Personalised pitching a win-win situation for PR, Press
Rakhee Lalvani, VP, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, IHCL is the face that represents The Taj, as she moves back and forth, carrying shareable in more ways than one. Her business is to make it happen via relationships, news and views, timing it all to best effect
Today’s environment is so cluttered and information-led, with more content creators than journalists, that having a sharper, integrated approach to one's messaging and campaigns, becomes crucial. A well-defined content strategy supported by elaborate content creation will set us apart from companies focussed on purely product PR marketing.
The habit of reading, always important from the PR perspective, has become even more relevant today when evaluation of information has given way to skimming and digesting news headlines. The only way to grasp modern PR is to read and be abreast of news to understand our niche and what journalists in our niche like to write about. Reading helps one understand the market, the readers, the writers, the bloggers and the journalists before asking for press coverage.
MY PR MANTRA
I swear by the 3 Ps: A "Passion" for your work and loving what you do, makes your work a lot easier. I'm always excited about new projects. Secondly, being a "People's Person" helps as you need to work with people. Finally, "Preparedness", thinking ahead and planning for the future, which makes you feel less overwhelmed as you handle multiple tasks.
PR can be intense. My work-day starts at 9 AM and ends late evening. Then I’m back on the phone or on email until 11 PM. My day is packed with external and internal meetings/conferences or skype calls, and I am up to speed on nearly every important issue at the company level and this helps with planning and response in a cohesive way. At the end of the day, however, I enjoy connecting the dots to figure out how to create great content.
ICONIC ROLE MODELS
Around 23 years ago, Deirdre Latour, the current Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pearson, then at Kellogg's, donned a "Tony the Tiger" outfit to hold a series of media briefings for the cereal giant. Imagine sitting in a newsroom dressed as a large cartoon jungle cat! In a recent interview, she admitted it had made her cringe at the time, but there's no doubt the impact of that exercise is felt to this day across PR circles. Prior to Pearson, Latour was Senior Director, External Communications, GE. When GE was negotiating to buy the French energy company Alstom, Latour flew to Paris to help convince the French government that GE was the right company for the deal. Indeed, her gamut of varied exposure, seamless adaptability and marked expertise remains most inspiring.
At IHCL, I remain fortunate to work with a leader like Mr Puneet Chhatwal, our MD and CEO, who understands and believes in the power and potential of PR. He has helped take the IHCL Communications to the next level and is always guiding us on how we can effectively and consistently shape the narrative of the company and our wonderful brands.
PR IN THE FUTURE
Public Relations will continue to shape how companies launch their growth, how they raise funding, and how they market their products or services. According to us, the emerging trends that will shape PR in 2020 and beyond will include greater reliance on data analytics and insights.
From Big Data to small, modern PR has become ever-more-dependent on data. PR is all about stories. To tell compelling narratives to our target market, important data has to be collected and scrutinised, mainly because of the internet age that has ensured that there is a tremendous amount of information available at the click of a button. Therefore, companies that want to succeed in modern PR, must embrace effective metrics and analytics as journalists are now interested in stories that are backed by well-analysed data.
Today, pitching is only effective if one takes the time to study everyone in their Press list, their readership, and niches. The new wave of pitching is now personalised pitches.
THE TAJ BRAND
Some campaigns I'm proud of, include an Integrated Marketing Communications campaign that we launched, with a focus on the Taj brand. We supported advertising and digital campaigns with PR and story-telling. We created infographics, looked at consumer insights, analysed data, retold our rich history, and created compelling content - all of which resulted in some great exposure across the media in India, the UK and the Middle East.
Another is the company’s efforts in promoting gender diversity. We ran a survey for women travellers and shared the research findings with the media, highlighting our focus on women playing an increasing role in business and in influencing travel decisions. We complemented this initiative with an event around Women’s Day about equality in the boardroom. I truly believe that PR offers women the opportunity to hold high-level, corporate positions.
WOMEN ARE PR SPECIALISTS
Women make up 63 per cent of Public Relations “specialists”, according to published data in the US. In the ad world, those shaping media messages are 60 per cent female, according to recent data by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Some people think PR is glamorous. However, being part of a Communications Team can be extremely challenging and decidedly unglamorous. PR involves playing a very critical role in the company, with a lot of influence and responsibility, and supporting teams that drive business.
My message to aspiring women is: Never stop learning. The best way to deepen your knowledge and skills is through first-hand experience and experimentation. PR is an ever-changing field and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Maintain a sense of curiosity and keep up with educating and updating your knowledge through online courses or reading. Never get complacent with your current level of know-how.
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'BW HOTELIER THE WOMEN SPECIAL ISSUE VOL 6, ISSUE 2'
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