Women in India are still not getting a fair chance to showcase themselves: Sonam

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 an exclusive interview with Adgully, Sonam Shah, Founder and CEO, Treize Communications, speaks at length about effective leadership within the PR industry, how to prioritise diversity and inclusion within one’s team and client base, insights on how women leaders in PR can effectively negotiate for themselves and their teams, and more.How do you define effective leadership within the PR industry, particularly as a woman in a leadership role?Effective leadership comes with setting an example by the path you take. And this goes across any sector or leader. To lead means to carve a path. Thus, there are a lot of leaders who are entrepreneurs.Entrepreneurs, over the decades, are known to bring in solutions for new market challenges and growth, and today as the PR industry gets highly challenging and evolving, leadership and entrepreneurial skillset come into place.Being an effective leader in the PR industry would mean teaching and helping the new entrants understand what they are doing. Build a work atmosphere which is open and transparent, allowing everyone a comfort area to share views. It would also include being in sync with adapting readership patterns and new trends, to stay in place and offer timely and impactful solutions to clients.Coming to defining leadership as a women entrepreneur, I do not see any gender-based role definition here. Women, in general, have a strong sense of empathy, which plays an important role in Public Relations. Also, women are great multi-taskers, which works for them to keep a balance between work and personal life.How do you prioritise diversity and inclusion within your team and client base?We are a relatively small team, so we either hire based on talent or on one’s keenness to learn something new. We look to recruit talent from different backgrounds, as it helps bring new perspectives and freshness to the team. Also, having a young bunch of people around keeps the mood all fun.As for our client base, we focus on adding clients who work in sync with our ideologies and/or clients that have the scope to offer something new and interesting to the media. I do not think inclusion and diversity will be a point of focus in onboarding new clients.How do you balance work and personal life as a woman entrepreneur in a demanding industry like PR?Balancing work and personal life is not as easy as it is made to sound, and neither is it as difficult as it is being spoken about. For me, the key is to-do lists. I make multiple to-do lists daily and ensure they are followed. This is for both at work and personal end.Another thing that I do is segregate my time during the day for things to be done around work and things to be done at a personal level. Being an entrepreneur, I do not have fixed time slots for each, so my to-do list keeps shuffling during the day, as per priorities.Unwind time is also very essential to keep the balance going. I have moved from striving to keep a balance to juggle and maintain balance. There is a vast difference here. To keep a balance, you end up trying to control, but juggling to maintain a balance means you are emphasising what holds more importance and value and attending that task. In a highly demanding industry of Public Relations, where timely output is important, prioritising what you want is the key.Could you share insights on how women leaders in PR can effectively negotiate for themselves and their teams?Today, women are present in every sector and field, not just in PR. Women are good communicators; all they need is a little confidence and the skill to be assertive. Women in PR need to be quick, agile, and smart-working to bring efficacy to the workplace. Today, people know what women can bring to the table, and there is quite high acceptance also, at least in the Advertising and PR industry.Women today have a lot of scope and growth opportunities to reach a decision-making level. Once they reach here, that is where the negotiation comes into place. Till then, it is all about learning and unlearning and adapting to the curve.Events like yours, Adgully’s Women Disruptors, are very important as not only do they recognise the work and acknowledge it, but also allow women a platform to share their experiences and be themselves. Young women in the industry should be more open to attending these workshops and learning on the go.I think women in India are still not getting a fair chance to showcase themselves, and this needs to be addressed. Once given a chance, women themselves will find a path for themselves and their team.

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.

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.”