The School of Communication and Reputation organised a SCoRe Leader Talk on ‘How to be Future Ready.’ The talk was moderated by Arun Sudhaman, CEO and editor-in-chief at PRovoke Media, and the panel included business leaders Archana Jain – PR Pundit, Atul Sharma – Ruder Finn, Dilip Yadav – First Partners, Kunal Sinha Value – 360 Communications, Ruby Sinha Kommune – Brand Communications and Shivani Gupta – SPAG. During this webinar, the panelists discussed the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and the changes that come along with it, and on the actions that they would take looking forward.
Arun Sudhaman discussed the challenges that the communications community is currently facing and what changes are expected shortly. He referred to the survey conducted by PRovoke Media while stating that 77% of the leaders in the PR community expected a loss in earnings, and they were also concerned about canceled work, payment delays, and layoffs because of COVID-19. They also noted communications challenges in corporate communications where the leaders are required to communicate various stakeholders- ensuring their employees about their jobs or explaining the disruption of the supply chain to their consumers. The other challenges also include the disruption of the workplace, which consists of the change in the customer experience, staff health issues, and misinformation. Moreover, looking at changes that would be required in the models of how consultancies function, which new skill sets would be expected from the employees and which consultancies are going to be more relevant.
Furthermore, the panelists discussed the lessons that they have learned during this crisis. While drawing from the experiences from the Financial Crisis of 2008, Archana Jain spoke about the three R’s- Resilience, Recalibration, and Reimagination. Saying that the impact of the pandemic has been emotional, physical, and financial, she spoke about the need to be empathetic. Moreover, she said that the communication must be relevant and adaptable. She also talked about the surge of ‘revenge purchases’ after the lockdown has been uplifted and how the brand needs to communicate during that time. In terms of communication, she advised that communication needs to be creative, sensitive, and low cost.
Atul Sharma spoke about how the PR community is a people-intensive business and how this will remain unchanged. While discussing the changes that have taken place, he explained how the sense of feel and touch is replaced by the sense of hearing and seeing. He urged the brand to be more conscious of their surroundings. Furthermore, he spoke about how new spaces have been created due to the current situations and how the need for new skills in cybersecurity and predictive analysis has come up. Building upon Atul Sharma’s thoughts, Shivani Gupta added that the brands need to have a humanitarian purpose. She also added that the new skills that are required are analytical skills and a higher emotional quotient.
Kunal Sinha discussed the emergence of a virtual consultancy. He spoke about how people are adapting to new technology and how it has enabled people to work remotely. He also noted that work from home has been more productive. He spoke about the emergence of the new models of the firms and how they are taking place and how these models are helping in innovation. This innovation is related to how various stakeholders are engaged in the absence of print media during the COVID crisis.
Ruby Sinha spoke about the need to have a diversified client portfolio as the crisis has hit a few sectors more than the other. She emphasised the importance of technology and how it has helped in communication during the ongoing crisis. She also spoke about how the work of the communication team has become more relevant in terms of building trust in the brand. Dilip Yadav spoke about the four R’s, which he calls the ‘Rapid Test,’ that are necessary during this time. These included resilience, responsibility, relevance, and responsiveness.
When the panelists were asked about the qualities that leaders need to show during this time of crisis, most of them believed that there they had to show empathy, build trust, communicate effectively and engage with their stakeholders. This talk gave an insightful perspective about how the leaders in the PR community would move forward and what changes do they see in the PR community shortly.
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