Priyanka Bhatt founded Equations in 2015 which specializes into Public Relations, reputation management, brand strategy, consultancy and digital marketing. The company services clients across an array of sectors including Education, IT and Technology, Retail and FMCG, E-commerce and start-ups, fashion and Lifestyle, real estate and corporate.
In this story of our PR series, we spoke to Priyanka Bhatt, Founder & CEO, Equations PR & Media on how the company helped their navigate through the Covid-19 crises and much more.
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?
Like most other businesses and any other sectors, our business too has been going through challenging times. Back in March 2020 when the lockdown was announced, most had comprehended an adverse impact on business, considering the severity and spread of the pandemic. I have been in this business for many years now so tweaking strategies to suit the current situation wasn’t really difficult.
The most important aspect that needed attention was continuity without disruption. We have worked towards helping our clients in maintaining continuity of business by reaching out to various stakeholders, particularly their clients and customers through various mediums. The focus was on showcasing the proactive initiatives including digitisation, which has become the mantra of success in these contact-less times. Needless to say, getting our clients featured in the online medium has been the focus as many publications have now shut shop or are laying off people. There has been more focus on video as a medium which helped our clients gain more eyeballs.
Objective of the communication strategy
As I said earlier, the single, most important objective of communication was to demonstrate business continuity even in the face of this adversity. Since we are now gradually moving into the re-opening phase, the strategy will have to be moved to demonstrate a safe and healthier business environment. Statutory and other precautions that need to be maintained for a successful opening up of businesses post Covid-19 need to be demonstrated and propagated.
We are working with a couple of clients who have been very quick in responding to the needs of businesses in the wake of the pandemic and who have launched many platforms, products and services that are going to be instrumental in a smoother opening up of businesses of the customers they service. More emphasis and focus has been given in terms of helping our clients align their communication goals and re-aligning these to suit the need of the hour. A lot of clients are looking at a strong mix of CSR-led communications followed by new product innovations which coud help the current scenario.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what is keeping you positive?
What we have gone through so far is something that nobody would ever want to experience again. The fear of the disease catching up with you is worse than any other. This combined with a psychological trauma of facing difficulties on your job can take a toll on one’s wellbeing. Hence, it has been very important to take care of our employees, both physically as well as emotionally. We are a very lean team and despite facing challenges of client dropouts and shelving off projects, we have successfully managed to run the show.
Our clients have been very understanding of the fact that the business environment is not the same and they too had toned down their expectations to some extent. My team has done a fabulous job of standing true to client expectations and we have also been aggressively looking at business development which has helped keep their overall morale up.
Having said that, we have done monthly and quarterly incentives for the team members which has definitely acted as a catalyst for them to perform better. We have also taken care and covered the monthly expenses in the case of employees facing tough times during this scenario without deducations of any salaries. We have had fun sessions like Bollywood quizzes, workout sessions on Zoom etc to keep the morale of the employees high. This keeps them at bay wrt to their mental health and well-being. We are starting something called Weekly fun sessions which will include a mix of interactive fun quizzes and games, games which will help in strategic thinking and help in honing their skills.
On a personal note, fitness has been my biggest mantra. I workout 5 – 6 times a week and that has really helped me keep my mental balance. Besides that, I have taken to reading as well as pursuing a course in Digital Marketing that has helped me up-skill myself.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to win new clients?
Well, that is something we should not be discussing for all to know. Jokes apart, one will have to focus on convincing prospective clients of the need to project the utility of their products or services in a new paradigm that the pandemic has set. That will set the tone of the strategy one builds for clients going forward. Factors such as contactless business transactions and timely delivery of products and services will be the focal points of propagation going forward. Sectors such as edtech, fintech and health and pharmaceutical industries should definitely be considered when one is looking at bagging new clients in different territories. These definitely hold potential for the coming months. Steps taken by businesses to ensure least disruption from such black swan events going forward will have to be driven hard into the psyche of their customers to get good results for them.
What is that one special mantra you want to give to the millennials joining the PR Profession?
PR as a profession has witnessed a sea change over years. Right from the days where the internet wasn’t there as a professional tool right up to a time where technology rules the roost, the PR profession and professionals have evolved well. However, despite all the technology at disposal, one has to keep in mind that PR is a profession where maintaining relations matter. Having a good domain knowledge of the sector your client operates in is quintessential to be able to convince your broadcasting machinery of the compelling story that your client is. I would also like to add that the youth who would be joining the profession should be able to adapt to the change that we are in right now. Integration of technology wrt to upskilling whether its going digital, looking at PR as a marketing function holistically becomes vital. The youth should also look at video-based content as a part of PR campaigns as this will be the way forward. Clients will always want to engage with an agency who has strong content skills as content has and has always been an enabler for an effective PR campaign.
Post-Covid, what would be your advice to your clients on ways to do effective communication?
It will be important to propagate the relevance and safety of the products and services being offered by them. Adapting to the changing times and adopting technology in a big way will be the two most important challenges that companies will face going forward. I also feel that agencies will need to act as consultants rather than an agency more in making clients realize what’s necessary from a communication point of view post the Covid scenario. The best way to deal with effective communication is to engage and talk to clients more to understand their challenges in order to implement the right and effective solution/s. PR firms will also help in mitigating the risk of fake news post Covid considering we have seen this much more during the pandemic time. But the way Indian companies, particularly in the startup space have managed to come up with innovative tech-based solutions to overcome Covid blues, dark days will soon be behind us. I’m hopeful of the fact that the the PR industry will see new innovations even after the post Covid-19 scenario and agencies will only come back stronger.