Adapting to changes has been the biggest learning during the pandemic: Nandita Lakshmanan

In today’s ‘Year-ender story of 2021’, Lakshmanan, Founder & Chairperson at The Practice, shares the possibilities that the new year holds for PR agencies, and more

e4m by Shrabasti Mallik
Updated: Jan 17, 2022 4:52 PM  | 4 min read
Nandita Lakshmanan

As we step into 2022 and look forward to it as a year full of hope and possibilities, e4m PR and Corp Comm presents the “Year-ender story of 2021” series with the theme 'The possibilities that the new year holds for PR agencies and the way ahead'. The series encompasses the views, opinions and thoughts of some of the leading names and veterans of the PR and Corp Comm fraternity on how they perceive the New Year, the transitions they expect to see, and their vision for the future.

In this interview, Nandita Lakshmanan, Founder and Chairperson at The Practice, shares her views on how advocacy, internal communications, digital engagement and crisis management will see an increased share in the public relations mix and why a regular 9 to 5 way of working in office is not sustainable any longer.

Excerpts from the interview:

How important has the trend of personalised pitches become for the PR industry?

In my opinion, this is something public relations have been doing forever. The only difference is that the range of media formats is diverse today and has expanded beyond just print and broadcast media.

Artificial Intelligence is the future - irrespective of industries. What are the ways AI can come to the aid of PR and Corp Communication professionals in 2022?

AI-driven applications of all kinds are rapidly becoming tools that assist communication professionals in an environment of ever-increasing data availability. It is being used in all areas of the business for putting together campaigns. It helps in defining audience segmentation by interpreting data. It helps write and personalise messages at scale for quick turnarounds. Campaign amplification based on real-time customer activity pushes effectiveness further, and finally surfacing new insights from the enormous pool of data that is generated daily becomes the key to pushing possibilities further.

What are the trends the Indian PR and Corporate Communications industry can look forward to/ expect in 2022?

Advocacy, internal communications, digital engagement and crisis management will see an increased share in the public relations mix. Public Relations is surely making its way into the boardroom as various sectors fall under increased regulatory scrutiny.

According to industry experts, environmental, social, and corporate governance would continue to grow. In what ways will socially-conscious initiatives continue to drive campaigns and outreach programmes in 2022?

Customers and stakeholders are becoming conscious about the overall impact of businesses they patronise. As a result organisations are re-aligning their business goals not only on profitability but on creating sustainable value for every stakeholder in their supply chains and extended communities. In

2022, we could witness campaigns and outreach programmes pivoting around re-establishing companies values and commitment to ESG, to build a loyal customer base. Initiatives to demonstrate how companies are building common good for their stakeholders could gain goodwill and, therefore, could positively impact bottom lines.

How did you cope with the second wave of the pandemic? What were the challenges you had to overcome?

The second wave was brutal from an emotional perspective. Some of our team members experienced the loss of loved ones, our clients lost team members – it was something we hadn’t experienced in the 21 years of our existence. The insurmountable challenges were managed owing to the empathy shown by all – peers in the industry, our clients and our team.

How have the young generation / new recruits adapted to the system of working remotely? What are your views on how successful the hybrid working model will be in the coming year?

I think learning to adapt to change has been the biggest learning during the pandemic. Surprisingly, new recruits have been doing well in the remote work mode. Managers and team members have stepped up and ensured that onboarding is smooth and new recruits are integrated well with existing teams. Like many organisations, we have moved to a hybrid model as we felt it will work well for most of our employees. Multiple conversations and our own internal WFH survey helped us arrive at this decision. The pandemic has changed the way we work forever and a regular 9 to 5 way of working in office is not sustainable any longer. Hybrid seems the best way ahead.

The pandemic has been a trying time for us all, especially on the psychological level. How should organisations prepare themselves for the next year?

I think we are all more resilient today and we must take that resilience with us to meet the challenges in the future. Showing empathy to our colleagues, being in touch with them and supporting each other is important. This applied to our clients and partners as well. To combat WFH fatigue and burnout, we encourage our teams to take regular breaks and seek professional help when needed.

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