'Resilience & ability to tackle a crisis are the two important qualities of a leader'
Akshaara Lalwani, Founder, Communicate India, shares her thoughts on being in ‘e4m PR and Corporate Communications 40 under 40’ list, and challenges for entrepreneurs in this new-age PR world
The pandemic proved to be one of the toughest phases for businesses and more so for entrepreneurs. Sailing through the desperate times, PR and corporate communications industry’s entrepreneurs have been successful in converting the challenge into an opportunity. One such entrepreneur is Akshaara Lalwani, Founder, Communicate India who is also one of the proud members of the ‘e4m PR and Corporate Communications 40 under 40’ list. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the public relations and communications industry.
Skilled in Crisis Communications, Media Relations, Corporate Communications, and Business Development, Lalwani talks about challenges for entrepreneurs in the prevailing market, new trends that will shape up the industry, and motivates budding professionals of the industry in our latest episode of ‘e4m Next Gen Series’.
How do you feel about being a part of the elite list?
I am elated to be named alongside so many industry leaders whose work I follow and admire a lot. The past few months have been challenging to say the least, so this recognition is a much welcome appreciation.
What are the key skills required in the prevailing market?
The PR landscape has obviously undergone a significant transformation in the last few years. One of the main changes is that earlier, the entire PR machinery would work in silos, but that is not the case today. It is now important to understand content, PR and Marketing strategies, primary data, and the overall needs of a consumer. There is also a lesser focus on media relations and a higher proportion of content strategy. In addition to this holistic bird’s eye sort of an approach, having the knack to build a reputation is also more important than ever before. And lastly, of course, is the ability to use the right digital tools to become more agile and understanding the whole market landscape is extremely crucial in this new-age PR world.
What are the qualities that a leader should possess?
Currently, resilience would be at the top of my list of qualities that a leader should possess. A global pandemic tested us in unimaginable ways, but having the ability to survive and thrive in challenging times is the mark of a true leader. A lot of people can lead well in good times, it is when the going gets tough that a lot of leaders are put to the test. I also don’t think that challenging times mean that there is no scope for good ideas. Many companies today such as LinkedIn was born during economic downturns. Hence, I see resilience and the ability to tackle a crisis as the two most important qualities in a leader.
What trends have you witnessed in the past 10 months in the PR and Corp Comm domain?
A lot of people are now looking at more strategic and proactive PR opportunities. As corporate communication teams get leaner, their bandwidth to focus on content and strategy decreases. This means that agencies are now being looked at as equal partners. This has obviously translated into huge opportunities waiting to be tapped into. However, one has to be able to think laterally and seize these opportunities. Increasing competitiveness and many players in the PR landscape means there is very little leeway for error. Thus there is a definite slant towards more performance-based and result-oriented relationships, and agencies need to be able to adapt and step up their game.
How technologically ready and skilled are the PR and Corp Comm professionals to move to the next level of digitisation?
The PR and Corp Comm professionals in India are very seasoned. Many of them prioritized digitisation much before the pandemic hit. Those who saw ahead and didn’t really wait for a global crisis to knock at the door will be the ones who surged ahead. Also, understanding and adapting are two different things. Many people understand the importance of adopting the digital route, but the important question is: Will they be successful in immersing themselves in it completely?
According to you, what innovations will reshape the PR and Corp Comm industry?
The entire marketing ecosystem coming together and applying a seamless approach will be the innovation that I am looking forward to. Influencer marketing took the industry by storm and in a way, it was the very essence of innovation.
How will this recognition by e4m add value to your profile and the communications industry at large?
Exchange4Media has always recognised future potential leaders. Those who are nascent in the industry and have the talent, but are not necessarily seasoned, need a platform for their work and ideas to be recognised and showcased. This is what E4M has been providing and it is honestly remarkable.
What are your future plans?
I think the younger generation of PR professionals need to be inspired and guided. That is what I envision for my company and myself, I want to get into space where I can create something for young people to look up to. And of course, scaling my business and going international is a goal I am permanently fixated on achieving.
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