Few can miss Archana Jain's striking presence at a communications event. Over the past 20 years, Archana has created a unique brand presence for PR Pundit, in luxury and hospitality as well as consumer lifestyle, beauty and wellness. This along with some interesting start-up accounts such as AffordPlan ( health savings platform), Skymet ( weather platform) and Boat (Music audio accessories).
She speaks with PRmoment India on the benefits of being a mid-size PR firm works, what innovation in PR mean in practice and why first appearances do matter in PR and in any other profession.
Mid Size is the right size for servicing in PR
This year marks PR Pundit's 21st anniversary as an independent PR firm. Discussing why smaller firms work well for clients, Archana says that she believes the quality of service at a firm is inversely proportional to its size.
“She adds, while boutique firms have an advantage of being super specialists, for example, they have deeper connections with celebrity influencers for a fashion client or lifestyle client, which works well for clients who have limited communication risks and requirements.”
"The quality of service at a firm is inversely proportional to its size."
Archana explains that the requirement for a mid-size firm happens, " The moment there is a reputational issue or a crisis. At this point, the mid-size size firm has more to offer, the depths of knowledge and the scale to handle a crisis. Therefore a mid-size PR firm is the right size, it works best for servicing."
Archana says the smaller size enables senior leadership to offer counsel and access at all times. Likening the need to do so to an architects firm she says, "If you are constructing a building, the chief architect cannot be uninvolved in the details of making the edifice. Similarly, leaders in PR firms cannot remove themselves from the day to day requirements of a client."
Talent challenges for mid-sized firms
Archana admits that the pressure does increase once you grow the business, especially the challenge of managing talent.
For Archana, the biggest challenge is growing young talent into senior-level positions.
"Daily rigours of work do not allow this, you have to have a programmatic approach for this. Every individual requires different engagement, some respond well to detailed direction, some want just the broad strokes.", says Archana
She adds, "The PR industry has some great talent and if we are not getting the best out of them, the fault lies in us. Luckily PR professionals are usually good communicators and they must work with HR to understand why we tripped up on a client or why we did well. It can't be left just to HR."
Innovation in PR
There is much talk right now about Innovation in PR. But what does innovation in PR mean, is it in tech or creativity or better digital skills.
Archana believes that "Innovation in PR is not all talk. It is very much required. The way to do it is to use strong narratives to open doors and then make sure 20% of your plan is innovative and is being used to build desire. Do your hygiene, do your media rounds but also focus on what you can do in parallel that's not from a cookie-cutter. When we are not adding innovation, we are not connecting with the audience."
Archana says because of this approach, "We are being consulted in integrated campaigns by marketing leads on the tone of the campaign."
Lessons from founding a PR firm
Archana says that one of the biggest lessons for her has been that "You will make more money earlier in your firm's growth than later. Margins drop as you grow. Be prepared for that reality."
She also advises young PR founders to, "Not let go of the craft of PR as you grow,don't let go of the passion."
This is why Archana says, "We remain mid-size in our soul."
One final tip from Archana is on dressing. She says, " You can never be overdressed. Respect the stakeholders you are meeting by dressing smart. And this applies to both men and women. You don't have to be trendy, just dress smart so that you have a bounce in your step and make that great first impression."