In Conversation – Sarab Kochhar

RT: You had written about “Measuring Employee Engagement: Beyond Surveys and Direct Measures to Business Outcomes”. Can you explain this concept to us?

SK: When you talk of measurement, organisations get stuck with the basics because they don’t understand research or don’t have the expertise. They need to look at holistic measures. It’s beyond numbers and they need to develop metrics, ways of measuring and going beyond the simple structures.

How does this impact business? This is important. Looking at organisations as a unique set one needs to draw insights. People need to understand the importance of employing surveys.

Organisations today need structures, processes, and people in place to effectively manage public affairs on a global level. Measurement and evaluation of public affairs is an essential process and needs to be a part of the wider organisational structure; however, it is very difficult to do so.

RT: How do you think the science of Public Relations has evolved in the 21st century?

SK: The trademark of Public Relations is equal to the science beneath the art of PR. We believe PR is an art and is tactical. But, if you want to make it strategic, relevant and applicable, we have to think of it as a science and understand how the process works.

There is a big role of research here – that is the future of PR.

RT: “Measurement and evaluation of public affairs is an essential process and needs to be a part of the wider organisational structure; however, it is very difficult to do,” you maintain. What is the current status?

SK: The current status is that organisations do not understand the importance of public affairs. People think public affairs are just about the government. They don’t understand it is a relationship with key stakeholders, which should be measured. This can lead to more comprehensive campaigns and an understanding of its role in the organisation.

It is very important to measure activities that are not just interesting but are also important for the success of the public affairs function and the organisation as a whole.

RT: Your experience is significant having worked in the Indian PR scene and in the US. How was the journey from the industry to academics?

SK: One word – very ‘adventurous’. Strictly, I would say that I am not a professor per se, but have worked with many organisations in both public and private sectors like Ketchum and Burson-Marsteller in Bangalore, India. I have managed research too. When I worked in India, I understood the lack of opportunities for research in Public Relations.

RT: What is the quality of talent that is emerging today?

SK: I really don’t know. I have been out of the Indian markets for five years! In the US, training to understand the whole process is given importance. Here, it’s all about ‘my role’ and there’s nothing beyond that. It is really myopic!

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