'All in all, a good Budget': PR & Comms industry hopes for a steady revival of economy

The union budget shows that the government is focused on economic recovery in a pragmatic manner and has kept the healthcare industry at the heart of its revival story, say experts

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Feb 2, 2021 9:00 AM  | 9 min read
PR

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented first-ever digital Union Budget on 1st February 2021. Along with announcing a slew of taxation reforms, she also stressed on strengthening the Healthcare sector of the country while also giving impetus to digitization in a pandemic hit economy.

After the budget announcement, players in the PR and Corp Comm fraternity have welcomed the “reformist” budget and are hopeful of clients coming back on retainers.  On the occasion, experts spoke to exchange4media to weigh in on the Union Budget and what it means for the industry.

Edited Excerpts below:-

Kunal Kishore, VP - PRCAI

'All in all, a good Budget'

“The Union Budget for 2021-22 is a reformist one that reimagines India's self-reliance like never before and will drive the revival of the economy from the impact of the pandemic with enhanced spending. This is an extremely balanced Budget given that the economy is just emerging out from a contraction and the risk of pandemic is still around. The government has relied on increasing government spending to boost the economy.

There are quite a few measures that will have a long-term positive impact on the Indian economy including the formation of Asset Reconstruction Company, measures to combat air pollution, divestment of public sector banks, increase in FDI limit in Insurance, promotion of digital payments and increasing tax transparency through digitization.

The Budget has included SMEs/MSMEs as one of the sectors of focus. SMEs are the backbone of the country and have been contributing a huge chunk to the national GDP. As far as MSMEs are concerned, it is good news that the Centre has decided to double the allocation for the sector. The MSME sector, which was battered by COVID-induced lockdowns, needed a lifeline. By increasing their threshold for capitalisation, such companies will get certain relief and exemptions provided by the government.

The government has also focussed on boosting the startup ecosystem. Several measures announced in the Budget like the extension of tax-holiday and capital gains exemption for investment by another year are positive ones.

The focus on growth over fiscal consolidation, healthcare spending, infrastructure development and steps to further help the startup ecosystem is worth mentioning.  The reforms, including privatisation of the public sector, are long-term measures, but considering that the government has indicated the direction it wants to take, there will be huge positives to emerge from each of these reforms.

Overall, the Budget rightly targets the areas to accelerate economic recovery without increasing any undue tax burden.”

Rohan Kanchan, MD - Consulting & Strategy, India- Weber Shandwick 

“The union budget shows that the government is focused on continuing down the path to economic recovery in a pragmatic manner and has kept the healthcare industry at the heart of its revival story. The 137% increase in healthcare spending augurs well not only for access to medical care but also for fuelling job creation and building momentum for growth. The announcement of the centrally funded PM Swasthya Yojna scheme and the over 60k crore outlay needs a special mention. The tax incentives towards affordable housing and start-ups is a good ground-level boost to consumers and young entrepreneurs. 

The Budget is candid in sharing that it will take a liberal approach to fiscal deficit and continue its borrowing programme from the external markets. At the same time, the fact that the government has not imposed a taxation regime on corporations and individuals to address the ongoing fiscal deficit reinvigorated the positive sentiments across the economic ecosystem. It now remains to be seen how the execution of the schemes and initiatives get rolled out and its overall acceptance by corporate India and people at home. Exciting times ahead!!” 

Dr Rajiv Chhibber, Vice President External Affairs, Sahajanand Medical Technologies Pvt Ltd

“The thrust and emphasis on healthcare in the Union Budget 2021-22 is a strong commitment of India to fightback the pandemic and build a robust healthcare system. With a total allocation of Rs 2.23 lakh crore, an increase of around 137% from the past budget, and a focus on developing a capacity of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the next 6 years coupled with advancing Digital Health management and Nutrition through Mission Poshan 2.0, the urban and rural healthcare will surely get a booster dose. Further, the announcement of the PM Atmanirbhar Swasthya Yojna, with an outlay of 64180 crore, is a huge intervention especially since it focuses on new & emerging diseases, digital demographic profiling, and building healthcare lab and infrastructure facilities that will help address major gaps. The PLI Scheme for the Industry over the next 5 years will attract both domestic and global players to boost manufacturing, making drugs and medical devices affordable. Overall a promising budget that accelerates Atmanirbhar Bharat within the 6 pillars as announced by the Finance Minister.”

Paresh Chaudhry - Group President, Corporate Brand Custodian at Adani Group

“Despite huge challenges on fiscal deficits the FM has done a huge service to all citizens in supporting growth across sectors. It is a budget with a long term view.  Tax has not been touched, senior citizens are protected, no capital gains. Overall, this is very positive for the economy and our people. We expect clients to come back with a bang on retainers."

Udit Pathak, Founder-Director, Media Mantra


“The most appreciable aspect for budget 2021 is reflected through the transparency that it is looking to purport on the arms of rampant digitization. There is most certainly some relief to be seen with no additional burden posed on the Indian consumer. India is standing at a pivotal moment & extremely positive sentiments are being developed to take the country toward the goal of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. The focus towards health care, infrastructure, banking and insurance, textile and agriculture will most certainly accentuate the economic growth potential.

"The focus given to better health management practices and appointing funds for infrastructure development will develop the backbone for economic efforts. The FM’s third Budget gives due weightage to the concerned industries that were impaired by the Covid-19 pandemic all while keeping the budget spend in perspective.”

Aman Gupta, Managing Partner & Co-founder SPAG Asia:

“The fact that the budget this year was paperless tells us a lot about how functionally things have changed over the year. We saw a lot of emphasis being laid upon Atmanirbhar Bharat and every sector will see the impact of that. For us at SPAG, the healthcare budget this year is significant. The increase in healthcare spending is a step in the right direction and puts much-needed emphasis on health infrastructure with a three-fold approach on preventive care, curative care and overall well-being. As specialists in healthcare communications, we have over the years urged for an increase in healthcare funding and the pandemic has managed to definitely put the sector in focus. Moreover, the budget allocation of Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccines is a big move towards strengthening the immunisation programme. Especially at this critical juncture, how this budget is used to implement appropriate communications and trust-building strategies to expedite the vaccination programme will be crucial. However, usage and implementation of this budget for strengthening health systems along with an increased focus on data analytics to develop India-specific strategies will be key towards health for all Indians. Investment in primary healthcare is also an important step towards this reform.” 

Aarti Laxmanan, Head- Corporate Communication (India & Global Operations), UFlex Limited

“In the budget presented by the Finance Minister, growth has certainly taken the center stage with some significant second-generation reforms announced such as privatisation in various segments, focused capital allocation and boost to infrastructure that will go onto stimulate demand. With the kind of environment where incomes and earnings are getting affected by the pandemic, no change (hike) in direct and indirect tax is certainly a welcome step for all taxpayers”. 

Girish Balachandran- Managing Partner, ON PURPOSE, Communications for Social Change in India

“India's resurgence and recovery from the havoc of 2020 can only be realised if the growing inequality in society is addressed. While the Union Budget 2021 suggests increased spending on infrastructure and reforms that will enable job creation, it ignores, in large swathes the people who have lost their jobs in thousands (the travel and tourism sector), the poor people (reduction of MNREGA allocation), the working class (no relief in tax rates), the farmers and the common man (cesses levied on petrol and diesel). It is a budget for good times, not one that recognises the reality of many without voice, in these times. “ 

Dilip Yadav, Founding Partner, First Partners

“Union Budget is not merely a plan of the annual financial outlay for the nation. It is a big bold instrument of communication which positions how the heart and the mind of the ruling Government are placed. In this context, the 2021-22 Union Budget balances these twin goals by boosting the coronavirus-ravaged Indian economy without raising taxes.

A massive increase in healthcare and infrastructure spends at the cost of prudent fiscal deficit management demonstrates clear thrust on lives and livelihoods. Among the mega changes the pandemic triggered was a rapid growth in gig economy with more people chasing short-duration work for flexibility and safety. A social security framework for gig workers recognizes the significance of this class at a mass scale. In addition, measures to encourage R&D, startups and MSMEs will spur more local innovation and will eventually push forward global competitiveness for an Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

 Anish Shah, Deputy Managing Director & CFO, Mahindra Group

 “We believe that this is a bold and positive budget, perfect for an aspirational economy such as India. There are multiple drivers of long-term growth. We like the focus on agriculture, Capex, health and infrastructure, measures to attract global capital and PSB privatization. Importantly, all this without imposing any additional tax burden.”

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‘PR industry will have to create frequent pieces of engaging content that can be online’

At e4m PR & Corp Comm 40 Under 40 2022 summit, Sanjeev Handa, Sr. Vice President and Head of PR & Communications, Maruti Suzuki Ltd, shared trends in PR and communication industry

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 2, 2023 3:15 PM   |   3 min read

Sanjeev handa

At the e4m PR & Corp Comm 40 Under 40 2022 summit, Sanjeev Handa, Sr. Vice President and Head of PR & Communications, Maruti Suzuki Ltd, spoke in-depth about how millennials and GenZ play a crucial role for a brand. He also spoke about the evolving trends in the PR and corporate communication industry. Handa delivered a keynote address.

Emphasizing on the importance of adapting and evolving to the new trends which revolve around Gen Y, Sanjeev Handa said, “For the past two extraordinary and challenging years that we have faced, we have transcended from the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. The world as we knew to us is fast transitioning into BANI world, which is very ‘Brittle’ as people are more ‘Anxious’, systems and processes are ‘Non-linear’ and situation of the ground is ‘Incomprehensible’ (BANI).”

“Therefore we need to learn to be more resilient, attentive, adaptive and transparent. The world is changing and the customer is adapting to the change. The needs and desires are also fast evolving.”

Talking about millennials in detail, Handa said, “One of the most significant changes we are seeing in the marketing and PR circles is the impact of the Y generation. Millennials are the largest percentage in a workforce and are shaping digital face of communication at several spaces. They are fast in embracing in new technology such as Instagram, Snapchat, etc and are using them to connect with the audiences in more authentic and engaging ways. This is leading to the shift away from traditional one-way communication strategies towards the need to two-way and interactive communications strategies.”  

“The future of communication therefore needs to be carefully constructed with thoughtful content that engages readers and deliver information quickly and very concisely. Long features, click bait articles and paywalls will be shunned by future audience. PR industry will have to place more effort in placing and creating frequent pieces of engaging content that can be driven out online rather than through long case studies or feature-led articles in publications and dailies.”

Describing the importance of technology and the need to create an impact via content, Handa explains, “We better understand the new generation needs, wants and desires. We would need to embrace new technologies and formats. Therefore creating a system to deliver content digitally to masses and audiences will be the most effective way for promoting the reputation of brands. Primarily through blogging and supported by social media strategies this will result in audiences being offered with snackable content. This will be of huge impact.”

 

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Intellectual capital is the new wealth of organizations: Dr Navneet Anand

In his keynote address at the e4m PR & Corp Comm’s 40 Under 40 Summit, Dr Anand, Founder & Director, GreyMatters Communications talks about his own experiences in the communications profession

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 2, 2023 2:59 PM   |   2 min read

Dr Navneet Anand

The world of PR and Corp Comm has evolved a lot over the years. It has become an integral part of a support system for brands. At the e4m PR & Corp Comm’s 40 Under 40 Summit, Dr Navneet Anand, Founder & Director, GreyMatters Communications & Consulting gave a keynote address and talked about the integrity and intricacies of being in the communications profession.

Through examples of his own experiences and how he began his journey in GreyMatters, he explained the challenges that come along in this profession and how you find meaning in what you do.

Anand talks about intellectual capital and how it is an extremely important part of the PR and Corp Comm industry. “The intellectual capital is the new wealth of organizations. There are many who look down upon our industry as something which is frivolous. We do come across many people questioning the integrity, the methodology, the ideas, and the campaigns. They think we only go to journalists, pay some money, and then come back and make merry with our partners (clients). That's not true."

"This gentleman called Carl Eric created a theory of knowledge capital, in which he spoke about customer capital, structural capital, and human capital. We have to realize that we are the human capital. It is our capital, our competence, our knowledge, our pride and our ideation, which will make organizations grow.”

He cited examples from his youth, his political campaigns and associations with companies like DuPont, which have shaped GreyMatters and brought in them a sense of integrity, confidence and pride for the communications profession.

Lastly, he says, “As millennials, you must understand, where we come from: starting with the classical PR, which was more people to people, personalized, defined audiences to conventional PR organization to organization and media-centric. And now today, in contemporary PR where your audiences are diverse, they want to communicate with the brand directly and so on and so forth. You have a huge challenge in front of you.”

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Kaizzen elevates Nikhil Pavithran and Prashant Subramanian

Pavithran has been promoted to Group President and Subramanian to the Head - North India

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 2, 2023 12:33 PM   |   3 min read

Kaizzen

In a bid to strengthen its leadership, Kaizzen, a leading integrated communications agency, announces the elevation of Nikhil Pavithran as Group President and Prashant Subramanian as the Head - North India. The announcement comes as the first step towards accomplishing the vision of expanding the agency’s national and international footprint. Earlier, Nikhil, based in Mumbai, was in-charge of operations in Western India while Prashant handled the Delhi market for Kaizzen. 

Nikhil and Prashant will continue to work closely with Vineet Handa, CEO, Kaizzen. Announcing the new leadership, Vineet Handa said, “I am delighted to announce the elevation of Nikhil Pavithran and Prashant Subramanian as Group President and Head North India, respectively. Both have been instrumental in Kaizzen’s meteoric rise, and I know that they will do everything in their power to grow Kaizzen to greater heights. I wish Nikhil and Prashant the very best for their new roles.” 

With Kaizzen for over 5 years, Nikhil joined the agency as Vice President in the Mumbai office and rose to the position of Group President in 2021 holding the global mandate for Kaizzen. 

Commenting on this development, Nikhil Pavithran said, “It is a matter of great honour for me to have been a part of Kaizzen’s growth over the last couple of years. I look forward to leading its talented team in increasing the company’s national and international footprint. As the Group President, I am excited to work towards Kaizzen’s holistic expansion, providing opportunities for its people, and diversification of the agency’s client portfolio across varied sectors.” With over 18 years of experience and working with various agencies across sectors, Nikhil brings with him a wide range of experience in brand communications and integrated marketing. 

On the other hand, Prashant joined Kaizzen in 2018 as Director Client Servicing and rose to become Vice President in 2021. In his current role, Prashant will hold the mandate for strengthening Kaizzen’s presence in Northern India. 

Speaking about this announcement, Prashant Subramanian said, “As the communication industry is subject to constant evolution, we aspire to leverage new-age technology and communication platforms to create newer opportunities Kaizzen’s Stakeholders. Their trust in us has been integral in this journey, and we look forward to their support in helping Kaizzen achieve greater heights in the future.” 

“It has been a privilege to be part of this journey with Kaizzen and I look forward to working closely with the management and team to expand our portfolio across North.”, Prashant added. 

Prashant has 17 years of experience in brand & product marketing and communications across various sectors.

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchange4media.com.

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Meet e4m PR & Corp Comm's Top 100 Influential Game Changers 2022

The achievers were chosen from over 250 nominations

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 1, 2023 9:30 PM   |   1 min read

e4m

The 4th edition of exchange4media’s ‘Top 100 Influential Game Changers 2022’ list was announced on February 1, 2023, in a grand event at The Leela Ambience Gurugram. The list recognised and honoured 100 + people from the PR and Corp Comm industry who have changed the dynamics of the industry through their hard work, vision, leadership skill and clout. 

The PR and corporate communications industry is an ever-evolving one. It navigates not only changing trends in communication and technology but also strives to roll out strategies that cater to a wide spectrum of audience. It is, therefore, only just to recognise and acknowledge how PR and corporate communication professionals have helped fire up brand images in the time of crisis, led by examples and are role models in their respective areas of expertise. 

The top 100 awardees were chosen and shortlisted from over 250 nominations received following a robust internal auditing process by exchange4media’s editorial team. 

This is a list and not a ranking. 

Here are the Top 100 Influential Game Changers:

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Announcing the trailblazers of e4m PR & Corp Comm’s 40 Under 40 2022

The winners were chosen from over 120+ nominations

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 1, 2023 9:30 PM   |   1 min read

40 under 40

Exchange4media group has unveiled the winners of the 4th edition of the e4m PR & Corp Comm 40 Under 40 Awards. These awards identified the next-generation leaders (professionals, entrepreneurs, game changers, achievers) - under 40 years of age – in the communication industry who, with their undaunting zeal and unflinching dedication, overcame all odds to become trailblazers.

Braving the odds and rising above has been the mantra that Public Relations and Corporate Communications professionals have sworn by during time of crisis. This prestigious and elite award is an attempt to recognise the fundamental role played by communication professionals in order to firewall a brand’s image.

The winners were chosen from over 120+ nominations and were selected by the members of the jury based on a number of parameters, including leadership/ mentorship skills, such statements of accomplishments as growth and recognitions, future potential and proven contribution to the industry.

This is a list and not a ranking.

Here's the complete list:

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Gear up for the 4th edition of e4m PR and Corp Comm 40 Under 40 Summit & Awards 2022

The day-long summit will be followed by a glittering award ceremony on February 1, 2023

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 31, 2023 10:31 AM   |   2 min read

PR & Corporate Communications 30 Under 30

The wait is over! On February 1, 2023, over 40 professionals (under the age of 40) of the PR and Corp Comm industry will recognise and honour the next generation PR and Communication leaders, who are shaping the industry through their forward looking vision. The 4th edition of the annual e4m PR & Corp Comm 40 Under 40 Summit and Awards 2022 that will be held on-ground at Leela Ambience, Gurugram, is going to be an event to remember.

The day-long summit will bring together stalwarts and experts from across the PR and Corp Comm fraternity to deliberate, discuss and engage in enlightening discussions and discourses on relevant topics, issues and subjects. The theme of this year's summit is “The Era of Millennials in PR” and the agenda features four panel sessions and five keynote addresses.

Adfactors PR is the event's 'Presenting Partner'. The 'Powered By' partners of the event are Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Kaizzen and Candour Communications, and 'Gold Partners' are Concept BIU, 80 dB Communications and Godrej.

 The panel sessions will delve into topical topics, like:

 

  1. Importance of Digital PR in brand promotion – Speakers: Anand Prakash, Senior Group Head, Adfactors PR; Akanksha Jain, Head- Public Relations & Corporate Communications, Bharatpe; Kritika Padhy, Account Director , 80 dB communications; Bhawna Gupta, Director, Client Relations, Hill+Knowlton Strategies; Moderator: Ruhail Amin, Sr. Editor BW Businessworld & Exchange4media

 

  1. What has been the success of PR agencies when they expand into regional market – Speakers: Nikita Nanda, Vice President, Adfactors PR; Karishma Sain, CEO, Goodword Media; Naina Jha, Associate Director, Grey Matters; Moderator: Rishu Singh, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Fortis Healthcare Limited

 

  1. How to make the youth industry ready? - Speakers: Ayushi Arora, CEO and Founder, Media Corridor; Madhvi Chaudhary, PR Manager, Media Mic; Neha Gupta, AVP, Value360Communication;

Moderator: Shrabasti Mallik, exchange4media

 

  1. Rules of engagement between PR and the brands, managing each other expectation – Speakers: Gehna Sawhney, Director - Communications, India & Europe, Pitney Bowes; Lovina Gujral, COO, Candour Communication; Tehseen Zaidi, Head Communications, Syngenta; Moderator: Ruchika Jha, exchange4media

 

The keynote speakers will include Dr Navneet Anand, Founder & Director, GreyMatters Communications & Consulting; Pooja Pathak, Co-Founder and Director, Media Mantra; Atul Raja, Executive Vice President, Global Marketing. Wadhwani Foundation; Sanjeev Handa, Sr. Vice President and Head of PR & Communications, Maruti Suzuki Ltd; and Atul Ahluwalia, Founding Partner, First Partners. There will also be a firside chat session featuring Rohit Bansal, Group Head of Communications, Reliance Industries Limited.

The event will simulcast on YouTube and exchange4media's social media handles.

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Cuemath appoints Lipika Kapil as Director & Head of Global PR-Comm

Prior to this, Lipika managed communications for Koo

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 23, 2023 2:55 PM   |   2 min read

Lipika

Cuemath has announced the appointment of Lipika Kapil as Director and Head-Global PR & Communications. Based in Bengaluru, she will set up the communications function and lead the PR and communications efforts for Cuemath across key markets - India,  MENA and the US. She will report to Varun Jha, Chief Marketing Officer, Cuemath.

Prior to joining Cuemath, Lipika  managed communications for Koo.

On the appointment, she said, “EdTech is one of the exciting industries in the startup sector and I am thrilled to be part of a mission and vision driven brand like ‘Cuemath’. What excites me the most is Cuemath’s sharp focus on teaching math as a life skill, beyond academic excellence and its ‘student-centred’ learning approach which offers a unique opportunity for storytelling. Another exciting aspect of the role will be to anchor communications across international markets and power the brand’s marketing initiatives that aim to take Cuemath closer to our customers across the globe. It's my pleasure to join the business at this juncture and play a critical part as Cuemath commences the next phase of its journey.”

Varun Jha, Chief Marketing Officer, Cuemath said, “As Cuemath aims for global expansion, we see Marketing and Brand Communications as one of the important business pillars for the company. Therefore, the role of PR and communications becomes more important than ever. With Lipika’s experience of managing PR and communications for a variety of brands across industries, her role will be beneficial in designing and implementing PR strategies for Cuemath across markets. She, along with her team, will also support strategic brand and marketing initiatives as the organization expands further. I am delighted to have Lipika on board and wish her a fantastic stint at Cuemath.”

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