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’
What started off as a boutique agency has today grown to become a full services public relations firm. Mondial Kommunications has been consulting and advising companies, start-ups, and managing spokespersons for half a decade. In addition to launching some of Indias’ very successful startups, Mondial boasts of a strong corporate clientele.
Founders Faiza Kapoor and Sharon Henriques take us through their journey at Mondial Kommunications while giving us a sense of how they have dealt with business during the pandemic.
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?
Faiza: Crises do not make any gender distinction in terms of their impact (smile). We all are impacted by it – at an individual, social, family, and organizational level. Like all crises, COVID19 has taught us to evolve quickly and to think out of the box. We have seen this crisis period as an opportunity to develop newer skillsets, broaden our expertise, and develop innovative solutions for our clients. Every company has had to rethink the “usual” in order to ride out this pandemic and at Mondial, we have ensured that all team members were equally invested in every decision related to internal & external communication. Our basic strategy was to remain consistent in our outreach and to tweak communications to address the immediate need. We have also advised our clients to proactively talk beyond just business – about issues that are plaguing their industry because of this crisis.
Sharon: I believe this pandemic has forced us to think beyond the usual, demanded quick and innovative thinking and move forward with a result-oriented and empathic approach. We have executed campaigns that have helped clients connect with their TG in a deeper manner. Communication during this period continues to be proactive while being purposeful.
What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
Sharon: The objective will always remain to maintain a positive disposition towards the brand and its offering. Communication during this lockdown had initially been focussed on creating awareness about COVID-19 since the situation was developing. While the situation evolved, communication too evolved while consistently being purposeful. We have been strategically supporting clients to help them achieve their business objectives while being mindful of the situation. We have ensured our clients are present at the right forums, virtual conferences while helping them curate events of their own. We have leveraged the reach of owned media during this period considering media houses are also focussed on COVID-19 related communication. There have been several challenges over the past three months, however, our teams have been collaborating and brainstorming to come up with solutions that have been practical and in-line with the objective that we set out to achieve.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what is keeping you positive?
Faiza: Being a boutique agency, we have always prioritized learning and development for the team. We encourage our teams to take calculated risks and introspect on aspects that could have been done better. We believe in making our employees feel responsible for their set of clients. Hence zeal to help clients overcome this difficult phase was very high amongst all of us. Since the team is fairly young, I earmarked adequate time to guide and train them on various aspects like media relations, domain expertise, etc.
On a personal note, Mondial has been built from scratch by Sharon and me, and we used this phase to push ourselves beyond the usual. We developed a ‘Never Settle’ attitude and kept raring to go after new challenges every day. We also set personal and professional goals for ourselves and celebrated every achievement as a victory. This phase has been a tremendous learning experience which entrepreneurs like us have used as the litmus test for survival.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring your business back on track
Sharon: There is no shying away from the fact that business has been impacted due to the pandemic. During this time, we have been as focussed on the team as much as we have been with our clients. During this time, we have had the opportunity to also to work with new clients. We have done some very interesting projects too.
While the lockdown impacted daily functioning to an extent, we were quick to Introduce and implement SOPs to ensure that business functions do not get hampered and they continue to function as normal as possible. We continue to meet new clients, potential employees and engage with existing partners thanks to technology.
What is the strategy for Mondial to stay ahead of the curve?
Faiza: It helps to be a small nimble team. We are flexible, at the same time, very invested in our brands. Our strategy is to ensure that we try and pre-empt our client requirements and be prepared. We also evaluate and suggest a newer medium to use for effective communications. Also, it is imperative to be observant of any trend which can be used/translated for our set of clients.
Sharon: As an agency, we have always invested in meaningful and impact-driven communication. We have been partners to our clients and continue to strengthen this relationship each day. Although advisors, we have always been invested in our client’s objectives. While we continue to present opportunities to our clients, also advise them when we need to take a step back.
The key here is to be able to identify stories and be able to tell it in a manner in which our audience or target group can relate to it irrespective of the medium being used. Communication today needs to be even more clutter-breaking and relevant for our target group considering the amount of communication is being passed on to consumers these days. Communication needs to be targeted, relevant, and meaningful.
What is that one special mantra you want to give to the millennials joining the PR Profession?
Faiza: The golden rule which gets quickly overlooked in the rush to meet KRA’s is READING. I will advise everyone who is looking at building a career in Public Relations to keeping reading and developing knowledge in all areas of interest. Not only will it make you a well-respected PR professional in the long run but it will also help you not get boxed into one particular sector. Another mantra is to be ready to step out of your comfort zone as often as possible. Be it talking to new people, picking up a client that is outside your area of interest and expertise or leading a team of achievers, be ready to step up and take the challenge. With adequate preparation and due diligence, there is nothing that can stop you from doing well.
Post-Covid what would be your advice to your clients on ways to do effective communication?
Faiza: COVID-19 has forced a lot of people to stop and reassess the essentials in their life. For a brand to remain in the consideration set it must appeal to the current sentiment of the consumer. While all industries have seen a tremendous and unexpected churn, our advice to our clients throughout this pandemic has been to deal with issues with empathy.