As a leader, you need to believe in your idea and not give up: Archana Jain

In today’s edition of ‘Women Achievers 2022’ series, Jain, MD & CEO, PR Pundit, speaks about her achievements, contribution to the industry & how she encourages women workforce at the agency

e4m by Shrabasti Mallik
Published: Mar 1, 2022 8:37 AM  | 5 min read
Archana Jain

On the occasion of Women's History Month (March), which is beginning today, exchange4media PR & Corp Comm is bringing to you the 'Women Achievers Series'. It will feature the journey, success story, and achievements of some of the top women leaders from the Public Relations and Corporate Communications fraternity.

Today’s series features Archana Jain, Managing Director & CEO, PR Pundit. An industry veteran with experience spanning over two decades, Jain was stung by the entrepreneurial bug in the late 1990s after 7.5 years of experience in the PR profession. In 2007, she led PR Pundit to become India’s first and only PR firm to bag a Gold PR Lion at Cannes for its campaign for ITC Savlon.

Excerpts from the interview:

Now that the industry is resuming work from office, what are the measures and precautions that should be taken to ensure a smooth transition?

We have all been working from home since March 2020. The practitioners have become habituated with working from the comfort of their homes but this practice has also resulted in many experiencing personal loneliness, loss of creativity in the absence of peer proximity, and burnouts.

At PR Pundit, when we returned to work for three months from October-December 2021, we had adopted a hybrid work model - before being hunkered back in due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant - to reach a balance to maximise productivity with team huddles and mitigate the loss of face time. We noticed that the energy in the office was palpable in the format of working from home for two days a week and three days a week in the office. The young team members valued in-person engagement and mentorship, with added benefits in learning. Face-to-face meetings helped build and renew bonds. Newcomers were able to quickly integrate faster in the office-going atmosphere.

We believe this hybrid model will offer a good balance of flexibility to empower talent and boost productivity as we resume work from office on March 1, 2022, once again. This will also help everyone adapt back to working from office. While the pandemic may have proven that work can often happen from anywhere, we aim to have our offices transform into an energetic HUB where we meet to collaborate, innovate and create, with face-to-face interactions being a valuable part of the equation.

The safety of our employees is and will always be of utmost priority, hence a great amount of time, attention and resources will be deployed to ensure adherence to Covid protocols. We have repeatedly circulated the safety protocols to follow while visiting the office, have posters as reminders across the office and multiple alerts to remain masked-up. We have reduced the seating capacity and strictly controlled access to the office in the interest of safety.

The last 20 months have been trying for every professional, especially with the hybrid working model. How did you strike a balance between office work and household duties?

I was disciplined in maintaining a normal working week and exercise as I would have during normal times, without the stress of the daily commute. I remained optimistic in my belief that this would be a temporary pause, hence made the most of the Covid-enforced slow living, enjoying time with my family, gardening, trying new recipes, reading, and watching some inspiring streaming content.

Women have been carving a niche for themselves and paving the way in the communications industry for the next generation of women leaders to follow. Tell us about your achievements and your contribution to the fraternity.

I was stung by the entrepreneurial bug in the late 1990s after 7.5 years of experience in the PR profession. Most consulting firms at that time had a corporate focus, so I ventured out to undertake benchmarking work in consumer PR. We focussed on driving true brand preference by creating compelling campaigns that would create brand trust and move products off the shelves and into the customers’ carts & hearts. 

PR Pundit is a women-dominated firm, with an 85 per cent women workforce. We have nurtured an empowered work environment for women. We introduced policies such as flexible hours and work-from-home options for young mothers from as early as 2003.

What were the roadblocks that you had to overcome to reach where you are today? 

My struggles were no different than any other entrepreneur's. The first three years were fraught with frustration as prospects needed size and scale to assign challenging assignments; but nothing that one can not overcome with belief and perseverance.

As a leader, you need to believe in your idea and not give up. Only if you dare to dream will you be able to reach some place. Also what is critical is to build a team and give them room to grow. Another essential trait of a leader is the ability to adapt with agility in changing times.

What would be your advice to the young generation?

The profession of Public Relations offers the best opportunities to young talent. It’s a profession that welcomes and respects advice from young practitioners. There is sharp learning in our profession and age is no bar when it comes to growth. We work with top management, who are spokespeople. 

But I must caution all, PR is not spin doctoring. It is telling a good story to the right people.

PR is a long-term game. PR is not just about an over-glorified launch. PR must help build and sustain a groundswell of brand support to incrementally change consumer behaviour via a steady stream of relevant communication to stakeholders.

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