'This is the moment for PR & Communications to shine, and reset strategies’

Vasisht, Corporate Communications & Public Relations Leader talks on her journey, women leadership, value gap in the system, opportunities and challenges created by Coronavirus, paradigm shift & more

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Published: Jun 29, 2020 2:58 PM  | 5 min read
Rashmi Vasisht

Creative, Resilient and Authentic - these three adjectives resonate with the persona of the woman leader featured in today’s edition of Women Achievers.

Rashmi Vasisht is a celebrated name in the PR and Corporate Communication industry. She is a progressive leader with over two decades of experience in leading corporate communications, media relations, digital marketing and public affairs across industries and geographies.

Recognized for her strategic planning with key focus on driving brand value and positive narratives, Vasisht has worked cross-functionally in complex global conglomerates and delivered in challenging scenarios. A trusted communication leader, she boasts of many business wins to her credit.

Most recently, she served as the Corporate Communications Lead Apple-India, where she implemented robust communication strategies and communication mandates to promote the company’s reputation and amplify its brand value.

In an interaction with exchange4media, Vasisht, Corporate Communications & Public Relations Leader, spoke on her journey, women leadership, value gap in the system, opportunities and challenges created by Coronavirus and more.

Edited excerpts:

How has your journey in the communication industry been? What has been your defining moment?  

It has been a two decades long, exciting and holistic global journey across industries and geographies.  I have been fortunate to work alongside some of the leading industry experts and teams in the business at Apple Inc, The Leela, The New York State Attorney General’s Office and The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

I evolved along with the communications landscape and specialized across domains - media relations, digital transformations, integrated campaigns, investor and board management, policy communications, to name a few. I am fortunate to have had several opportunities to contribute big ideas and convert them into big wins. As a result, there have been several defining moments. I realized fairly early on in my career that effective communications has the power to transform organizations, leaders, and people’s lives. 

You have seen the light from different domains. What have been your key learnings working across domains?

I have relished the opportunities to shape brand perception and reach across industries, irrespective of knowledge fields. There have been several learnings along the way, here are a few: 

  • Strategy is the key. So, take the time to understand the needs of the business.
  • Powerful and positive narratives help any company claim market-winning positions.
  • Compelling and authentic content are differentiators.
  • Think about who your audience is before connecting.
  • Focus on the relationship and not the transaction. 
  • Success must be measured with feedback and not results alone.

 Why do we observe attrition in the women leadership as we go up the ladder?  

There is an array of reasons for women’s underrepresentation in leadership roles. Several environmental and cultural barriers at work can hold back progress. For equal representation at the highest levels, companies need to invest more in preparing women to advance in the workplace. At Apple, I attended a “Women’s Leadership Program” created by Wendy Wallbridge. It equipped me with needed leadership tools in a forum that honed in on the unique challenges women encounter. Such programmes can empower women to overcome challenges and resolve to aim for the top. 

A lot has been talked about the pay gap but is there something called value gap to be talked about?  

A plethora of research is showing that gaps saturate and become more visible at senior management levels. Organizations must intervene and help chart the path to gender parity. 

How has the communication become the epicenter of everything? How has the paradigm changed? 

This is the moment for PR & communications to shine. As the world is changing, leaders are stepping forward and leaning into more conversations around the business, customers, investors, employee-first communications, and society. More than ever before, brands have the opportunity to win the hearts, minds, and trust of consumers and stakeholders. Hence, relevant, relatable and respectful communications are playing a lead role.

The pandemic has also triggered a fundamental reset of communications strategies. As brands adapt to the new market realities, there will be a sharper focus on a digital-first, virtual-first, video-first approach. The near total digitisation of consumers’ time during the lockdown has accelerated this trend. Another palpable shift will be in the creative content that brands are producing as empathy and credibility define messaging. Finally, rapid response, greater transparency, greater kindness will become a part of brand guardianship.  

Coronavirus has presented a plethora of challenges and opportunities to businesses. How has it impacted your business? What are the opportunities that it has created for you?    

Despite the many difficulties businesses, people and communities have experienced, we also have an opportunity to incorporate the lessons learned from the pandemic into both proactive and crisis management plans. We saw the fragility of modern supply chains, disruptions in business operations, hospitality and tourism becoming one of the largest casualties of the pandemic. And, we saw people turning to the digital world to function normally and fuelling an app economy. I see this as an opportunity to fast track digital transformations, bring more innovation into storytelling, make trust the core of recovery roadmaps, and place a greater emphasis on analytics to understand the impact of all of the above on the business. 

What message would you like to give to other women leaders and budding professionals?

My message is: We owe to each other a pledge to reach our full potential and become the best versions of ourselves. To quote one of my role models -  Michelle Obama - who is an inspiration for a lot of women around the world: “The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.”

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