PRmoment-Kaizzen Pathfinders 10 for 2021: In conversation with BCG’s Bhumika Gupta Oberoi

Covid-19 has completely changed the future of communication and has brought in opportunities for growth last seen in the wake of economic liberalisation in the early '90s.

In order to record the evolving shape of corporate communications post 2020, PRmoment India along with Kaizzen presents Pathfinders 10 for 2021 where 10 emerging corporate communications leaders will share their blueprint on the path head for the PR and communications sector in India.

In the fifth post of this column, Bhumika Gupta Oberoi, senior marketing & communications specialist at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shares her views on the future of post Covid communications.

Bhumika believes communications can impact businesses and that strategic communications is at the core of effective business and leadership. Her expertise includes brand marketing and communications. Prior to BCG, she led communication campaigns in healthcare, the development sector, and pharmaceuticals at Edelman.

PRmoment India: Top forecast for the future of communications?

Bhumika Gupta Oberoi: The world of communications marketing is flooded with new graduates entering the industry. However, the industry, now more than ever, is looking for professionals who are a combination of "specialists" and "generalists" and can nimbly switch between these roles when required. The industry wants these professionals to think about communications while engaging with clients and leadership to understand business priorities.

The communications function has historically been an underutilized function, and the pandemic drastically changed that. 

Communication departments, particularly those in companies with large employee populations, found themselves on the front lines of managing a crisis no one anticipated, and communicating effectively with employees became the top priority.

Understanding that this is a continuous change and communications budgets will need a rethink should be a priority for businesses.

    PRmoment India: One sector ripe for strategic communications is not related to your current industry.

    Bhumika Gupta Oberoi: Health crosses all borders and unites a wide array of audiences in its quest. It isn’t simply the mission of one industry, but an issue critical to the success of society as a whole. The healthcare industry, therefore, has been an important sector to tap into, for the communications industry.

    In India, healthcare communications come with a set of guidelines due to policy restrictions. This makes healthcare communication very tough.

    Owing to the pandemic, the healthcare sector has gained immense importance. While the pandemic placed unprecedented demands on the modern healthcare systems, the industry’s response has showcased resilience due to its ability to implement innovations swiftly. 

    The effects of the pandemic continue to be profound on this industry, and it is the need of the hour to communicate to the world the impact made by healthcare providers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and frontline workers. The industry is ever evolving and thus requires strategic communication to be at the forefront.

    PRmoment India: One key leadership skill in the context of team building for communicators in the future is?

    Bhumika Gupta Oberoi: Probably the most important lesson in the last 1.8 years for leaders, whether in communications or otherwise, is the ability to adapt. Applying agility, flexibility, and resilience to the way we work has never been more critical. There was an added task at hand for most leaders—to ensure their employees working remotely did not feel overwhelmed and still ensure some part of business went on.

    In the early times, as humans, agility is how we learnt to grow food, make shelter, light fires, and create clothes.

    The one constant thing in our lives is change, and as a leader, if we do not learn how to quickly adapt to these changes, there are bound to be a lot of uncertainties.

    Like Henri Bergson said, "To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly."

    PRmoment India: One personal epiphany during COVID about the future of communications?

    Bhumika Gupta Oberoi: Regular communication with one’s stakeholders is key to driving any initiative, change, or roadmap. During the pandemic, it became imperative to regularly touch base with clients, learn about their wellbeing, and share tips on how their businesses could be resilient to the impact of the pandemic. It has become even more important to regularly communicate with employees on a personal level and in structured discussions as a team or firm.

    While communicators always understood the importance of regular communication, the pandemic helped everyone across the board and leadership tables take notice and drive this change.

    PRmoment India: Your breakout communications moment?

    Bhumika Gupta Oberoi: As marketing and communications professionals, we have always tried to look for ways to innovatively share our content with stakeholders. The pandemic swiftly helped us make a change in how we communicate with our stakeholders—through email newsletters, virtual events, and even WhatsApp communications. 

    In-person meetings and written communication have become passé. 

    Regular communications became important, and so did the need to innovatively present this communication. This trend, brought on by the pandemic, is here to stay and is not going anywhere.

    Thanks to our partner Kaizzen for their support.