PRmoment India’s 30 under 30
12th February 2015
Differentiated content has emerged as the key driver of all communication businesses. As client companies work hard to connect with stakeholders, communication teams are focusing on providing interesting content to capture the attention of the target group and engage with them.
I believe that the main constituent in this differentiated content is the ‘idea.’ This not only sets a particular campaign apart from the rest but also attracts consumer/stakeholder interest.
Such ideas, in my opinion, are unlikely to originate from been-there-done-that PR industry veterans. Instead, it will be the new talent and the fresh minds that will be tomorrow’s best ‘ideators’. It is this group of people who will have an intimate understanding of the new consumer in an all-pervasive digital age.
I believe that young men and women, who are infinitely more digitally savvy than their older counterparts, are naturally suited to drive differentiated content ideas across Internet platforms.
That is precisely the reason why there is a compelling requirement for the industry to nurture young talent. In this light, I congratulate PRmoment for launching its ‘30 under 30’ contest to showcase the best PR professionals under the age of 30 in India.
I also pay compliments to the awards jury – representing the collective leadership of the Indian PR industry – for exercising its wisdom in choosing the meritorious candidates. Last but not least, I extend heartiest congratulations to the winning candidates, who were chosen on the basis of their merit and hard work.
Madan Bahal, Managing Director, Adfactors PR
Welcome PRmoment India’s PR 30!
The PR business is increasingly becoming a young person’s game – they are at the front line of PR, growing the business, dealing with hectic changes and also teaching their seniors a thing or two. The first ever PRmoment India 30 under 30 list for communication professionals is an effort to showcase these dynamic young professionals.
We received an overwhelming 98 entries in just over a month, from cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Patna and Bhopal. The entries were carefully scored by an eminent jury, consisting of leading names from the PR business in India, to arrive at the final 30.
The winners include consultancy professionals, in-house communicators and independent consultants. They include Bollywood song quoting PR professionals, Lionel Messi fans, young PR firm founders, professionals who have given back to their community, communicators behind some of the biggest stories you have seen in the media over the last few years and pros who channel their inner Jedi knight by describing themselves as ‘secret keepers’. They are adept at traditional PR as well as large format strategic campaign planning.
But the one thing they all have in common? They love PR!
Here are their stories.
Paarul Chand, Editor PRmoment India
Adithya Venkatesan, 26, Senior Account Executive, Gutenberg Communications, @adadithya
“Spin Sucks” – is what Adithya Venkatesan believes strongly in. As a journalist with Thomson Reuters, Adithya earned his storytelling spurs reporting on Carl Icahn’s proxy war with Dell in 2013.
He has now turned his career to PR. Adithya has helped to build a brand name for InMobi, positioning the mobile advertising firm’s biggest assets – its disruptive technology and the fact that it’s the second biggest online network after Facebook.
“More than journalists, it’s the PR professionals who sift through the clutter to disseminate relevant information"
Akshaara Lalwani, 27, CEO, Communicate India, @Akshaara
Akshaara Lalwani started running her own firm from out of her home in Mumbai with one person and one client when she was just 23 years old. Over 4 years later her team has grown to 30 people and 30 clients. Her clients span international MNC’s, Indian blue chips, including Reliance ADAG Group, Disney, Merck, Lafarge, Mindshare, Mickey Mehta and MISB Bocconi.
“We very much appreciate the support of the Communicate India team for the launch of Blaupunkt India Pvt Ltd and Dr. Lars Placke’s visit to India. Looking at the work that has been done, we have now signed the agency as our partners and continue to enjoy a great relationship.” Pankaj Jagwani, CEO, Blaupunkt India
Alpesh Vinubhai Nakrani, 27, Account Director, Paradigm Shift Public Relations, @alpeshnakrani
A financial PR expert, who quoted Bollywood songs in his entry form for 30 under 30, certainly got the attention of the jury. Alpesh Vinubhai Nakrani has worked with a wide range of financial sector clients including the NSEL Investors’ Forum.
Work with NSEL Investors’ Forum
Many of us would remember the the Rs 5,600-crore National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) scam last year. Alpesh led an aggressive PR campaign to help investors recover their money. This included media engagement and planning peaceful protests in various parts of the country to show that investors were losing patience.
The government is now considering setting up a special court of Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) or a Special Competent Authority with independent infrastructure to fast-track the recovery process.
Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, 28, Co-Founder & Director, Ideosphere Group, @ideoandy
By 24, Aniruddha Bhagwat was already the western region head of Good Relations India – one of the youngest ever in the country. In 2011, Aniruddha left to set up Ideosphere, a business that includes research, PR and Social Media/Digital wings. In the last 3 years, the company has grown from 2 to 35+ members.
Aniruddha’s focus on research and experiential marketing enables him to offer services that are much beyond media relations.
Ideosphere’s work for Baskin-Robbins (see case study below) listed amongst the Top 15 Marketing Impact Ideas 2014 by SP Jain. The case study was included in their annual handbook and has been used as resource for their management curriculum.
Snapshot of a client case study
Overcome new product failures.
Establishing one of the first ice cream taste panels in the country.
50% cut in product failure rate.
66% of potential failures prevented.
PR career tip
“PR is the ability to understand consumer behaviour, identify stimuli, and then frame communications to create an impact. Media visibility, campaigns, and other initiatives are just a by-product of having the correct approach to discovering communications.”
Bhuvaneshwari P Natarajan, 29, Senior Account Manager, MSLGROUP India, @joshibhuvi
Here is a PR professional that has given back to the community by setting up Media Movements a 25,000 member strong Facebook platform that enables PR professionals and the media to connect.
Bhuvaneshwari says it’s important to, “Make your success count not only for the client and PR firm you are working for but also the industry at large.”
“While working on NIIT Limited, impressed by the work the client then offered me a corporate communication role. The client then requested the agency change its policy on hiring an internal employee from the PR agency.”
Ekta Gautam, 27, Account Manager, Avian Media, @ektagautam
Ekta Gautam regards her work with Airtel early on as not only a career breakthrough but also a tremendous learning. Ekta also worked on the launch of Grand Prix in India and established a softer connect for the Airtel e-brand in the media by seeding campaigns such as ‘Airtel Grid Girls’ and mall activation by placing F1 simulators.
Why Ekta loves PR:
“For an outgoing person like me, when work involves meeting new people from various walks of life on a regular basis, it seems more like a holiday and Mondays become the new Fridays.”
Faizneen Bharmal, 25, Asst. Image Manager, Perfect Relations, @faizbhar
If you have recently seen articles about BBC World News in the Times of India, it’s due to Faizneen Bharmal, who has managed to break the idea that the paper would only feature their own group TV channels.
She has worked with Samsonite, Rolex Awards for Enterprise, was the central point of contact for Godrej Group’s biggest campaign when Aamir Khan was signed as the brand ambassador and worked on a litigation case between Avitel Post Studios vs. HSBC6.
Faizneen dedicated hours going through the documents of EOW and planned a digital and media strategy to seed in the positive story that Avitel was falsely accused. This resulted in a PTI flash after numerous efforts and increasing the SEO of the positive and neutral stories.
Faizneen worked to get successful PR outreach for a Chinese Opera.
Ishita Pilani, 26, Edelman Digital, @ishitapilani
Ishita Pilani has evolved from a day-to-day community manager to a planner within the last 3 and half years, working with clients like General Electric for corporate imaging to Gates Foundation for policy advocacy.
Having studied automation engineering, Ishita says, “It was a risk for me as well as my organisation to enter the digital marketing space in a PR firm with no prior experience. The idea of being in a dynamic work environment and the impact of social outreach attracted me to joining this field of work.”
“As we move into a new media environment, clients face different challenges and consumers no longer think traditionally. Each one of us should be prepared to be braver, strategic and integrated in our thinking and how we tackle existing problems in an interesting way.”
Jai Kewalramani, 27, Director, Perfect Relations, @jai_kr
Jai Kewalramani thrives on chaos. He says he feels quite at home at what he calls, “the centre of the tornado amongst bosses, clients and journalists.”
Jai has worked with an interesting mix of clients. These include creating the brand strategy for the largest Indian owned hotel chain – The Lalit Hotel – Limitless Hospitality, taking the Chennai Super Kings Facebook fan page to the most accessed in India and 5th in the world without paid advertisements and the incorporation of the definition of “trafficking” in the Indian Penal Code through media advocacy/stakeholder outreach/influencer management and working with ‘Apne Aap Women Worldwide’ in 2014.
Jai’s PR tip
“Do not lie to clients in hopes of impressing – there is nothing more impressive than transparency.”
Karan Bhujbal, 27, Senior Account Manager, 20:20 MSL, @Bhujbalview
At an Opera software meet up last year to celebrate 50 million users in India, Karan drove a cycle rickshaw to a flash mob, with the Opera CEO, Lars Boilesen in tow. All in a day’s work for this PR professional who works with tech firm 20:20MSL and sees himself as a creative solutions provider rather than a flack.
Opera Software, Evernote, Dell, Facebook, Saffola, Wally, eBuddy, Fujifilm, Canaan Partners
Karan tapped his creativity to deliver business results:
Evernote used a PR only strategy to grow their user base in India from 20,000 in December 2010 to over 300,000 today.
For Opera, Karan’s work has contributed to increasing their user base across operating platforms. Their flagship product, Opera Mini’s, user base on Android increased by 240%.
Contribution to his company
“I’ve been a crucial part of the agency’s business development team, with successful conversions each year, such as Micromax, Google Enterprise and Facebook, “says Karan.
“Karan has always felt like he was a part of the Evernote team. I have never worked with a PR professional that was so committed to his client. It’s a joy to work with Karan.” Troy Malone, GM, Asia Pacific, Evernote
Why Karan loves PR
“For me, I believe money or fame isn’t a parameter of success; a life spent in an interesting manner, is a life well spent and PR lets me do it.”
Karishma Sheth, 27, Independent PR Consultant, Instagram: shethkarishma
The one of two independent PR consultants in the top 30, Karishma has worked with a group of clients that include 8 Food & Lotus Blossom, celebrity Yoga expert- Sunaina Rekhi and image consultant Zohra Chitalwala.
It’s interesting to see the range of people and smaller organisations opting for PR and personal profiling.
The jury picked Karishma because her clients were happy with her results as an independent consultant – which is always the bottom line.
“Ever since Karishma started managing the media relations of 8 Food, we have noticed the sudden rush to our website. Brilliant work! Look forward to associating with Karishma again.” Zeenal Jhobalia, 8 Food & Lotus Blossom.
Madhavi Bhagra, 25, PR Pundit, @MadhaviBhagra
Madhavi Bhagra started her career with Deloitte as a technology consultant. But she wanted a chance to be more creative in her work and PR beckoned. Madhavi deals with clients that certainly need all her creativity. As alcohol advertising is banned in India, Madhavi has to employ all her campaign skills to leverage the profile for her alcohol beverage clients.
Big Win – Kingfisher Blue
Madhavi came up with a concept for the brand’s largest marketing initiative - an opportunity for consumers to trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC)
“For the Kingfisher Blue Mile – Trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC) activation, she recommended and executed a triathlon for participating teams to cover the distance to the base camp to generate conversation around the campaign and increase participation. This PR idea was integrated into our core marketing campaign”. Samar Singh Sheikhawat, Senior VP Marketing, United Breweries Limited
The campaign helped increase participation, generate conversation and develop brand preference with an increase in PR value by 20%.
Muddasser Khalid Alvi, 28, Account Manager, Avian Media, @muddasseralvi
It’s rare for a PR professional to get a public thumbs up from a journalist but Influential food blogger, Sourish Bhattacharya, admitted that Muddasser Khalid Alvi was one flack whose call doesn’t go unanswered and picked him as a PR professional to watch out for.
Muddasser has worked on a range of accounts from auto to food to music. He has helped create events for a nightclub, which included Pink Sunday brunches. He also worked on encouraging young people to cast their vote.
Career making byte
Muddasser played an active part of the MTV servicing team for “MTV Rock the Vote” (MTV's initiative to mobilise youth to vote in 2014). He led the Delhi team to action press notes, listing notes, weekly tune-ins and interview opportunities.
Why Muddasser loves PR
“At the end of the day, a PR person plays a key role in determining what kind of front page story one will read in the next day’s papers. With a great job comes great responsibility and that’s what makes me work in PR and why I love this job.”
Neha Khetan, 29, Independent Consultant, @nehakhetan
At 27, Neha Khetan was heading the PR division of the high profile digital and media solutions agency, FoxyMoron Media Solutions, leading a six member team. She set up the entire PR vertical from scratch, taking on the challenge of integrating PR services into the other digital services offered by Foxymoron and making the vertical profitable on its own.
Madhur Ramani, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Stratum Consulting – “Despite being a young, ten people start-up, we decided to invest in PR. Our goal wasn't to attract potential clients, but to attract good talent – this was the clear mandate given to Neha. Neha created a detailed three year PR roadmap for us that explained what the target publications will be for each year and how they will evolve.”
“While Neha's prior experience was in B2C and lifestyle PR, we are in a B2B business and one that involves lot of strategic consulting for our clients, but she has demonstrated commendable learning ability and effort to pick up the workings of our business. That gave us lot of confidence in her.”
“She has had to work with a very young team, and I feel she has been able to properly guide and coach them and get the best out of them. She has also been very good at demonstrating ROI on our PR investments.”
Nihal Shaikh, 28, PR Manager, HolidayIQ, @clutterbugged
Nihal Shaikh loves newsjacking to create effective PR. On World Toilet Day last November Nihal decided to connect the event to travel and railways, a direct link to what HolidayIQ users have been saying about toilets in trains in India.
To do this, an infographic was created backed by a survey on traveller feedback on toilets. The findings suggested railways had an alarmingly high Dirtiness Quotient.
Real PR Impact
Feedback given by travellers on HolidayIQ has been incorporated into the 2015 memo for the Ministry of Railways
“Deliver consistently by being proactive in tracking the pulse of news, contextualising it to create significant brand communication.”
Nikhil Kharoo, 29, Associate Partner, Genesis Burson-Marsteller, @Nkharoo
Nikhil Kharoo is a specialist in consumer technology and works on large consumer facing brands in the mobile, auto, sound and computer accessories space.
One of the campaigns that Nikhil worked on for sound systems was implemented without any advertising support and used integrated PR. This resulted in the roll out of the product nationally in 50 outlets and helped the company grow India as its biggest market globally.
“We are usually ‘in the know’ first. We get the privilege of learning the latest trends and products before they hit the market. As PR professionals we are the best secret keepers and the best storytellers at the same time!”
Pallavi Karnatak, 23, Associate at Chase India (Avian Media’s public policy and government affairs firm) @PKarnatak
Brought up in Almora in Uttarakhand, Pallavi Karnatak, at the age of 23 already has a strong commitment to public affairs and public policy. Pallavi was one of the key members for Dr. C.P. Joshi’s political campaign for the Lok Sabha Elections in 2014.
She also volunteers with CGNet Swara, a portal which gives chance to the Gondi, Adivasi and local population of Central India to record their grievances via a mobile number.
“Once you have made it clear to yourself that if you don’t want to get involved in any sort of work, for examples sake let’s say the liquor industry, you not only ensure that you have a voice, but also add value to your firm and most of all build your capacity to stand by your values – the ability to speak your mind is always respected in the profession of public policy.”
Paarul Chand+, PRmoment.in
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