2023 is paving the way in the media world by revolutionising communication analysis with its new AI-powered feature for Contextual Sentiment Analysis. The feature, part of its 4 advanced modules, is developed using a Large Language Model (LLM) – which is trained on a staggering corpus of 60 million articles in over 50 languages – allows communication professionals worldwide to analyse contextual sentiment with unprecedented precision, focusing on specific entities like brand mentions, topics and key spokespeople across multiple languages. Contextual Sentiment plays a vital role in communications where it becomes imminent in recognizing the right tonality to plan and strategize for the issue of interest rather than to work with the basic sentiment of the article. With progress in AI-enabled analysis, this feature launched by Arkreachuses cutting-edge frameworks and tools to help communication analysts and planners across PR agencies and brands access this never-before-available insight. Leveraging its expansive database, available in diverse languages from across the globe – ranging from Sub-Saharan African Swahili, Somali, and Amharic, to Japanese, Cantonese, Kazakh, Gujarati, Marathi, and Hindi in Asia – the latest feature assists in collating accurate contextual insights. Commenting on the success of the new AI feature launch, Mr Vishal Sharma, Chief Strategy Officer at Arkreach, noted, “In the digital era, communications metrics must evolve – the global PR software and media intelligence market is expected to be worth US$17,569 million by 2027, indicating a massive utilisation of the technology advancements. Arkreach's Contextual Sentiment Analysis, powered by Artificial Intelligence, seeks to revolutionise the field of communications analytics. This novel approach transcends conventional metrics by incorporating granular, context-specific understanding derived from News Consumption Behavioural Data.”Commenting on the feature reveal, Mr Neeraj Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, Arkreach, noted, “The significance of contextual sentiment analysis, for a long time, had remained secluded in the conventional tools. Arkreach gives you pinpoint-accurate sentiment on any issue, but that's not all. It also decodes the WHY behind the context. For clients, this translates into rocket-fueled communication strategies ”Presently spanning diverse geographies across US, the UK, Australia, and Europe, Arkreach is poised to enhance its presence by concentrating on partnerships across India and Europe over the next 6 months.

PR Professionals expands its energy portfolio with SAEL and Sunkind India

PR Professionals, the flagship of PRP Group announced the expansion of its energy portfolio with the addition of two premier clients, SAEL and Sunkind India.SAEL is India's leading renewable energy company, specializing in solar and waste-to-energy projects. With its projects spread across the country, SAEL provides decarbonizing solutions and is set to become the leader in responsibly producing sustainable and affordable energy. Sunkind India, on the other hand, is a leading Solar Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) company. Speaking about the new client wins Dr. Sarvesh Tiwari, Founder & Managing Director, PR Professionals said "We are delighted to welcome SAEL and Sunkind India to our clientele in the energy sector. Both organizations embody a commitment to sustainability and innovation, aligning perfectly with our agency's values. We look forward to leveraging our expertise in strategic communication to elevate their brand presence and amplify their impactful contributions to the renewable energy landscape”PR Professionals' energy and power portfolio already includes esteemed clients such as National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), Power Finance Corporation (PFC), Power Trading Corporation (PTC), REC Limited, formerly Rural Electrification Corporation Limited, Eastman Auto and Power, Maharashtra State Electricity Board, Suvakstik Solar, ZunRoof, Mysun, UK Based, Intergen Energy Ltd, Panchvakra, Yasasu and Sukam, among others. The addition of SAEL and Sunkind India further solidifies the agency's position as a trusted partner in the energy sector.PR Professionals is a 360-degree public relations and communications agency that has been delivering quality and excellence since 2011 and has also initiated several philanthropic activities. It provides end-to-end branding and customized public relations solutions that enable businesses to become market leaders. From humble beginnings, PRP today has 12 offices in India and six offices in offshore locations. The 150-member team shares Tiwari's passion for doing extraordinary things in PR and making a difference to the underprivileged through philanthropic activities.

Baidu PR chief exits after row over work culture comments

Qu Jing, head of communications at Chinese search engine giant Baidu, has reportedly left the company following a public backlash against her views on work culture.Qu sparked outrage with a series of online videos where she appeared dismissive of employee well-being. In the videos, she:Claimed she wasn't responsible for employee happiness, stating, "I'm not their mom."Prioritized results over employee well-being.Described the employer-employee relationship as purely transactional.Threatened to sabotage the careers of employees who complained.Criticized an employee for refusing a lengthy business trip during COVID restrictions.These comments fueled existing discontent with China's demanding work culture, known as "996" (working 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week). Qu's remarks gained traction on social media, with many criticizing her lack of empathy.Following the controversy, Qu apologized publicly, admitting her comments caused "serious harm" and did not reflect Baidu's values. However, reports suggest she has since left the company.Qu's departure highlights the growing pushback against grueling work hours in China, particularly among young people. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of company leaders fostering a positive and supportive work environment.

Excellera acquires Barabino & Partners

Barabino & Partners, the corporate and financial communications giant in Italy, has joined forces with Excellera Advisory Group, a rising star in corporate affairs consulting backed by Xenon Private Equity.Launched in November 2022 through the merger of Cattaneo Zanetto Pomposo & Co. (public affairs) and Community (communications and reputation management), Excellera has been on a growth trajectory. Acquisitions of Public Affairs Advisors and Value Relations in the past year solidified their position. With €25 million in fees and a team of 170 spread across Rome, Milan, and Brussels, Excellera was already making waves.This acquisition more than doubles Excellera's size, reaching €60 million and solidifying their leadership in financial communications and M&A. Barabino, ranked number one in M&A communications for Italy (by deal volume) by Mergermarket last year, brings immense expertise.The acquisition expands Excellera's geographical footprint significantly. Barabino's international network adds offices in London, New York, Berlin, Munich, and Paris, complementing Excellera's Italian presence with a Genoa office.Founded in 1985 by Luca Barabino, the company will continue to operate under its own brand, just like other Excellera entities. Luca Barabino remains CEO, and Federico Steiner retains his role as General Manager. Both join the Excellera board."Excellera becomes a central hub for any global company seeking comprehensive support in Italy," says Paolo Zanetto, (pictured), CEO of Excellera. "We offer corporate, financial, brand, communication, and governance affairs expertise, along with reputation building. Our international network empowers us to guide Italian companies in their global expansion."Franco Prestigiacomo (Xenon founding partner) and Gianfranco Piras (Xenon partner and Excellera chairman) highlight the impressive growth: "In just over a year, Excellera has achieved a 14% revenue increase, welcomed valuable additions, and now takes a major step forward with Barabino & Partners."

Baidu PR chief is sorry for workaholic comments

Qu Jing, head of public relations at China's search giant Baidu, issued an apology after sparking outrage with comments glorifying extreme work hours.In videos on Douyin (China's TikTok), Qu dismissed responsibility for employee well-being and threatened to punish those who complained. "I'm not your mother," she said.Her remarks fueled debate about China's infamous "996" work culture (9 am to 9 pm, six days a week). This follows similar comments from Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who called it a "blessing."Qu claimed her dedication was so intense, she didn't know her son's grade level. She also said working weekends and constant phone availability were expected in PR.Baidu has remained silent on the issue. But Qu apologized, stating her views weren't Baidu's and she regretted causing a misunderstanding."I will learn from this and improve communication, while prioritizing colleague well-being," she wrote.The incident has ignited heated discussions on Chinese social media platform Weibo. Chinese social media platform Weibo has seen heated discussion over the incident in the past few days.This was one of the comments: "As the company's vice-president, [Ms Qu] should have known that her comments and attitude would disgust her subordinates, yet she went ahead to make them public. This speaks of how out-of-touch she is."

Samarpita Banerjee Promoted to Sr. Director of Marketing at Havas Creative India

Samarpita Banerjee, previously Director of Marketing & Communications, has been elevated to Senior Director at Havas Creative India. Sharing the news on LinkedIn, she expressed her excitement for the new role wrote, “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Senior Director – Marketing & Communications at Havas Creative Network India.” With a strong foundation in media and extensive experience in advertising and marketing, she brings a diverse skill set to the table. Starting her career as a Trainee Journalist at Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd. ?Banerjee has since developed expertise across various sectors including education, health, music, arts, and culture.

Bacchus GCC launches corporate, real estate division, headed by Karim Geadah

Bacchus Agency, a creative communications and digital marketing agency, has launched its corporate and real estate division for the GCC region, led by Karim Geadah, a seasoned PR professional and newest addition to its team, who has joined as Associate Director.  Karim will work with GCC lead, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President, Fiona Wishart overseen by Bacchus Co-Founder Anouschka Menzies.Karim Geadah brings with him over 13 years of experience in public relations across a diverse range of sectors including real estate/property, fintech, finance, cryptocurrencies, luxury lifestyle, automotive, hospitality, aviation, and technology. Throughout his career, Karim has consistently demonstrated his ability to elevate the brands of his clients and deliver exceptional results.With a strong focus on the UAE and KSA markets, Karim's expertise lies in team and client management, business development, strategic planning, crisis communications, content development, media relations, and event management. His wealth of experience has been instrumental in managing high-profile clients over the last decade, including Savills Middle East, Binghatti, OMNIYAT, Uber, Careem, Astra Tech/Botim, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, and Turkish Airlines, among others.From Bacchus’ Dubai office, Karim will work with clients including Discovery Dunes, 888 Brickell by Dolce & Gabbana, SHA Emirates and Lamar Development as well as key Giga projects in KSA.Bacchus Agency boasts a rich history of collaborating with real estate clients on a global scale. Leveraging their profound understanding of Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) behaviour and the agency's expansive global presence, Bacchus has secured prestigious projects such as The WELL Bay Harbor, an innovative urban wellness community set to debut in December 2024 in Miami in partnership with real estate developers Terra, and The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, one of Manhattan's most eagerly anticipated residential developments on Park Avenue. Strengthening their portfolio, Bacchus maintains a longstanding relationship with British Land, further enhancing their roster of property clients, which include Chelsea Barracks by Qatari Diar, Lamar Development in Dubai, and the expansion of US-based design and hospitality brand RH into the UK and Europe.“We are delighted to introduce Bacchus' Corporate and Real Estate Division in the GCC," said Anouschka Menzies, Co-Founder of Bacchus Agency. "Karim's exceptional experience and deep understanding of the regional market make him the ideal candidate to spearhead this new department. We are confident that his leadership will further strengthen Bacchus' position as a trusted partner for brands seeking strategic communication solutions in the GCC."In his new role, Karim will be responsible for driving the local division's growth strategy, working alongside Global lead Andrea Covington, expanding Bacchus' footprint in the corporate and real estate sectors, and delivering innovative campaigns tailored to the unique needs of clients in these industries."I am honoured to lead Bacchus' Corporate and Real Estate Division and excited for the opportunities that lie ahead," said Karim Geadah. "The GCC region is witnessing rapid growth in the corporate and real estate sectors, and I look forward to leveraging Bacchus' expertise and resources to help our clients navigate this dynamic landscape and achieve their communication objectives."

Manifest appoints Rowena Vithlani as UK Managing Director

Global brand communications agency Manifest strengthens its UK leadership with Vithlani at the helm.Seasoned industry leader Rowena Vithlani joins Manifest as UK managing director, bolstering the agency's growth ambitions. Vithlani brings a wealth of experience from top ad agencies like BBH, AKQA, and most recently, Uncommon.Her appointment reflects Manifest's commitment to expanding its creative offerings in branding, advertising, and digital marketing. Vithlani will lead the UK team and collaborate with regional leadership across the US, Nordics, and Australia.Ali Maynard James, former UK managing partner, transitions to a new growth-focused role, overseeing multi-brand clients, partnerships, and ventures. The new UK executive committee also includes creative director Daisy Shepherd and associate director Emma Seddon.Vithlani is impressed by Manifest's innovative and client-centric approach. "Manifest is a game-changer, creating groundbreaking work and reinventing the agency model. From tech to social responsibility, they represent the future," she says. "Leading the UK charge is a tremendous opportunity."Founded in London (Vithlani's base), Manifest has a second UK studio in Manchester and a global network spanning New York, Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Melbourne. This "24-hour creative cycle" fuels work for clients like Diageo, WWF, and Reckitt.Global CEO Alex Myers outlines ambitious plans for the UK business to reach £10 million in annual revenue by 2030, significantly up from 2023's £3.1 million."Manifest turns 15 this year," says Myers. "We've grown from a startup to a global force. Now, we aim for continued creative and commercial success. Rowena's appointment is key to our UK evolution."Myers highlights a shift in the marketing landscape. "Today, brands need to stand for something, not just sell something. That's how to make a cultural impact. After Covid, established brands are increasingly seeking this connection. This fuels our UK growth, as disrupted brands adapt quickly."Founded in 2009, Manifest boasts award-winning work for clients like BrewDog, Samsung, and WWF. They achieved B-Corp certification in 2023 and hold the Blueprint diversity mark since 2020. This commitment to social responsibility aligns with their focus on meaningful brand impact.

Arsheen K Jain promoted to Head PR & Communications at ixigo

Arsheen K Jain has been appointed as the Head of PR & Communications at ixigo, marking a new chapter in her illustrious career. With over a decade of experience in the field, Arsheen brings a wealth of expertise and a proven track record of success to her new role.Having joined ixigo over five years ago, Arsheen has played an instrumental role in shaping the company's communications strategy and fostering strong relationships with key stakeholders. Her dedication and passion for the travel industry have been evident throughout her tenure, earning her recognition as a dynamic and influential leader.Prior to her tenure at ixigo, Arsheen served as a Principal Consultant at Integral PR Services Pvt Ltd, where she honed her skills in strategic communication and brand management. She has also held roles at esteemed agencies such as Media Mantra and Avian WE, further solidifying her reputation as a seasoned professional in the field.In her new capacity, Arsheen is poised to lead ixigo's communication efforts to new heights, leveraging her extensive experience and innovative approach to connect with audiences in meaningful ways. Her promotion underscores ixigo's commitment to excellence and reinforces its position as a leader in the travel and aviation industry.Speaking on her appointment, Arsheen expressed her gratitude for the opportunity, stating: "I am thrilled to embark on this new journey as Head of PR & Communications at ixigo. It has been an incredible ride thus far, and I am excited to continue building upon the strong foundation we have established. Together with the talented team at ixigo, I am confident that we will elevate our brand, amplify our story, and forge even deeper connections with our audience."