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PRAXIS 2023 Reflections: Exploring the Art of Reputation Management

I recently had the privilege of attending the world’s largest festival of Reputation Management professionals, PRAXIS 2023, Public Relations And Corporate Communications India Summit. A remarkable two-day event that brought together over 500 PR experts from India’s major metros and beyond. The name, PRAXIS, carries the meaning of ‘to act’ or ‘to do’ in Latin, and it lived up to this motto by offering a platform for professionals to gather, learn, share, and engage. Beyond the insightful sessions, PRAXIS also added a touch of liveliness with a captivating live music performance on the first night.

Key Takeaways 

  1. Storytelling: One of the most profound takeaways from PRAXIS 2023 for me, was the art of storytelling in public relations. Throughout the event, it was fascinating to witness how speakers from both India and overseas strategically built narratives that not only engaged the audience but also left a lasting impact.One standout session was the address by Roopa Unnikrishnan, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Corporate Development at IDEX Corporation, on ‘How Business Strategy Can Supercharge Your PR Efforts.’ The speaker skillfully weaved together elements of corporate strategy and PR, emphasising the critical role PR plays in shaping a company’s reputation. Her engaging narrative, filled with case studies and practical insights, served as a masterclass in aligning PR efforts with broader business objectives, and it left the audience inspired to adopt a more strategic approach to their PR endeavours.Another compelling session that stood out to me was ‘Horizon Scanning: How PR can Help Anticipate Future Trends’ by Farzana Baduel, CEO of Curzon PR where the speaker took us on a journey into the world of PR’s predictive capabilities, emphasising the importance of staying ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving landscape. It provided a testament to the fact that effective PR is not just about managing the present but also about shaping the future.
  1. Networking and Collaboration: The summit provided an exceptional opportunity for networking and collaboration. Meeting fellow professionals, exchanging ideas, and forming connections that transcend geographical boundaries was invaluable. The sense of camaraderie and shared purpose among attendees was palpable, reaffirming the importance of collaboration in the PR industry.
  1. Diversity and Inclusivity: It was heartening to witness the rich tapestry of individuals from various cultures and backgrounds coming together as part of the PR fraternity. This diversity not only added immense value but also brought a vibrant spectrum of perspectives, enriching the industry in a myriad of ways. It underscored the importance of inclusivity and highlighted how the collective strength of different voices and experiences can truly colour and enhance the field of public relations. 

Attending PRAXIS 2023 was an insightful and enriching experience. The summit very successfully provided a platform to learn from some of the brightest minds in the industry. The event was a powerful reminder of the artistry inherent in effective PR and the transformative potential of strategic storytelling in amplifying PR initiatives and yielding concrete outcomes. It left us all in attendance not only inspired but also well-informed and eager – to put into practice the invaluable insights we had acquired during those two remarkable days.

ON PURPOSE and Findability Sciences Announce Trailblazing Collaboration: Merging AI Innovation with Social Impact Solutions!

Partnership aimed at Revolutionising Social Impact by harnessing the Power of AI for transformative Change 

New Delhi, 29 August, 2023: ON PURPOSE Consulting, an award-winning social impact communication consultancy, and Findability Sciences, recently named one of America’s most innovative companies in 2023 by Fortune Magazine, have formed a ground-breaking alliance to harness the true potential of AI for developing efficient, personalised and far-reaching communication solutions for its clients. The collaboration aims to leverage cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) to deliver unparalleled social impact solutions across various sectors.

In an industry-first development, the alliance brings together On Purpose’s storytelling prowess and social cause expertise with Findability Sciences’ AI capabilities to provide a platform to clients to explore AI-led communication opportunities, empowering them through generative AI training and executive coaching sessions.

Girish Balachandran, Founder & Managing Director, ON PURPOSE, said, “I’ve always believed that stories have the power to inspire action and bring about meaningful change. With our partnership with Findability Sciences, we’re creating a paradigm shift in how social impact is conceptualised, measured, and achieved. This will not just revolutionise the sector but will tangibly transform communities for the better, for generations to come. We recognize the urgency to address this growing need and are confident that our partnership with Findability Sciences will play a key role in enabling our clients to leverage cutting-edge AI tools and strategies to drive innovation, increase efficiency and create a competitive advantage.”

Anand Mahurkar, Founder and CEO, Findability Sciences said, ” Our partnership with On Purpose marks a pivotal moment where technology meets humanity to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. This is more than a partnership; it’s a commitment to using innovation for the greater good. We’re not just bringing algorithms into the equation; we’re bringing the transformative power of AI to unlock opportunities for social impact on an unprecedented scale.”

The application of AI in this context is extensive and varied:

  1. Data-Driven Strategies: AI will analyse large amounts of data to generate insights and recommendations for targeted interventions.
  2. Innovative Solutions: AI will help design personalised experiences, apps, and platforms that educate and connect users.
  3. Amplifying Reach: AI tools will create compelling narratives and visuals that showcase social causes and facilitate dialogue.
  4. Empowering Participation: AI can provide access to essential services like information, education, health, and more, especially for marginalised communities.

Businesses, investors, and consumers alike are looking for tech-driven solutions to critical societal problems, including those outlined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The partnership is timed well for when interest in using AI for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals is soaring. The objective is to create, communicate, and execute participatory campaigns that engage supporters, consumers, or employees while addressing urgent social issues.

About ON PURPOSE:

ON PURPOSE is a communications consultancy founded to drive social change in India. We believe that brands that articulate purpose offer audiences an aspirational identity, a tribal sense of belonging, and a unique way of being. Since its inception in 2017, we have developed a portfolio of clients in climate action, public health, education, and gender equality. This includes UN bodies, multilateral and development sector agencies, private sector players, and non-profits that are engaged in addressing deep-rooted development challenges. Our teams based in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru offer clients a pan-India reach with strong sectoral expertise and execution capabilities.

 

About Findability Sciences:

Findability Sciences is a leading, award-winning Enterprise AI Company recently recognised by Fortune Magazine as America’s Most Innovative Companies in 2023. The company enables customers across industries and geographies to accelerate their Data-to-AI Journey enabling them to build their own IP and data science capabilities, besides executing strategically to derive real financial ROI. Findability Sciences works with over 50 Global clients and has a presence across the US, India, and Japan.  In simple terms, Findability Sciences delivers high ROI with actionable AI. For more information visit: https://findability.ai/

What Yami Gautam’s A Thursday gets wrong about justice

To those who don’t work intimately with criminal justice, the recent Disney+ Hotstar release A Thursday, may have seemed like a film with an excellent social message. But the reality is that this could not be further from the truth. (SPOILERS AND TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT) Despite its automatic appeal for those who equate justice with vengeance, a death penalty for rapists is actually a terrible idea – as anyone who knows anything about the ground realities of criminal justice in India will tell you. Advocating the death penalty for rapists is the height of irresponsibility and the filmmakers are guilty of pandering to our basest bloodletting tendencies.

There is no doubt that all efforts should be made to deal with the scourge of rape but there is little evidence to suggest that the death penalty is the solution. But there is ample evidence that a death penalty for rapists will actually reduce the chance for rape victims to get justice and can, in fact, lead to gross cases of injustice. Increasing the stringency of criminal laws also offers the politicians an easy solution to placate people angry with yet another high-profile rape and lets them avoid the more complicated task of meaningful criminal justice reforms.

A Thursday is so certain in the moral righteousness of a death penalty for rapists that it is depicted as a sufficiently just cause for the hero, Naina Jaiswal, to hold innocent children hostage and traumatise their parents with the possibility of their death. The first problem with this advocacy is that it fails to adhere to the internal logic of the film’s own narrative. It is eventually shown that Naina has been set down this vigilante path because the police officers who handled her rape case, Javed Khan and Cathy Alvarez, ignored her rapists and chose to instead focus on pursuing a high-profile case with which they could make their careers. While this may be a legitimate problem, there is no reason why a death penalty will motivate police
officers any differently. Cathy Alvarez, Javed Khan and ambitious police officers like them will still be pulled by the lure of fame and promotions that potentially lie at the end of a high-profile case.

The Lack of a Convincing Argument

The probable riposte to this argument will be that the stringency of a death penalty will deter would-be-rapists from sexual assault. While this may seem intuitively true, there is no conclusive evidence from multiple studies across the globe that capital punishment is an effective deterrent of crime. In fact, making the sentence for rape equal to or worse than murder may have counterproductive effects as it incentivises rapists to murder their victims and destroy the evidence.

On the other hand, the considerable damage that death penalties can cause is well  documented. The most obvious are wrongful convictions, which was the subject of a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The irreversibility of capital punishment means that there is always a possibility of ending innocent lives. No justice system is ever perfect and there is always the possibility that new technologies like DNA analysis emerge to exonerate convicts on death row.

This is especially true in India, where the breakdowns of criminal justice are in plain view. The imperfections of the Indian police system are common knowledge. Indian police forces are under-equipped, under-staffed and over-worked, and are easily subject to political control. Investigative capacity is still extremely low and is rife with flaws. The backlog for forensic tests is so long that speedy justice remains a false promise. – Indian forensic labs process less than 50,000 DNA samples annually despite having 500,000 incidences of crime a year. This creates a host of perverse incentives for police to refuse to file FIRs, pressure victims to drop cases or, worst of all, resort to custodial torture to extract ‘confessions’.

These failures of justice extend to Indian courts as well. There is no need to rehash the problems of a justice system trying to resolve backlog and pendency while struggling to recruit judges. The problem statement that cases tend to languish in court needs no reiteration and is better covered by others. Rape victims also have specific issues with Indian courts and the justice system at large – the entire process is extremely retraumatising with little sensitivity to the mental health of victims. They are often ridiculed, humiliated and slandered, and are often forced to physically confront their rapists. This is enough to dissuade victims from pursuing justice, but courts provide further reason by regularly making extremely regressive, demeaning remarks, and requesting rapists to marry their victims.

A Misleading Conception of Rape

However, the biggest flaw of the film is its depiction of rape, which is based on a host of misconceptions and biases. The film cites only one number to justify the death penalty – that according to official statistics, a woman is raped every 16 minutes in India. Here is another number in response  – according to the National Crimes Records Bureau, 93.4% of rape cases involved an accused who was known to the victim. This is why most groups and organisations working with rape victims will stringently argue against the death penalty. Victims will be more reluctant to file reports fearing the social consequences of sending their rapists to their death.

The filmmakers were undoubtedly inspired by Nirbhaya in creating the identities of the rapists and ignored the evidence about a more accurate and likely depiction of rape. This takes the film into extremely problematic territory of depicting rapists as lower caste/class. One shot sits on the face of Rakesh Kumar, one of the rapists, as he leers at Naina while lighting a beedi with a matchstick. This is contrasted with the sophisticated metallic cigarette case that the police officer, Javed Khan, is shown to repeatedly use throughout the film. What is especially problematic is that these kinds of biases are unsurprisingly found in the criminal justice system as well – 76% of convicts on death row are SC/ST or are from religious minorities and economically vulnerable communities.

The final problem with the film is how it re-enforces the misleading and patriarchal notion that the worst thing about rape is how it impinges on a woman’s honour. Naina’s first explanation of what rape feels like is to discuss the impact on her parents, with the implication that it caused the premature death of her father. Even at the end of the film, Prime Minister Maya Rajguru asks Members of Parliament to think of women’s self-respect and requests the men to think of their mothers, wives and daughters when making the case for amending sentencing guidelines for rape. God forbid anyone raise the point that the worst thing about rape is the invasion of bodily autonomy or that the only reason to punish rapists should be to protect the human rights of women, not because they derive value as an appendage to a man.

No Excuses

The complete lack of nuance and fact in A Thursday is not unique in an age of 24×7 news and tweet/fleet sized opinions – constant news and information cycles incentivise sensationalism. But it is unforgivable that the director, writer and producers of this film undertook the endeavour of writing a film and assembling a production without consulting the victims and experts who could have told corrected their flawed. This is unfortunately the state of the discourse around justice reforms – whether it is the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 or the various criminal amendments addressing sexual assault – the opinions of victims and experts are rarely heard.

ON PURPOSE introduces new inclusive parental policy

Launches campaign #TwoIsTooLittle to address all forms of new parenthood

New Delhi, February 2, 2022: ON PURPOSE, a creative communications consultancy, launched a landmark parental leave policy offering inclusive employee benefits to new parents, primary and secondary caregivers as well as pet parents. 

ON PURPOSE understands the realities and needs of modern day parenting and recognises the integral role of securely bonding with their baby/child/ pet  in the first critical weeks in order to give them the best possible start in life 

While the industry standard for paternity leave is just two weeks, the agency introduces a new 12-week leave policy for fathers and partners. Through the #TwoIsTooLittle campaign, ON PURPOSE hopes to inspire other workplaces in the country to adopt similar inclusive policies

The new parental policy aims to cover all instances of new parenthood as it extends to new parents who choose birth, adoption, surrogacy, or IVF as well as compassionate leave for parents who experience loss during pregnancy

 

Key features of the policy

ON PURPOSE’s new paid parental leave policy gives employees upto: 

  • 26 weeks paid parental leave at full pay for birthing people 
  • 12 weeks paid paternity leave
  • 12 weeks paid leave for parents by law (adoption and surrogacy)
  • 6 weeks of paid leave In the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth during anytime of the term
  • Employee with breastfeeding/chestfeeding infants are also entitled to time-off or time away from their desks(work) 

This is not all. ON PURPOSE celebrates families and believes that having a pet comes with responsibility and is a family member who needs care and  love equally. The organisation has curated leaves for pet parents, offering a 7-day time-off when an employee adopts a new pet.

Speaking about the initiative, Girish Balachandran, Founder, ON PURPOSE said, “Social change must start at home. As an organisation committed to driving social change in India, the launch of our new parental policy is an integral milestone to challenge gender stereotypes and build an inclusive workplace.  It’s time to share the load, share the लाड (laad).”

In May 2021, ON PURPOSE also introduced ‘Period Chutti’, a menstrual policy which offers an additional 6 days of paid leave for all employees who menstruate. This was initiated with the intention to support its employees to rest, while not having to use their sick leave, since periods are not a sickness. Additionally, the policy aims to remove the stigma surrounding menstruation and make it a normal conversation at the workplace. 

Media Enquiries 

Sneha Sahani
sneha@onpurposeconsulting.in 

Srishti Sharma (Delhi)
srishti@onpurposeconsulting.in
+91 98999 54186

Tanu Gupta (Bengaluru)
tanu@onpurposeconsulting.in
+91 70420 26222

Balancing work and life while COVID1-9 pandemic holds humanity hostage

The invasion of the COVID-19 pandemic in everyone’s lives has put forth unique challenges in front of the Indian workforce. As a large section of the white-collar workforce has switched over to working from home as a result of the Indian government’s-imposed lockdown that has now extended for a further 14 days over the originally proscribed 21 days, a few key concerns need urgent attention from businesses.

Working from home, under normal circumstances, allows employees greater flexibility, eliminates the need to commute, saving valuable time and spares them the stress of braving crowded public transport and congested roads. In the current situation, working from home has been most effective for employees in keeping their households running and maintaining social isolation. With schools and day cares shut, parents with young children are able to also attend to their children’s’ needs.

However, working from home has its own drawbacks, the primary one being the effect on mental health and wellbeing. According to a 2019 survey of over 1000 US employees by Airtasker, 29% remote workers struggle with work-life balance, as boundaries keep blurring between personal and professional domains. The other major problem is that of a sense of isolation and loneliness. Over time, these two concerns ramify, leading to worsened stress, the inability to unplug oneself from work, anxiety and depression. In a sense, without some checks and balances, working from home can result in the same conditions it was created to alleviate in the first place. Luckily, there are some solutions that are relatively easy to follow to help counter these.

 

  1. Setting boundaries in space and time for work:

    The approaches that can be applied to combat the two major problems listed above are not mutually exclusive. Regardless of our individual traits, humans are fundamentally creatures of habit. Two immediate steps might help remote workers struggling to attain work-life: to have designated work spaces, and to establish and maintain a work schedule that matches ones’ office hours. One needs to build discipline about separating the space and time they establish for work versus private spaces and non-working hours of the day, barring emergencies.

    Comfortable workspaces are known to boost productivity. Following common tips about ergonomic posture, eye health by controlling screen brightness and allowing for some green view goes a long way. General wellness tips such as maintaining hydration through your workday, choosing a comfortable chair with proper back support, using a screen which is height- adjusted to the eye level helps reduce fatigue and prolonged tension on neck and back. For postural comfort, and steady blood pressure, you can put a small footstool near your work chair.

    Once you have set up your workspace, the next order of business is to organize your workday efficiently. Time management techniques like The Pomodoro technique, which breaks down an eight-hour work day in to segments of 25 minutes dedicated to specific tasks, interspersed with 5 to 7 minutes of breaks is a very useful trick to keep productivity up, while taking breaks. You can use these breaks to refresh your mind, do a couple of quick stretches to boost your ergonomic health or simply, take a short walk and refill your glass of water or tea. Usually making the breaks analog and away from the screen is a good strategy for maintaining wellbeing.

  2. Minimizing distractions using technology:

    If you don’t need to access social media for work, unplugging oneself from personal social media accounts is a good strategy to limit distractions. Many apps are useful to restrict social media usage or distractive web surfing. Broadly, these apps can be grouped by their ability to aid in streamlining focus, minimize distraction and enable teamwork. Several apps allow you to block distracting websites, custom block your time for specific tasks such as responding to emails and research or writing tasks and manage workflows for team members if you are in a managerial role. Apps built on principles of behavioral analysis help study behavior patterns and then set custom reminders to nudge you towards healthier habits. Most apps today integrate across multiple platforms and devices, and can help circumvent all difficulties of working from home as well as building better work productivity habits in general. A pretty comprehensive list is available here: https://www.ventureharbour.com/best-productivity-apps/

  3. Maintaining essentials of self-care:

    While we are required to practice physical distancing, staying in touch with friends and family over phone is important during this period for mental health. This lockdown might even provide urban families with extra family time. Allowing some time for yoga, stretching and meditation assisted by online apps or videos will help protect your mental health. Unplugging from work emails and texts outside working hours is important to protect the boundaries between life and work.

We are fortunate to have lives where we can retreat to the comfort of our homes, work and receive salaries. However, we should also spare thoughts for people who do not have this luxury, and acknowledge that by their labor, are our comforts made possible. We can honor the law enforcement members maintaining safety, the scientists trying to find a cure, the doctors and nurses at the frontline battling the virus, the supply chain workers for essential commodities who jeopardize their safety and are putting their lives at risk for us, by simply staying indoors and letting them do their jobs.

Finding Purpose in the Era of Instagram

– I like how you’re carrying your C.V., it’s rare these days
– I am judging you not from your C.V., but on your attitude to take challenges

The meeting with the Managing Partner of my firm in a nutshell.

Who am I?

What is a person who breathes, sleeps and lives Bollywood doing in the World of Renewable Energy, Healthcare and helping people realise the importance of Climate action? If I sit down to retrospect my journey, I probably would have an anxiety attack and I do not use this term loosely. I remember the first question my Manager asked me during my interview at OnPurpose, ‘Why this? Why such a boring life after such a glamorous one?’ Trust me, I am still confusing everyone with my answer.

I have always been restless in life, I don’t like to plan my days and by extension, I have never had a fixed plan for life. I live by, ‘One Day at a Time’ and that translates into why I am working in an Energy sector after working as a hardcore PR professional in Bollywood. An English Major and a fresh PR graduate from Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai, I waltzed into the world of Consumer & Entertainment. Set-visits, chilling with the actors, influencer-engagement, making strategies for Bollywood talk shows wasn’t work for me, it was a dream I was living for someone else.

My life was good, my friends were jealous of my Instagram until it all came rushing in, all the things I had put on hold. My weekends were occupied, so I had bookmarked ‘things to feel’ later and in that moment, I realized that I was living my life for the world and for Instagram. I had started out in the world of entertainment wanting to create meaningful content, I had wanted a series on ‘consent’ to be supported by dedicated bodies like Breakthrough and UN. It was like a switch had flipped.

Without any backup plan, I quit my job after a year and a half and moved back to Delhi. From Instagram to LinkedIn, my search began to find a job, to be honest I was looking for something meaningful. I had wanted to change the world, but I didn’t know where/how to start. That’s  when I stumbled upon On Purpose.

What’s next?

From hardcore traditional PR, to hardcore digital, from Entertainment to Energy, to Breakthrough, The UN, and IRENA, from Mumbai to Delhi, from an established agency to a start up with a Purpose, the switch has been maniacal and H.U.G.E.

Do I regret it? No. Can I explain it? NO. Have I found my purpose here? I will get there.

Life in Digital world is fun and at On Purpose, it has been dynamic. Working at a start-up is fun, the energy is sky high and the fire to prove oneself is immense. I’ll share what I have learnt in my time here:

  • Take ownership
    It could mean different things to different people and situations. For me, it is to be responsible and be accountable. It keeps you focused
  • Thoughts into action
    Translate your thoughts into action, that is the only way they’ll get implemented. Theory, is just theory if doesn’t translate into actionable outcomes
  • Don’t be apologetic
    Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we do. Don’t back down if you think differently. Be relevant, and have the courage to own your thoughts, ideas, actions and accomplishments
  • Add value
    Be anything but boring. Bring a perspective, and add value. In an industry, that replaces resources at a drop of a hat, have something that sets you apart, even if you are dealing with the same set of brands/people everyday.

In a nutshell:

My biggest challenge here has been to overcome my reservation as a professional and the constant buzzer in my head that nags, ‘Is it relevant? Was that idea good enough?’

I am still coming to terms with it, and the only solution I have found to deal with it is address it and share it. If you don’t, you’ll never know.

The highlight has been to pitching to a dream brand and attending the 3 rd UN – Gender Equality Summit. It was a moment I’d like to describe as, ‘Yaar, mazza aa gaya!’

To take notes, learn and absorb so much energy, with so many people with a mind of their own was phenomenal.

I’ve learnt in life to not attach yourself to a place, but to people and to practices, to attach yourself with the larger mission. Sounds heavy, but it is as easy. Here’s mine: If you’re going to call yourself a storyteller, have stories to tell. For now, I am choosing to build mine. An exciting, rich on experiences story and I think, I will have good ones with a purpose. The journey has only just begun, and there are miles to go before I sleep.

If #PRAXIS8 were a state – it would be diverse, rich and ambitious If #PRAXIS8 were a state – it would be diverse, rich and ambitious

The State of #PRAXIS8

This was our second-year sponsoring PRAXIS. As a bootstrapped start-up, just over 2 years old, we consider it a privilege to be able to support our industry and be an active participant in the discourse shaping its future. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here are a few takeaways for our clients and others who couldn’t’attend:

  1. Symbolism does more harm than good: In the rush to be ‘purposeful’ brands often attempt to showcase alignment with trending causes without making the time and effort to align the company’s culture and way of working to support them. Mathew Harrington, Global COO of Edelman, showed us a few examples including McDonald’s flipping their arches to form a ‘W’ in honour of women’s day. The gesture attracted flak from people calling out the brand to first pay its employees a living wage and stop zero-hours contracts that was leading some women workers towards poverty and homelessness.

Takeaway: Customers can see through marketing ploys disguised as purpose to sell more product. Avoid symbolism towards causes if it isn’t rooted in company culture.

  1. Trust is built on perceptions, it’s always the little things: Trust is all about emotion and hope and how a brand makes an audience feel. It’s the social glue that’s formed by people and brands saying what they’ll do and doing what they’re saying. Shiv Shivakumar, Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy, Aditya Birla Group delivered the keynote focusing on leadership attributes that build trust within organisations as well as a brand’s relationship with its constituents. He gave examples of when local offices of global firms are asked to communicate developments without understanding the local context of how a message may be received, it’s a recipe for disaster in corporate communications. From a leadership perspective, he talked about the power of trust in building safe workspaces – “Trust is – I will not hurt you when you are vulnerable.” The hall was silent.

Takeaway: Trust people to do what’s right.

  1. Diversity is about how much efficiency we’re willing to sacrifice: In his session, How Goodness and Trust Can Change the World, Indian author, Devdutt Pattnaik drew analogies from Indian mythology to share lessons for the PR world. One of the key points he made was that business, by definition, hates diversity. Because diversity is inefficient, and businesses are all about efficiency. “Diversity is accepting that not everyone wants to listen. When we accept that, we calm down.” Devdutt had the hall in splits for most of the time, dodged some tough questions on the Indian government and its leadership – with style and wit and doubled up as a stand-up comic, showing the PR world the mirror while reminding us of our roles in keeping brands true and authentic.

Takeaway(s): Too many. The one on the tension between diversity and efficiency was probably the most interesting. A challenge for brands to look at diversity and inclusion from the lens of business effectiveness rather than efficiency

  1. Is creativity a function of naughtiness? In a pre-conference conversation with Regional Director, APAC, Archetype, Lee Nugent, people of ON PURPOSE were treated to a quick lesson on how to build high-performing teams at work and what it takes to unleash creativity for clients. Lee drew interesting observations across Singapore, the United Kingdom and India where he described how cultures and sub-cultures within nations and cities (countries within countries he said) impacted how freely teams could think about ‘Ideas that would get us fired’ – and be able to challenge ourselves with fresh and original ideas for clients. “You have to mis-behave a little bit and think differently to achieve outstanding creativity,” he advised. Lee also mentioned the importance of giving people space to express themselves by sharing a framework/boundary to work within and then letting them loose. He said it is okay to try something different and make mistakes.

Takeaway: Introduce a bit of naughtiness at work. We’re taking this very seriously at ON PURPOSE.

  1. Take a break, before you breakdown: The PR industry is notorious for long working hours, with poor systems and processes that leaves a lot of the doing down to ‘winging it’ and suffers from a constant lack of validation as compared with other disciplines in the marketing mix. This was raised first in a masterclass by Dr. Samir Parikh, Psychiatrist and the Director of Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Science, Fortis Hospitals and later in a conversation with CEO of The Holmes Report, Arun Sudhaman. “There are two sides of unmuting- speaking about your stresses and speaking to others about their stresses without judging. While replacing words with Emojis and limiting ourselves to character limits, we are limiting our expressions,” Dr. Parikh said. Unfortunately, in the PR world, mental health issues are linked with performance instead of being treated as a medical condition as it is. Gone are the days of ‘keep your personal and professional separate’, the workplace needs to be a constant place of support where vulnerabilities are treated with importance, we don’t need to keep it together all the time. It’s okay not to be okay.

Takeaway: As an industry we need to do better to remove the stigma around mental health issues in the workplace. Raising awareness is a first step.

  1. Mind your own business: As an industry, we often fall prey to comparisons and forget to embrace our own individuality. In a treat of a session, actress Richa Chaddha gave us the lesson of a lifetime – “Duniya Main Sabse Bada Rog? Kya Kahenge Log,” she said while sharing lessons from her own career of fighting patriarchy and carving out a niche for herself in Bollywood. Talking about trust in an un-trusting world, she encouraged all of us to have faith in ourselves, our beliefs and what makes us unique. She also apologised to a microphone, for knocking it, and exclaimed in loud horror, “OMG, I can’t believe I just apologised to a microphone – that’s how conditioned we are to constantly be apologising for ourselves.” She asked the audience not to share any pics of her with her new hairstyle as she’d been growing her hair for a new movie and couldn’t have it released on social media. The audience obliged. Not a single pic from PRAXIS showed Richa Chadha’s face. Real trust in action.

Takeaway: Be unapologetic.

  1. What can be measured is often a distraction from what really should be: For an industry that has arisen from the power of the written word and is just coming to terms with the new visual world of storytelling, asking its practitioners to become comfortable with data and analytics is like asking them to go to school all over again. And we must. The new age public relations practitioner must act like a six-blade knife. The big serrated edge – to saw through the toughest communication challenges. The ball-breaker – to ensure goal setting for every communications exercise and that everything gets measured. The bottle-opener – to celebrate every win that recognises the role of communications in building a brand. In her session on ‘Can Trust Be Measured,’ Johna Burke, Managing Director, AMEC talked about the Barcelona Principles 2.0 and shared an Integrated Evaluation Framework to help brands go beyond likes and retweets and measure what matters. Click on this link to see it in action: https://amecorg.com/amecframework/

 

Takeaway: It’s our responsibility to help brands set goals with metrics that help align the PR effort towards business outcomes and not simply rely on metrics that can be measured.

 

  1. Finally, lead with purpose and personal conviction: In her address on ‘360 Respect, Meet the new CEO’, Founder and Global CEO of WE, Melissa Waggener talked about the importance of the leader building trust with stakeholders, both internally and externally. She set context with an interesting exercise, making us write about the one quality we admire in our heroes. This quality, she suggested needs to form the base for the 360° trust we need to create. She pointed out how great brands are formed with a combination of excellent products or services and positive societal impact. Purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive, although purpose marketed with the sole intention of securing more profit, rather than genuine societal impact will not work – “You can’t fool all the people, all of the time.” Purpose also does come with consequences, she asserted. A lot of an organisation’s values are set by the power of conviction from its leader.

 

Takeaway: The leader sets the tone for organisational purpose. As communicators, our role is to help leaders communicate their beliefs in a genuine way, that helps people believe in who they are at their core and what they stand for.

 

That’s it. Thanks for reading folks. Feel free to scroll through our social media handles (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram) for more visuals and snackable content on #PRAXIS8.

 

Let us know if any of this appealed to you and you’d like to hear more. We’ll be happy to get in touch.

 

Picture credits: Amith Prabhu

Team ON PURPOSE.

Why the Renewables Industry Needs PR

Climate change is real. We have ample evidence to suggest this. It is mind-boggling though, that some people are still questioning the authenticity of climate change and backing out of climate agreements!

We live in a world where it is getting easier by the day to manufacture truth, most palatable to you, but even the manufactured truth can’t refute the hardcore scientific facts that point to climate change. It is time for action, time to shift to a sustainable way of living. And when we think sustainable, one of the foremost answers is a shift to renewable energy.

As the fossil fuel reserves rapidly dwindle and demand for fuel grows; renewable energy becomes the obvious solution. Renewable energy forms like wind, solar, hydropower etc.  cause little or no pollution and hold the key to a sustainable, energy secure future. Not to mention their longevity and availability, across the globe, unlike fossil fuels which are concentrated in certain regions, makes for a viable solution.

The renewable energy industry while in its nascent stages is growing rapidly. With India’s push towards sustainable development, renewables are now a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels. And, like any other industry starting out, it needs a case built for it. Here lies the opportunity for the communications industry.

With climate change growing worse by the minute and the push for sustainable development, there is a dire need to build awareness for and educate more and more people about the renewable industry. In addition to the most obvious, environmental benefits, renewables offer energy security and economic opportunity.

Renewable energy is being recognised as an investment opportunity that provides economic advantages, propels local economy and creates significant job opportunities. Not to mention the resultant innovation that will restructure energy markets.

As communications professionals, it is a great opportunity for us to be able to see an industry built from scratch, internalise and imbibe it, and become ambassadors for it. Only then can we work to educate others. While a niche industry right now, it offers great opportunities for the communications industry to explore perspectives, opinions, evaluate facts and help shape the future of renewables in India.

Why We Love Music In Films

“Is it a film or a musical?” My friend from New York asked me, amused as we left the movie hall after a 2 hour and 35-minute-long movie. Unlike in the west, in India we’ve rarely separated one from the other. Music and dance have always been an integral part of Bollywood, providing creative expression to our identity and sense of being. The words stay with us longer when put together in beautiful lyrics and good music.

In India, we have songs for weddings, baby showers, child birth and even death. It helps us capture the transient nature of our lives and give expression to our feelings of love, loss and joy. Music allows us to be more present and relate with our emotion completely. Our ancestors also chose the medium of music to pass on folklore and ancient wisdom down to generations. Clearly, they were well versed with human psychology and understood music’s role as a compelling form of communication.

Our first documented relationship with music dates back to 2nd century B.C when the ‘Natyashastra’ was written. The text consists of 36 chapters with a cumulative total of 6000 poetic verses describing performance arts. The Shashtra asserts that the primary goal of the performing arts, with music being key, is to transport the individual in the audience into a parallel reality, full of wonder, where they experience their consciousness in every part of their being.

Today, a number of films in Indian cinema are remembered more for songs than their storylines. Alam Ara, the first Indian film with sound and music had 7 songs dedicated to love, vengeance, separation and union. The film’s music had a spellbinding effect on its viewers with its relatable Urdu couplets, used widely among masses in pre-independence era.

Barsaat (1949), Bobby (1973), Aashiqui (1990), Komaram Puli (2010) are some of the top grossing Indian albums of all time. These films couldn’t have had a solid opening week without their music. In a time when films would reap in revenues in the excess of lakhs, Aashiqui’s music revenue topped 1.5 crores.

Music marked the various milestones at different points in the history of Indian cinema. Jatin Lalit’s Pehla Nasha defined the innocent ’90s, with Aamir Khan’s dreamy, slow-motion leap in the air amid picturesque hills, Lalit’s melody and Udit Narayan’s velvety voice. Just like the movie, there was something fresh about the soundtrack of Dil Chahta Hai (2001). It was Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy at the top of their game. Emosanal Attyachar became the new cool for the young people. The composers won a National Award for the strikingly original Dev D album (2009). Tum Hi Ho, the haunting love ballad from Aashiqui 2 (2013), turned Arijit Singh into a phenomenon that still hasn’t ended.

The allure of songs is indeed infectious and hard to resist.

While the music in Indian films is evolving in fascinating ways, it will continue to play a disproportionate role in defining and redefining Hindi cinema.

The Chilly Winter Special: India’s sordid relationship with Political Consciousness

Politically charged discussions abound in all corners. Everyone is glued to their TVs to finally concur if the exit polls matched with the actual result. Some bets are won, others feel forlorn and dejected.

By now you would have realized that it’s that time again when promises will be made in abundance, freebies will be distributed far and wide and all kinds strict oaths will be undertaken to ensure the ‘common welfare of all the people.’

The politics of consciousness refers to the idea of a person who is self-aware.We have got to continually engage with politics in our often-limited capacities. Being cynical or indifferent to the idea only adds to the problem. We understand that it’s easier said than done because of the bad name and colour that the word ‘politics’ has acquired over the years. We can blame the politicians, corrupt officers and even the justice/ judicial system but that is exactly where our job begins, not ends. Because politics affects us and it takes consistent efforts on a societal basis to affect any positive change.

The essence of a democracy is in understanding, analysing, criticising and reacting to issues. We need to account for the fact that politicians are elected representatives, that we chose to elect them and they are an extension of the society we all are a part of. We’ve got to live up to the fact that we are the world’s largest democracy. Let’s show the world what we’ve got, people! Because it doesn’t matter how many slaps/ abuses/ insults we throw at our representatives but rather if we made honest efforts in fully engaging with the system.

Also, don’t forget to vote this election. Make an informed choice and all the best!

Yours for the revolution,

Karan Kampani