Twenty-five years ago on Teachers’ Day, when Madan and I set up Adfactors Public Relations, we were driven by the purpose of providing superior value to our IPO and corporate clients. Our ad agency, Adfactors Advertising, was already a market leader in the IPO space. This and given a series of macro developments made it logical to launch a public relations firm.
The country had initiated a series of economic reforms since 1991. In the years following, there was a sense of economic buoyancy, hope and optimism – drawing the attention of international investors. The pace of economic growth picked up and India registered a growth of 7% for three consecutive years. Forex reserves too moved up significantly to over $25 billion by FY 1995.
Two other factors provided stimulus and inspiration. First, capital market was becoming increasingly institutionalised and the capital market regulatory mechanism was firmly in place. IPO communications – then our core business – had to take cognizance of these developments.
Second, we were inspired by many success stories of PR start-ups such as Roger Pereira Associates, Sampark, Genesis, Perfect Relations, Corporate Voice, and Clea. The PR consultancy business model provided a great adjacent opportunity for us. Reputation, issues, and financial communications became the first practices we started.
We had quick success and signed about two dozen clients in the first phase of our growth. By FY 2004, we had become an established PR firm, and were counted among the top 10 PR firms in the country. It was around this time that we did some soul-searching to arrive at a vision and strategy statement to guide the firm’s long-term growth. In other words, PR became the driving engine of our growth story.
Our vision – simply put – was to become a market-leading firm. Our strategy was to excel in earned influence and become a Gold Standard in this area. The culture was driven by values such as Integrity, Freedom, Transparency, Humility, and Knowledge-orientation. Around this time, we adopted our positioning statement of ‘Knowledge-driven Communication’, which became the central idea guiding all our thinking and action. A number of senior media professionals with impeccable credentials joined us during this phase.
Over the next two years, we maintained a steady growth and kept building sectoral practices such as banking and financial services, infrastructure, energy and resources, pharma, etc. As you can see, back then, there was very little of consumer or technology work.
In 2008-09, the cataclysmic event – global economic meltdown – happened following the Lehman Brothers collapse. Given our exposure to capital markets and financial sector, we were seriously impacted in the early months of the crisis.
What gives me great pride was the fact that we had a 5% growth even in that year, thanks to the heroic efforts put in by the leaders and the 250 people in the firm. Also, early in the crisis, we had announced that there would be no job or income losses (we followed the same policy during the pandemic). The crisis tested our culture and character. I am happy to share that we came out with flying colours. The resilience helped lay the foundation for our future growth.
The crisis experience made us wiser, and we embarked on a diversification drive to include more practices and sectors. Technology and consumer-directed practices such as healthcare, travel, and hospitality were introduced. We also launched new products such as IPO Nurture and Crisis 24X7.
By FY 2010, we had achieved a market-leading position that has only been consolidated every single year since then. Our independence makes us a relevant example in the Atmanirbhar Bharat story.
Fast forward to September 5, 2022. It’s the time to thank many stakeholders, who contributed to the firm’s success. We owe our gratitude to our clients – present and past – who gave us the privilege to serve them. We are deeply thankful to the nation-wide media fraternity for listening to our clients’ stories and supporting us. A special mention is reserved for the leading investment bankers along with legal and consulting firms for their kind referrals over the last two decades.
The Adfactors PR story has a robust foundation of the diligent and hard work of a large group of senior partners and leaders in the firm, supported by the efforts by 1,400 younger colleagues. I will be failing if I do not specifically mention the tireless efforts of Dr Pradeep Raje, Arun Ohri, Percy Dubash, Arwa Husain, Samir Kapur, Nijay Nair, Manoj Warrier among others. My Co-Founder Madan Bahal and I wish to acknowledge their efforts in building Adfactors PR to what it is today.
Having successfully navigated the pandemic, on September 5, 2022, we complete a quarter century of service to the nation’s businesses. We envision the next 25 years as being an integral element of India’s journey in becoming a global economic powerhouse. We will strive to remain relevant every passing year to do justice to the trust of our stakeholders.
Please keep your good wishes and blessings flowing.
This article is part of a SILVER JUBILEE series by Adfactors PR commemorating their 25th year in the business of Public Relations.
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