Personalisation is fundamental to the business of communications: Dilip Yadav

In today’s ‘Year-ender story of 2021’, Yadav, Founding Partner, First Partners, outlined five emerging trends of corporate communications that the sector will look forward to in 2022

e4m by Shrabasti Mallik
Updated: Jan 19, 2022 9:23 AM  | 6 min read
Dilip Yadav

As we step into 2022 and look forward to it as a year full of hope and possibilities, e4m PR and Corp Comm presents the “Year-ender story of 2021” series with the theme 'The possibilities that the new year holds for PR agencies and the way ahead'. The series encompasses the views, opinions and thoughts of some of the leading names and veterans of the PR and Corp Comm fraternity on how they perceive the new year, the transitions they expect to see, and their vision for the future.

In this interview, Dilip Yadav, Founding Partner, First Partners, deliberates on how talent will get liberated from locational shackles and will not be restricted to geographical bounds. Keeping social and environmental issues centre-stage at all levels of communications is undoubtedly the new way of doing better business. 

How important has the trend of personalised pitches become for the PR industry? 

The trend of customisation is not new at all. We have seen all these while that business pitches have always been highly personalised to specific clients and are designed to address specific client challenges and goals. Personalisation is fundamental to the business of communications. 

Artificial Intelligence is the future – irrespective of industries. What are the ways in which AI can come to the aid of PR and Corp Communication professionals in 2022?

Artificial Intelligence as a tool and science is an important aspect of modern business and is very relevant everywhere. However, it still remains for the future to show us its true and full potential. Taking a cue from the financial services and marketing industry, where AI has been of crucial importance in many ways, in communications, this can effectively help in various core aspects such as decision support, campaign management, message mapping, complex scenario planning and such other areas. 

In a digital-driven world, two-way communication or engagement is a critical metric. AI if used strategically can be a powerful tool to gauge public reaction to brand messages and make amends in the middle of a campaign based on early data points. It is an established fact that data-driven campaigns have a better impact and outcome with a higher degree of predictability. 

What are the trends the Indian PR and Corporate Communications industry can look forward to in 2022?

There are five clear areas that will emerge and strengthen this year in the corporate communication sector. 

Firstly, the already well-established dominance of digital will continue unchallenged and shall strongly remain mainstream with an added underpinning of customised packaging to give it teeth. 

Secondly, we are sure that the now not-so-new ‘hybrid’ working model will continue well into this year and perhaps even beyond. 

Thirdly, talent will not be restricted to locations. Work, as we foresee it, will be location agnostic. 

Fourthly, the media industry is going to continue to move in the direction of hyper specialisation, needing good domain experts all the time. 

Finally, and most importantly, specialised agencies will function with a highly specialized workforce. Consequently, as a corollary, we shall witness larger corporate communication departments in organisations with demand for more specialists.

According to industry experts, environmental, social, and corporate governance would continue to grow. In what ways will socially conscious initiatives continue to drive campaigns and outreach programmes in 2022?

It is a fact that there is an extremely high degree of consciousness about the human impact on Earth’s limited resources. Everyone accepts that we are at a tipping point – a visible and tangible tipping point – and this is shaping the most crucial narrative across all stakeholder classes, be they businesses, consumers, policy makers, activists, employees and so on. This heightened sensitivity is defining ESG decisively. People understand that technology and capital are commonplace. What they don't understand is the use of better tech and effective capital with low or zero environmental impact.

The true differentiator now is how businesses respond to the complex issue of sustainability and responsiveness. This will cause a tectonic shift in strategic directions in the coming decade and consequently communications will also need to align itself along these very lines. Keeping social and environmental issues centre-stage at all levels of communications is an undoubted new way of doing better business. 

How did you cope with the second wave of the pandemic? What were the challenges you had to overcome?

This was, and continues to be, undoubtedly an extremely devastating calamity that has deeply affected each one of us and our families and friends—both personally and professionally. The world has changed in many ways and, in some cases quite permanently too. Clearly, the biggest challenge before us was coping and managing holistic well-being of our families and colleagues more than just their physical well-being.

How have the young generation / new recruits adapted to the system of working remotely? What are your views on how successful the hybrid working model will be in the coming year?

We have seen quite starkly that the younger generation is showing evidence of faster and appropriate adaptation to new realities. They show lesser resistance towards change and a higher keenness to learn new skills and innovate. On the issue of the hybrid way of working, as I have already mentioned earlier, we will have to continue with it for some more time. It provides the organisations an opportunity to create enough balance between safety and productivity.

The pandemic has been a trying time for us all, especially on the psychological level. How should organisations prepare themselves for the next year?

The most weakening and devastating aspect of the pandemic’s impact is not physical. It is widely emotional and psychological. This is because the world has undergone such a non-subtle shift that the new reality is strange and in many ways alien. Since we are not used to this, our minds lack the hardwiring that is required. In organisations, this has resulted in poor work-life balance and, in turn, has increased anxiety among people. 

It is here that we need to address the challenge and prepare ourselves. Businesses should try, above everything else, to restore sanity through predictability at work. This can happen by providing familiar environmental determinants such as limited working hours, provision for work breaks, increased social interaction opportunities and a visible regard for privacy. For instance, many organisations now accept video conferences with the option for dark-camera or switched-off cameras to employees. There is an undeniable need for sensitivity at all levels. This is for certain. 

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