PR was a chance happening for me rather than a deliberate choice: Vineet Handa

In the last 10 years, PR has taken a different dimension, especially after the entry of social media and the rapid shift to digital, especially in the pandemic period. At the same time the industry has been facing stiff challenges, moreover client expectations have also increased, with more emphasis being given to digital and online reputation management. The industry has undergone a radical shift and the current times have pushed the industry to change gears.

In conversation with Adgully, Vineet Handa, Founder & CEO, Kaizzen PR, speaks at length about his journey in the PR industry, managing client expectations in the digital era, adopting digital innovations and introducing value-driven services, and more.

Tell us something about your successful journey in the PR and communication world. What prompted you to take a plunge in the communications business and what is your secret for success?

I have always reiterated that PR was a chance happening for me rather than a deliberate choice, which has now scripted my life. I had always been a media operations guy and a sales executive. I started my career with the Amitabh Bachchan Corporation (ABCL), and then moved to Dubai on a sales and operations job. It was followed by a stint in Delhi at CMCG, as a PR executive in 2000. That experience officially marked my debut in the enticing and exciting world of Public Relations. I spent the next three years learning the tricks of the trade and the nuances of the business that I had hitherto been oblivious to. I learned how to build and value relationships with the media and other stakeholders.

I then spent the next three years of my life working under the tutelage of Mr Ashwani Singla at Genesis, who taught me to strategise, put processes in place, and manage operations. My last job was at the New-Delhi based TERI (the former Energy and Resources Institute), where I joined as an advisor, but was promoted to the position of associate director within a year. I spent two years at TERI, learned about corporate communications and also honed my skills. 

But what really set my entrepreneurial juices flowing, and the ball rolling for Kaizzen, the company that I was to set up later, was the lack of challenges in my existing jobs. I wanted to have fun, seek out new areas and ideas, work on different projects using the knowledge and experience that I had gathered during my over 21-year long journey.

I think the secret sauce of my success is the constant urge to learn more, explore new terrains and seek out newer possibilities. Strong networking, strengthening relationships and building trust with clients and other stakeholders and embracing change, are some of the things that have helped me to survive and thrive in this competitive industry.

What are some of the thinking processes that you follow to deliver great value to your clients? How do you set and manage expectations of your clients?

Kaizzen starts where others stop thinking. Having a list of loyal clients and time-tested partnerships, it has always been our endeavour to better our services and outperform ourselves. Our competition, therefore, is with ourselves, not with others. And, this performance is based on previous deliveries, best industry practices and outreach. Being naturally competitive, we are constantly striving to outshine and outdo our peer groups. What has helped matters is our mindset of trying to immerse innovative thinking and cutting-edge technologies in our existing practices to ensure that our PR is always ahead of the curve.

The key to client retention at Kaizzen is to exceed expectations rather than just meeting them. Our motto is to create strategies depending on a company’s strengths and execute them carefully to drive the best results. 

The pandemic has shifted behaviours and trends across industry. What kind of shifts have you noticed in the PR industry? Any key learnings in the last one year?

The most important paradigm shift that I have witnessed in the past 21 years of service in the media and PR industry because of the pandemic is a change in consumption behaviour of the people. Earlier, the medium of communication was limited to print and broadcast, but today we have a surfeit of opportunities and means to reach our target audience. This is the time when everything coexists, including print, online, and audio and video content across platforms.

Not only has online consumption grown manifold in the last one year, but the spread of social media across different socio-economic groups, too, has increased significantly. It has opened up new opportunities for communicators to reach different target audiences. Today, an integrated communication approach that looks at all available/ possible options to communicate is far more effective and more encompassing than the traditional ones.

There is a rapid change in the way digital is approached today. How is your organisation helping clients to manage and handle this digital transformation?

While traditional PR engagement has witnessed a gradual decline, digital engagement has seen a massive surge. By embracing that change and adopting digital innovations and introducing value-driven services, we have ensured that our clients are always visible. Using technologies for product launches and suggesting innovative content strategies to our clients, is another key focus area for us. Our focus is on online media and providing integrated solutions to them.

Relationship with a journalist is an art, which comes with years of experience. In today’s scenario, when all of us are working from home, what is the engagement strategy that you follow with journalists to get the best out of them?

Any relationship is always a two-way street. It starts by giving. When it comes to media relations, we follow the principle of patience and persuasion, which are backed by knowledge and research. It has always worked for us.

Where will growth come for Kaizzen in the next 3 to 5 years? What’s going to be the growth strategy? Any global collaborations on the cards to push growth?

Kaizzen has always been strong in traditional PR practices. In the past couple of years, our growth has been more inclusive because we have worked on many integrated platforms, including social, digital and tech. We have also witnessed significant growth in areas like policy advocacy and knowledge-based PR. Research is another growth area for Kaizzen. We see all these verticals growing together and complimenting each other’s strengths to provide better services to our clients.

Kaizzen, by virtue of its reputation, has been working with international clients through references of international agencies. We currently do not have any global partnership and it is difficult to comment on the future.


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