Digital & content will become the front and centre of communications: Shipra Singh
Shipra Singh, Senior Vice President, Ruder Finn India, was conferred with ‘Emerging Leader in PR’ at the recently held e4m PR & Corp Comm Women Achievers Awards 2020
A well established business with extra ordinary C-Suite commitments requires the best of communications outreach plan. Public relations firms play the key driver role for these plans with the help of communication leaders. One such communication professional leading from the front is Shipra Singh, Senior Vice President, Ruder Finn India. Singh was recently conferred with ‘Emerging Leader in PR’ at e4m PR & Corp Comm Women Achievers Awards 2020.
Singh is a business leader with strong experience in public relations, analyst relations, leadership communications and integrated communications. Having led large & multi-cultural teams in India and JAPAC, people and leadership skills are second nature to her.
In today’s feature, we speak to Shipra Singh on her big win, attributes of a woman leader, role of women in restructuring the industry, future goals and her message to PR professionals.
How do you feel being the winner of the Women Achievers initiative?
The initiative by e4M to celebrate women achievers is a laudable cause and I feel humbled to have received this honour. In today’s day and age where conversations around gender parity and equal rights are in the global spotlight, this recognition is a special one for me. Especially since the public relations industry is perhaps the few industries in India, where the scale of male: female ratio weighs firmly in favour of women. I hope awards such as these encourage more women to don corporate hats and help in creating a balancing act in board rooms and across decision-making bodies.
What are the attributes/qualities required to be a leader in the communication industry?
At Ruder Finn, the most important constant is a sense of empathy and being passionate about ‘what’s next’, the trends that are defining & shaping the pulse of the economy, businesses and consumers. As a global organisation, these traits are married into our global values as well. As a leader, I’m perpetually learning from my team and in return creating an environment that fosters a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism in them. In my view here is what stands out for an effective communicator:
- Communicate with purpose
- Listen to understand not to react
- Uplift the perspective – it’s not about me-first
- Invest in data, experiment with content
What role have women played in the restructuring of the industry, and how has the communications industry changed over the years for the women workforce?
Women have been instrumental in the restructuring the landscape of the public relations industry, which has made notable progress in the last decade. In fact, one doesn’t have to look back too far. Back in 2015, women made up about 70% of the global PR workforce, and only about 30% held top positions in the industry. That changed drastically in 2019. Two of the top five PR firms have women CEOs at their helm.
At Ruder Finn, we have been ahead of the gender parity curve with Kathy Bloomgarden as our CEO, followed by Elan Shou, EVP and Regional Director, Asia—both of whom have led from the front. The industry has gone through its own metamorphosis and as is the case with any industry, there’s an overpowering need to course correct and restore balance. We have evolved significantly, and I foresee this trend continuing in the near future as well.
Why do we need to have more leaders at the helm of organizations in today's scenario and what value women bring to the table?
We are living through unprecedented times. At the beginning of 2020, none of us could have fathomed that we would be heading into a lockdown, worst still that the country would come to a grinding halt. As working professionals, we have juggled client calls with online classes and PTMs. However, the beauty in these lockdown lessons is that: trying times build character. Despite initial challenges, we have all settled into a routine that ensures a healthy balance between work and home. Women are natural multitaskers and data from the last decade reflects the progress made in the corporate sector. The right to equal opportunity and pay is a universal one and deserving women must not be deprived of a seat at the table.
What are your future goals? What initiative would you like to take as a responsible woman leader for the industry/society?
We have lived in a world of ‘communication for technology’ but that tide is now reversing. At Ruder Finn, we are creating assets and graduating to a reverse trend of ‘Technology for Communications.’ That’s my goal – expand the universe of communication backed by technology.
As for the initiatives, I strongly believe that behind every successful woman is another woman who had her back. While there are organisational initiatives that support and encourage parity, I believe every individual effort has an impact. I live by the philosophy of empathy, trust and fair conduct for everyone every single day. As a responsible woman leader, in the sector that is women dominated, I also strive for gender parity and for a balanced perspective.
How do you see the PR and the corp comm industry shaping up in the years to come and your message to the future women leaders?
I believe the lines between marketing and communications are blurring. Digital and content will become the front and centre of communications creating immersive experiences for the consumer at the core. We are seeing newer opportunities and are investing in emerging technologies like voice, artificial intelligence and analytics to create higher business value for brand communications. In addition to that from our perspective, every business of the future will be a technology business in one form over the other. We are already building our technology practice with that perspective - expanding the universe of communications backed by technology and view it as a ‘horizontal’ that cuts across all industries as opposed to a vertical. That’s a short- and medium-term goal.
For all the future leaders, I would like to take the women in technology message forward.
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