Are remote working and employee equity creating an improved culture for India’s emerging PR firms?

A group of emerging firms, mostly boutique size, are experimenting with office formats and reward systems to drive creativity.

Remote working

PR firm, Storytellers 101 Communications, has a different company structure.  All the PR professionals on the team work from home. Set up by Rashmi Shetty and Leon de Souza last year, the firm is trying to be more efficient by letting team members manage their own time.

Says Rashmi Shetty, “We provide a home based working option to all those who work with us. This way they save on the time which they would have spent in traveling to their offices. They are also free to freelance on other projects as long there is clarity on deliverables and there is no conflict of interest with the other brands involved. This is disruptive to an entire segment which believed that people must get to office to get work done!”

Storytellers 101 Communications client, author Malini (left), with politician NC Shaina at a book launch

ESOPS for every employee!

Communication firm, Blue Vector, that does, what they call, “social construction of brands”; has allocated 10 percent of their equity for ESOPS for all 25 employees in their firm.

Says Piyush Kedia, the 24-year-old founder of Blue Vector on what motivated him to do this, “Smaller agencies, and maybe even big ones, are becoming more and more conscious and one concrete way to formalise and reward team members is to publish ESOPs. If I can make a member of my team feel that his campaign is going to win awards and it's also going to help the company and himself grow, then why not? Besides, we're in an industry which thrives on bringing on people together for one common goal, be it buying, selling, advocating or evangelising. Bringing them together for working was just bound to happen.”

Piyush Kedia says “All 25 of us have ESOPs! We've made sure that whoever joins us has an undeniable entrepreneurial spirit besides the obvious creative bent, and they should feel rewarded and reassured. Even though I'm the founder, I am no genius, I learn something from everybody and everybody learns from everybody else; it's a win-win for guess who? Everybody.”

Employees First

At White Marque Solutions, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.' This quote by Richard Branson pretty much sums up our philosophy”, says Fatema Khokhar, senior consulting associate, White Marque Solutions.

We have a zero-cabin system, wherein right from the founder to an intern, all sit side-by-side. This has helped us stay young and have a positive and bias-free office culture.” Fatema Khokhar, White Marque Solutions

Creativity at small PR firms

High end content, VR for press conferences

Even as office culture in PR changes, fresh creative approaches are emerging. Ashish Limaye, CEO – APAC, Happy Finish, a global VR content firm says that large Indian PR firms are beginning to spend on VR.

Limaye shares that ‘Happy Finish’ was approached by a top Indian PR firm to create imagery for a brand in the insurance sector, “We were tasked to set up pre-images around the passions of wildlife camping. As it was directed toward the younger audiences, we designed it to comprise of multiple 360° Shutterstock images that depicted the before-and-after realities of wildlife.”

Happy Finish for the IndiaFirst Life Insurance Project. 

Ideosphere Consulting, winner of the 2016 ‘Boutique Firm of the Year’ at the PRmoment India-PRomise Foundation Fulcrum Awards, recommended a VR press conference for a travel agency. For the launch of a restaurant chain Ideosphere drew inspiration from the winning ticket shown in the ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’. Using BTL activation, a set number of different colours were distributed stating the winning colour would be invited to the launch of the brand.

Says Aniruddha Bhagwat, director at Ideosphere Consulting, “Only 10% of the ticket holders won and had a great time, but the other 90% were eligible to a free drink with a friend post the launch date. This ensured footfalls post launch, and the restaurant chain, being launched with 4 other brands in the same area, went at full capacity for two weeks post the launch, and still is one of the most popular restaurants in the area.”

The Angries!

To promote ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ (2016), PR firm, Think Ink Communications came up with the idea of ‘The Angries’. These were awards given to popular personalities who were angry for a good reason

Radhika Nihalani, CEO and Co- founder - Think Ink Communications, said, “We identified celebrities & personalities and purely through PR efforts got them on board this campaign. Sonakshi Sinha became the first recipient of ‘The Angries’ for being angry at cyber bullying,

With this campaign ‘The Angry Bird’ film was voted as the best marketed film of summer 2016 by Box Office India 

This was an office opening with a difference. None of the glamour that outsiders’, often incorrectly associate with PR. PR firm, PR Professionals instead invited children from Upasna Special School to inaugurate the office:

This move from the company which handles PR for clients such as Lucknow Metro and DLF, is a sign of the changing culture that is developing in some PR offices; none of them large PR firms.

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