Lockdown 2.0: Keeping the lines open in the Corp Comm world

Industry experts talk about coping with the lockdown and how they are aiding uninterrupted execution of businesses

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Apr 23, 2020 12:41 PM
Corp Comm

Corporate communication professionals have been burning the midnight oil to keep their businesses afloat during these difficult times. The businesses have seized of normal functioning and are being aided by the corporate communication community to stay relevant and keep the show going by protecting interests of both internal and external stakeholders.

The lockdown extension has only increased pressure on firms to protect their businesses and has added extra responsibility on the corporate communication professionals to fight the crisis by maintaining proper channels of internal and external communications.

We spoke to industry experts to find out how they were tiding through the lockdown.

Nazeeb Arif, Executive Vice President & Head Corporate Communications at ITC Limited
If I had to use one word to describe the situation – it would be ‘Reset’. The pandemic has given us an unparalleled opportunity to pause, reflect, reset, rethink and reinvigorate our efforts to take on the new normal by the horns. We may be physically locked down, but words, thoughts, ideas are not constrained by walls or locks. It has been a most hectic and exciting time at ITC to communicate externally and inspire internally in a myriad ways. To serve the nation by ensuring that essential products like food, soaps and sanitisers reach markets as well as the most needy is indeed a humble privilege in this hour of crisis.

Pooja Garg Khan, Head-Corporate Communications at Panasonic India
The lockdown period is a very busy time for the communication teams, probably more than otherwise under normal circumstances. I strongly believe that regular engagement between key stakeholders is critical at this time and PR teams can play an important role here. At Panasonic, we have given a lot of impetus to employee engagement and launched an internal communications platform Workplace during this period to bring the employees and management closer. We are also actively engaging on social media to drive brand engagement with external stakeholders from fun product campaigns to DIY videos.

More than anything, it is important for PR leads to keep the teams motivated and focus on their mental wellness and for that we need to be positive at all times. On the personal front, juggling between office and household jobs does not leave me with much free time. I rejuvenate and relax by baking and playing with my cat.

Abhishek Mahapatra - Vice President - Head of Communications, Corporate Affairs & CSR at Nissan India
We all are exposed to varying degrees of changes in our lives. As communication professionals we are trained to manage change, mitigate risks and prepare for business continuity. The COVID-19 pandemic has, world over, wreaked havoc with human lives and livelihoods. We are all faced with the enormous task of positively contributing to our respective communities and our work places.

WFH has been a disruption for all of us and that brings its own pros and cons. As communication experts, we are working harder to simplify and communicate messages, prepare for scenarios and keep the leadership and larger teams well-informed and connected, with transparency and team spirit.

Times like these allow us to prioritise and set the context towards our planning, execution, measurement and team work. I believe that as integrated communications leaders we need to embark on assessing Impact on Experience (IoR) for every communication action/activity that we undertake and move away from Share of Voice and Share of Influence metrics.

The unprecedented turn of events gives us an opportunity to stand up for each other. I’m aware that our industry forum PRCAI and many communication leaders in their personal capacities are interacting with the fraternity and academia on discussions ranging from business continuity, mental health to performance metrics in this dynamic environment.
As we continue to evoke a sense of camaraderie and raise engagement among internal and external stakeholders, we must ensure that we stand true to our human and respective brand values, sensitively.”

Priyanka Jain - India Lead, Regional communications and Outreach, ShareChat
The world is going through some tough times. Work From Home (WFH) has become the new normal for most of the companies, including us at ShareChat. Thanks to the highly effective management system of the company which is striking a work-quarantined life balance while also ensuring the wellbeing of all ShareChat employees both psychologically and mentally. Many motivational practices that I have experienced in the organization has kept the spirit up and alive.

In the tough situation of a lockdown, ShareChat, as an intermediary platform, is playing the role of a catalyst to ensure the right flow of information related to COVID-19 from the authorized sources reaching its 60 million active users. ShareChat is doing its best to drive engagement for the users who are exploring the platform to express their views, thoughts, ideas to deal with the quarantined phase of their lives. In my role, responsibility is more than ever before to ensure all important initiatives taken by ShareChat; timely reaches to all the stakeholders including the users so that they remain updated and utilize the platform to the best of their requirements. As a communication professional, it's important to maintain a positive sentiment and an optimistic environment reiterating the brand's commitment towards the users and to the nation.”

Dr Rajiv Chhibber, Vice President - External Affairs, Sahajanand Medical Technologies
India has been officially in lockdown mode due to COVID-19 since mid-March. For a medical device company like us that is now working shoulder-to-shoulder with the government – both Central and State. We have a crucial task to maintain our brand, visibility, and reassure our clients that there are contingency plans in place to ensure that this pandemic doesn’t completely derail our business. We are reworking strategies to stay afloat and be visible in the most innovative way possible, ensuring that in this period of social distancing, and of enforced working from home – we are crafting new relationships with a massive, visible, and attentive global audience online.”

Simran Kodesia - Communications Lead, Airbnb
We are seeing unprecedented times, as a communications leader I am focussed on managing key stakeholders and finding opportunities that the post-COVID world will bring with regards to travel and hospitality industry. A lot is about to change and this is a good time to absorb, learn and unlearn a few things and be ready to spring back in action when the time is right.”

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