Bridging the Divide: Prioritizing Client Perspectives in PR Agencies

Authored by Kulpreet Freddy Vesuna, Founder & Managing Director, Impact PR Pvt Ltd.The world of PR can feel like a constant dance between understanding client expectations and delivering impactful campaigns. While agencies strive to be strategic thought leaders, clients often have their own viewpoints and desired outcomes. This disconnect can lead to frustration, missed opportunities, and ultimately, unsuccessful campaigns.So, how can PR agencies bridge the gap and truly prioritize client perspectives? Here are 7 key strategies you can adopt:1. Beyond the RFP: Unveiling the True PictureDon't treat the RFP as the be-all and end-all. While it outlines basic needs, prioritize in-depth discussions. Go beyond generic questions and actively listen to the client's story, challenges, and long-term aspirations. This deeper understanding goes far beyond ticking boxes and lays the foundation for a genuinely aligned strategy.2. Speak Their Language, Not Industry JargonRemember, you're not just communicating with PR professionals. Tailor your language to the client's level of industry knowledge. Avoid technical jargon and focus on translating PR tactics into tangible benefits and outcomes they can readily understand.3. Show, Don't Just Tell: Data-Driven StorytellingClients already know everything about their sector and are bombarded with information. Cut through the noise with data-driven stories that showcase the potential impact of your proposed strategies. Utilize relevant industry statistics, case studies, and competitor analyses to show a clear picture of how your approach will move the needle for their specific needs.4. Co-Creation: Empowering PartnershipDon't present a finished product; always involve the client in the creative process. Facilitate brainstorming sessions, invite feedback on different options, and actively co-create the campaign. This fosters a sense of ownership and buy-in, ensuring the final strategy truly reflects their vision and expectations.5. Manage Expectations ProactivelyDon't overpromise and under deliver. Establish realistic timelines for achieving results and manage expectations proactively. Regularly communicate progress, address any concerns promptly, and be prepared to explain any necessary adjustments along the way.6. Measure and Demonstrate ValueQuantify the impact of your campaigns using relevant metrics aligned with the client's specific goals. Go beyond vanity metrics like media mentions and showcase how your efforts translate into tangible business outcomes, like increased brand awareness, website traffic, or even sales conversions in some cases.7. Transparency and Flexibility: Building TrustBe upfront about potential challenges, limitations and budget. Explain the value proposition behind each service and be prepared to answer questions. Additionally, demonstrate flexibility and willingness to adapt your approach based on client feedback throughout the campaign.Remember, prioritizing client perspectives isn't just about delivering a service; it's about building trust and fostering long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships. By implementing these strategies, PR agencies can bridge the gap between expectations and reality, ultimately achieving success for themselves and their clients.Start bridging the gap today! Encourage open communication, actively listen to your clients, and demonstrate your commitment to understanding their unique needs and perspectives. By prioritizing their viewpoint, you'll set the stage for successful, impactful PR campaigns that deliver real value.

Confiance Communications Secures PR Mandate for BeBetta

 Confiance Communications, a leading integrated Communications Agency specialising in brand-building for startups, announces the acquisition of the PR mandate for BeBetta, a revolutionary sports engagement platform. Founded in 2023 by dynamic entrepreneur, Meet Shah, BeBetta aims to redefine sports engagement by prioritizing passion, camaraderie, and social interaction among sports enthusiasts. Unlike traditional fantasy sports platforms, BeBetta introduces a groundbreaking approach where users can compete with friends and rivals without risking their money, fostering a unique and engaging experience. Through BeBetta's strategic brand partnerships, users can still win rewards, striking a perfect balance between the thrill of betting and the fun of participation.Speaking about the partnership, Bushra Ismail, Founder & Chief Strategist, Confiance Communications, said, “We are excited to partner with BeBetta on this journey to revolutionise sports engagement. BeBetta's innovative approach to gratifying sports lovers with rewards and a community-oriented offering is poised to make strides in the industry. As their communications partner, our aim is to build brand narratives that resonate with sports enthusiasts across the country, and establish BeBetta as a frontrunner in the sports engagement landscape.”Commenting on the partnership, Meet Shah, Founder & CEO, BeBetta said, “At BeBetta, we are driven by the desire to create a unique and socially interactive sports engagement platform. Our partnership with Confiance signifies a crucial step towards ensuring the efficient communication of our vision, and keeping our stakeholders abreast of our proposition. Together, we aim to build advocacy for sports engagement alternatives beyond fantasy sports and RMG, and redefine the way fans engage with their favorite games.”Established in 2019 by seasoned publicist Bushra Ismail, Confiance Communications has solidified its reputation as one of India's most dependable and results-driven PR agencies, particularly within the startup and venture capital ecosystem. Renowned for consistently delivering on commitments, the agency boasts an impressive track record of elevating the media presence of over 60 organizations both in India and internationally. Exhibiting an unparalleled ability to engage with key stakeholders, Confiance actively cultivates strong connections for its clients across target audiences, industry peers, and the investor community. The agency's prestigious clientele includes well-known brands such as CashKaro, The Quorum Club, Leo Capital, Khyaal, Salad Days, Turkiye Tourism Board, Transition VC, Pentathlon Ventures, Zeeve, among other distinguished names. Noteworthy former clients who have collaborated with Confiance include Lenskart, PlanetSpark, Heads Up for Tails, EnKash, Avigna Group, and Sunstone, to name a few.

Jennifer Allison joins Gagen MacDonald as Managing Director

Jennifer Allison, former Chief Communications Officer at National Instruments, has assumed the role of Managing Director at Gagen MacDonald, infusing over two decades of expertise into her new position. In her capacity, Allison will guide clients through various facets of business evolution, spanning culture enhancement, employee engagement, digital strategies, the future landscape of work, and the seamless integration of mergers and acquisitions.With a career predominantly rooted in corporate environments, Allison's tenure at National Instruments saw her orchestrating comprehensive communication strategies and spearheading a global team dedicated to fortifying and safeguarding the organization's standing. Prior to her stint at National Instruments, Allison dedicated 16 years to Dell Technologies, where she held key roles in communication and operations, including the Vice Presidency of Executive and Internal Communication.Maril MacDonald, Founder and CEO of Gagen MacDonald, commended Allison's arrival, noting her fervent commitment to the firm's mission and her wealth of experience in pivotal areas such as M&A, digital transformation, and reshaping the future of work. With Allison's values-driven approach, expansive professional network, astute business acumen, and unwavering pursuit of excellence, she is poised to deliver indispensable guidance to both clients and colleagues alike.Allison's appointment comes nearly a year following Gagen MacDonald's acquisition by APCO Worldwide, a move aimed at enhancing APCO's proficiency in transformational initiatives, employee engagement strategies, and fostering internal cultures. This strategic integration further enriched APCO's suite of corporate advisory services, solidifying its position as a leader in navigating organizational evolution.

Wing Communications Secures Public Relations Mandate for Posterity Consulting

In a significant development, Wing Communications, a leading digital, PR, and social media agency, has won the public relations mandate for Posterity Consulting, a renowned name in the field of human resources services and skilling. Wing Communications will be responsible for developing strategy-driven PR activities along with media duties for Posterity Consulting. The aim of the partnership is to highlight Posterity as a preferred partner in the field of human resource related services. Commenting on the partnership, the Director of Posterity Consulting, Mr. Chandra Shekhar said, “Wing Communications, a key PR player will serve as a communication bridge that will strategically place Posterity Consulting in the highlights of its domain between the speakers, delegates and the media. This synergistic partnership will see an inter-play of Posterity Consulting's human resource and organizational management expertise with Wing Communications' outreach capabilities”.Speaking of the association, the CEO & Co-founder of Wing Communications said, “Posterity Consulting, a certified Great Place to Work, is one of India’s leading talent and human resource services companies. We are confident that with our PR team expertise, we will be able to position the brand for maximum impact. In this collaboration, we will be executing creative, disruptive, and seamlessly driven impactful PR campaigns that would help in driving more proactive and personalized communication that will guide customers and improve overall outcomes.”This partnership marks a significant milestone in the journey of both Wing Communications and Posterity Consulting, promising a future of growth and success.

PRactice Inducts Zach James and Rishi Seth as Strategic Investors and Partners

Heralding an era of seasoned, independent Indian Public Relations (PR) professionals investing in the burgeoning, Indian PR industry, The PRactice - a leading full-service PR firm in India announced a strategic investment from Zach James and Rishi Seth, senior public relations, and communications advisors. The partnership marks a significant milestone as The PRactice enters its 25th year, reinforcing its commitment to growth, innovation, and its reputation as a trusted industry leader. Nandita Lakshmanan will continue as the CEO of The PRactice, with a focus on growth and driving excellence in client management. As strategic investors and partners, Zach and Rishi will actively participate in augmenting efficiencies in business operations, expanding opportunities across geographies and sectors and focusing on talent management. Their rich and vast experience and expertise will also be available to strategic clients.   Speaking on this development, Nandita Lakshmanan, Founder and CEO, The PRactice said, “The PRactice’s credentials will be significantly bolstered by the presence of Zach and Rishi. The synergies in our values and vision for building reputed PR firms in India to take public relations to the boardroom, will enhance the credibility and reputation of The PRactice even further. We are excited about multiplying the potential of The PRactice and deepening our relationships with our clients and prospects, with this landmark development.” Addressing the team at The PRactice earlier today, Zach said "Nandita and her team at The PRactice have meticulously crafted an impressive business and reputation, and therefore, has always been of interest to us for years. Our partnership is a strategic move to future-proof The PRactice, realize value and ensure relevance in this dynamic industry. Our shared vision is to focus on strengthening capabilities, introducing tech-driven innovations, expanding market reach, and prioritizing talent management.” Rishi Seth added, "We are thrilled to embark on this fantastic journey with Nandita and The PRactice, a well-established firm. At a time when the communications landscape is undergoing transformation, this first of its kind partnership will look to combine entrepreneurial agility and experience to realize growth opportunities within the thriving Indian market. "

Mastercard chooses Archetype for Asia-Pacific PR

Singapore: Mastercard has selected Archetype as its new agency for Asia-Pacific public relations, following a competitive review process, according to reports. Archetype will take over the regional hub mandate previously held by Golin, which parted ways with the financial services giant last year.Golin, the incumbent agency for over three years, did not participate in the recent pitch process.Archetype will lead regional corporate communications, storytelling, and strategic engagement, collaborating with existing local partners like Weber Shandwick.Barkha Patel-Zinzuwadia oversees communications, while Julie Nestor heads marketing and communications for Mastercard in Asia-Pacific.Barkha Patel-Zinzuwadia, SVP of Communications at Mastercard, said: "Following a rigorous pitch process, we selected Archetype for their strong understanding of the regional landscape and their ability to bring our communications story to life."The number of agencies involved in the pitch process is not officially confirmed. While Archetype takes over the regional hub, Weber Shandwick continues to handle local market PR in most of Asia-Pacific.Mastercard also collaborates with Ketchum for global communications, particularly in the US.Overall, this move reflects Mastercard's continued commitment to strengthening its communications efforts in the strategically important Asia-Pacific region.

MSL India Appoints Pallavi Bahuguna as North Lead

MSL, Publicis Groupe’s strategic communications and engagement firm, today announced the appointment of Pallavi Bahuguna as Senior Vice President and Head of MSL’s North operations. Her appointment underscores the firm's commitment to enhancing its footprint in the region. Pallavi is responsible for further strengthening MSL’s operations in the North region, and providing strategic counsel to MSL’s clients in the technology and allied sectors at a national level. She will be a part of MSL’s National Leadership Team. Pallavi is a seasoned communications professional with deep experience on both sides of the table, having spent two decades with marquee organizations and agencies. In her roles spanning diverse industries and geographies, she has deployed multi-channel communication and reputation management programs, strategic alliances, CSR initiatives and DE&I charters. In her most recent role, she was Director, Corporate Affairs and Communications at American Express, leading country level communication programs for consumers, colleagues and communities. Prior to that, she was associated with Coforgez (known as Coforge now) as the Global Communications Lead. In these roles, she led internal and external communication programs across all multiple stakeholder touchpoints. During her stints at Text100 (known as Archetype now), Integral PR and Weber Shandwick, she provided communication counsel to many leading brands in consumer lifestyle, technology, telecom and travel sectors.Amit Misra, CEO, MSL India, South Asia says, “We are thrilled to have Pallavi onboard. With her outstanding credentials and multifaceted communication expertise, I am confident of her leadership skills. We understand our clients’ growing need for omni- and multi-channel communication and reputation management services, as well our internal need to consistently nurture the next line of leaders, and this strategic appointment will bridge both needs.” Commenting on her appointment, Pallavi Bahuguna, Senior Vice President, MSL - North Lead, says,“MSL has built a market leading reputation as a great place to work and it is my privilege to join the team to further strengthen its existing portfolio and create new growth opportunities. I am looking forward to partnering with my colleagues and leveraging my strategic communications experience to nurture our talent and provide client delight.”

The power of human connection for communications professionals

Authored by Tilak Amitava Chowdhury - Communications ConsultantI was speaking to someone very senior in the communication industry recently and he expressed his concern that we are losing the human connection in the deluge of social media and internet. It is becoming rarer for people to actually meet someone in person and not just interact with the digital avatars. Digital and social media tools are enhancers to help us stay connected but that should not and need not replace the human connection.I started working in the PR industry when we used the fax machine and went with hard copies of press release to have a conversation with the journalists in person and discuss story ideas. We were encouraged to go for lunch with one journalist every month, wherein we got to know the journalist as a person and it helped us develop a better working relationship. Covid changed that. We plunged into digital world whole heartedly in the lockdown era with digital tools but we lost the human connection. It is undeniable that digital gives you more reach but there is no denying that the depth of the relationship comes through human connection only.    So, how does one get to stay connected with people in person in today’s digital native world?1.      Industry get together eventsThe PR and Communications industry is blessed to have stalwart media forums who regularly organize training sessions and award ceremonies. It is a great way to connect with the entire fraternity. It is also a great way to boost your own social media by clicking pictures of the event with your comments and tagging the relevant people from your network. So, these events can not only strengthen your social media but also help you grow your real network by the potential to meet new people and opening a whole new world of possibilities. 2.      Meeting colleagues over a drinkMeeting over a drink after work is a great opportunity to connect with your colleagues. In one of my earlier companies, we regularly planned these meetings where we dropped our designations and roles, meeting as friends. It is a good opportunity to know your colleagues as people and not just the professions they represent. It is a good opportunity for the HR teams to organize such initiatives and if there is no company budgets for such events, it could be organized with individual contributions. 3.      Alumni meets Most companies have realized the importance of staying in touch and have started the alumni meets. It is important to attend these meetings as it helps to stay in touch with your earlier colleagues who have now started working in another organization. Every old colleague has the potential to offer a new world of opportunity. It is important to not be out of sight and out of mind. And the only way to do that is to have regular human connection. 4.      Community GatheringsAs a Bengali, the Durga Puja celebrations are always special to me. It is a great time to meet friends and enjoy good food. It is also a time when one can get to know of new opportunities. It is very important for us to remember our roots and cultural values. It helps us connect with people at a very different level and know them well. 5.      Support a social causeAny social cause is a great unifier. Be it working to raise funds for community development to preventing cruelty to animals, there are lots of people from different backgrounds who come together for these causes. It is a great opportunity to identify the causes that one connects best with and attend activities aimed at creating a better world. In the process it may help us find ourselves and help us grow.6.      Join fitness activitiesIn Mumbai, we used to have football sessions every Friday which was attended by many friends from the advertising fraternity. It was a good way to meet many new people in person who were our potential colleagues and bosses in the future. Gyms and marathons are a great way to connect with new people who share your passion for fitness. Running a marathon is a great way to feel the positive energy of so many enthusiasts who are passionate about their wellbeing. ConclusionDigital and social media are integral to our lives today. But, it does not mean that they have to come at the cost of human connection. In fact, it will give us better connections if we are able to leverage both in person & digital connections and create a more holistic human experience. The more people we know in person, it will only motivate us to get inspired by their stories and create better digital content for our platforms. So the next invite you get for in person event, just go for it. It may open a whole new world of opportunities for you.

Enso Arabia partners with Rebecomms for Invest Saudi at MIPIM

Enso Arabia, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading event management agencies, has appointed Dubai-based Rebecomms to manage PR and communications for Invest Saudi’s presence at MIPIM 2024.Under the partnership, Rebecomms is leading Middle East, UK and European media relations in the run up to and during MIPIM, the world’s leading – and largest – real estate event, taking place in Cannes, France, 12-15 March.Invest Saudi will showcase KSA’s unprecedented investment in infrastructure, tourism transformation, world leading destinations and prime investment opportunities across three spectacular MIPIM pavilions. With more than 1,000 square metres of seafront exhibition space, it is Invest Saudi’s largest presence at MIPIM since its event debut in 2022.Headquartered in Riyadh, Enso Arabia is a full-service event management agency providing 360-degree services for KSA participation in national, regional and global events, including trade shows, road shows and corporate events. Enso’s assignment for Invest Saudi at MIPIM is led by Elie Daccache, who has worked with KSA government and private entities to deliver highly creative, comprehensively-managed events since 2014, including Invest Saudi’s previous participation in MIPIM.Rebecca Rees, Founder of Rebecomms, has more than 30 years’ media relations and communications experience, including 18 years in Dubai’s real estate, tourism and hospitality sectors. She also led Nakheel’s MIPIM PR and media relations strategy for four consecutive years as part of her decade-long corporate comms role at the Dubai-based master developer.

PR is revisiting storytelling narratives to create authenticity for consumers

In an era dominated by digital landscapes and evolving consumer expectations, the Public Relations industry finds itself at a pivotal juncture. With authenticity emerging as a cornerstone of brand-consumer relationships, the art of storytelling takes center stage. As the narrative landscape evolves, PR professionals are compelled to revisit traditional approaches. In this ever-changing landscape, the quest for authenticity becomes paramount, urging the industry to redefine its storytelling paradigms to forge deeper connections and foster genuine engagement in the digital age.Adgully reached out to some leading PR leaders to understand how they are revisiting storytelling narratives to create authenticity for the new age consumers.Jaideep Shergill, Co-Founder, Pitchfork Partners, noted, “In an age marked by abundance of information, where brands vie for attention amidst a cacophony of content, it has become imperative for the PR industry to leverage our storytelling expertise towards promoting more honest and authentic narratives. This strategic shift is even more relevant today as new-age consumers seek truth, rather than polished narratives. Any communicator in the 21st Century who caters to the younger demographic should have a detailed understanding of their audience’s thought process. They are the "King," as Marketing 101 reminds us, and our messaging needs to reflect their values and concerns; everything else will follow.”“This discerning generation is cognizant of the products and services that they use, with an inclination of avoiding products sourced unethically or manufactured through unfair labour practices. They have an ability to sift through volumes of content and select the most authentic narrative in the media that best reflects their preferences. In such a scenario, content becomes more than mere information; we as communicators must move beyond manufactured perfection and embrace real storytelling, flaws and all. Identifying a brand's unique story, prioritising transparency, showcasing positive impact, and utilising real consumer stories can be effective steps. Overall, communication should be rooted in values of the brand, and it should reflect in the narrative,” he further elaborated.Pooja Chaudhri, Executive Director, Concept PR, believes that storytelling is a potent tool to communicate something. She said, “We have grown up listening to stories and being inspired by them, even if they are untrue. For example, one story often told to emphasise that change needs to be gradual is that of a frog in a vessel that gets boiled when heat is increased slowly. We all take it as accurate, even though experiments have repeatedly shown that a frog jumps out of the vessel when the heat becomes uncomfortable, even if it increases gradually. I believe storytelling is more sequential, but adding the essence of narrative can considerably improve the impact. A narrative allows one to share different points of view, and highlight the core message. I believe that if adequately done, narrative storytelling can be a powerful tool to create authenticity for new-age consumers.”“The traditional storytelling methods of the PR industry often miss the mark with today’s consumers, who yearn for authenticity and genuine connections,” remarked Valerie Pinto, CEO, Weber Shandwick India. According to her, “To truly connect with this new-age audience, it is crucial to humanise your brand. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses and engage in authentic interactions. In the era of two-way communication, brands can no longer shy away; instead, they should embrace it. Encouraging user-generated content that mirrors diverse perspectives and experiences is essential. By involving consumers in the storytelling process, we not only build connections, but also cultivate a sense of shared ownership. After all, the heart of a brand lies in the stories it tells and the community it builds.”For Geetu Batra, PR & Communications Lead, Cheil India, the new-age consumer is Gen Z, which has just entered the workforce and, in a few years, may become the dominant consumer segment. It is important to create bespoke content that is tailored to their tastes and preferences. She noted that it is the first generation to be born into the age of social media and has a form for ever-shortening attention spans. So, narratives that lend themselves to short-format content like videos and reels will pass muster. The content needs to be visually appealing so that it doesn’t get passed over for another high-decibel video.“They are not avid platform loyalists, so do not hesitate to experiment with formats like videos, articles, and podcasts while crafting the narrative. There is no easy answer, but it pays to remember that authenticity is the byword for this generation, and sticking true to the values that we espouse is paramount at the end of the day,” Batra advised.

How C-Suite can use PR to build thought-leadership

By Sonam Shah, Founder and CEO, Treize CommunicationsPublic Relations has always been a compelling way of building thought leadership for the C-Suite and with time this need is increasing. With more and more platforms to share views, growing digital penetration and increase in content consumption, the need to build an independent identity is growing within C-Suite.This need no more stands important to just entrepreneurs but is now also imperative for all professionals across various sectors. This PR activity helps not only in chiming in a recall value, but also in showing relevance within stakeholders. With a plethora of content to consume, it is important that thought leadership is built in a right manner within the target audience.C-Suite which consists of the top-level management in any company is the core team which runs the business, ensures the company is stable and is the team which plays a large role in decision-making. They hold a very important role in shaping trends and market analysis, thus having a great impact on stakeholders.Top-level executives bring in a certain authority and voice of the industry to the public which has a great impact on how people perceive the organisation. Not only this, but these individuals also bring in a lot of expertise. As they are either industry veterans who have been across decades in the industry and/or entrepreneurs who have a visionary outlook. They hold massive industry experience and understanding of the industry and can add a lot of value to the media outlets as well. The knowledge and expertise they impart via PR help shape the new entrants.Here are some reasons why C-Suite executives should have strong thought leadership:Personal Branding:C-Suite representatives are the ones who are usually on the ground, at events and meetings. They are the face of the company. Having a media image and presence helps build initial awareness about them while introducing themselves.By using the right PR Tool, they can clearly articulate their expertise, values, and unique perspectives. It helps in conveying the key message and building an image they want to project for themselves and the company. With rapidly evolving media space, having personal branding is imperative.Connect with Stakeholders:Sharing regular opinions and views in the media helps strengthen leadership skills and reflects knowledge. Leveraging the right kind of media opportunities and outlets promptly can add a lot of value for the spokesperson. Speaking on the right trend at the right time, garners quality media publications.The articles can then be shared on individual social media handles, which increases value within connections.Helps build relationships with journalists and industry influencers:By being active in sharing views and opinions on industry matters, one can build a strong network of influencers and communities. We are in times where digital presence is essential and this can help build a strong LinkedIn network. Having a clout of right industry experts helps brings in right connections and influences in a smart manner.Platform to showcase knowledge:Leveraging thoughtful op-eds and articles on relevant B2B publications helps them with an opportunity and platform to showcase their experience. Using the right mix of mediums, such as articles, blogs, whitepapers, videos etc. provides an opportunity to offer valuable insights and solutions to current challenges present in their industry.It’s important to understand that once you start the journey towards building your voice in the media, remember to stay consistent. This practice can go a long way in sustaining your expertise and knowledge adding much higher recall value. Remember that thought leadership is not built overnight. It requires a steady and long-term commitment. By actively engaging in strategic PR activities, C-Suite executives can enhance their personal brand, establish authority in their industry, and contribute positively to the overall reputation of the organization.

SpeakIn acquires Innovative Solutions

SpeakIn, the world's leading platform for speakers, coaches, and thought leaders, has acquired Innovative Solutions, a PR and brand management firm. This strategic move strengthens SpeakIn's global reach and empowers their network of over 18,000 experts to build even stronger personal brands.SpeakIn has always connected top-tier talent with speaking opportunities, but this acquisition unlocks a new era of brand building. With Innovative Solutions' expertise, SpeakIn can now offer:Amplified visibility: Experts will gain access to PR, media training, and content creation, propelling their voices onto various platforms.Enhanced credibility: SpeakIn's brand management prowess will build trust and recognition within each expert's field.Tailored support: Dedicated training modules will equip CEOs and leaders to leverage personal branding for impact.A shared vision: Both companies are united in their commitment to creating authentic, impactful brands. Deepshikha Kumar, SpeakIn's Founder, emphasizes, "This acquisition empowers experts to reach broader audiences and achieve greater impact." Arun Anand, from Innovative Solutions, echoes this sentiment, highlighting the value of "elevating both the company's and its experts' brand value."Expanding services: SpeakIn's existing "SpeakIn Expert Marketing Program" gets a boost with this partnership. CEOs and leaders will now have access to diverse media channels to share their expertise and make a difference.SpeakIn acquires Innovative Solutions through an "acquihire" model, integrating their team and expertise seamlessly. This allows for comprehensive marketing, PR, and amplification services for all SpeakIn experts.As SpeakIn expands across 29 countries, their focus turns to empowering experts everywhere. This acquisition fuels their growth trajectory and supports experts in their continuous development.With a decade of experience, Innovative Solutions has established itself as a leader in PR, content creation, and brand management. Their impressive client list and strong media network make them a perfect partner for SpeakIn's global ambitions.Beyond speaker services, SpeakIn is Asia's largest digital campus for professional development. They offer 1:1 coaching and group sessions led by industry veterans, addressing crucial topics like leadership, motivation, and sustainability.Over 1.5 million professionals across eight countries have benefited from SpeakIn's platform. With this acquisition, SpeakIn is poised to empower even more individuals and organisations to connect, learn, and grow.

Organix chooses Cirkle for PR and influencer marketing

B Corp baby and children's food brand Organix has appointed Cirkle as its new PR and influencer marketing agency, following a competitive pitch process. Cirkle will take over from The Fourth Angel, which held the account for the past four years.Cirkle, itself a B Corp-certified agency, impressed Organix with its shared commitment to social responsibility and purpose-driven storytelling. Kate Gibson, Managing Director of Cirkle Consumer, expressed their enthusiasm: "Our values are so well aligned and we're excited to join Organix at this stage, marking the start of a brilliant working relationship. We're privileged to showcase the brand's existing purpose-led work."Cirkle's remit goes beyond traditional PR, encompassing consumer, trade, and corporate communications, alongside influencer marketing and content creation. They will also engage retail trade audiences with Organix's CSR initiatives and B2B thought leadership.Organix Marketing Director Mandy Bobrowski welcomed Cirkle as a strategic partner for their ambitious growth plans: "We're thrilled to welcome Cirkle, joining forces with our existing agencies The Ninety Niners and VCCP. We thank The Fourth Angel for their impressive contributions and wish them well."Founder Angie Moxham of The Fourth Angel reflected on their successful partnership: "We've had a fantastic four years with Organix, creating award-winning campaigns like 'Good for Planet Good for You' and the 'A-Z of Great Food'. As our tenure ends, we wish them all the best for the future."Cirkle brings to the table extensive experience working with major brands like Birds Eye, Tango, and Mars Petcare. This partnership positions Organix for continued success in communicating its purpose-driven mission and reaching its target audiences.

The Idea Agency partners with hospitality brands for PR and comm service

The Idea Agency, an integrated communications and marketing agency, has recently expanded its portfolio by partnering with hospitality, lifestyle, and luxury brands in the middle east region. The agency's recent account wins include prominent names in the hospitality sector, such as Th8 Palm Dubai Beach Resort (a Vignette Collection property under IHG), InterContinental Durrat Al Riyadh Resort & Spa, and Wirgan Makkah Al Azizieh and Wirgan Makkah Al Noor hotels. Additionally, they have secured La Gita in the hospitality sector, Kartell in the retail segment, and Hysek in luxury watches.Rita Boustany, the Managing Partner of The Idea Agency, expressed pride in these new associations and highlighted the agency's commitment to long-term business relationships, noting that many clients have been with them for over a decade.The agency's dedication to its existing clients remains unwavering, with continued service to leading brands across various categories. These include destination marketing for the Ajman Department of Tourism Development and Ajman Museums, as well as hospitality services for Grand Millennium Al Wahda and Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa. The agency also caters to luxury retail brands such as Western Furniture, Natuzzi Italia, and a Dubai-based furniture manufacturing company.With these new partnerships and continued commitments, The Idea Agency is poised for further growth and expansion of its services in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Alex Aiken transitions from UK Government Comms Chief to UAE ministry role

After a distinguished 12-year tenure within the Civil Service, Executive Director of UK Government Communications, Alex Aiken, has announced his departure to embark on a new chapter as a communications advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE. His transition is scheduled for April.In his new capacity, Aiken will serve as a trusted advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, collaborating closely with Afra Mahash Alhameli, the ministry's director of strategic communications.Simultaneously, Aiken's wife, MP Nickie Aiken, has revealed her decision to step down at the upcoming General Election, slated for later this year.Aiken's illustrious career includes spearheading the 2014 establishment of the Government Communication Service (GCS), a pivotal professional entity representing over 7,000 communicators within the UK civil service. Under his leadership, the GCS has set a global benchmark for excellence in public sector communications.He further elaborated on the scope of his upcoming role, emphasizing its multifaceted nature, encompassing storytelling, communications counsel, and strategic evaluation. Aiken expressed genuine excitement about this next phase of his career.Having served under five Prime Ministers across four administrations, and navigating through myriad national events including elections, referendums, and global crises, Aiken feels a sense of fulfillment in his contributions. He remarked that he is honoured to have served the Cabinet Office and collaborated with countless dedicated colleagues. The Cabinet Office affirmed that Aiken's transition adheres to established protocols, having undergone rigorous vetting under the Cabinet Office Business Appointment Rules. Plans for appointing Aiken's successor within the GCS will be unveiled in due course.Notably, in 2021, Simon Baugh was appointed as the GCS's inaugural CEO, while Aiken retained his position as executive director with a focus on national security and international affairs.Recognized for his exceptional contributions, Aiken received the Outstanding Individual Achievement award from PRovoke Media in 2022. His pivotal role in crafting the communications strategy surrounding the passing and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II underscored his leadership and strategic acumen.

PR Professionals Appoints Sanjay Gupta as CEO

PR Professionals, the flagship of PRP Group, today announced the appointment of Sanjay Gupta as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PR Professionals. With an illustrious career spanning over 30 years, Sanjay Gupta brings a wealth of experience to the organization, having worked with renowned Global and Indian corporations. He has previously served as the Vice President of Marketing at Nissan Motor India, and his professional journey includes roles at Hyundai Motor India, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, and GE Motors India Ltd, among other distinguished organizations. Having worked in Fortune 500 companies such as GE, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, Sanjay has also made notable contributions to Indian companies like DCM Shriram, Electronica Machine Tools, Advance Valves, M3M Group, and Intex Technologies. Sanjay Gupta expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "I am thrilled to join PR Professionals, a company known for its excellence and innovation in public relations and communications, and feel that PRP Group has all the elements to propel it into a world-class Image & Brand Solution provider across industries & various Government sectors.”Mr. Gupta's impressive career is marked by his substantial contributions to numerous sectors, including industrial products, FMCG, automotive, and education. He has a proven track record of delivering exceptional results, having played a pivotal role in generating business worth INR 3000 crore (USD 350 million). His core competencies include marketing corporate communication and PR, digital and social media marketing, business plan development and execution, and team leadership and mentoring. Mr. Gupta has successfully launched and managed multiple brands, products, and campaigns in both the B2B and B2C segments and has expanded into new markets and territories.Dr. Sarvesh Tiwari, Founder & Managing Director of PR Professionals shared "We are delighted to welcome Sanjay Gupta Sir as our CEO. His extensive experience and exceptional marketing and strategic leadership track record will undoubtedly drive our company to new heights of success. We are confident that his vision and expertise will further strengthen PR Professionals' position as a leader in the public relations industry"A Mechanical engineer and a postgraduate alumnus of S.P Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai, Sanjay is a regular guest speaker at India's prestigious management institutes like FMS Delhi, Amity University, SPJIMR, ITS, etc.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.

Confiance Communications secures PR Mandate for ONDC’s uEngage

Confiance Communications, an integrated Communications Agency known for its specialisation in startups’ brand-building, has acquired the PR mandate for uEngage.Founded by serial entrepreneur Sameer Sharma, uEngage is a breakthrough enterprise technology startup enabling restaurants, cloud kitchens, grocery stores, and meat/fish sellers to build in-house capabilities for online ordering and delivery, and save significantly on skyrocketing aggregator commissions. Notably, it is also the No.1 F&B Seller App on the Government-backed ONDC platform and has empowered numerous restaurants to enhance their bottom line. Confiance will leverage its deep comprehension of India's startup and technology ecosystem, along with a nuanced understanding of the SaaS space, to spearhead uEngage's all-encompassing communications strategy. This entails tailoring a resilient PR framework, intricately shaping uEngage’s brand messaging, fostering enduring relationships with media and stakeholders, and creating a dynamic content strategy. The primary objective of this collaboration is to fortify uEngage’s market position & industry narrative, thereby augmenting its impact and empowering hyperlocal businesses with cutting-edge technology services. Speaking about the partnership, Bushra Ismail, Founder & Chief Strategist, Confiance Communications, said, “We are thrilled to embark on this journey with uEngage as their strategic communications partner. Our primary focus is on fostering visibility for uEngage’s tech prowess as they tackle the most-daunting challenge of the online food delivery landscape head-on. Considering the low margins restaurants operate on, uEngage’s proposition is a game-changer for them and we aim to amplify their vision amongst stakeholders, for maximum impact. Aligned with the brand’s PR objectives, our campaigns will majorly target restaurant owners, F&B brands, and existing & potential collaborators in this domain.”Commenting on the partnership, Sameer Sharma, Founder, uEngage said, “This collaboration with Confiance marks a pivotal step for uEngage, towards amplifying our vision in the market. This strategic partnership reflects our commitment to effective communication. Together with Confiance, we aim to elevate our brand share of voice, and reinforce our position as innovators in empowering hyperlocal D2C businesses through technology.”Founded by seasoned publicist Bushra Ismail in 2019, Confiance Communications has created a recognition for itself as one of India's most reliable and outcome-driven PR agencies in the country’s start-up and VC ecosystem. Known for delivering on promise, the agency has an exceptional track record of catapulting the media presence of over 60 organisations in India and abroad. Demonstrating an unparalleled capacity to engage key stakeholders, Confiance forges robust connections for its clients, with their target audiences, industry stakeholders, as well as, the investor community. Its esteemed clientele comprises notable brands including CashKaro, The Quorum Club, Leo Capital, Khyaal, Salad Days, Turkiye Tourism Board, Transition VC, Pentathlon Ventures, and Zeeve, among other distinguished names. Notable former clients that have collaborated with Confiance include Lenskart, PlanetSpark, Heads Up for Tails, EnKash, Avigna Group, and Sunstone, to mention a few.

Astrum & NGage ink an exclusive Strategic Alliance

Astrum, India’s first research-based strategic communication advisory that uses science of persuasion™ to understand and shape public opinion ethically, and NGage, Sri Lanka’s pioneer in Integrated Marketing Communications and Public Relations, inked an exclusive strategic alliance that cements India and Sri Lanka connectivity with a partnership that benefits clients in both nations. This mutually exclusive partnership capitalizes on the growing economic strength of the South Asian sub-continent, home to one of the largest and fastest growing free market economies in the world today. The partnership will see both Astrum and NGage collaborate to offer clients in India and Sri Lanka a seamless service experience and leverage each other capabilities to offer ‘research-based multidisciplinary strategic communication solutions.’ The agreement also envisages an active ‘talent exchange’ programme to develop specialist capabilities and offer growth opportunities to team members in both firms. “The communication world is not what it used to be, because the shelf-life of the old normal has expired and the ‘New World’ demands new paradigms of strategic communications. The combined acumen of Astrum and NGage will help clients successfully negotiate the complex landscape of Reputation, Risk and Regulation in this new world.” says Ashwani Singla, Founding Managing Partner of Astrum. He adds, "Our partnership is built on a shared passion for a science-powered approach to shape powerful narratives that deliver outcomes that matter to our clients.” Commenting on the tie-up, Nimal Gunewardena, Founder Chairman & Chief Strategist of NGage Good advocacy & PR, says, “I am delighted at the prospect of working again with Ashwani Singla, who invited us to join BM in 2008, and has now promised to help reinforce our expertise and international access. Our affiliation with Astrum enables us to help Sri Lankan companies as they increasingly go into regional markets, and Indian companies to build their brands here. while bringing access and expertise for national projects and FDI promotion.”

Wing Communications bags PR mandate for Colive

Wing Communications, the Hyderabad-based digital, PR and social media agency has won the PR mandate for Colive, India’s leading co-living player. Wing Communications will be responsible for crafting and executing strategic PR campaigns and media relations for the brand. The objective of the partnership is to showcase Colive as the future of living and the preferred choice for urban millennials and young couples who seek smart, stylish, safe and serviced homes closer to their workplaces and colleges. Commenting on the partnership, Suresh Rangarajan, Founder & CEO at Colive said, “Wing Communications, with its expertise and experience in the PR domain, will play a crucial role in amplifying Colive’s vision and value proposition to our target audience. We are delighted to partner with them as we embark on our next phase of growth and expansion. Colive is on a mission to offer Colive residents an upgraded lifestyle with chic designs and contemporary interiors, premium amenities and hassle-free living. Wing Communications is the perfect partner to help us communicate this message effectively and efficiently.” Speaking of the association, Shiva Bhavani, CEO & Co-founder of Wing Communications said, “Colive is one of India’s leading and fastest-growing co-living and proptech players and we are thrilled to work with them on their PR mandate. We are confident that with our PR team’s expertise, we will be able to position the brand for optimal visibility and impact. In this collaboration, we will be creating and executing innovative, disruptive and seamlessly driven impactful PR campaigns that would help in building a strong brand recall and reputation for Colive in the co-living and proptech space.”

The many tools in PR professionals’ arsenal to fight misinformation crises

The dual nature of news and social media presents a double-edged sword. While these platforms serve as valuable tools for communication and information, they are equally vulnerable to manipulation and misuse. The widespread availability of data and the ubiquity of mobile devices have democratized access to information, enabling individuals to share their opinions and perspectives more freely than ever before. However, this ease of communication also amplifies the dissemination of misinformation.With the click of a button, false narratives can reach millions of users within seconds, spreading like wildfire across social media platforms. This unrestricted flow of information, coupled with the lack of stringent fact-checking mechanisms, exacerbates the problem of misinformation. As a result, distinguishing between fact and fiction has become increasingly challenging in the digital age.According to the recent Global State of the Media survey, approximately 58% of journalists cited ensuring content accuracy as their number one priority, ranking above exclusivity.“Where there is content, there is a possibility of misinformation and disinformation existing,” noted Jaideep Shergill, Co-Founder of Pitchfork Partners, adding, “However, this concern is particularly critical in India, given that we ranked highest in a survey among experts during the recent World Economic Forum. In this complex landscape, the public relations industry can be a key player in combating or at least minimising the spread of misinformation, and technology-driven tools can serve as powerful allies in this journey.”PR practitioners are utilising various tools and strategies to tackle this challenge. One approach involves the use of advanced technology tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to detect and flag false information.There are some arsenals available to fight misinformation. Listing some of these, Pooja Chaudhari, Executive Director, Concept PR, said, “With newer versions of generative AI tools, verifying the accuracy of information dispensed on social media will become even more challenging. As PR professionals, we are responsible for fact-checking all information before sharing it. I believe AI, if properly used, is a great technology to help weed out misinformation. It can be programmed to check for facts faster than humans can. At the same time, we must implement a system that authenticates all information that reaches us independently from multiple sources.”Jaideep Shergill cited some key tactics, saying, “Establishing the veracity of information sources serves as the foundational step in this endeavour. Trust, but verify. Equipped with the correct knowledge, we can act as vigilant monitors, tracking and addressing misinformation across social media platforms. Collaboration with the right stakeholders, including journalists, media houses, and relevant councils can further strengthen our ability to disseminate factual data and counter false information.”He further said that more often than not, misinformation thrives on dramatic narratives to appeal to a higher number of readers, which fuels its rapid spread. But while technology is the very facilitator through which misinformation spreads, it can also serve as a tool for PR professionals.“Today, we have at our disposal a plethora of AI options, which can be effectively utilised to course correct and counter emotional appeals with robust, accurate data,” he added.Shergill cited an example to explain this, “A notable example here is the World Health Organization’s ‘EARS’ (Early AI-supported Response with Social Listening), an AI-powered tool used to monitor online conversations about COVID-19. This helped the health agency obtain a comprehensive analysis of public sentiment around the pandemic. Using this approach, it was able to identify prevalent misinformation and respond swiftly in real time to assist people with the correct information. Such large-scale social listening would have been impossible without the strategic application of technology and tools.”Valerie Pinto, CEO, Weber Shandwick India, highlighted some strategies as well, stating, “Technology-driven tools offer promising solutions to combat this issue. Leveraging monitoring and detection through social listening tools, fact-checking APIs, chatbots, and virtual assistants, as well as implementing targeted social media campaigns and engaging fact-checkers, can prove invaluable in countering misinformation. Yet, as the use of the internet continues to rise, the prevalence of misinformation is poised to grow. In such a landscape, it becomes increasingly crucial to foster media literacy. By embarking on educational campaigns that empower users to critically evaluate information online, we lay the groundwork for a more informed and resilient digital community.”Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner, Nucleus PR, noted, “A Google search will throw up several tools that will be adept at giving you data that throws up chatter, sentiment analysis, and more. A task easily done by any tech/ AI expert. The difference a PR professional makes to the mix is understanding what this data means, how it impacts the brand, when and where should the brand speak to address a misinformation crisis. This, along with understanding how the information is being escalated and how to put a stop to it. The PR team needs to spend their time understanding how to use this opportunity (yes, it is one) of being in the news to demonstrate the brand’s values and strengthen its reputation.”

The changing face of PR in India amidst Global consolidation trends

Authored by Bhaskar MajundarThe Public Relations industry in India has experienced a notable journey of evolution, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic. As India's economy expanded, the intricacies of business operations and interactions with stakeholders also grew. In an era characterized by rapid technological progress, Public Relations has undergone significant transformation globally. The communication landscape has seen a radical shift, propelled by the availability of data, widespread internet access, and the proliferation of smartphones, particularly post-pandemic. Today, the distinction between traditional outreach, video production, event development, brand marketing, media planning/buying, content creation, and influencer strategies is becoming increasingly blurred. The convergence of communications and marketing has created fresh challenges and opportunities. Presently, brands leverage social media platforms to announce rebranding initiatives, akin to the approach adopted by Fever FM, which undeniably generated considerable buzz.The communication industry in 2024 is indeed experiencing a significant trend towards consolidation, as evidenced by notable mergers and acquisitions reshaping the competitive landscape. Consolidation in the PR industry worldwide has significant implications, including those felt in India. As global PR firms merge and acquire smaller agencies, it reshapes the competitive landscape and influences market dynamics in India. Key developments such as Havas' acquisition of PR Pundit and WPP's merger of BCW and Hill & Knowlton into Burson reflect strategic moves aimed at enhancing market positions and addressing evolving market dynamics. Havas' acquisition of PR Pundit, leading to the formation of PR Pundit Havas Red, highlights the company's commitment to bolstering its public relations services in India. By integrating PR Pundit's expertise with its existing offerings, Havas aims to provide comprehensive communication solutions to clients, capitalizing on the growing demand for integrated services in the Indian market. Similarly, WPP's decision to merge BCW and Hill & Knowlton into Burson underscores the company's strategic realignment to consolidate its market presence and improve operational efficiency. This consolidation creates a formidable PR entity with a $1 billion valuation, positioning Burson as a frontrunner in the global PR landscape.Consolidation often leads to larger PR conglomerates with extensive resources and global reach. These conglomerates can offer a wider range of services, access to international markets, and specialized expertise to clients in India. This can potentially benefit Indian businesses seeking comprehensive PR solutions and access to global markets. However, consolidation also poses challenges for smaller, independent PR agencies in India. Increased competition from larger firms and decreased market share may squeeze out smaller players, making it harder for them to compete and thrive. This can limit diversity and innovation within the PR industry, potentially leading to less choice for clients and a homogenization of services. But consolidation may impact the quality of service and client relationships. As larger firms absorb smaller agencies, there is a risk of losing the personalized approach and client-focused service that smaller agencies often provide. Clients in India may prefer working with boutique agencies that offer tailored solutions and a more intimate client-agency relationship. Furthermore, consolidation could affect pricing and fee structures within the Indian PR market. Larger firms may have more bargaining power and economies of scale, potentially driving down prices and squeezing profit margins for both large and small agencies. This could lead to a commoditization of PR services and increased pressure to deliver results at lower costs.In terms of talent and employment, consolidation may result in job losses or restructuring as redundant roles are eliminated and operations are streamlined. However, it may also create opportunities for skilled professionals to join larger firms and access more resources for career growth and development. Overall, while consolidation in the PR industry worldwide may bring both opportunities and challenges to India, it is essential for stakeholders to adapt to the changing landscape. Collaboration, innovation, and a focus on delivering value to clients will be critical for PR agencies in India to thrive in an increasingly consolidated and competitive environment.In India, another notable change is the emergence of smaller boutique agencies amidst the consolidation trend adds diversity to the industry. While these agencies offer niche expertise and agility, they face challenges such as resource constraints and limited professional development opportunities. Addressing these challenges is crucial for sustaining the growth and competitiveness of smaller agencies while fostering a robust talent pipeline within the industry.The consolidation wave in the communication industry reflects broader shifts towards scale, efficiency, and adaptability in response to evolving market conditions. Strategic alliances and mergers serve as mechanisms for organizations to enhance their competitive advantage and navigate the changing landscape effectively. The consolidation trends in the communication industry underscore the need for innovation, agility, and client-centricity. As stakeholders navigate this period of transformation, the ability to adapt and thrive in a dynamic environment will be key to shaping the future trajectory of the industry. By embracing change and leveraging strategic partnerships, organizations can position themselves for long-term success in an increasingly competitive market.

Impresario onboards Lintas Live as the PR Partner for its flagship brand, SOCIAL

Lintas Live, a digital-first creative PR agency, has won the PR and communications mandate for SOCIAL, the iconic flagship brand under Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Private Limited. This partnership comes on the heels of Lintas Live's significant growth year and its outstanding track record in the retail and hospitality sector, making it the ideal choice to elevate SOCIAL's brand presence and expand its reach to a growing tribe of youth and innovative consumers. The brand was won in a competitive pitch process. Since its launch, Lintas Live has honed its expertise in garnering brands an unfair share of attention through ideas that are talk worthy. Leveraging its in-depth industry insights and creativity, Lintas Live will collaboratively work with SOCIAL to craft compelling narratives, engage key stakeholders, and bolster the brand’s loyalty among the youth.SOCIAL, India’s favourite neighbourhood café, is known for its unique and vibrant experiences. It is the preferred destination for young India to hang out, build connections and like-minded communities. With its innovative approach to dining, café culture, programming and a collaborative workspace, the brand has steadily gained popularity and scale over the years.On the appointment of Lintas Live, Divya Aggarwal, Chief Growth Officer, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Private Limited, said, “We are delighted to have Lintas Live onboard, an agency that exhibits an exceptional knowledge of our brand DNA and understands our growth priorities. We have aggressive plans for India, and we needed an equally agile, creatively bold, and strategically sound partner to achieve our aspirations. I believe Lintas Live, given its legacy and success, is the perfect partner for us.”Ameer Ismail, President, Lintas Live, commenting on the partnership, said, "We are absolutely excited to win and be entrusted with this mandate for SOCIAL. Our team is all-set to leverage our deep industry expertise, consumer understanding and deep knowledge of the hospitality industry and dynamics to further strengthen SOCIAL’s market position and deepen connections with its growing tribe of consumers. Together, we are eager to chart new heights in the realm of strategic communications, to elevate SOCIAL's brand presence and match the brands ambition with impactful PR and communications.”Lintas Live's portfolio now boasts a remarkable addition with SOCIAL onboard. This partnership reinforces Lintas Live's commitment to delivering new age integrated PR services and further establishes the agency as a go-to communication partner for leading brands in the retail and hospitality sector.

Lodha Ventures appoints Mahesh Shah as President - Corporate Communications

Lodha Ventures, an Abhinandan Lodha Enterprise, is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Mahesh Shah as President - Corporate Communications. Mr. Shah joins the organization, bringing with him a wealth of experience from his illustrious 37-year career with HDFC Ltd.Commencing his journey with HDFC in 1986, Mr. Mahesh Shah has played an important role in the growth and success of the Brand HDFC. With an impressive background in corporate communications and public relations, he has been an integral part of shaping the communication strategies for HDFC Ltd., the country's leading housing finance company and the most successful financial Conglomerate.In his previous role at erstwhile HDFC Ltd, Mr. Shah spearheaded the Corporate Communication & PR capabilities, showcasing his prowess in effectively managing communication strategies for a company of such magnitude. His journey with HDFC was marked by numerous accomplishments and recognition, reflecting his commitment to excellence and innovation in the field. Prior to leading the Corporate Communication and PR function, Mr. Shah contributed significantly between 1986 and 2009, providing strategic inputs and executing internal and external marketing communications and events for HDFC Ltd and its Group companies.In his new role as President - Corporate Communications at Lodha Ventures, Mr. Mahesh Shah will be responsible for overseeing and enhancing the cornmunication strategies of the company. His rich experience and strategic acumen are expected to contribute significantly to the company's growth and strengthen its position as a leader in the industry.Speaking on this new addition to the leadership team, Mr. Abhinandan Lodha - Chairman, Lodha Ventures said, "I am pleased to welcome Mahesh, a t'tan 'n the field of Public Relations, to our Ecosystem. With an impressive 40-year legacy of shaping perceptions and navigating the complexities of media communication, Mahesh's arrival marks a pivotal moment for our organization. We are looking forward to the wisdom and success that his seasoned presence promises to guide us in our endeavours."Speaking on joining the Lodha Ventures family, Mr. Mahesh Shah said, "I am thrilled to jo'n Lodha Ventures, an Abhinandan Lodha Enterprise. After 37 fulfilling years at HDFC Ltd., I am eager to bring my experience to contribute to the growth and success of the company. I look forward to leading the Corporate Communications team and collaborating with the talented professionals here to enhance communication strategies, strengthen the brand, and propel Lodha Ventures to new heights in the industry."

Verizon appoints Stacy Sharpe as EVP and Chief Communications Officer

Verizon Communications announced the appointment of Stacy Sharpe as Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, effective March 4, 2024. Sharpe brings more than two decades of corporate affairs and communications experience with a decorated career at Allstate. Overseeing Verizon's global communications organization, Sharpe succeeds veteran Communications Chief, Jim Gerace, who served at the company for 37 years and was critical to the formation of Verizon and to the company’s launch of every generation of wireless technology to date. Sharpe will join Verizon's executive leadership team and report directly to Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg.“Verizon is one of the most recognizable and admired brands in the world. We have world-class assets that give us an incredibly compelling growth story to tell and a strong brand to evangelize and defend. Stacy brings unparalleled experience and credibility to do just that,” said Vestberg. “Her appointment is critical to our future as we look to differentiate ourselves and connect with the communities we serve. Stacy is no stranger to building the reputation of a world-class brand. Her depth of expertise in corporate affairs and communications on the Fortune 500 stage makes her an ideal leader to position us for the next chapter in Verizon’s history.”Sharpe will lead all aspects of Verizon's global communications strategy, including Corporate, Consumer and Business.Most recently, Sharpe served as SVP for Corporate Brand at Allstate, where she led corporate communications inclusive of internal and external communications, thought leadership, financial communications, public relations and social impact. Previously, Sharpe was a field VP of Allstate’s Capital Region, helping lead sales and operations in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. She also served as VP of Federal Affairs, where she led efforts to shape and advance Allstate’s public policy strategy. “Verizon helps move the world forward by continuously innovating and enabling the connections that help people and businesses thrive,” said Sharpe. “I’m thrilled to join the amazing team passionately committed to making the digital world work for more people in more ways. It’s an exciting time as we grow the business and shape and share Verizon’s transformative impact with customers, employees and shareholders.”Sharpe serves on the boards of directors of Facing History and Ourselves, the Page Society, and the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics. She has been recognized in the Hill’s Top Corporate Lobbyist annual list and as a PRSA Chicago Distinguished Leader. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Enigmatic odyssey of Orry: Decoding the unconventional rise of a PR maverick

Authored By: Jagriti Motwani, Co-founder and CEO of Cha-Chi CommunicationsIn the ever-evolving tapestry of celebrity culture and digital influence, a captivating enigma has emerged, known by the name Orry – the pseudonym of the intriguing Orhan Awatramani. Far from a mere stroke of luck, Orry's journey to fame is a meticulously choreographed symphony, where strategic decisions and an irresistible charisma have propelled him into the spotlight. A mere year ago, Orry was absent from the public domain, yet through the strategic interplay of social media and personal connections, he has become a figure of immense intrigue, wielding influence over the minds of both Gen Z and millennials.Orry's meteoric rise serves as a quintessential example of the potent impact of word-of-mouth in shaping contemporary personas. His recent appearance on 'Koffee with Karan,' left me intrigued and prompted a deeper exploration into the factors underpinning the ascent of my Sindhi compatriot to stardom.Crafting the Orry Persona – A Symphony of AmbiguityAt the heart of Orry's allure lies the deliberate construction of an enigmatic persona, skillfully blending ambiguity and mystique. It's not just about what he shares but what he withholds, creating an ongoing narrative that keeps audiences on the edge of curiosity. We all remember 'Orry kaun hai, Karta kya hai?' narrative. Orry strategically reveals fragments of his life, managing his public image with an artful dance of disclosure and secrecy. Social media becomes his canvas, a realm where cryptic captions, distinctive aesthetics, and a consistent visual narrative contribute to the allure, creating a magnetic pull that defies conventional norms.Networking in the Digital Age – Orry's Social MatrixOrry's meteoric rise is intricately linked to his exceptional networking acumen, a feat achieved by seamlessly integrating into the elite circles of Bollywood and beyond. His strategic alliances with second-generation Bollywood stars go beyond mere associations; they are symbiotic relationships cultivated through collaborations, shared appearances, and exclusive events. From being seen with Jahnvi Kapoor to Ananya Pandey and Sara Ali Khan talking about him on the Koffee couch, he had minds buzzing with curiosity generated through conversations from his network. He is even seen posing with Nita Ambani and doesn't give up on his usual hand on shoulder pose, resulting in a viral instagram post. Orry extends his reach beyond the film industry, forming connections with influencers, designers, and cultural icons, effectively expanding his sphere of influence to unprecedented heights.The Veil of Mystery – Calculated Evasion of Personal DetailsOrry's refusal to divulge specific details about his background adds layers to his mystique. This calculated ambiguity not only fuels public curiosity but also shields him from accusations of nepotism. By carefully navigating questions about his occupation and education, Orry remains an enigma, transcending the usual scrutiny faced by public figures. His approach becomes a strategic shield, allowing him to occupy a unique space within the discourse surrounding privilege in the entertainment industry. 'I do my best' is his occupation, in his own words.Navigating Controversy – The PR Virtuoso's ToolkitUnlike many public figures, Orry had successfully steered clear of controversies, showcasing a PR virtuosity that sets him apart till the Palak Tiwari controversy happened and yet he gained mentions from it. His adept handling of digital platforms strikes a delicate balance between authenticity and curated content, minimizing the risk of public backlash. Orry's commitment to a ghost image becomes a cornerstone of his enduring popularity, establishing him as a role model for influencers navigating the tumultuous waters of online scrutiny. This journey, a modern-day unknown to celebrity narrative, unfolds as a testament to the transformative power of strategic visibility and calculated networking. Orry's trajectory, from obscurity to notoriety, presents a case study worth noting, shedding light on the symbiotic relationship between social media dynamics and the allure of personal connections.In delving into Orry's story, one cannot help but be captivated by the deliberate choices that have defined his narrative. His calculated steps into the public domain, carefully curated social media presence, and astute navigation of influential circles all contribute to the mystique that surrounds him.Orry's unconventional journey from an enigmatic social media presence to a potential PR icon is a testament to the nuanced strategies employed in the realm of celebrity culture and digital influence.

Springboard Communications Joins Global Ranks as Worldcom Public Relations Group

The Worldcom Public Relations Group (Worldcom), the leading global partnership of independent public relations firms, announced today that it has voted Springboard Communications, the Irish Public Relations Agency of the Year in 2023, into its global partnership.“We are excited to add an agency of this caliber to our global partnership,” said Serge Beckers, Managing Director, Wisse Kommunikatie (Netherlands), and Worldcom’s EMEA Committee Chair. “They are highly respected and recognized in Ireland and across the EMEA region. Springboard’s expertise, not only across the broad spectrum of PR services but also in several key industries, is fundamental to extending our ability to serve Worldcom partners’ existing clients across the region while providing new client prospects comprehensive reach and resources.”Springboard Communications is an award-winning, integrated communications agency, in sectors including technology, FMCG, renewable energy, healthcare, and pharmaceutical. The Irish Public Relations Agency of the Year 2023 has, for the past decade, delivered results-driven integrated communications services, collaborating with their clients on communications to internal and external stakeholders. This has transformed organizational cultures, delivered business growth and positively impacted reputations.Managing Director and founder of Springboard Communications, Susie Horgan said: “Embracing the power of global connectivity, our agency is thrilled to partner with Worldcom. We are about redefining the standards of excellence in the industry, and together with Worldcom we can leverage our collective expertise to provide innovative solutions and unparalleled service to clients around the world. This partnership is a testament to our commitment to delivering truly global communication strategies that transcend boundaries and drive meaningful impact.”Welcoming Springboard to The Worldcom Public Relations Group marks the completion of a rigorous Worldcom partner recruitment and vetting process. It ensures the compatibility of the agency applying for partnership, along with their ability to meet the standards of trust and collaboration that have defined Worldcom since its founding in 1988. As the newest partner, Springboard joins a robust group of global partners who openly share knowledge and best practices, utilize the partnership to meet expanding client roles, and collaborate on new opportunities scaled to the local, regional, and global needs of any Worldcom partner, client or prospect.

Zeno Group Elevates Two Global Leaders

Zeno Group has promoted two global leaders to newly created roles essential to the agency’s ongoing growth and evolution. Mark Shadle has been appointed Chief Reputation Strategist and Julie Georgas has been named President of Zeno Canada.  Currently Global Managing Director of Corporate Affairs, Mark Shadle joined Zeno in 2010 to establish and build the firm’s Corporate practice, which today is an award-winning, multi-dimensional global offering that works with clients across myriad industries addressing complex business challenges. Shadle’s new role comes at a pivotal time as C-suite executives are navigating geopolitical and societal issues with the potential for significant business impact.  Shadle will continue to lead the agency’s global Corporate Affairs practice, which grew 27% last year with a range of specialty areas including purpose and impact, employee engagement, executive positioning, C-suite consulting and issues/crisis management.   Shadle has also spearheaded several Zeno research initiatives that explore key corporate affairs topics from research on the evolving workplace and corporate structures to "Signals of Change: The Future of Corporate Affairs." In his new role, he is driving the firm's new global study that compares C-suite and consumer expectations on today's societal issues. Julie Georgas has led Zeno Canada’s transformation over the past seven years as Managing Director, significantly building its presence and reputation in the country. Georgas has grown her team to more than 40 people across three markets – Vancouver, Toronto and Quebec – and built a multi-sector client portfolio. In her new role, Georgas will continue to oversee all operations and develop additional growth strategies for the region.  “Mark and Julie embody Zeno’s commitment to driving both impactful client work and a culture that invites all points of view and opens opportunities for talent to grow. They have inspired colleagues and clients alike and have written many important chapters of Zeno’s story with more to come as we continue to evolve and expand,” said Global CEO Barby K. Siegel.

Burger King UK appoints The Academy as new PR partner

The Academy has been chosen as the new retained PR agency for Burger King UK, following a rigorous selection process. Tasked with overseeing the fast-food giant's press office, spearheading innovative brand campaigns, and managing crisis communications, The Academy is set to lead the account under the guidance of Associate Director Evren Ahmet.This decision marks a significant turning point in Burger King UK's PR landscape, with Splendid and Frank PR having held the position in 2022 and before, respectively. The Academy now joins a distinguished lineup of marketing agencies collaborating with Burger King UK, including Coolr for social media and influencers, BBH for advertising, Walk-In Media, and customer experience agency Merkle.Katie Evans, CEO of Burger King UK, emphasized the pivotal moment of growth, stating: "The Academy impressed us with their comprehensive understanding of our brief. Their proposal not only excited us but also presented a welcomed challenge."Mitch Kaye, CEO and founder of The Academy, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration: "Burger King UK's history of bold, game-changing work is well-known, and we're thrilled to be a part of shaping their next chapter."With Burger King UK joining The Academy's client list alongside brands like Amazon, Peroni, Marie Curie, and Disney, the partnership holds promise for fresh perspectives and creative energy. This collaboration aims to further strengthen Burger King UK's position as a leading fast-food brand in the UK, building on its legacy of impactful communication strategies.

Ben Beckley Joins RevHealth As CEO

RevHealth, a full-service independent pharmaceutical marketing and communications agency, today announced that Ben Beckley has joined the agency as chief executive officer. The addition of the former global president of Evoke Mind + Matter signals a strong trajectory for the agency.Ben Beckley, CEOIn his most recent role, Beckley shepherded the combined rare disease and communications agency (formerly Ashfield Health) through a successful global merger and expanded its capabilities in omnichannel, patient experience and data by launching the proprietary technology, He has also held growth-focused leadership roles at Havas Health & You and PRECISION effect."RevHealth has a well established history in the traditional AOR and medcomms space, and has built a significant presence in patient advocacy and market access. It's rare to find all of these disciplines being built from within," said Beckley. "It's what our clients are looking for versus a traditional sister agency approach."RevHealth is on a path of strategic growth following its 2022 acquisition by WindRose Health Investors. In addition to bringing on Beckley as CEO, they have unveiled a new brand look and feel that reflects the dynamic culture and talent of the agency."The top talent at RevHealth is the biggest attraction. It's rare to find this many innovators all in one place, with more announcements coming soon," said Beckley. "In a world where the right moment is everything to adoption, our unique approach to omnichannel, analytics and data will demonstrate how our industry can in fact change and be more in tune with consumer behaviors."

How the power of technology will shape the PR business in the coming years

Authored By: Ganapathy Viswanathan, Independent Communication Consultant The technology buzz has been around in the PR space for over last two to three years with everyone talking about AI and ML. While everyone is talking about AI and ML and its profound impact on PR one is not sure if everyone in the business is able to leverage the technology tools to the best of their advantage. One of the other reasons that technology is giving the desired boost and encouragement to PR professionals is the rapid penetration of internet and social media which today is the real time go to platform channel to create that rapid awareness and visibility for the various narratives.  The year 2024 will be revolutionised by these advanced technologies as we will see data collaborating with technology tools to give some great analytics which can be used in culling out insights for your PR campaign. If approached  properly with the right tools and talent the AI and data analytics can dwell deeper on your insights and help in spotting your audience behaviour and predict their trends and preferences. With the help of these behavioural study brands will be able to hyper- personalise the content across a spectrum of audience. Here the targeted messaging will also help in reducing your media wastage and cost and you will be able to attain quality reach.  Data and insights will play a major role and are going to be very critical in drawing forceful PR strategies. Innovation and strategic storytelling with strong narratives backed by technology will help in crafting very focussed messaging. Which is where we may see the role of ML and AI coming into play to help in leveraging the data used more intelligently. So, technology will be crucial for agencies to gear up and get their talent in place to meet the client demands. Clients will expect more insights, sharp messaging and data driven audience profiling to reach the right audiences. Today with technology you are be able to craft your messaging and automate your press release dissemination, managing social media which helps the PR professionals to avoid some of the mundane operational activities. Instead, they can now focus more on the client’s requirements and be more proactive in providing some strategic inputs for the brand and add value to the campaign management. More importantly technology will play a pivotal role in managing social media where you need to fight crisis and as we all know these days crisis erupts fast and spreads fast. With real time engagement happening more intensely the need of robust technology tools should be provided for the teams to closely monitor the news happenings.  Here are my thoughts on how one can leverage technology:1.    First and foremost, you have to scale up the skill sets in your organisation. Continuous training and mentoring needs to be imparted to use the available technological tools. 2.    Investment in manpower goes without saying and getting the right skills who have the aptitude to learn and grow with the organisation is a must. 3.    Get your client into confidence on your technology skills so that he will be able to trust you and collaborate well and get the best out of the agency. 4.    Clients must respect the agency efforts and encourage the agency both in terms of giving the right brief and also remunerating the agency well in bringing and using technology.   5.    We can talk about technology endlessly but what is more important is to have the latest in technology and keep updating the same. 6.    While technology is a great enabler one still needs to bring and think on ideas which will what will drive innovation and differentiation to your communication strategy. 7.    There will be plenty of data that will be floating but it is that knack to leverage this data using technology is what is important. Will therefore need the right talent who will be able to read and understand data very well. 8.     The influencers world is growing and they are becoming more important ambassador for many brands. They should also be well versed with the latest technology to bring speed in real time engagement. 9.    I would also recommend a strong IT team in the organisation to collaborate well with the PR professionals so that there is minimum glitches and down time on the tech aspect. 10. Even on the digital media front you need to be well equipped and staffed so that your technology ideas can be seamlessly executed.  The digital disruption has forced many organisations both at the agency and client end to be beefed up with technological solutions. The future as they say will be driven by technology a lot and hence adapting to newer technology will be top on the agenda for companies to move faster and give the best business and strategic solutions to clients. Today a brand reputation hinges a lot on online media and that is where technology will come to play a lot. And actually, the advent of technology has now put PR into a different pedestal to deliver a lot more that will help clients to safeguard their brand reputation and bring in more intense engagement with their audiences.

Gutenberg Lands growing automotive AI insurtech pioneer Roadzen as Client

Roadzen, a global leader in insurance technology dedicated to revolutionizing the auto insurance industry through innovative Artificial Intelligence solutions, has partnered with Gutenberg, a global award-winning integrated Digital marketing agency, to strengthen its presence in the United States and India markets. In a significant development, Roadzen recently debuted on the Nasdaq Stock Market. This milestone demonstrates Roadzen's immense potential to shape the global insurance technology sector. Commenting on the partnership,Rohan Malhotra, CEO of Roadzen, said, "Gutenberg and its global teams across the United States, India, UK (United Kingdom) and other key markets possess a deep understanding of the disruptive changes driven by AI across industries and countries. Gutenberg’s strong record of accomplishment as an award-winning global marketing agency coupled with a deep bench of technology experience were key to our decision in partnering with them.  Their global reach and expertise in navigating the US-UK-India corridor make them invaluable partners in helping us build our brand with our audiences across the global insurance industry.”  Harjiv Singh, Founder & CEO of Gutenberg, shared his thoughts on the collaboration: "We are delighted to team up with Rohan and the Roadzen team to build their brand narratives by leveraging our holistic brand communications approach through a combination of public relations, digital and thought leadership. Roadzen's innovative approach and recent listing on the NASDAQ position them as a next generation AI trailblazer. Our commitment extends beyond aiding Roadzen's recognition and success in the US and India; we are dedicated to championing the narratives of innovative AI-driven companies shaping various industries." The partnership betweenRoadzen and Gutenberg strategically aims to bolster Roadzen's presence in the United States and Indian markets while elevating awareness of the company's AI-powered solutions.

How to Build Lasting Customer Relationships in Business

Authored by Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder, Scenic CommunicationThe phrase "customer is king" emphasizes the importance of customers in the business world. In today's competitive market, businesses often recognize the significance of providing excellent customer experiences.The foundation of any lasting relationship is a deep understanding of your customers. Invest time in researching their needs, preferences, and pain points. Utilize surveys, feedback forms, and customer interviews to gather valuable insights. Creating detailed buyer personas can help tailor your products and services to meet individual customer requirements. Exceptional customer service is the cornerstone of building trust and loyalty. Train your staff to be knowledgeable, empathetic, and responsive. Leverage positive customer experiences for PR by highlighting success stories, testimonials, and case studies. Embrace multiple communication channels to ensure prompt assistance, be it through phone, email, or live chat.RespectRespect forms the bedrock of any fruitful relationship, and the customer-business dynamic is no exception. From the first point of contact to post-purchase interactions, treating customers with respect lays the groundwork for trust and satisfaction. This entails active listening, understanding their needs, and providing tailored solutions. Moreover, prompt and courteous responses to customer queries and concerns contribute significantly to a positive customer experience. Transparency is key to building trust. Be honest in your business dealings, deliver on promises, and strive to exceed customer expectations. Address any issues or concerns openly and promptly. A transparent approach fosters credibility and enhances the perception of your brand.Personalized communicationCrafting personalized communication is like tailoring a suit—making each detail fit just right, so your message truly connects. In a world filled with information, personalized messages stand out. It's more than using someone's name; it's about knowing what they like and need. Whether it's an email, an ad, or a quick note, personalizing your words matters. It builds trust, creates a bond, and links you with your audience, making every chat special and unforgettable.SatisfactionKeeping customers happy is vital for success. Getting new customers is good but having them returned is even better! When customers come back, it's the start of a bond. Making them love your brand and share their experience should be the main goal. It's about making friends, understanding their needs, and always offering what they love. Show appreciation by giving great service, chatting well, and meeting their changing needs. Happy customers become loyal fans who bring in more customers. In marketing, keeping customers should be your top priority for growth and repeated success.Public Relations (PR) emerges as a powerful tool for creating awareness among customers. Crafting compelling narratives, sharing success stories, and highlighting the positive impact of products or services contribute to building a positive brand image. PR activities, such as press releases, media engagements, and social media campaigns, serve as conduits for disseminating information that resonates with the target audience.In Conclusion:Creating strong and lasting bonds with customers in business isn't just about buying and selling products or services, it's about building connections that last. Businesses do this by giving personal experiences, being real and engaging, and always giving value. These connections are more than just a one-time thing; they build trust and loyalty. By paying attention, changing when needed, and always doing more than expected, businesses create friendships that help both customers and the brand. The secret to building these lasting relationships is always caring about and meeting what customers need, making them feel important and understood.

Jaideep Manchanda joins Adfactors PR as Vice President Digital

Jaideep Manchanda has joined Adfactors PR as Vice President Digital. Prior to this role, Jaideep worked with Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd. (Times Group) as Brand Head- New Initiatives ET & TIMS. He also served at Times Internet for over three years. Additionally, he has been associated with AquGen Technologies Pvt. Ltd., The Economic Times, and IBM Global Business Services.

Political PR has come of age in India, as country gears for mega poll battle

As India gears for the big Lok Sabha elections this year, the political machinery is on full swing to woo the voters and highlight their election manifestos. Along with parties’ mandates and candidates’ outreach, Public Relations has come to play a crucial role in the political arena as well.Public Relations has evolved into a critical tool for both governing bodies and opposition parties. For the ruling government, it functions as a platform to exhibit its accomplishments, rally public support on key matters, and address grievances by soliciting feedback. Today, the government enlists PR agencies to drive stakeholder and community involvement to secure backing for forthcoming infrastructure projects. Similarly, for the opposition, PR represents a powerful mechanism to express dissenting views and spotlight significant policy deficiencies to the public.Adgully reached out to PR experts to delve into the inner workings of the political side of the public relations industry. We sought insights into the key tactics political candidates employ to shape their public image, the new challenges and opportunities in this sector, and more.Evolution of Political PRAnup Sharma, an independent political communications consultant, observed, “It has been almost a decade since India witnessed its first ‘social media’ election in 2014. The upcoming 2024 national elections will be significantly influenced by Artificial Intelligence, which will have a profound impact on the election campaigning process. From analysing vast amounts of data to identifying trends and patterns in public opinion, sentiment and behaviour, advances in digital technology are providing new and faster tools for political messaging.”“The AI-fueled 2024 election season is already here and we’re seeing political leaders engaging with their voters using a lot more AI generated content to communicate effectively in hyper local cohorts. Now, with the power of generative AI, the campaign managers are able to scan the internet, think about strategy, and come up with a hard-hitting appeal be it a speech, press release, meme, reel or video touting the benefits of one candidate over another. AI has armed the campaigners with an inexpensive way to respond instantly to campaign developments reducing the response time,” he added.Commenting on the new ways in which the industry is engaging with the audience, Sunil Nair, Executive Director, Concept Public Relations, said, “The new ways are integrated and strategically multiplatform, multilingual, and multimodal messaging. It is like a tribal dance, where the message is a performance that involves haptics, audio-visuals, and graphics. The messaging process is rhythmic.”Key tactics employed by political candidatesNair highlighted, “Interpersonal messaging and communication continues to remain the dominant format. This is because misinformation is rampant. The audio visual is the next best and preferred option. Graphics and texts are the least trusted. Either it is in-person engagement or quasi in-person engagement using digital media that is the dominant approach. With time all social media messaging is losing credibility because all are ‘bots’ or ‘bought’.”Meanwhile, Sharma noted, “With each election cycle, the ability for political parties to engage and target demographic groups is getting sharper. Over the last decade, it is now a proven fact that political messaging over the digital world has the potential to reach more than half the population directly and act like a force-multiplier in political messaging. AI-led campaign strategies are enabling targeting individual voters with specially crafted content. As India heads to the big election, there will be a significant focus on 18-19-year-olds entering the electoral arena for the first time. Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, the Election Commission of India noted 900 million registered voters, with 15 million first-time voters in the 18-19 age group. This number has grown significantly. These young voters, with concerns about employment, education, examinations, skilling, and aspiration, are likely to influence electoral and political agendas. Recognising their importance, political parties have plans to appeal to them.”Further highlighting the strategies led by the current ruling party, Sharma said, “Staying ahead of the curve, Prime Minister Modi has already addressed thousands of first-time voters virtually on January 25, 2024, the National Voter’s Day, assembled at around 5,000-plus organised ‘NaMo Nav Matadata Sammelans’ across the country.”New opportunities and challenges in shaping & managing political reputations“With a mobile in hand and almost free data, today everyone is a media content creator and also a distributor. Anyone with access to the internet can contribute to the war on misinformation and unfortunately, the politicians are one of the biggest culprits turning the term fake news into a weapon. Now, with AI fuel and deepfake technology, the 2024 elections will see a tsunami of fake information in the form of videos, photographs, and audio content. These will be amplified via social media including YouTube, Facebook, X (Twitter) and especially WhatsApp. And as fake content will be generated and amplified via the social networks, the campaign managers will struggle to counter the false narratives,” cautioned Sharma.He further said, “As seen in recent assembly elections, the role of popular social media influencers will expand. Parties are already engaging with YouTubers and social media influencers. In addition to key party officials and IT cell heads, political parties are collaborating with content creators and influencers in their war rooms for strategy, training, and message delivery. Local influencers, along with office bearers and booth workers, will contribute as social media influencers, creating memes, videos, and messages emphasising local issues.”Sunil Nair of Concept PR noted, “There is a rapid shifting and realigning happening across the political spectrum. Typically, the neo-converts want to show they are more loyal. There is an intergenerational conflict too. Hyper personalised, hyper local and free content is required but generating such a narrative is in itself a costly business. Overall, this means that many politicians are under pressure to comply with top bosses, they are exhibiting a troller mentality, are looking for short term gains, and lack their own ideological and philosophical bearings. This makes PR plans and strategies focus only on tactics. A ‘winner takes it all’ approach has already set in. We are seeing this behaviour, where the loser is wiped out while the winner lacks capacity to do anything other than win the election. This puts a lot of commercial and economic pressure on long term work both for clients and PR agencies.”

Ian Rumsby Joins APCO as Chief Client Officer for Southeast Asia

 Ian Rumsby, one of Australia’s most experienced corporate communications advisors, joins APCO as a chief client officer for the Southeast Asia region, based in Sydney, Australia, announced Masayo Nagai, chairman of APCO’s Asia region.Rumsby brings deep knowledge and expertise based on more than 20 years of experience helping the world’s leading organizations navigate complex engagement assignments in markets across the region.“Ian is an exceptional professional and we are excited to have him join our team. His expertise and deep ties in Southeast Asia will elevate APCO’s ongoing dedication to our clients and help our company continue to grow in the region,” Nagai said. “In an ever-changing industry we are always working on transcending ourselves for the benefit of our clients and Ian will elevate our corporate communications offering.”Prior to joining APCO, Rumsby served as a managing partner at Stonehaven, a strategy and communications consultancy, where he has worked closely with APCO to provide support and representation in the Australian market on selective assignments. Rumsby previously worked for a large communications firm, where he held many roles—he chaired operations in Australia, served as the chief strategy officer, lead the firm’s social impact service and worked as the regional head of the organization’s culture transformation and change management business.The Southeast Asia region is an extremely diverse and competitive region that sits at the center of trade, people, information and capital from around the world. Led by Southeast Asia Managing Director JJ Lee, APCO has established expansive expertise in the communications, energy, education, finance, food, consumer products and retail, health care, philanthropy and technology sectors in the region.“Ian further augments APCO’s market-leading expertise and capabilities—supporting leading clients from multinational companies and international organizations to governments and NGOs—and with our offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, we offer valuable insights to help clients navigate the dynamic challenges and opportunities across the region,” Lee said.Rumsby joins APCO in a milestone year, with the upcoming 40th anniversary of its founding. Founded by Margery Kraus as a single-person operation in 1984, APCO has grown to a global advisory and advocacy consultancy with more than 30 offices worldwide.

Xelement welcomes Diogo Borges as Executive Creative Director

Xelement, a leading full-service media agency, has appointed Diogo Borges as its Executive Creative Director. This strategic addition comes at a pivotal moment for the agency, hot on the heels of their recent success in winning Gold at the MENA Effie Awards.Boasting an impressive 22 years of creative experience, Borges brings a wealth of expertise to his new role. His illustrious career is underscored by numerous accolades, including prestigious awards from Cannes, D&AD, One Show, and Clio.Borges, in his LinkedIn account, writes: “Super excited to share that I kicked off a new gig with XELEMENT as ECD last week, leading a talented and skilled team. There's so much to explore about Saudi's fast-growing economy, but I can already tell that creativity and innovation are going to be a big player in its awesome future. Feeling lucky to be part of this amazing team that, just not share the same ambition and vision, but has been at the forefront of it for the past 10 years.” Borges' extensive international background, coupled with a nuanced understanding of the local market, positions Xelement to create even more impactful narratives. While the agency's recent triumph at the MENA Effie Awards serves as a noteworthy milestone, Borges' appointment signals a broader ambition to shape compelling narratives that resonate deeply with audiences.Amro Aboonoq, CEO of Xelement, expressed his enthusiasm for Borges joining the team, stating, “Diogo’s arrival at XELEMENT signifies a significant step towards elevating the success stories we craft. His global outlook, complemented by our established track record, sets the stage for our collective aspirations and achievements.”As a full-service media agency, Xelement offers a comprehensive suite of services, including creative endeavors, strategic marketing, branding, media buying, and consultancy. With Borges at the helm of creative direction, the agency is poised to deliver innovative and impactful campaigns that leave a lasting impression on clients and consumers alike.

Weber Shandwick elevates new leaders in Dallas, Minneapolis

Weber Shandwick has elevated Alison McMillon and Laura Cederberg to pivotal leadership roles, completing its Central region executive team.With two decades of service at Weber Shandwick, McMillon takes the helm as the agency's Dallas market leader. Previously serving as an executive VP and deputy general manager in Dallas, she spearheaded global, integrated programs. McMillon boasts a versatile career, having excelled in corporate, B2B, crisis and issues, consumer, and internal communications.Simultaneously, Cederberg assumes the role of Minneapolis market leader. Having joined Weber Shandwick four years ago, she most recently held the position of senior VP on the corporate and public affairs team. Cederberg's earlier experience includes a role in politics, where she served as the spokesperson for former Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.Both Cederberg and McMillon will report to Central region president Sheila Mulligan, who took on her role last August after a 17-year tenure with Edelman. The regional team also comprises Dave Collett in St. Louis and Katie Adams in Detroit.Sheila Mulligan expressed confidence in the new appointments, stating, "Weber Shandwick has long held a leadership position in the Central region and possesses extensive experience across dominant industries, from agriculture to industrials. Alison and Laura are the ideal leaders for this transformative moment, bringing combined experience across sectors and stakeholders, coupled with deep roots in these key markets."The move to appoint McMillon and Cederberg as market leaders is part of a broader restructuring of senior leadership initiated by Jim O’Leary. O’Leary, who assumed the role of Weber Shandwick's North America CEO after stepping down from his position as Edelman’s US COO and corporate affairs chair a year ago, has focused on refining strategy and making key hires, including seasoned professionals like Mulligan and Weber Shandwick West president Jordan Rittenberry, as well as senior advisor Ashley Etienne, a communications strategist with experience working with Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Army PR veteran Colonel Prem Nath Khera passes away at 85

The Indian Army mourns the passing of Colonel Prem Nath Khera, a public relations legend whose dedication and service spanned over 30 years. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 25th, 2024, due to congestive heart failure.Colonel Khera's legacy is deeply intertwined with the history of Army Public Relations. Starting as an Army Education Corps officer and frontline soldier in the 1965 and 1971 wars, he transitioned seamlessly into the crucial role of public relations, bringing his military experience and communication skills to bear.His 17 years as PRO Army and later, Director PR for all three services, are marked by exceptional contributions. He was instrumental in shaping public perception of the Indian armed forces through strategic communication and fostering strong media relations. His dedication earned him the prestigious Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) in 1982.Following his honorable retirement in 1992, Colonel Khera continued to serve the media landscape through roles in PTI-TV and his own production house and news agency. He remained an active and respected figure in the defense community until his final days.Colonel Khera's story is one of unwavering commitment, resilience, and service to the nation. He leaves behind a rich legacy in the field of military public relations and a community of admirers.

WPP unites BCW and Hill & Knowlton to create Burson

WPP has announced the merger of its two largest communications agencies, Hill & Knowlton and BCW, to form Burson, a powerhouse delivering modern communications leadership at scale to clients across the world. The merged company will become an industry-leading, full-service communications agency focused on building and protecting reputation.Corey duBrowa, currently global CEO of BCW, has been named global CEO of Burson and AnnaMaria DeSalva, currently global chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, has been named global chairman of Burson. Together, they will oversee agency strategy, client service, employee experience and culture. Burson will be operational from July 1, 2024, and its new brand will be unveiled later this year.This union of agencies will enable Burson to best serve clients in a complex and volatile environment in which strategic stakeholder communications has never been more critical. The new agency will draw on both organisations’ unrivaled talent base, exceptional global networks, investments in technology, creative capabilities, and public affairs and advisory specialties to drive reputation and value creation through the interdisciplinary solutions that clients demand now.The combination also creates immediate scale in sectors driving today’s most consequential innovation and economic growth, including healthcare and technology. The newly formed Burson will have more than 6,000 employees in 43 markets worldwide. Its name honours the late Harold Burson, a pioneer and founding figure of modern public relations and strategic communications.“Harold Burson believed strongly that actions are stronger than words, and he established honesty, transparency, integrity and excellence as the guiding principles of his business,” said Corey duBrowa. “Those principles are the foundational ideals of Burson, upon which we will set the bar for modern communications through our AI-first innovation pipeline. Together as Burson, we will bring insights, expert strategic counsel and technology solutions into a higher value offering for our clients to help them innovate and lead in today’s complex operating environment.”“The combination of Hill & Knowlton and BCW is highly synergistic, creating a premier partner for business leaders who are focused on commercial growth, risk management, and reputational capital,” said AnnaMaria DeSalva. “Our body of work increasingly demonstrates that strategic communication, elevated by creativity, is a primary force for sustainable value creation. By accelerating our transformation through this combination, we will enable the investments in talent and technology that advance communications leadership when it has never mattered more.”Burson’s leadership team will comprise a cohort of top-tier former chief communications officers and other experienced agency senior executives from both companies who bring deep expertise and knowledge of what business leaders need to succeed. Appointments will be announced throughout 2024 as the integration progresses.Hill & Knowlton brings significant business momentum, talent and innovation into the new Burson entity. The brand will operate within Burson serving a select group of clients globally through strategic communications, advisory and public affairs services.GCI Health and AxiCom will continue to operate as brands within Burson, offering specialised healthcare and technology communications expertise, respectively, at scale.Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said, “Hill & Knowlton and BCW are two high-performing businesses with complementary strengths, shared ambitions and many shared clients. I am delighted to see the Burson brand brought back to unite them. The new agency will be the standard bearer as the most modern, strategic, technology-driven, full-service communications offer in the industry.”The new agency will support a client roster that includes more than half of the Fortune 100 across corporate and public affairs, healthcare, technology and brand marketing.

Navigating the complexities of crisis management in the Digital Age

Adgully’s premier Marketing event, CMOs’ Charcha – Delhi Chapter 2024, took place on January 23, at Radisson Blu Plaza in Mahipalpur, New Delhi. The theme for this edition of CMOs’ Charcha was ‘Future roadmap for pursuing growth in new ways’.The event saw an engaging panel discussion on ‘Navigating Crisis Communications in the Digital Age’, which featured distinguished industry leaders, including Session Chair: Nandini Chatterjee, Former Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, PWC; Aakriti Thakur, AVP - Brand & Marketing, Healthians; Jasrita Dhir, Director - Marketing and Communications, Karkinos Healthcare; Juhie Gorwara, Director - Brand, Communication, Digital, Philips Indian Subcontinent; Manu Kumar, Head-Marketing and Corporate Communications, Hero Electric Vehicles; Nishita Sharma, Lead, Communications, Marketing, and Advocacy, UNICEF.The session commenced with Nandini Chatterjee pointing out the recent challenges faced by the aviation industry. She further coined the question to the panelists. “In today’s age, everything is moving at a rapid pace. Handling these situations has become more complex. We are all navigating this new space, and it's crucial to understand how we manage to control the narrative – something we all strive for. How do we engage with people we don’t even really know in this ever-evolving landscape?”Hero Electric Vehicles’ Manu Kumar acknowledged that the role of communications professionals and companies has evolved significantly. “Communication professionals need to be agile and responsive, particularly in the age of social media,” he said, adding that he believed that time sensitivity is heightened in the current landscape. Unlike traditional media, where responses could be delayed until the next day, the immediacy of social media demands quick reactions to prevent small issues from escalating into significant problems. Speaking about the challenges he also mentioned about expansion of audience, and communication professionals now address a larger and more diverse group of stakeholders. “The repercussions of communication are more extensive, affecting the business of selling products and the overall brand image,” he noted.On the other hand, Juhie Gorwara said that one should not reply immediately. She stated, “I’m not certain about an immediate reply, which is not our usual practice in the consumer business. It is crucial to verify facts to prevent potential crises from social media outbursts. Establish a crisis team for long-term strategies, seek legal advice, and consult customer service before responding. Pre-plan three likely responses, communicate with marketing teams for potential crisis linkages, and maintain a compact and cautious approach.”Jasrita Dhir from Karkinos Healthcare shared her insights from a healthcare industry perspective and said, “We often discuss machine learning, but humans also learn over time. In businesses, the marketing, communications, and operations teams, especially in a healthcare business, anticipate and prepare for 80% of common issues. These scenarios, such as a doctor being late to an OPD, have pre-approved responses. However, for the unforeseen 20% crisis situations, it’s crucial to acknowledge, validate, and empathise with the affected parties. Getting facts right is essential before responding, and maintaining open communication, even during a crisis, fosters trust.”“I believe having your crisis communicators as part of the consumer redressal groups, listening in on your ORM, and monitoring command center FAQs provides insights into chronic issues that may escalate into controversies and acute issues that are spiking. This enables proactive measures to preempt potential problems,” she further added.Talking from a social, advocacy space, Nishita Sharma spoke about the crisis and preparations for the same. According to Sharma, “One important aspect is always remembering who is at the receiving end of your communication – a person consuming your brand, impacting their life and decisions. In humanitarian situations, even irate customers can arise. During the preparation stage, it's crucial to isolate instances, as one negative comment can snowball into a bigger issue. Social listening measures, like ORM, are critical to understanding industry and consumer conversations. Isolated examples inform social media content, helping address awareness issues. Being overprepared, informed by these insights, is better than looking back at a crisis and realising what could have been done faster.”Here, Nandini Chatterjee questioned the panelists, “Have any of you experienced a situation where you posted a seemingly innocuous content, but someone, possibly due to past issues, took the post in a different direction? Have you encountered such a scenario?”Aakriti Thakur replied, “I believe that’s the worst way to handle it – deleting the comment. I agree with my fellow panelists about interacting with individuals who escalate issues. Acknowledging and addressing concerns one-on-one, either through a direct call or DM, is crucial. Creating a separate page for escalation handling and tactfully redirecting tags to that page helps manage online searches. Deleting comments can imply a lack of responsibility, and it is important to own up to any valid concerns. Additionally, for individuals attempting to manipulate or create false issues, engaging with them directly can help prevent repeated occurrences.”These are edited excerpts. For the complete panel discussion at CMOs’ Charcha, watch below:<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

VISTARA’s Rashmi Soni joins PayU as Chief Brand & Communications Officer

Rashmi Soni has joined PayU as the Chief Brand & Communications Officer after resigning from Vistara, Tata SIA Airlines Limited, where she held the position of VP & Head of Corporate Communications.She announced her new role on her LinkedIn profile, stating, “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Chief Brand and Communications Officer at PayU! As part of the leadership team, I will be responsible for shaping and steering PayU India's Brand and Communications strategies. I am looking forward to continued support of my peers in the PR fraternity, stakeholders including media and friends..”With over 28 years of professional experience, Rashmi has worked with various leading multinational brands and corporate & social communication groups, leading strategic communication. She has been associated with brands such as Tata Teleservices Ltd, Ericsson, Adobe Systems, TeleTech Services India, and more.

Current Global MENAT joins PRCA MENA as a Corporate Member

The Public Relations and Communications Association in the Middle East and North Africa (PRCA MENA) has today announced the multi-disciplined creative communications agency Current Global MENAT, as its latest corporate member.Current Global MENAT combines the global reach, strategic thinking and capabilities of a global agency with the attitude, speed and passion of a small agency. The agency believes in human-first communications guiding how it works, defining the kind of work that it delivers, and how it thinks about communications.With a global presence in key regions such as APAC, EMEA, North America, LATAM, and MENAT Current Global is at the forefront of championing accessible communications. Its ‘Accessible by Design’ offer is an agency-wide commitment that every piece of communication it develops, curates, and publishes will meet the highest accessibility standards.Current Global is part of the Weber Shandwick Collective, a network of specialist creative, marketing, communications and consulting firms built for the convergence of society, media, sustainability, policy and technology, within the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG).Head of PRCA EMEA, Monika Fourneaux said:"We are delighted to announce the inclusion of Current Global as a valued member of PRCA MENA. The agency's global perspective, coupled with its diverse communication capabilities, is set to play a pivotal role in enhancing the dynamic exchange of ideas within our esteemed community. We look forward to the expertise and experiences that Current Global brings, enhancing our collective conversations with valuable perspectives and innovative approach.”Peter Jacob, Managing Director, Current Global MENAT said:“Just over a year since we hied our first full-time employee we’ve had a tremendous start delivering some of the regions most talked about campaigns. We are driven by an unwavering belief in the power of human-first communications and we look forward to playing our role within the PRCA to champion an earned-first mindset and the wider importance of the communications industry across this dynamic and diverse region.”

PR Professionals win the Public Relations and Digital Media mandate of PFRDA

PR Professionals, the flagship of the PRP Group, has won the communicators mandate including public relations and digital media, of the prestigious Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). PFRDA, functioning under the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, serves as the chief regulatory body overseeing the comprehensive supervision and regulation of pensions nationwide. Tasked with promoting, developing, and regulating organized pension funds, notably the National Pension System (NPS), PFRDA operates with the mission of catering to the sustainable old-age income needs of the populace. It has undertaken one of the most ambitious assignments of the government of India.The mandate was secured following a competitive multi-agency pitch. PRP will be spearheading the overall communications strategy of PFRDA. "We welcome PR Professionals onboard and look forward to a fruitful collaboration with them. We aim to leverage PRP’s expertise in PR and digital media to effectively engage stakeholders and drive awareness about the importance of financial security through the pension scheme," shared Communication, Media and Public Relations Dept., PFRDACommenting on the win Dr. Sarvesh Tiwari, Founder & Managing Director, PR Professionals shared "We are enthusiastic about contributing our strategic insights and digital proficiency to amplify PFRDA's objectives, facilitating eater outreach and engagement with stakeholders. This partnership signifies a significant step towards fortifying PFRDA's communication strategies and advancing its mission of ensuring financial security through pension schemes for all citizens”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.

GCA Partners with Kaizzen to Elevate their Communication Strategy

The Global Cybersecurity Association (GCA), a thriving ecosystem for networking, learning, and cyber security in the Information and Operational Technology area, joins hands with Kaizzen – a leading integrated communication company in India. This partnership symbolizes a shared determination to strengthen the GCA brand by enhancing high-level thought leadership and selective media engagement.GCA, an initiative of Transform Foundation, operates with a vision to empower citizens and organizations with education and outreach programs to create awareness and increase knowledge; tools for informed decision making in choosing the products, services, and solutions required to stay safe online and contribute to a more secure cyberspace. Along with that, it also provides a robust network to enable collaboration and support for professionals. GCA aims to create awareness about the responsibility of safeguarding the future of the digital world by spreading knowledge, networking, and anticipating future security threats in a constantly changing cyber threat scenario.Expressing enthusiasm on the collaboration, Vineet Handa, CEO, Kaizzen, stated, "At Kaizzen, we believe that effective communication results in positive change. Our collaboration with GCA is consistent with our mission to elevate the voices of organizations having a significant impact in the cybersecurity space. Working together, we hope to contribute to the larger goal of enhancing cybersecurity resilience globally while also enhancing GCA's brand presence."Roopali Mehra, Director, Transform Foundation sharing her views on the partnership said, “As a nation on the move, where everyone from bustling cityscapes to remote villages have become digital nagariks by embracing technology, we are at the forefront of this global phenomenon. This collaboration with Kaizzen is an important milestone in our quest to build a strong ecosystem for cybersecurity resilience. Kaizzen's expertise in strategic communication will surely contribute to our ability to fulfil our aims and build a nation aware about cybersecurity defences.”With an aim to make India revolutionary in the digital world, this collaboration can be foreseen as a collective step towards a cyber-secure India.

In 2024, technology’s role in PR strategies will be more pivotal: Ajey Maharaj

In the last 10 years, PR has taken a different dimension, especially after the entry of social media and the rapid shift to digital during the pandemic period. At the same time, the industry has been facing stiff challenges; moreover client expectations have also increased, with more emphasis being given to digital and online reputation management. The industry has undergone a radical shift and the current times have pushed the industry to change gears.In PR conversation this week, Ajey Maharaj, Head of Corporate Communications & PR, Fortis Healthcare Limited, speaks at length about how PR firms are leveraging advanced technologies such as AI, data analytics; handling crisis management in today’s market ecosystem, PT and corporate communications industry’s performance in 2023, and more.Could you highlight the emerging trends and innovative strategies in the PR industry that are expected to shape the landscape in 2024? How is your firm adapting to stay ahead of these changes?In 2024, the PR industry is set to be revolutionised by advanced technologies like AI, data analytics, and automation. These technologies are enhancing the effectiveness of PR campaigns, enabling the creation of more personalized and impactful communication strategies. AI and data analytics provide deep insights into audience behaviour and preferences, facilitating the creation of hyper-personalised content that resonates with diverse audience segments.Automation is transforming routine PR tasks such as press release distribution and social media management, allowing PR professionals to focus on strategic and creative aspects of their campaigns. This shift towards technology-driven approaches is streamlining operations and adapting PR strategies to the rapidly changing media landscape.Looking ahead, technology’s role in PR strategies will be more pivotal. AI-driven predictive analytics will help anticipate media trends, offering a competitive advantage. This integration of technology in PR points towards a future of innovative, efficient, and effective communication strategies, tailored to meet the evolving needs of audiences and keeping pace with the dynamic industry landscape.How is your PR firm leveraging advanced technologies such as AI, data analytics, and automation to enhance the effectiveness of PR campaigns? What role do you foresee technology playing in PR strategies in the year ahead?In 2024, the integration of advanced technologies such as AI, data analytics, and automation is transforming the approach to public relations. These tools have become essential in enhancing the effectiveness and precision of our PR campaigns. AI and analytics will deepen our understanding of audience behaviours, enabling hyper-personalised, engaging content. This technological integration marks a shift towards more innovative, efficient, and adaptable PR strategies, ensuring our campaigns are both impactful and aligned with the evolving media landscape.Given the unpredictable nature of crises, how does your firm approach crisis management and reputation protection for clients? Could you share any insights into the evolving challenges in this area and the strategies you believe will be crucial in 2024?In the dynamic media landscape of today, effective crisis management is crucial. At Fortis, we tackle crisis management proactively and strategically. Our robust crisis communication plan is designed for immediacy and clarity, featuring real-time monitoring and rapid response mechanisms. Looking towards 2024, we foresee an enhanced emphasis on digital reputation management and leveraging AI for predictive crisis modelling and responsive action. Our strategy is centred around pre-emptive monitoring and preparedness, ensuring we are always equipped with a cohesive response plan to safeguard our brand reputation in any potential crisis scenario.How has your industry performed in 2023, and what has been the experience for both your firm and the broader industry throughout the year?The PR and Corporate Communications industry, especially in healthcare, saw significant growth and faced unique challenges in 2023. This year was defined by an ongoing shift towards digital communication, a greater focus on crisis management, and incorporating advanced technologies. The continuing impact of the pandemic sharpened our emphasis on transparent and empathetic communication, crucial for addressing public health issues and promoting healthcare initiatives.In the broader industry context, there was an increased demand for prompt and accurate information dissemination. This surge underscored the heightened importance of PR and Corporate Communications in building trust and managing reputations during complex situations.Reflecting on 2023, it is clear that it was a transformative year for our industry. It was a period marked by significant learning, adapting to new challenges, and innovative approaches, with healthcare communications becoming increasingly prominent. Looking ahead to 2024, our industry must continue adapting to the dynamic nature of PR and Corporate Communications, ensuring that our strategies are not only effective but also resonate strongly in an ever-evolving landscape.

Global Cybersecurity Partners with Kaizzen to Elevate their Communication

The Global Cybersecurity Association (GCA), a thriving ecosystem for networking, learning, and cyber security in the Information and Operational Technology area, joins hands with Kaizzen – a leading integrated communication company in India. This partnership symbolizes a shared determination to strengthen the GCA brand by enhancing high-level thought leadership and selective media engagement.GCA, an initiative of Transform Foundation, operates with a vision to empower citizens and organizations with education and outreach programs to create awareness and increase knowledge; tools for informed decision making in choosing the products, services, and solutions required to stay safe online and contribute to a more secure cyberspace. Along with that, it also provides a robust network to enable collaboration and support for professionals. GCA aims to create awareness about the responsibility of safeguarding the future of the digital world by spreading knowledge, networking, and anticipating future security threats in a constantly changing cyber threat scenario.Expressing enthusiasm on the collaboration, Vineet Handa, CEO, Kaizzen, stated, "At Kaizzen, we believe that effective communication results in positive change. Our collaboration with GCA is consistent with our mission to elevate the voices of organizations having a significant impact in the cybersecurity space. Working together, we hope to contribute to the larger goal of enhancing cybersecurity resilience globally while also enhancing GCA's brand presence."Roopali Mehra, Director, Transform Foundation sharing her views on the partnership said, “As a nation on the move, where everyone from bustling cityscapes to remote villages have become digital nagariks by embracing technology, we are at the forefront of this global phenomenon. This collaboration with Kaizzen is an important milestone in our quest to build a strong ecosystem for cybersecurity resilience. Kaizzen's expertise in strategic communication will surely contribute to our ability to fulfil our aims and build a nation aware about cybersecurity defences.”With an aim to make India revolutionary in the digital world, this collaboration can be foreseen as a collective step towards a cyber-secure India.

How PR can catch the GenZ vibe?

In the rapidly evolving landscape of public relations (PR), connecting with Generation Z (GenZ) has become a paramount challenge for brands and communication professionals. This dynamic demographic, born between the mid-1990s and 2010, is characterised by its digital-first mindset, tech-savviness, and a strong emphasis on authenticity. To navigate this challenge successfully, PR strategies must evolve to meet GenZ’s unique preferences and values.Orry (Orhan Awatramani), a rising influencer who has successfully connected with GenZ, is the well suited example of the importance of authenticity in PR campaigns. GenZ consumers, skeptical of traditional marketing tactics, value genuine relationships with brands and individuals. Orry’s ability to be himself and entertain people by just being who he is has resonated with this generation, showcasing the significance of building authentic connections in PR campaigns targeting GenZ.Nidhi Madan Verma, Senior Vice President, PR & Corporate Communications, Acko, stressed on the need for a nuanced, multidimensional approach to engage GenZ. She said, “Authenticity is paramount; this generation values transparent communication and is quick to disengage with what feels inauthentic. Brands should also align their messaging with the social and environmental values that GenZ holds dear, such as sustainability and social. Additionally, interactive and engaging content forms like polls, quizzes, and user-generated campaigns foster a sense of community and participation.”Dr Samir Kapur, Director, Adfactors PR, recognises the importance of adapting PR strategies to engage effectively with GenZ. He said, “To connect authentically, PR professionals must embrace authentic storytelling. GenZ values narratives that resonate with their experiences and aspirations. Crafting compelling and relatable stories establishes a meaningful connection, fostering brand loyalty. Visual content plays a pivotal role in capturing GenZ’s attention. Transparency and authenticity are core values for GenZ. PR professionals should communicate openly, addressing both successes and challenges. GenZ appreciates brands that demonstrate a commitment to social and environmental causes. Integrating purpose-driven communication aligns with their values, creating a positive perception.”Dr Samir Kapur further mentioned, “Successfully engaging with GenZ requires a strategic blend of authentic storytelling, visually compelling content, transparency, and a strong digital presence. By understanding and respecting their unique characteristics, PR professionals can forge meaningful connections and build lasting relationships with this influential demographic.”Neha Bahri, Co-founder, Bconnect Communications, highlighted the evolution of PR strategies to cater to GenZ’s unique preferences. She said, “Given the omnipresence of visual and interactive content for GenZ, it has become a mandate for PR professionals to think about bringing together multimedia elements into communications that include short-form videos, memes, and interactive graphics. Various platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, among others, are go-to social media platforms for GenZ, where they spend most of their time of their day. Crafting the message accordingly to engage the niche target audience specific to the platform is what PR professionals must focus on. GenZ loves contemporary engagement with a short time of attention span. Given this unique preference for consuming content, PR professionals can explore bite-sized PR activities that help them build authentic, in-the-moment connections. Feedback is certainly the key and involving GenZ in co-creation initiatives induce a sense of belonging and active participation.”Bhaskar Majumdar, Head - Marketing Communication, CSR & Digital Egis - India and South Asia, emphasised on the need for a nuanced approach in India, given the country’s large youth demographic. “GenZ consumes media differently, preferring short-form content, online streaming, and interactive platforms. This shift has transformed the media landscape in India, influencing content creation and distribution. GenZ is also socially conscious and values brands that align with social and environmental causes. Communicators need to showcase their brand’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. Create interactive content that encourages participation and engagement, polls, quizzes, and challenges can generate enthusiasm and involvement. Provide opportunities for user-generated content and involve them in co-creating brand narratives.”“One must be mindful of cultural sensitivity and avoid stereotypes. Experiment with new formats and stay agile in adapting to changing communication landscapes. By understanding the unique characteristics of Generation Z and adapting communication strategies accordingly, PR and Communications professionals can build meaningful and lasting connections with this demographic,” Majumdar added.Sonam Shah, Founder and CEO, Treize Communications, noted the importance of connecting with GenZ in a manner that resonates with their digital-first mindset. According to Shah, “Each platform requires a different roadmap. What works on LinkedIn, will not work on Instagram. It is very crucial to build a communication strategy in a manner that resonates with GenZ, therefore, public relations and communications professionals must map an approach adapting to GenZ’s preferences. Polished communication leads to truthful and relatable content. Even when it comes to utilizing PR Tools like Press Release and Guest Articles, the content must be crafted in a manner that resonates and builds recall. The right tonality and language need to be in place. Building authentic connections requires honesty and two-way interactions.”Swati Nathani, Co-Founder and CBO, Team Pumpkin, emphasised on the need for creativity and conciseness in messages to capture GenZ’s shorter attention span. She said, “In order to create authentic connections, professionals must emphasize creating experiences rather than merely selling a product. The engagement and brand recall could be boosted by using polls, quizzes, or other interactive material. It is of utmost importance to ensure the right communication medium and its format. GenZ could find themselves drawn in and have a better overall experience using breakthrough tech-savvy content including AI, Virtual reality (VR), Augmented reality (AR) and various innovative mediums.”Bhaskar Tare, Director, Gloocal Communications, advocated for a real and informal approach in communication with GenZ. He said, “Be real, not too formal. Use videos, memes, and pictures. GenZ loves Instagram and YouTube, so focus there. Make campaigns where they can join in - polls, challenges, and their content. Let them be active participants, not just viewers. It is about being genuine and getting them involved! GenZ really cares about important things happening in the world. Share your brand’s values and how you're helping society. Team up with influencers who GenZ likes and trusts. These influencers can speak genuinely about your brand, making it more trustworthy. Make sure these partnerships are real and match the influencers’ values.”Shalini Gupta, Founder, Secret Sauce Communications, shared the importance of authenticity and purpose in connecting with GenZ and millennials. “As marketers and PR people, we are conscious of this generation that is conscious of their future today and therefore our communication revolves around impactful initiatives that shape the world tomorrow. So, being purposeful, authentic and futuristic will be the need of the hour.”

IPREX welcomes two new Board Members

IPREX Global President and Founder and Chief Executive of AM O’Sullivan PR Ann-Marie O’Sullivan has announced the appointment of two members to its Global Board and the onboarding of its newest partner in Canada. IPREX is the premier global network of independent communications agencies with more than 1,100 staff and 110 offices worldwide.Anu Gupta, Director at APRW (Singapore) will assume the role of Asia Pacific President while Lindsey DeWitte, President of PR and EVP of Purpose + Sustainability at Barkley (Kansas City, Missouri, USA) will take the helm as Treasurer. Both board positions serve a two-year term from January 2024 through May 2026.“We are delighted to welcome Anu and Lindsey to IPREX's Global Board in what is a really positive step in strengthening our international network,” said Ann-Marie O’Sullivan. “In her new capacity as IPREX Asia Pacific President, Anu brings a wealth of local and regional knowledge, as well as her world-class experience and expertise. Lindsey brings solid financial management skills to IPREX, with a focus on sustainable practices. I have no doubt they will both be huge assets to the Global Board, enhancing our connections and bolstering our planning and budgeting processes as we continue to strengthen the IPREX brand.”In her role as Asia Pacific President, Anu will oversee the IPREX network in APAC. She will engage directly with existing IPREX partners in the region, as well as IPREX regional directors, identify opportunities to connect partners for new business opportunities, continued learning, collaboration and global support. She takes the reins from Xavier PRabhu, Founder and Managing Director of PRHUB, an independent public relations and marketing consultancy based in India.“I look forward to embarking on this experience to learn more about global best practices in communications from our IPREX partners and share more about Singapore and the region’s promising future globally,” said Anu.As Treasurer Lindsey will bring years of experience running a B-Corporation to IPREX, where she will ensure financial stewardship, transparency, and sustainability, guiding the network towards its mission through responsible fiscal management. She takes the role from outgoing Treasurer Natalie Best, Chief Operating Officer at French West Vaughan, an integrated marketing agency based in Raleigh.In Canada, IPREX welcomes Global Public Affairs. Established in 1997, Global Public Affairs is Canada’s leading public policy, government relations, and strategic communications firm. The agency brings expert knowledge and insight to help organizations navigate complex challenges and implement winning solutions. Global Public Affairs has locations in Ottawa, Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria.“The addition of Global Public Affairs furthers our existing reach into Canada, and strategically expands our presence in the Americas,” said Laura Phillips, IPREX Americas President and President at Vehr Communications (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA). “We look forward to integrating the agency into the network and building strong relationships across the region.”

Earnscliffe grows PR/communications offering by acquiring Kaiser & Partners

Ontario: Earnscliffe Strategies (Earnscliffe), a national leader in public affairs, including government relations, communications and digital, and opinion research, has acquired Kaiser & Partners, Inc. (K&P), an award-winning, full-service public relations firm with offices in Toronto and Montreal.Earnscliffe and K&P are confident that this strategic alliance will fortify their positions in the industry and elevate the value delivered to clients.“This acquisition allows us to continue to meet the needs of our clients and opportunities in the marketplace,” said Craig Robinson, CEO, Earnscliffe Strategies. “In addition to broadening our services and capacity in public relations, it expands our footprint in Toronto and establishes a presence in Quebec. It also broadens our team and provides for additional opportunities to grow professionally.”In addition to enhanced client servicing capabilities, this venture is rooted in shared values and a commitment to excellence; a synergy of cultures and an expert-teams approach.“Our success and growth to date has been driven by an unwavering commitment to putting people first and a relentless dedication to helping our clients find communications solutions to business challenges,” said Janine Allen, president, K&P. “We are confident that the likeminded values we find in Earnscliffe will be key to our continued growth and our clients’ continued success.”The acquisition establishes K&P as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Earnscliffe, ensuring continuity in leadership and operations, while enriching business capabilities and resources.“I couldn’t be prouder of the agency we’ve built over the past 12 years, starting from a kitchen-table launch and evolving as we broadened our services and sectors,” said David Kaiser, managing director, K&P. “Our collaboration with Earnscliffe will provide our clients with even more strategic services and regional support, positioning us to compete on a national level.”The agreement, signed on January 19, is expected to close on April 1, 2024. As both companies are privately held, terms are not disclosed.Earnscliffe Strategies is a national leader in government relations, communications and digital, and opinion research. Founded in 1989 and independently owned by our principals, Earnscliffe delivers best-in-class, innovative and winning solutions through a multidisciplinary and expert teams approach. Earnscliffe operates from offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, and is a member of the global FIPRA Network.

Pran Pratishta ceremony heralds the beginning of new era of growth & prosperity

Authored by Anand Prakash, Reputation Consultant.Every year, India celebrates the return of Ram to Ayodhya as Diwali. This year the Festival of Lights has a new date. In a historic turn of events, the Pran Pratishta ceremony in Ayodhya on 22nd January, 2024, not only sanctified the child form of Lord Ram in the newly built Ram Temple but also symbolizes a monumental effort to unify the ethos of an entire nation carries a distinct significance, heralding the dawn of a new era in India's socio-economic growth journey.The ceremony transcends mere religious sanctification; it marks a mega endeavor to reinforce public faith and trust, bridging a gap of 500 years. Historically, the return of Lord Ram has been synonymous with leadership stability, continuity, and a pathway to socio-economic growth in the Kingdom of Lord Ram. In a similar vein, the Pran Pratishta ceremony signifies the commencement of a new epoch for India, propelling the nation toward achieving the coveted $5 trillion economy milestone.While diversity of ideas fosters creative thinking, the unification of ethos is essential to drive single-minded action and achieve measurable outcomes. This principle has been exemplified by the rapid success of various Asian economies, including China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. The collective passion and common connecting spirit emanating from the Pran Pratishta ceremony are poised to serve as unifying factors for the entire nation, laying the foundation for India's accelerated growth.While the Pran Pratishta ceremony has become a catalyst for multilateral economic growth, it also holds the promise of leadership stability, a critical element for driving the pace of growth necessary to realize the 5 trillion-dollar economy goal in this decade. The construction of the Ram Temple has already attracted a substantial investment of Rs 1800 Cr, and the Pran Pratishta ceremony has further spurred significant investment in the redevelopment of the region, creating a conducive environment for a flourishing spiritual tourism economy. According to a recent SBI Research report, the growth of the spiritual travel industry in India can significantly boost the economy.In 2022, Uttar Pradesh witnessed 32 crore tourists, with 2.21 crore visiting Ayodhya alone. The total expenditure by these tourists exceeded ?2 lakh crore, and foreign tourists contributed an additional ?10,500 crore to the state's economy, ranking UP as the fifth most visited state in India. The report anticipates additional tax revenue of ?25,000 crore per annum for the state in FY25 due to increased visitors, highlighting the economic potential unlocked by events such as the Pran Pratishta ceremony.This surge in tourism has led to improved physical and digital infrastructure, enhancing accessibility and increasing meaningful engagement with historical sites. As India strives for a $5 trillion economy by FY28, the development of a spiritual and temple economy in Uttar Pradesh is poised to play a pivotal role in this growth trajectory. In the wake of the Pran Pratishta, Ayodhya emerges not only as a spiritual center but as an economic powerhouse. The renewed vigor in tourism, the surge in investments, and the collective pride of a nation contribute to an undeniable energy that propels us toward the $5 trillion dream. As the temple's sanctity resonates, it also carries the promise of a united India, marching towards prosperity. The road ahead is illuminated not just by the glow of religious fervor but by the beacon of economic opportunity, beckoning us to build a future where faith and progress walk hand in hand.

Lavanya Wadgaonkar on 4 pillars of Nissan’s communication strategies for 2024

In conversation with Adgully, Lavanya Wadgaonkar, PhD, Global Vice President of Communications and Global DEI Champion at Nissan Motor Co Ltd, shares insights into Nissan’s performance in 2023, emerging trends in the automotive industry, and the communication strategies adopted by the company for the year 2024.Year in Review:The discussion kicked off with an overview of Nissan’s performance in 2023. Wadgaonkar expressed satisfaction, noting that it marked the completion of Nissan’s transformation plan. Highlighting the success of their presence at the Japan Mobility Show, she emphasized the positive strides made by the company during the year.Trends in the Automotive Industry:When asked about the observed trends, Wadgaonkar delved into the changing landscape of consumer behaviours and communication strategies. She emphasised on the impact of generative AI, big data, and the need for agile communication, especially post-COVID. She also discussed the evolving purchase funnel, highlighting the me-centric consumer, who values environmental consciousness and credibility in addition to pricing.Communication Strategies for 2024:Wadgaonkar detailed the changes in Nissan’s communication strategies for 2024, emphasising on four key pillars. These pillars include strategic excellence, operational excellence with a focus on ground-level communication, talent acquisition, and skill development, especially in the dynamic field of communication.Challenges and Opportunities in India:Though cautious about delving into business specifics, Wadgaonkar acknowledged Nissan’s plans to introduce entry-level ASUV and CSUV in India. She underscored Nissan’s commitment to a pan-India market and global strategies, with a strong focus on sustainability and culture in communication.Global Communication Strategy:Discussing Nissan’s global communication strategy, Wadgaonkar outlined two key objectives: building trust and fostering pride among stakeholders. She detailed five key strategies, including corporate strategy, empowering journeys campaigns, social initiatives, digital channels, and employee communication, all aligned with Nissan’s ambitious 2030 vision.Future Trends in the Automotive Industry:Looking ahead to 2024, Wadgaonkar highlighted trends such as continued emphasis on climate change, software-defined vehicles, and evolving consumer behavior. She discussed the industry’s disruption, driven by electrification, battery technology advancements, and the emergence of new business areas and services.Safety Communication:Addressing the critical aspect of safety, Wadgaonkar emphasised on Nissan’s long-standing commitment to safety. While safety is considered a given, she stressed the importance of creating awareness about safety features and advancements. She showcased Nissan’s campaigns, including those focused on autonomous drive technologies contributing to enhanced safety.What to expect from Nissan in 2024:While maintaining secrecy about specific announcements, Wadgaonkar hinted at exciting developments in the pipeline for 2024. She urged anticipation for Nissan’s upcoming mid-term plan and emphasised the company’s continuous commitment to innovation.