The best-run businesses have a thorough approach to planning for growth.Leaders make informed decisions on the direction businesses are headed. Thinking strategically is an opportunity to steer your business in the right direction and keep you on the road to success. Significantly, it is an ongoing process that involves actually setting an agenda for growth – in the future.
In keeping with this line of thought, “Setting the agenda for the future – What firms plan to do in 2022 and beyond differently?” was the topic in the discussion moderated by Simran Kodesia, Head of International Communications at DoorDash. The panelists were – Minal D’Rozario of Ideosphere Consulting, Pranshu Sikka of The Pivotals, Praveen Nagda of Peregrine PR and Sunanda Rao-Erdem of Seraphim Consulting.
Changing role of communication
The role of communications has evolved in the last one and a half years. We have seen PR teams supporting businesses and we have built trust and even moved bottom lines up, said Simran. How have clients’ needs evolved? The internet, which is a blessing has stepped in to up the game which has become so dynamic, felt Pranshu and we have become critical advisors and true stakeholder engagement agencies; plus companies are leaning on us for legal and multi-advisory service, which wasn’t the case a few years ago. Resonating with him, Sunanda added that communication has become global and clients expect us to have regional expertise with a global perspective. “There is a lot more understanding of the PR and communication space and the set of stakeholders have become extremely diverse”.
The change has happened on two fronts, according to Praveen as he elucidated – now with online space on our side, and easier access, there is more engagement with senior management like CEO, CFOs. And, with increased engagement, clients’ expectations have increased and they have become more demanding. Minal put forth the fact that there two types of organizations – one who is looking for measurable RoI, and another looking for value RoI, so PR firms should understand the need to customise. Another factor was the need for multifaceted talent.
Shift in managing clients & teams
What has been the biggest shift in managing clients and teams and what are the learnings? Sunanda explained that their clients are looking at establishing partnerships with Indian firms and the advocay and policy space has become wider; and, in managing teams they have extended to include people with non-PR backgrounds. “I have hired talent for spaces beyond the conventional media relations and PR events, and the right attitude needs to be nurtured,” she said for we are expected to bring in that value.
Regarding demanding clients, Pranshu expressed the fact that they had drawn a line to how demanding a client can be and have also put some measures in place. It’s a very interesting phase for Minal as they have built a partner ecosystem that specialises in focused areas that they can handle; and for functioning, they will follow their own personal process that is integrated to the foundation of the customer; and moreover, they have accepted freelancers and consultants, which is great for clients looking for expertise. It has created a level playing field for Praveen, as freelancing is going to be more prominent and the work environment is indeed, shifting.
So, communications is getting integrated with digital, which ushers in a new environment. “Communication has come at the helm of everything”, pointed out Minal and added that we used to say ‘Consumer is King’ but “now it’s communication that is taking an overarching space”.
Managing expectations comes with managing stakeholders, so what’s the approach for managing those stakeholders? “Fortunately, or unfortunately, clients expect us to be rolled into a magic bag of everything, which is not the case!” exclaimed Pranshu and went on to say that it is critical to keep expectations realistic; and he also noticed the market has matured and the lines have blurred – CEOs have realised there’s a line to be drawn in terms of practical deliverables.
2022 and beyond…
Communication has evolved so much and the pandemic has spurred more changes. Time has come to look forward to what’s next in communication. What will shape our connections in 2022 and beyond?
Will PR firms have to continue hiring consultants and freelancers – to build social and digital capabilities along with the PR mandate? Digital is crucial as news first appears in social media (Twitter) and specially during crisis, we need to be aligned with that and respond too, reported Praveen
The ‘new normal’ is here, and we need to reinvent. “But the human interaction to me, will not be replaced by AI or digital,” was Sunanda’s final shot.
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