In Conversation with Manisha Chaudhary

Women often face the challenges of the business environment they operate in very successfully. And, Manisha Chaudhary, Co-founder and Director of Value 360 Communications has been doing this – setting high expectations for herself from day one, especially against the rapidly-evolving business landscape. Specialising in strategic brand building for both market-leading and emerging businesses, she has been the steering force in crafting communication strategies for companies, which eventually joined the prestigious Club of Unicorns in India. Thus, creating stronger value proposition for stakeholders across all levels.

A film-student-turned-journalist-turned-PR professional, Manisha is a post graduate in Development Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. Prior to co-founding Value 360 Communications, she was the Director at Precision PR and has also been a journalist with Hindustan Times.

In an interview with senior editor Shree Lahiri, she opens up about her professional journey as she traces the impact she created – like empowering a vision, backed by the courage of her convictions, driving deeper engagement patterns and unleashing the power of her team.

RT: What led to the creation of Value 360?

In one word, necessity. Gaurav, Kunal, and I had frequent discussions about how rapidly the larger business landscape was transforming. Internet start-ups were just about beginning to come to the fore back then. These emerging brands needed an agile and forward-looking communications partner that understood their specific needs and could deliver relevant solutions to increase their market visibility and brand awareness.

It was apparent to us that there was an urgent need for PR firms to evolve in sync with this fast-changing dynamic. There was a big white space in the market for a resolute, practical, and measurable integrated communications approach, which could help high-potential brands capture consumer mindshare.

This need for differentiated, end-to-end PR and brand communications solutions led to the foundation of Value 360 Communications. We don’t chase after abstract brand building; our focus is on delivering justified value and tangible results through targeted communications.

RT: As co-founder and as a woman entrepreneur, what were the challenges that came your way?

The first challenge that I faced was that of age. I was quite young when I started this company and, initially, our clients took some time to accept the counselling that I gave them.

The second professional challenge was resuming work after motherhood. Joining back after a maternity leave was not easy for me. In the time I was away, the company and its processes had undergone a lot of change. Our team size had grown quite rapidly, and so did our client list. Managing that explosive growth and the extra work that came with it, at office and managing a young child at home was initially very challenging.

RT: Your husband is a co-founder of the company, how is it like to have the same partner at home and at work?

The biggest drawback, I’d say, is that you often subconsciously end up bringing your work home. There’s a lot of discussion in our household about work-related stuff. I am sure that even our daughter is fairly familiar with the day-today operations of the company by now.

On the flip side, however, it becomes much easier to manage responsibilities and expectations – whether personal and professional – if you share an office with your partner. It also nurtures a lot of mutual admiration for each other’s talents, skills, and abilities. We have been working together for the last 15 years and really respect what the other brings to the table, at office and at home.

RT: How has the role you play of spearheading the media relations and client-serving division evolved over time?

Earlier, media relations were largely maintained through interactions, releases, and events. While these tools remain important, the rise of new-age digital media has also exponentially increased the scope for media and end-consumer engagement. We now have multiple avenues of engagement, which has driven a major change in the brand approach followed by PR firms.

The role of PR has also evolved over time. Media relations is no longer limited to just news stories; we are guiding our clients on multiple levels with their brand communications strategies. Apart from traditional media, we are also using social media and digital platforms to drive deeper engagement. This integrated, end-to-end approach is helping us bring brands closer to their consumers and target audiences.

RT: What are Value 360’s plans for the year ahead?

As I’ve mentioned above, digital remains a key area of focus for us in the future. We will be looking to further strengthen our digital team this year by bringing top talent on board.

RT: Who are the Public Relations leaders in India you admire and why?

I really do admire Prema Sagar, the Founder & CEO of Genesis PR (Genesis BCW), as a visionary, a pioneer, and a female entrepreneur. She’s created one of the biggest PR firms in the country and she did so quite early, when the Indian PR and communications ecosystem was still at a very nascent stage.

She also established the Genesis Foundation, a trust created to facilitate medical treatment for critically ill, under-privileged children with heart disorders. Through such social initiatives, she is doing her bit in giving back to the society. I really admire her for that.

RT: How does Value 360 approach the discipline of Public Relations differently?

We focus on agility, on evolving our strategy and approach as per the changing dynamics of the brand communications space. Our mission is to keep innovating and redefining our communications approach in step with the ever-shifting demands of the market. We also keep an eye out for emerging trends and proactively evaluate potential areas of growth. We also roped in talent from creative, research and legal for our clients with different needs. Value 360 Communications was the first PR firm to identify the potential of emerging start-ups, and came up with highly relevant and end-to-end communications solutions for our clients in the domain. This differentiated approach is why, today, we have more than 150 clients, which include both established global brands and high-potential start-up ventures.

RT: What goes into the making of an award-winning firm?

The hard work that our team – across offices and divisions – puts in day in, day out, is definitely one of the most critical factors driving our success as an organisation. We trust our team members to deliver value to their clients and to the company, and they reward our trust by consistently performing at a high level.

We also provide our team members a platform to showcase their work and to get recognised for it. Several of our employees, from the top management to junior team members, have been featured in multiple industry power lists.

RT: If you could look into the future, where do you see Value 360 in the next five years?

We have an aggressive growth plan in place for Value 360 Communications. We are looking to expand our direct presence across key regional markets and have identified locations to set up our new offices. Our aim is to develop strong strategic business units, which will effectively manage business of different sizes.

Another key focus area for us will be to strengthen crisis management for our clients, for social media adoption has made crisis management an integral part of the larger communications strategy. We will also be looking to further strengthen our expertise in public policy affairs, and would like to actively work with the government to help shape more conducive policies for our clients.

RT: Share three tips for new professionals who are stepping into this profession.

The first has to be – developing an agile learning mentality. Professionals at all stages of their career should be hungry to learn more and learn fast. The PR and communications domain is extremely fast-moving, and only those who keep learning swiftly will survive and thrive in the long run.

The second tip I would like to share is to read more. Read anything and everything that interests you: news, literature, case studies of successful campaigns. This will not only help you stay abreast of the latest developments across various industries, but will also significantly expand your knowledge base and hone your communications skills.

The third tip is to learn how to be patient. I understand the desire to achieve something as soon as possible is quite prominent in young professionals today, and that hunger is commendable. However, it is just as important to learn how to remain patient and wait for a more opportune moment. After all, good things come to those who wait.

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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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