Want to set up a global centre with Indian colleagues: Kathy Bloomgarden, Ruder Finn

Kathy shared how Ruder Finn is transforming the way it does business with its clients by adapting new technologies in communication

e4m by Namah Chawla
Updated: Oct 11, 2019 5:16 PM

Ruder Finn has a long history and tradition in the communication field and has undergone a period of transition. It has a global set-up in terms of having offices in all key regions. India is very important to the company as it provides various milestones and has a lot to offer in terms of manpower and technology.

Kathy Bloomgarden is a second generation entrepreneur, who leads the firm. We had an interesting conversation with her where she shared how Ruder Finn is transforming the way it does business with its clients by adapting new technologies in the field of communication.

Edited excerpts:

How do you make sure that the stories you create at Ruder Finn reach the right audiences and are able to make an impact?
We can see that the attention span of people is getting shorter day by the day. So you have a very short moment of time to get the attention of people. The attention is held if something is of their interest or if it has a really great narrative. The narrative should be suitable to the personalities and be appropriate for the view points of the target audiences.

We have to understand that with better insights, how we can tell our information to the specific needs of the people that we are trying to reach which means we need to use predictive modelling and analytics much more while coming up with our communication messages.

With the coming of the internet, communication has undergone a massive shift. Can you tell us about the challenges and opportunities that the internet has brought along for communication professionals?
The internet has brought along the problem of credibility and authenticity. We see a lot of sharing of misinformation and viral campaigns. This hinders the facts and actual data in the online setting.

Secondly, the algorithms increasingly force the same kind of information to people, which is dependent upon their search history. This does not let them think outside the box and make their horizons very limited. This creates more intense and fractionalised populations which has created a problem for the communication professionals.

How are communication agencies leveraging big data, AI (artificial intelligence) and other New Generation Technologies?
The new technologies are enabling us to shape the opinion of the youth which leads to more emerging platforms. For PR professionals, analytics and data have to change the way they operate. We cannot really tell stories and narratives in a way which fits all, because it has to be more fitted to individual interests of the people.

How do you distinguish Ruder Finn from other agencies working in the same domain?
At RuderFinn we are working with clients who are disrupting their business models. We have set up more technology-enabled campaigns and an additional tech-lab where we are constantly looking at tech innovations. So that we are not just making headlines for our clients but the audiences are learning something from the information that we provide them.

What are the three big challenges that the communication agencies are facing today?
I think that talent is a problem in every business. I mean that people are used to doing things in a certain way and it is hard to change the way. To be adaptable and flexible is very important, so it is important for us to focus on helping our own people to be open to using new tools and technologies. I actually have a ‘reverse mentor’. He is a young person who everyday helps me with my social platforms. They are young, maybe with not much of a business experience, but are digital champions in their own way.

The second big challenge is ‘CEO-Activism’ which means that there are many leaders in the industry who are unsure of what they are actually doing. Another emerging challenge is the challenge of algorithmic information distribution which means that more and more online machine learning is pushing to you information that is consistent with your machine learning. Therefore a person is repeatedly exposed to same kind of information online that a machine has decided for you.

Tell us some of your future plans and the RF-Interactive launch in India?
As I have mentioned before that we have now instituted a tech lab which is going to look at the innovative ways that we can look on the news in an on-going consistent manner. We are going to work with lot of communication start-ups. India is also particularly important to us from the technology perspective because the skill set present here is very diverse. We want to set up a global centre with the Indian colleagues which will serve all our Ruder Finn global offices - a centre which is digitally powerful and focused.

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