Backed by a highly creative streak Shivani Gupta, Managing Director, Strategic Partners Group has a diverse communications background that covers extensive media relations, media training, marketing, community relations, crisis management and internal communications. This comes in handy, as she provides strategic direction to the group – leveraging her expertise in counselling valuable resources on communication strategies, as well as leading integrated strategic communications campaigns for diverse corporates.
Having worked with some of the leading PR firms and corporates, Shivani has a keen understanding of the healthcare, hospitality and lifestyle verticals.
Inspired by the belief that the power of all positive results lies in the power of the team behind it, her role has been pivotal in driving Strategic Partners Group to winning the coveted title of ‘Best Places To Work’, by ‘The Holmes Report Survey 2017’ – Asia Pacific. Instilling and sustaining a people-centric and people-friendly approach at the workplace, Shivani drives the culture and the workforce.
An artist at heart, she believes ‘creativity’ is the ability to evolve something new, when you have the willingness to play with ideas and possibilities. Here, she shares with Shree Lahiri her views on communication, her fitness funda, wearing multiple hats, the challenges faced by PR and more.
RT: Tell us more about how the Strategic Partners Group was founded.
Strategic Partners Group that now consist of three unique brands, SPAG, D Yellow Elephant & Giga Life was founded with vision of bringing Insights & Data Driven innovative communications campaigns that deliver ‘Measurable Business Impact’. As a firm, we have focussed on ensuring that we lead by ‘Be Real’, our working philosophy that ensures that every campaign is based on research and insights and we are able to show campaign pathway that is ‘Real’.
We also believe that ‘specialist’ approach is the future of Public Relations and we will continue to remain a firm that has deep knowledge of the industry in which we operate and just not be a service provider but a trusted & respected communications partner.
RT: Having a diverse communication background, what excites you about communication?
The creativity and ability to think out-of-the-box that I see amongst the new generation is what excites me the most. For them communication is not textual or what they learnt in books, it’s the challenge they like to take up to come with the most amazing campaign ideas. The ability to connect with the audience mindset and the understanding of the integrated approach is what keeps them excited as well.
RT: You are known for being a major proponent of Yoga. How did you start off on this journey of fitness?
Yoga I started as a form of exercise many years back until came across a form of yoga called ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ which is sequence of poses and movement with breath that build strength, stamina and flexibility. Yoga helps me to be in that space of peace and spirituality.
RT: How do you think Public Relations has evolved over the last ten years?
Public Relations is no more just ‘media’. I like the way there is lot of strategic thinking and research that goes behind it before any plan is chalked out. The audience has matured, the stakeholder periphery is vast and needs specific strategy to deal with. Also, how it is more of an integrated approach with the digital world evolving everyday.
RT: SPAG is known to be a dominant player in the healthcare communication space. What is the future for this domain?
‘Healthcare’ has emerged as one the fastest growing business sector for public relations (close 2nd to Technology sector). It offers challenges that range from diversity of stakeholders, multiplicity of channels and regulatory aspects that allow us to build campaigns that are not only innovative but also push the envelope to seek ‘Outcome’ of campaigns and its impact on business goals.
We believe it will remain fastest growing business over next decade and with amalgamation of technology to healthcare it will be most exciting place to be in.
RT: You wear multiple hats at work. Share with us some details.
I am totally a people’s person and love to be around my team and chat with them. It is amazing how each individual can connect with each other and it’s really a challenge to see how that disconnect can impact their productivity. That’s what I feel is critical, to keep the work culture strong that helps build stronger bonds at workplace. Happy people will always spread positivity, which reflects in the work of the organisation. We totally believe in helping people grow from where they are, to where they would want to be. So, anything that involves people is where my role comes in.
RT: What are the ways in which PR firms are overcoming the challenges today in terms of talent acquisition and retention?
I think every five years there are new challenges and newer ways to deal with them. Hiring and talent management has never been structured in this space till now. But institutions like PRCAI are putting together many ways to bring a better structure to this profession in terms of talent. It’s really nice to see how training programs are being conducted, regular business HR meets are there to resolve the common concerns. Also, PR schools like SCoRe are coming with brilliant ideas to build the talent and partnering with PR firms to further provide them with the opportunities and platform.
RT: How is it having the same partner in your personal life and professional life? What are the pros and cons?
It’s like you want to keep your phone down but you are addicted to it, so no digital detox. Similarly, we try not to discuss work at home but we end up doing and have to remind each other no discussion now and then again you start in some time.
RT: What is your advice for professionals to manage work life balance?
We cannot have extremes of anything in life. Everything needs a balance to keep growing vertically. It’s important to have your mind and heart happy with your work as well as people around you. What I hear the most nowadays is ‘we don’t have the time to workout or eat properly’- which I would say happens only if one doesn’t intend to but if you know it’s important you will do it. A balanced mind is always a more productive mind. A balanced heart is always a happy and contented heart.
RT: What are the skills you look for in PR professionals joining the PR business?
Skills can be learnt only if you have the commitment to learn. What I look for in a person is not just the skills but the focus and zeal to learn and the fire to prove themselves. This combination is what I would go with and would love to hire such people.