The biggest change and focus is deep integration: Chetan Mahajan, Mavericks
On being the youngest and brightest integrated agencies, Chetan Mahajan, Founder & CEO, The Mavericks talks about his entrepreneurial venture and his journey in the PR agency
Reputation management advisory, The Mavericks is the youngest integrated communications agency launched by Chetan Mahajan, erstwhile President & CEO of H+K Strategies and prior to that Co-Managing Director of MSLGROUP India in May 2018.
Immediately after the launch, Mavericks announced a strategic partnership with Gurgaon-based 80-dB Communications.The two agencies offer their complementary strengths in research, strategy, content and campaign execution to brands with PAN-India mandates.
80-dB Mavericks drives the collaboration strategy, growth, service delivery and talent acquisition for the North market, while The Mavericks focuses on markets in Bangalore, Mumbai and other metros. An interaction with Chetan Mahajan, Founder & CEO, The Mavericks sheds light about his entrepreneurial venture, his journey in the PR agency and the future forward.
How has your journey been in the PR industry?
With a professional degree from The Institute of Chartered Accountants, I just happen to find my first job in the PR industry and there has been no looking back. In the last 21 years, I’ve worked across all functions of the business including Finance, HR, Operations, Client Servicing, Business Development and Management. It has been a super exciting and enriching journey so far.
Before founding Mavericks, I had an opportunity to lead agencies that were a part of theWPP and Publicis Network. A large part of my career was spent at 20:20 MSL (erstwhile 20:20 Media) where I stared my journey after graduating from ICAI. 20:20 MSL was amongst the early adopters of digital and had a clear focus on deep relationships with clients. Our philosophy was to have fewer clients with meaningful relationships and the ones who ticked at least two out of the three imperatives - Great Brand, Great Work, Great Rewards.
I’ve been fortunate to be a part of numerous brand campaigns including Intel, VW, Nissan, Commonwealth Games Delhi, 2010, Haier, Xiaomi, Airbnb, Alibaba, Micromax, OnePlus, LG, Wipro, SONY, TimesNetwork, Bayer and Marico amongst many others in crafting and optimizing their communications strategies. I also had the privilege to serve as the President of Public Relations Consultants Association Of India (PRCAI). Overall, it’s been an exhilarating journey and there is a long way to go.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial venture - Mavericks
Mavericks is a very young and a truly integrated agency. We have had a fantastic 2018 and are well poised to achieve a 100% growth in 2019. My aspiration is to build an organization that brings the key stakeholders back to the centerstage and stands committed to investing both time and energy in ensuring that organic stories gets the right ecosystem and support such that it stands a chance of revival. I can’t imagine a society that is built on paid and fake news/influence.
As a consultancy we are vertical agnostic. We have an audience-led approach wherein we invest a lot of understanding, the content consumption pattern and trends across CXO’s, and Millennials & Baby Boomers to cater to the engagement needs of our B2B and B2C clients. Millennials are the most important audience for both B2B & B2C brands as talent and consumers.
We have a diverse team spanning across traditional PR, new age PR, design, research and analytics, content marketing and influencer marketing. With clients ranging from start-ups to well-established firms, 60% of client portfolio consists of trulyintegrated ones.
Clients are looking at agencies that can be an extension of their teams and not just execution arms. This, of course, means the agencies need to think of themselves as niche consulting and execution firms rolled into one to deliver real value to their clients. We have a clear focus on impact-led storytelling which helps in building, protecting and defending the reputation of the brands we represent.
We have an impressive set of clients exclusively acquired through referrals or invitations. With brands like Fabindia, VLCC, Tyco, Klay Schools, Eazydiner, and IIM- Calcutta we have managed to achieve a client retention ratio over 90%.
What has been the paradigm shift in the PR industry since your inception?
In my view, the shift from traditional to traditional plus digital has finally happened. It’s moved from being good to have to a must-have. Now brands are actually asking for more integrated campaigns. Clients are beginning to bring all the agencies on a common platform to harmonize the campaigns to deliver real impact.
I think the biggest change has been the belief in deep integration and not integration at a very cosmetic level.
According to you, how important is storytelling in the PR industry?
The PR industry thrives on storytelling. It is the heart of whatever we do. As the times have changed, we have to find a balance between the volume and quality of stories by telling stories that can be trusted and shared. This comes with a very solid understanding of data, research, creative content and design because people are looking for snackable content. Longform is not dead but has transformed into newer avatars like podcasts and videos.
What are your growth plans for the upcoming years?
Our focus is to acquire clients that are looking for a deeply integrated communication solutions and building unified teams that can deliver this. We expect to double our revenues every year for the next 5 years and hopefully expand our presence across borders.
How has your association with exchange4media been?
I have been associated since with IPRCCA for the last 10 years and they are doing a tremendous job in bringing PR into the A&M media in a true sense. e4m has created a niche for itself by covering the PR industry so extensively. I congratulate them on their effort.
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