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Larger PR firms must resist undercutting prices: Nandita Lakshmanan, Archana Jain and Girish Balachandran: PRmoment Podcast

India's PR firms deal with one of the most complex markets in the world, where print media still matters, regional language media is enormously influential and social media is equally advanced, with AI adding to the complexity of outreach. Most campaigns have a universe of all these factors to address. 

Mid-size firms are at the frontier of the sweeping changes the PR business faces. On the PRmoment podcast, we speak to Archana Jain, CEO- of PR Pundit Havas Red (PR Pundit was acquired by Havas Red late last year), Nandita Lakshmanan, founder and CEO- The PRactice (Former Six Degrees founders Rishi Seth and Zachary James have recently invested and Girish Balachandran, founder-On Purpose.

They discuss how to differentiate yourself as a mid-size firm, the advantages of being a mid-size retainer and their journey with succession planning.

Lakshmanan also talks about why larger PR firms must hold the price line with clients, Jain shares a cheat sheet on how to differentiate yourself and Balachandran outlines why purpose still matters in India inspite of the ESG backlash in the US and on having transited to mid-size PR firm within 6 years of setting up shop.

You don't want to miss listening to this one.


PR founders Archana Jain, Nandita Lakshmanan and Girish Balachandran discuss Midsize PR firms' challenges and differentiation strategies in India. (0:00)

  • What defines a mid-size firm, is it turnover or employee size?
  • Archana Jain says she differentiated her business by identifying a unique niche in the market, focusing on luxury, hospitality and consumer PR.
  • Jain emphasised the importance of having the appetite for taking risks as a mid-size firm.

Differentiation as a mid-size firm. Nandita Lakshmanan and Girish Balachandran share their experiences (8:48)

  • Nandita Lakshmanan outlines her start as a tech PR firm in Bangalore, now dominated by tech and startups.
  • Girish Balachandran talks about the USP of his purpose-driven PR agency, prioritising social impact work.

How to price your retainers, when to say yes to a client (15:25)

  • Archana Jain on the pricing of PR work.

Defining scale in PR firms, value vs price, and building value for firms in the Indian market. (19:51)

  • Nandita Lakshman's views on the responsibility of larger firms towards undercutting, says CEOs must make decisions about fees that align with their goals.
  • Lakshman emphasises the massive potential of the Indian market, with many first-time companies seeking PR.

Succession planning and wealth creation for PR firms in India. (25:20)

  • Girish Balachandran talks about challenges in pricing and differentiating services in the social sector due to limited budgets.
  • Archana Jain and Nandita Lakshmanan both believe all firms must take succession planning seriously and share their experience with succession planning.

Succession planning, investments, and talent retention in a PR firm. (33:04)

  • Nandita Lakshmanan describes an unsuccessful succession planning process within their PR firm, involving a formal shadowing program and a five-year transition period.
  • Lakshmanan talks about the importance of ensuring business continuity, regardless of whether the successor comes from within or outside the firm.
  • Archana and Nandita discuss their approach to succession planning and finding the right talent for their firm.

Entrepreneurship, support networks during and post-acquisition ( 41:02)

  • Jain shares her experience with legal counsel and investment advisor during and post-acquisition.
  • On the loneliness of being a leader.

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