More than 400 delegates from leading companies and consultancies, 35 speakers and 32 sponsor partners attended this much awaited PRAXIS,conference in Mysore on 25th & 26th Sep 2015.
The first topic that piqued my interest was ‘Move over Traditional PR- How Corporates want Consultancies to lead the way’. Melissa Arulappan, Senior Director - Corporate Communications, Quintiles, Barsha Panda, Head - Corporate Communications, India & South East Asia, Yahoo and Kamlesh Sharma, Director - Public Affairs & Communication, Coca-Cola India & South West Asia contributed to this panel discussion that was very precisely moderated by Aparna Jain from Zebraa Works.
As I live in Ahmedabad where the PR domain is yet in its nascent stage as compared to the metros, I was looking forward to the cat & mouse jibes between the In-house communicators and Consultancies. On how should the consultancies change with the changing times, Barsha Panda shared, “Consultancies need to disagree with companies. But while they do so, they need to back it up with strong reasoning. This in turn makes it imperative for consultancies to scout for talent who know their subject well, who don’t go and pitch to the journalists, but converse with them as equals”. Interestingly, she herself acknowledged that while consultancies should disagree, companies do not encourage the culture of disagreeing.
Melissa Arulappan concurred while sharing that, “Consultancies need to invest in their talent. They lose talent during the internship phase itself owing to the menial work delegated to them”.
“A collective approach towards achieving the goal would result in better outcome. Companies do not always agree with consultancies as they are under pressure to deliver. Rather than negating the demand, consultancies can come up with better solutions for the communications needs”, said Kamlesh Sharma, Coca Cola India.
The delegates were in for a surprise when a drone entered the jam-packed conference hall to click the pictures, courtesy MSL:
With interesting digital ideation from Shonali Burke, the evening ended with felicitations in the industry. Ms.Jayoti Lahiri, Secretary General PRCAI was given ‘Lifetime Achievement Award in PR industry’ for her immense contribution in PR field spanning four decades. While some communications professional danced to the beats of legendary Sivamani , some went around reliving the old days with their colleagues.
The second day began with the session on ‘Creativity’ by Kiran Khalap, co-founder, Chlorophyll brand Consultancy. In a conference that was heavily laden with jargons like story-telling, digital, noise, talent, AVE and measurement, creativity came in as a breath of fresh air. Kiran shared his knowledge on how to get more creative and gave tips for enhancing the creative process. ‘Focus. Have patience. There is no right answer to creativity just like there is no right answer to opposite of ‘chair’. In the desire to obtain an outcome do not mar the process of creativity. Slow down. Do not compare yourself with others’. He was the only one with whom I could concur that Creativity & Originality needed time. Kolaveri Di, Gangnam Style or Kodaikanal Won’t didn’t happen overnight.
The highlight of the conference however was the session on ‘How the powerful create compelling communications?.Chaired by the stalwart of Indian Public Relations industry, Dilip Cherian , Perfect Relations, Rajdeep Sardesai, Journalist and Author, stole the show with his tongue in cheek responses and apt examples from Indian politics. On being asked, “How much does the voice of powerful dominate over the voice of the ones that need to be hear”’? Rajdeep gave the example of the unprecedented victory of Shri Narendra Modi in 2014 Elections. Having used 360 degree communications strategy and embracing the digital world, Modi influenced the minds of those who were already angered by the faltering Congress.
He shared, “Since the medium of communication has changed, journalists are now convinced for Twitter interviews which are seemingly a one way monologue rather than in-person dialogues. Communication is controlled by the powerful in digital medium”. On being asked whether the corporates should own media houses, he vehemently shared that he was against any corporates owning the channel of communications. On being asked on what tips would he like to give to Rahul Gandhi for his reputation make-over, Rajdeep wittily replied, “He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Having said that, he needs to stand for something rather than criticising opposition”.
Despite the Karnataka bandh on 26th Sep, the ever enthusiastic PR community attended this conference and made PRAXIS 2015 a huge success. Amith Prabhu and Shane Jacob, the co-founders of The PRomise Foundation and organisers of PRAXIS – take a bow.
You guys gave 400+ delegates memories of lifetime.
Falguni Patel is consultant with Simulations Public Affairs Management Services