When the team at Reputation Today invited me to write an article for the magazine based on my experiences and perspectives from a lifetime of practice, I tried to dissuade them. I am a humble practitioner and shy of public communications and appearances. This is my first article and I am yet to appear on a public platform. This portfolio at Adfactors PR is the responsibility of my partner Madan Bahal and some other senior colleagues. But they were persistent, so presented below are few thoughts for remaining steadfast in one’s beliefs, regardless of the ups and downs of business.
- Our second name is relationships: The word ‘relations’ is an integral part of our professional identity as public relations practitioners. This is also true for all the sub-streams – employee relations, investor relations, community relations, government relations etc. There must be a profound reason, because these expressions have survived for a century since the modern practice of public relations started. Among other things, the public relations professional should be judged by his/her relationship capital. Sound relationships are critical to deliver our mandates, because they are based on trust, dependability and good will. I fear that the idea of relationships is getting lost in a fast-forwarded digital world.
- Nothing creates more trust than transparency: We must practice what we preach to our clients, and to our teams. The PR profession preaches transparency and authenticity, but within the organisations few people know what’s happening. At Adfactors PR, everything is out there in the open. We share everything, with everyone, in real-time. These include discussions on our revenues, strategy, new initiatives, strengths, weaknesses, threats, leadership changes etc. Such openness builds trust and imparts a lot of strength to the organisation.
- People first, before everyone: Committed people build strong organisations. At Adfactors PR, this is the central idea behind our vision, mission, strategy & growth. In a stressed, post-pandemic world, liberating your people from job and income insecurities is a prime dharma of leaders. Early on, around the beginning of the pandemic we made clear commitments and stuck by them. We continued with our L&D commitments. We remained engaged with 100% of our people. We launched multiple initiatives to address health-related anxieties. Such philosophy and actions create confidence and unleash the collective energy of the organisation. While business survival responses are understandable, they must be done with the least impact on your people.
- Clients are our purpose: We exist because of our clients. They pay for our sustenance, well-being and growth. We must always be willing to go beyond the call of duty. Protecting a client’s reputation is a 24×7 business. I am personally available to any client 24×7 – weekends, Dussehra and Diwali included. You earn the client’s trust, and clients generously reward you with their business.
- Partnerships are for life: When we get into any relationship, we assume that it is for life. Be it a client, or a colleague, or a supplier. Honesty and integrity in relationships are the open secret of long relationships. One of the main reasons behind the modest success of Adfactors PR is this idea in practice. My partnership with Madan Bahal in Adfactors PR will last till one of us cannot work anymore. The same spirit applies to our partnership with all other senior colleagues and the clients as well. We cherish our decade-old partnerships with clients like the Mahindra Group, State Bank of India, Larsen & Toubro & Blue Star.
- Knowing, what not to do: In life, we must make clear choices, much like the Yamas and Niyamas (the don’ts and dos of life) prescribed in the Yoga philosophy. At Adfactors PR, our Yamas include not working for businesses engaged in tobacco, alcohol, meat processing and gambling. We don’t try to save on taxes through ‘smart’ tax planning. We stay true to all our commitments. In the last 23 years of business, having worked with thousands of clients and other stakeholders, we don’t have a single litigation against us.
Remaining steadfast to these principles is the key to remaining grounded, despite the ups and downs of life. Success usually follows and must be dealt with all humility, because the times and fortunes are ever changing.
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