PRmoment-Kaizzen Pathfinders 10 for 2021: In Conversation with Supreeth Sudhakaran, Corporate Brand and Communications team, Godrej

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.

This column will be carried twice monthly- for 5 months as part of Season 1 of the series.

In the third post, Supreeth Sudhakaran, corporate brand and communications team, Godrej Industries and Associated company shares his views on the future of post Covid communications.

He manages two owned media properties and research driven narratives for the group, and leads brand communication for the Godrej Agrovet.  

A journalist by education, Supreeth started his career as a desk editor in Dainik Bhaskar Group. Later, he worked with several leading general and trade media publications such as the Indian Express Group and Haymarket.

He shares his insights on the future of corporate communications in 2021.

Supreeth Sudhakaran

PRmoment India: Your top forecast for the future of communications.

Supreeth Sudhakaran: Here is where I think we are heading with regard to:

a) Talent mix: Cross-functional capabilities will be the most sought after skill in a communication professional. Understanding of digital tool, research, and data-analytics will give one an edge. We will witness AI tools being used to not just understand content consumption pattern of TG but also deliver personalised content. Hence, future communication professional will not just have to understand established digital tools but keep an eye-out for inspiration and from other sectors and functions for adoption of innovations.

b) Communications Budgets: Communication budgets will see an increase in the coming times. Organisations which understand the importance of reputation building will look at increasing the skill pool of their team, investing more in tools, data analytics and measurement, and strengthening their direct to consumer and owned platforms.

c) Integration of marketing and communication services: Today, intelligence is in having a holistic understanding of customer truth. Silo approach between marketing and communication will not be in the interest of either of the functions.

d) Owned Media: Direct to consumer is a channel that can no longer be ignored. The challenge is to generate results in the long-term and understand that ir is investment intensive. I feel the owned media space will see an inverted U shaped growth in the future – several brands will experiment and exit, only a few will be able to emerge into a pure owned media platform. Platform being the operative word, owned media will rely on co-creation of experiences and content.

e) Influencer Marketing: The market will go through winnowing. The focus will shift from likes, reach and impression to ‘genuine’ engagement and community outreach. The influence of micro and nano influencers with sectoral expertise will get stronger.

f) Policy Communication: Policy communication will gain more focus in the future, and brand activism will be on the rise. Each communication team will have at least one resource with understanding of public policy, advocacy and strategic litigation based communication.

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

    Supreeth Sudhakaran: Gaming and virtual entertainment. The segment is not using communication to its advantage. Largely, the stories are emerging under start-ups or tech beat, where as it has the capability to expand the universe, or even establish one.

    PRmoment India: One key leader skill in the context of team building for communicators in the future.

    Supreeth Sudhakaran: Creating a team of micro-experts: Each employee is a specialist for at least one core skill, and support his colleagues on other skills. For instance, an ideal team could be:

    • CCO – leader and strategist
    • Owned and digital media Maverick
    • Earned media expert
    • Design specialist
    • Content specialist
    • Events and experiential PR expert
    • Research, measurement and data expert
    • Policy and crisis specialist

    Over and above specialities, each employee must be able to swiftly move in and out of support roles for other teammates.

    PRmoment India: One biggest stumbling block for communications for realizing its potential within the marketing communication matrix.

    Supreeth Sudhakaran: There are two: inertia to change, and the focus continues to be on ROI than ROO.

    PRmoment India: One personal epiphany during Covid about the future of comms.

    Supreeth Sudhakaran: Earning brand equity today is becoming far more difficult than before. The source of news is changing, the medium of news is changing, there are cognitive ad-blockers and even toddlers know how to skip an advertisement. The next generation of customer will not remember you if you aren’t catching them young. Therefore, being present on the right platform, with the right content, and at the right time is critical.

    PRmoment India: Your break out communications moment.

    Supreeth Sudhakaran: There were two key break-out moment during the last year. One, leading the research driven narratives vertical for the Godrej group. 'Make Space for Life', 'The Cocoon Effect' and 'The Little Things We Do' are some of the recently launched narratives which have paved way for data-driven storytelling.

    Second, 'Design Dekko', our owned media platform in the architecture and design space, grew its base to become a thriving community connecting 50,000 design enthusiasts and brands. During the lockdown, it hosted its first virtual two-day conference, which saw 20 global experts in the space of architecture and design, deliberate on key trends, and was witnessed by over 3000 design enthusiasts.

    Thanks to our partner Kaizzen for their support.