From being a mother, mentor and CEO of a leading Public Relations consultancy, Genesis BCW, Deepshikha Dharmaraj has completed 25 years in the PR industry and has emerged to be a leader for all women and men in PR fraternity. On 21st of May, 2020, students of School of Communications and Reputation had a masterclass with Deepshikha, where she not only familiarised us with her work but also gave examples of her own life as a PR professional.
Deepshikha began the session by saying how naïve she was when she entered the field of PR, as a fresh MBA graduate. After the post of Active Client Servicing, she was promoted to the post of Chief Talent Officer, a specialised field that deals with organisational structure and HR.
“I knew what was required on the job. I knew what are the skills and capabilities that are needed and I was able to marry that with talent management theoretical aspects and build a talent management system in Genesis,” says Deepshikha, who laid the foundation of GBM School of Learning while she was the Chief Talent Officer.
Deepshikha narrates that the PR world went a drastic change in 2013-14 with heavy demand to move into digitisation. One had to put a lot of thinking on how to go beyond media relations to integrated digital thinking, data analytics, and other developments. A position like Growth Officer was deliberately created because of the need for change in services and growth, mostly to drift from monotony. Deepshikha remembers how she had to write her own job description, for which she did her homework- researched what is required for this role, which also meant to get new businesses and clients of different kinds. In 2019, she took on the role of Managing Director and in January 2020 she became the CEO of the consultancy.
Four big learnings:
Be Open to change– “To be open to change has been a big mover in my life and it has also been very much a part of the culture of Genesis,” says Deepshikha. It is because of the quest to stay ahead of the industry that they have been recognised as pioneers and innovators in this industry.
Learn– “Dive deep into whatever it is you are doing. Do not take it as face value from one person only,” says Deepshikha. She further explains that learning happens in many ways, by experience, by reading and one needs to figure what is it that works for him/her and then reflect on what they have learnt and how the learning is going to benefit them.
Be focussed with self-awareness– Deepshikha continues to talk about being empathetic. “Only when you have a high level of awareness, would you actually be an empathetic person,” she says. Most people make mistake thinking that self-awareness is all about me, myself, and I theory. By being self-aware, one is mindful of their own weaknesses, their selfishness, their being self-oriented, and self-centered.
Taking accountability and responsibility of what you do– “When you start a job be very clear what is expected out of you and how you are going to deliver it,” explains Deepshikha. Narrating her own example, she says that every time she was given a post at work or a task, she made a job description and task list. At no point did she wait for somebody to deliver her the role description and she gained self-accountability by doing so. Her boss would go through that list and would help her add or remove things from that list. In this way she could walk away with clarity.
In later part of the session, she explains that in earlier days, there were no expertise area or a domain expert as it is now. They had to do and learn everything. It is now that PR has acquired the domain expertise to advise the clients in a proficient way, which is seen as an approach that is both creative as well as beneficial.
“We are in a very interesting space where we are placed at the heart of talking to the stakeholders. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re so different from advertising and some of our other colleagues in communication space, “says Deepshikha.
With case studies like that of Horlicks and its emotional nutrients campaign, Gillette and Barbershop girls’ campaign, Deepshikha explains that it’s the PR team who lead with creative ideas and engage with stakeholders. Being empathetic plays a key role in getting to know what your target audience wants from the brand.
The session came to an end with Deepshikha answering questions from students and clearing their doubts. “My one piece of advice is- be open to change, be adaptive and be an active listener,” she concluded.
– Alisha Shireen
Related article – Learnings from a Masterclass with Archana Jain
Alisha Shireen 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 SPAG Asia, Mumbai.
She did her schooling from Auxilium Convent School, Bandel, which is 52.3 km from Kolkata. She did her graduation from Patna Women’s College in Mass Communications. She was a freelancer for The Times of India, Patna Times for a year (2018-2019), and wrote advertorials and event coverage for the English daily
She can be reached on Twitter as @AlishaShireen and on LinkedIn as Alisha Shireen