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Digital technologies see a shift towards younger public relations leaders?

The PR industry, in India, like many industries is fast gaining ever younger leaders. This is especially true of corporate communications professionals.

Corporate communications team leads getting younger

Bhumika Gupta, BCG

Bhumika Gupta, marketing team lead, Boston Consulting Group in India says,"From my observation, there seems to be a trend towards younger individuals taking up leadership roles within corporate communications teams. While there's still diversity in age ranges, it's becoming more common to see team leads in their late 30s or early 40s rather than in their mid-40s or early 50s."

Amandeep Arora, director, of communications, SEO and content marketing, EnKash explains, "The age of a corporate communication head entirely depends upon the specific company they work for. In larger, established Indian companies, there seems to be a preference for more senior individuals heading corporate communications departments. Contrastingly, startups often prefer younger leaders, perhaps seeking fresh perspectives and agility. I remember, during COVID time, the age limit affected job eligibility for me despite having relevant experience. The startup had set a maximum age limit of 32 years."

ALSO READ: 30% of India's corporate communications professionals underpaid 

Why are corporate communications teams getting younger?

Himanshu Raj

Himanshu Raj, head-reputation, policy and government relations, Pristyn Care says,"This shift is driven by a few factors. Younger generations are often more comfortable with digital communication tools and bring fresh perspectives. They are perceived as a more cost-effective option for companies, as they possess the same skill sets. 

But there's a potential downside: a loss of experience in areas like crisis management and long-term relationships. 

Nothing can beat experience, but since communications isn't a critical function for many organizations they hire junior folks to save costs, which can be detrimental in the long run."

Gupta explains, "For many companies, Gen Z is a key target market, and it helps to have millennials who can help understand Generation Z better. The shift towards younger leadership reflects a broader cultural emphasis on work-life balance and diversity. Younger leaders often bring fresh perspectives shaped by their experiences in more inclusive and technologically driven environments, aligning with evolving workplace values and demands.

It's the Digital Economy 

Amrit Ahuja, former director of Facebook in India and senior communications consultant shares that it's the digital economy that's driving down the ages of team leads, "Brands increasingly prioritise digital channels as the centrepiece of their communication strategies, emphasizing the need for rapid content creation and dissemination. 

Consequently, brands seek individuals who are inherently adept at navigating the digital landscape, favouring those who are digital natives for roles within the communications function. 

And with the growth in the creator economy (growing at 18 per cent every year, brands are heavily investing in creators/influencers. Most creators are in their 20s or 30s so a younger comms person mirrors them and can engage better with them."

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Getting the most out of Intergenerational Teams 

Ahuja believes that younger teams can miss out on the experience of senior professionals and hurt the availability of talent, "The departure of senior professionals from the industry could lead to a loss of valuable experience, expertise, and institutional knowledge. Senior professionals often bring years of industry-specific experience and strategic insight to their roles, which can be difficult to replace.This loss may impact the quality and effectiveness of communication strategies and campaigns. 

Lastly, many young people will leave this profession before they even reach mid-level as they will have no role models and the ever-starved talent problem for the comms industry will further intensify."

Gupta suggests, "A good balance can be struck if younger leaders have tenured mentors. That helps in providing a dual perspective and brings the best of both! Mentorship programs facilitate knowledge exchange, with younger members gaining valuable insights from senior leaders' experience while senior members benefit from fresh perspectives and innovative thinking."

Ahuja advises that to handle intergenerational teams, "Find tools to assess individual strengths of team members and optimise their strengths and not just work on age. Lastly, an intergenerational team leader must be a coach, not just a manager. Their role is to trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled to optimise teamwork."

Sharing her experience with intergenerational teams, Arora says, " I work with a 7-member team, forming a blend of Gen Z and millennial perspectives. Each team member brings a unique viewpoint to our tasks. 

For instance, when crafting a marketing campaign or solution to an existing problem, I never receive identical ideas from two individuals. This diversity of perspectives is a distinct advantage of working with a varied team.

In moments of crisis, seeking guidance from seasoned industry veterans has always been invaluable. Their experiences often provide invaluable insights and learning opportunities, helping to navigate challenging situations effectively."

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