'Creativity and innovation are second skin to PR'

Archana Jain, Managing Director & CEO, PR Pundit talks about firm's growth strategies, shifts in the industry, mergers and acquisitions and more, in this part of the ‘Rising India Series’

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Published: Jun 11, 2021 9:07 AM  | 7 min read
Archana Jain

In today’s times, PR dons the hat of a ‘strategist’ to develop campaigns that contribute to business objectives, but this was not always the case. In the early 90s, the practice of PR in India was confused with advertising or direct marketing or guest relations. More recently, the strategic value of PR is being acknowledged and it is an integral part of the marketing mix. 

Digital, integrated communication, startups, technology and its integration with marketing functions are considered as the key drivers of the PR industry today. With India becoming the fertile ground to manufacturers and major attraction of the international market, the need and desirability to have meaningful public relations has become quintessential. In continuation of the ‘Rising India Series’, today we talk about an integrated communications consultancy, PR Pundit.

PR Pundit was the earliest to spot an opportunity in lifestyle and luxury PR, which has since become an identifiable distinction for the company and its calling card. It developed verticals dedicated to premium lifestyle and luxury in 2005-06. The steady growth in the last 10 years has positioned PR Pundit unquestionably as one of the best PR companies in the lifestyle and luxury domain in India.  A brainchild of Archana Jain, the firm has a pulse on the new and now; evolving media & influencer landscape; and expertise in communications, brand positioning, KOL outreach and fostering collaborative partnerships. The three lines in its logo (Tripundra) embody its quest for excellence through Will, Knowledge and Action.

An independent, mid-sized 23-years-old PR company, PR Pundit is a team of over 100 practitioners who go beyond the traditional, employing creativity and skillful storytelling to engage the audience and change the conversation. PR Pundit is uniquely positioned in consumer & lifestyle PR. It has enjoyed a CAGR of 15% p.a. in the last 5 years. The firm’s specialized wealth of experience has helped it earn the respect and trust of leading global and Indian brands as a preferred partner. It has an enviable list of brands as clients across Automobile, Beauty, Fashion, F&B, FMCG, Hospitality, Luxury, Personal Technology, Start-ups and more. 

“In 1998, when I founded PR Pundit, specialising in consumer PR, my team was predominantly young women balancing their home, children and a PR career. Today, PR Pundit holds the notable reference as the frontrunner in luxury and lifestyle PR. Strengthening its reputation beyond lifestyle in consumer PR, it is India’s first and only PR company to have won a Gold PR Lion at Cannes 2017 for its campaign for ITC Savlon”, notes Archana Jain, Managing Director & CEO, PR Pundit in a candid conversation with exchange4media.

We talk more about the firm, its growth strategies, shifts in the industry, mergers and acquisitions and more in the latest story of the ‘Rising India Series’.

Edited Excerpts:-

How has the PR landscape changed in the last 3 decades for Independent and Indigenous PR firms?

The world of MNC business has become more decentralized. As the top management of these companies has become increasingly more empowered and local, they have been able to find locally relevant solutions for their organisations – from research agencies to advertising to PR firms. A consultant with deep-rooted understanding of the local context and stakeholders has gained in the process. Therefore PR today offers a far greater level playing field for Independent & Indigenous PR firms.

Innovation is the key, how is the industry evolving. How are PR agencies coping with it?

With PR becoming integrated, the straight-jacketed PR of old has grown into a much more interesting and challenging profession. Creativity and innovation are second skin to PR and will continue to remain centre stage. Innovation in public relations requires creative campaigns that are original yet contextual in storytelling to cut through the clutter to drive consumer response, enhance preference and recall.

PR Pundit has completed more than two decades in the industry. What has been the journey in being recognized as one of the best agencies for consumer and luxury PR?

It has been 23 years since the inception of PR Pundit. It is fulfilling to have created an enviable brand in this period. When the company was founded in July 1998, the aim was to undertake benchmarking work in consumer PR, and we remain firm in our resolve on that count to date. Most consulting firms in the late 1990s had a corporate focus and I foresaw an opportunity to embrace consumer PR.

Our tryst with luxury brands started in 2002-03 with brands like Moet Hennessy and Swarovski. The luxury brand portfolio grew when global brands like Estee Lauder, Tod’s, Gucci, etc. arrived on Indian shores in 2007-08. The role of PR for global brands has always been more holistic and integrated, and therefore we are extremely adept at multi-stakeholder communications. Our team of 100+ practitioners based across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, pursue a channel-agnostic approach to achieve our client’s communication goals – whether it is to build brand appeal or change the conversation!  We are known to look beyond the traditional, employing creativity and skillful storytelling to engage relevant stakeholders – whether through collaborative partnerships, influencer programmes or via the creative deployment of the owned platforms.

How has been the growth rate of PR Pundit over the years? What has been the client retention ratio?

PR Pundit has posted strong and consistent growth for the last 10 years ahead of the industry average. While lifestyle continues to dominate the portfolio, as an outcome of embracing influencer marketing seamlessly, we have added balance to our portfolio with a significant revenue stream from Corporate, Start-Ups, FMCG and ORM mandates.

Our strategy for building and maintaining long-lasting relationships with clients is based on supporting their business objectives through a made-to-measure communications approach. Our integrated approach to driving reputation has been appreciated by clients as we have been considered as “ahead of the curve”. Clients have rated us strongly year-on-year across key parameters as part of our annual performance reviews; helping us retain and grow with their business.

In the last decades, we have witnessed major acquisitions and mergers between Indian and global agencies. How hard is it to stay independent and expand?

It is great to have most large international brands represented in the market. We learn from their global processes and best practices that they have mastered over years. All of us collectively have grown the market. There is room for all sizes and scales of PR firms doing meaningful and impactful work.

What is your view on the next 10 years of India as a global leader and an emerging market? How do you see the growth and engagement for the agencies?

India will continue to remain a promising market. Our manufacturing capabilities, our entrepreneurial drive and our large consumer base make India a vibrant market for public relations. In fact with maturation in the understanding of public relations, the business is far from flat lining.

Some of the agencies expanded and have offices globally. Do you see Indian agencies going abroad and acquiring local agencies?

It is a proud moment for our profession to see Indian talent in global roles and Indian firms unlocking global growth opportunities. The Indian market is extremely large and vibrant. So growth here itself can be fulfilling. We work with a class of rapidly growing companies that can emerge global challengers and with the local companies that aspire to transact globally. This may necessitate a global footprint, directly or via a network to help them win and compete on the world stage.

Where do you see PR Pundit in the years to come?

We want to be always identified as a defining brand that embodies the values of innovation and customer centricity. A company with an entrepreneurial culture that is agile and adept in thinking of the changing needs of the market with a pulse on the now and new.

We believe in nurturing brands by providing strategic communications counsel & services to drive true brand preference, gain maximum credibility and buzz, to move products off shelves and into customers’ carts & hearts. Our people are dynamic and vibrant personalities, their bold, innovative solutions have delivered impactful campaigns for our clients. We believe that our approach to communications is shaped by the capabilities and culture of our team. Our clients can therefore expect a continuous flow of fresh new thinking and game-changing ideas from us to make an impression.

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