The new normal in a world where Covid-19 unfortunately is becoming a part of our life, it will bring about many changes in the way businesses will be conducted, and more importantly the way we live our life. The recent outbreak of the COVID –19 is also seeing a tectonic shift in most people’s lives.
We decided to speak to Women Entrepreneurs in the PR business. Their plans and strategies to their clients during this period of crisis as businesses and brands are limping back to the new normal. How they are going about planning their communication plans for a new world post the covid-19 lockdown, keeping a note of some of the new buzz words such as ‘social distancing’, ‘work from home’ and the latest one; ‘atmanirbhar’
Today we speak to Sonam Shah, Founder and CEO, Treize Communications, established in 2015 with an aim to provide innovative and strategic communications and public relations services in the ever-expanding media cosmos. At Treize Communications, she is responsible for running all facets of the business and ensures smooth operations on daily basis. Her strong belief in “Communication is the most essential and important key in everything”, helps her in scaling the organization as a solopreneur.
In her free time, she listens to music, writes poems, and watches different content on OTT platforms and keeps trying various new apps on her smartphone. A big-time Bollywood buff, she loves old Hindi songs and movies!
As a Women Entrepreneur in the business of PR how are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 and what are the strategies, you are building for your clients?
The current situation has put forth a new set of challenges for every individual, which in hindsight is good, as every challenge brings with it new perspectives and opportunities. The lockdown has impacted every business, in some way or another and businesses have slowed down. This is a time to come together and support each other for mutual growth.
Since the time WFH has started, my key priority has been to manage the internal communications along with sharing regular updates with clients, about how the media landscape is evolving. I truly believe that “Communication is the key to finding the right solutions” and focus on doing the same.
At Treize, we are currently suggesting and helping our retainer clients focus on their long-term PR strategy and consider if it needs to be altered in a new direction. We are having an honest and realistic conversation with clients on how we can all sail through these tough times. We also understand that these are challenging times for media as well, therefore we ensure our clients revert to a media opportunity within the deadline, thus not keeping any journalist waiting.
What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
Currently, our main objective is to continue building expertise and thought leadership for our clients within their industries and area of knowledge. Some of our clients are mental health experts, so we help them provide a platform that can help the audiences, the readers, to stay calm and handle the situation in a better way.
Our aim is to think long term without affecting any media relations or brand image built over the period of time.
In the coming months, the core objective of PR will slowly pivot towards crisis communications and sustaining visibility, rather than building it. Brands will have to focus on being in the news, to maintain high brand recall as industry dynamics are going to be incredibly challenging. I also anticipate the core requirement of PR shifting from creating buzz to getting new businesses. PR agencies will have to come out with innovative and newer solutions in helping brands reach out to newer audiences.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what is keeping you positive?
We keep having daily group discussions and there is complete transparency with the employees within the organisation. Everyone is available for everyone and can share anything and ask for help. We understand that working from home is not easy for all, so we do not expect them to be available 24/7 or at odd hours. If anyone works half a day or for a few hours on any day, we ensure that there is no pay cut. We are not gauging the efforts of our employee’s based on the number of hours they work as we feel it will not be correct to do the same.
As for me, being a solopreneur, I am used to working 12-15 hours a day, and that remains. But, during the lockdown phase, I have ensured that I remove some me time between work and household chores and try to finish reading books which I have been meaning to for a while. To take a mental break, I watch shows online, meditate, and do some work – out to keep myself fit. The combination of these activities keeps me going.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring your business back on track?
We are already in the Unlock 1 phase and things seem to look better now. So somewhere, we are moving towards the post-lockdown phase. I think more than a post-lockdown situation, for us what matters is how we can help our clients sustain visibility in challenging times and maintain media relations simultaneously. If we all can mutually navigate this phase, the post-lockdown situation becomes quite easy and we all can be back in action swiftly.
The manner in which businesses are retained will play an important role in the post-lockdown phase.
What is the strategy for Treize Communications to stay ahead of the curve?
Since we bring in a mix of various mediums for our clients, our focus continues to remain on exploring new mediums, and trends, keeping in mind that consumer’s content consumption pattern has evolved drastically in the last 3 months.
With the menace of fake news growing, it has become more important to build credibility via PR, therefore, we are not just working on external factors but also internal touchpoints and utilizing this time in strengthening our internal strategies to explore ways in which we can grow as a team in the new future.
The lockdown has helped the team set up long-term goals and revisit internal evaluation. We now have time to plan and execute things that earlier could not happen, due to various reasons.
What is that one special mantra you want to give to the millennials joining the PR Profession?
- Be quick in adapting the new normal of work from home
- Read more, to know how the media landscape is evolving and how digital is the go-to platform for any audience
- Try to build media relations and learn how to maintain them in challenging times
- Focus on evolving content consumption patterns
- Take up any online course to enhance your communication and/or digital skills
Post-Covid what would be your advice to your clients on ways to do effective communication?
Effective communication depends on two key factors – timing and content, and that plays an important role in any situation. The more challenging a situation, the more efficient and quicker should be the communication. These two will continue to play an important role.
Focused PR will be the way forward for any brand and this is what we continue to suggest to our clients. Building trust and credibility will be the key aim and quality over quantity will be the mantra, going forward.