PRAXIS2022: Futureproofing Public Relations from a Global Lens

Having evolved from the traditional angle, PR today focuses on engagement – with target audiences, with the media, with influencers and so on. The payoff can be massive if done correctly. It’s all about bridging the ‘trust’ gap; it’s about working on increasing a brand’s credibility within the given business circle and increasing overall reputation. 

“Futureproofing Public Relations from a Global Lens” was the topic in the Panel Discussion with Global Indians – Abhinav Kumar, CMO & CCO, Global Markets, Tata Consultancy Services; Bodhi Satya Basu Thakur, Senior Vice President/Ford EV Comms Lead, WPP/H&K Strategies; Lavanya Wadgaonkar, Global Vice President, Communications – Nissan Motor Company; Sahana Prabhakar, Head of Communications, APAC & India – Alcon and it was moderated by Heena Kanal, VP & Head, Corporate Communications – Cipla.

PR isn’t just about pushing information out through a one-way tunnel to different publics. It’s about bringing in the public – in order to engage, influence and create conversations. It isn’t just about creating news. It’s about building relationships. And, no longer can you consider PR a stand-alone area of expertise.  

Does PR have what it takes to sit at the table, wondered Heena. This is something we need to futureproof in the coming days, said Lavanya; we are evolving on a daily basis and it’s about being on top and being relevant. On adding value, Abhinav pointed out that in Europe today 80% of PR have a seat on the table, reporting to the CEO. “The battle has been won,” he felt. In communication, it’s the creative idea that sells and in US, UK an idea can come form anywhere, explained Bodhi and we have to think about what impact we make on business. Sahana noted that in Singapore the idea that sells best, works and COVID has pushed us faster to have a seat at the table. It’s a function that connects everybody and we are master of all!

Challenge of attracting talent 

Both PR firms and corporate executives strongly believe that the ability to attract and retain the right talent is the greatest challenge facing the global PR business. 

Are we doing enough from the talent perspective? We need to streamline skillsets said Sahana. The challenge of PR is not taken as a science, according to Bodhi, but Abhinav felt we are in a “talent war”, and we need to inspire people to stay on. “We are in a business, where we recommend how to build reputation, but we have not improved our reputation!”

What do you do to steer a communication career globally? In India we are used to working in diverse environment and what do you need to do to break in, questioned Abhinav. His answer was – you need to be given an opportunity by the organization. He gave some suggestions – CEO communication needs to be more strategic, we need to create activist relations and your personal brand is important! The more active you are, the more opportunities will come your way!

It’s PR for self and PR for PR, commented Heena. Suggesting that we need to go back to the basics, Lavanya elaborated – If you know your purpose, it’s easy to bring it to the table. You need to value PR and we need to be valued, observed Sahana. The last word on this was from Lavanya – ‘Trust’ is really getting into the KPIs of the company.  

Future of PR – poised to excel

What do you do to futureproof PR? Owning the corporate narrative, a need to own the place completely, said Sahana. Tracking his experience in Brazil, Abhinav gave a unique touch – “You have to be a Marcos!” (Our attention was then shifted to the silent, diminutive midfielder from Brazil who rose to play a vital role in Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph.) Sharing her theory of 4Rs was Lavanya – be Resilient, be Responsible, Be Real and be Relevant. 

The last word came from Bodhi – As Indians we are ready. And PR is poised to excel in the future!

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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