From start, we decided not to focus on one industry: Jaideep Shergill, Pitchfork Partners

Jaideep Shergill, Founding Partner of Pitchfork Partners, shares his journey in the PR industry, setting up Pitchfork Partners and the future of the firm

by Nafisa Shaheen
Published - Oct 1, 2019 2:03 PM Updated: Oct 1, 2019 2:03 PM
Jaideep Shergill

Jaideep Shergill, Founding Partner of Pitchfork Partners, shares his journey in the PR industry, setting up Pitchfork Partners and the future of the firm.

Edited excerpts:

How did your journey commence in the PR industry and how has your time in the industry been?

I first started in the banking industry but realised very quickly that I wasn’t cut out to be a banker and that my heart lies elsewhere. So, I looked around trying to find openings in the media and communications space. I got a break at Pritish Nandy Communications and then moved to (then) India’s largest independent PR firm, Clea PR, where I met Sunil Gautam. Once Sunil decided to leave Clear to found Hanmer & Partners, I quickly followed. We clicked instantly and I came on board at the fledgling public relations (PR) agency.

Since then, it’s been a joyful roller-coaster ride. The agency grew into India’s finest and was eventually acquired by Publicis Groupe under the MSLGROUP umbrella. That was part of the wave of consolidation within the Indian PR industry and also the catalyst for its greatest phase of evolution. The agency led the industry’s evolution from media relations to integrated communication.

I was part of all this and saw it up close. It’s been an immensely fulfilling journey, more so since we launched Pitchfork Partners on January 1, 2015.

Tell us in detail about Pitchfork Partners.

Pitchfork Partners was set up in response to the realisation that the agency model did not allow for the true strategic input that clients need in these times. Communication agencies need to be real partners, aiding the achievement of business objectives, rather than tactical associates. We saw that this approach was missing, which is why we launched this firm.

We started off with a handful of consultants and tasted success immediately. In less than five years, the team expanded to nearly 50 and recently the Holmes Report named us the second-fastest growing firm in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

From the start, we decided not to focus on any one industry. As a result, we consult across leading B2B and B2C firms and take on specialised work like political campaigns, company purposing exercises and employer branding too. Among our leading clients are IIFL, Eureka Forbes, Lodha Builders, Colors, JEEP, Diamond Producers Association, BBC Studios, Glenmark and many more.

How has been the growth rate of Pitchfork Partners in terms of client acquisition?

It has been tremendous. The Holmes Report ranking says it all. Pitchfork Partners ranked 2nd in Asia in the “Global PR Agency Ranking”.

How can you trace your growth over the years in the industry?

At a personal level, it’s made me what I am. It has given me a unique insight into various industries and allowed me to work with the world’s leading brands. At the Pitchfork level, we have led this phase of industry evolution by showing how we can become true business partners of brands.

What is your five-year growth plan in the industry?

We will continue to evolve and add new skills, especially the next level of digital, as we go along. Our team will grow along with our client roster. Critically, we are institutionalising highly-efficient processes for account management, consulting, pitching and even skill development.

In conclusion, he said this is a time of opportunity for the industry. No one is better placed to take advantage of it than our industry. If we don’t seize it now, perhaps we would have missed the boat.

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