Until a few months back, a pandemic was something that we only saw in movies or heard about in stories. None of us ever imagined how our lives would turn out or even how businesses would face severe tumult and that too only within the first quarter of the year. On 22 nd of April, one day after National PR Day, School of Communications and Reputation (SCoRe), organized a Zoom panel with six leaders from the communications fraternity on How to be Future Ready. The panel had Archana Jain, Managing Director, PR Pundit; Atul Sharma, Managing Director, Ruder Finn; Dilip Yadav, Founding Partner, First Partner Communications; Kunal Kishore, Founder, Value 360 Communications; Ruby Sinha, Managing Director, Kommune Brand Communications; Shivani Gupta, Managing Director, SPAG and was moderated by Arun Sudhaman, CEO/Editor-in-Chief, PRovoke Media.
Arun Sudhaman kicked off the conversation with how the COVID-19 situation is taking a toll on business all around the globe. He mentioned that his organization, PRovoke Media, held a survey for communication leaders around the world and almost 77% percent of them mentioned that they expect a loss of earnings along with other areas of concern like loss of work, payment delays and even layoffs.
Archana Jain, Managing Director, PR Pundit talked about the three R’s that are significant during these trying times- Resilience, Recalibration and Re-imagination. Brands should not come across as opportunistic during these challenging times. “The impact of COVID-19 for us has been emotional and what this means for us is that to be empathetic. Our communication now needs to be adaptive. The communication strategies should be creative, focused and they need to be achieved through earned conversations. This is the time for brands to give back to the society.”, she said while talking about how brands can be more empathetic and purpose-driven than before.
The times are difficult for everybody and every organization must look after its employees’ well-being. Thus, internal communication has emerged to be more vital than ever. Atul Sharma from Ruder Finn focused on the point that this is the time when the flock has to be kept together and since, we couldn’t predict COVID, there will be two new focus areas now-skills in Cyber Security and Predictive Analysis.
“The aftermath of the COVID situation will also witness the transformation in the communication style of brands. They will have a more humanitarian approach. The narratives will change, the story-telling will change and organisations will look for people with analytical skills and Emotional Quotient (EQ).”, said Shivani Gupta of SPAG. She also touched upon the point that how working remotely from home has become the new normal in spite of some initial technical and connectivity hiccups.
Kunal Kishore of Value 360 Communications put emphasis on the changes that his organization saw during this pandemic:
Increase in the productivity of the employees even while working remotely
Work from Home has increased efficiency in the quality of work
Innovation and Collaboration among employees, especially in mid-levels has increased exponentially. People are finding out innovative ways to collaborate not only with each other but with various stakeholders as well.
On being asked about her learnings from the current scenario, Ruby Sinha of Kommune Brand Communications talked about the three following things from an entrepreneurial point of view:
It is very important for a nascent organization to have a diversified client portfolio
Technology is not only for functional use but is also a very important tool of communication as a lot of client-servicing is happening over calls and webinars now a days
Future of work is about working from home through technology. Virtual agencies are going to be a reality soon
“One of the businesses to bounce back immediately after this turmoil will be the PR business.”, assures Ruby.
The biggest lesson that Dilip Yadav, Founding Partner of First Partner Communications has learnt from this situation is taking tough decisions without letting that affect the reputation of the company. “The current crisis is completely external. We are witnessing an emergency communication situation today. Also, relevance is essential now. Some companies under the current circumstances are relevant and some are not. For example, essential goods and technology companies are suddenly more relevant than ever.”, he said.
The session concluded with how new waves of trends are coming our way. Beginning from digital forms of consumer engagement, digital payment to digital information consumption, there will be a surge in every form of communication. Communication will be more home-oriented. Media is also innovating continuously with earned, owned and paid verticals. The leaders talked about how India as a market is so diversified but also mentioned their concerns about the regional counterpart of it.
“We might not have been ready for COVID-19 but after this conversation, I for one, am feeling very future ready for sure!” signed off Arun Sudhaman.
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– Baishali Banerjee
Baishali Banerjee is a part of the Class of 2020 of PG Programme in PR and Corporate Communications at SCoRe, Mumbai. She completed her winter internship with Genesis BCW, Mumbai.
She is from Kolkata. She did her graduation in Media Science with a specialization in Public Relations and Advertising from NSHM Knowledge Campus, Kolkata. She has always been curious about the corporate world and how all these huge brands function and connect with their consumers on a day to day basis. She interned with Ketchum Sampark for a period of three months under the Brands & Lifestyle team. This experience made her more curious about the PR fraternity. Also, she is a person very open to learning and her interests lie in corporate, entertainment and lifestyle.
She can be reached at @baishalibanerj5 on Twitter and as Baishali Banerjee on LinkedIn