The rise and widespread use of social media round the globe has worked to undermine the role of Public Relations Enterprises (PREs) to a great measure. One would notice even corporate to take to social media channels to publicize their products and services and economize their publicity sizably. “I would not call it a threat but definitely it is a challenge that has forced the PR industry to reinvent its own ways of working,” says Nikky Gupta, Co-founder and Director Teamwork Communications Group.
An entrepreneur, a health advocate, a mother of two and Co-Founder of Indian Health & Wellness Foundation, Nikky Gupta embodies traits of an exponential leader who never believes in resting on her laurels.
Born and brought up in Kanpur in a family where women were content playing household roles, Nikky was always passionat to explore new avenues. She learnt the basics of entrepreneurship and skills of conducting and expanding business rather early by keenly observing her father. Studying Mass Communication opened a new world of opportunities for her and took her to Delhi where she started a career in the field Public Relations. Having spent a few years learning on the job, she decided to turn entrepreneur and co-founded Teamwork Communications Group in 2010.
When India rolled out the GST tax reform, Teamwork Group was chosen as the media partner for GSTN — the digital backbone of the tax regime. Working closely with GSTN, Nikky played a key role in crafting its media outreach and communications strategy. Under her leadership, Teamwork Group has also conducted a series of successful campaigns for the Kerala, Jharkhand and Delhi governments. Teamwork Communications has also conducted award winning communication and awareness campaigns in health and wellness for prestigious organizations such as Fortis Healthcare, Columbia Asia Hospitals, Cipla, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Medtronic India, Abbott India, Bard India, Paras Healthcare and Essilor among others. In 2014, she co-founded the India Health & Wellness Foundation aimed to recognize leading contributors in the field of health and wellness in India.
From her origins in a traditional household, Nikky has come a long way and broken many a glass ceiling. She is the first woman in her extended family to establish an enterprise. She is also among a select few women who form the top leadership of media and communications organizations in this country. Having made a mark for herself, Nikky also believes in mentoring young girls and women and encourage them to find new ground.
SME WORLD in an email interaction with Nikky Gupta:
Who fit better – Men or women in the PR industry?
I don’t think it would be right to say that men fit better or women do in PR. In fact, gender doesn’t determine your suitability to any profession, field or career; aptitude and ability does. For a long time, it was believed that men are better than women in STEM related fields. Gradually, with more women entering STEM and Science fields, we know now that it is not gender but aptitude and opportunity that define your suitability for a career. Public Relations is a very crafty exercise that requires multiple talents –planning, strategizing, execution, visioning, writing, establishing long term fruitful relations etc. Whoever has the ability and fits into some of these core jobs can excel in PR. Having said that, my organization is dominated by women; women are practically calling the shots in every department at Teamwork Communications Group.
What kind of challenges you came across during your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome those challenges?
When you set about establishing your own business, challenges are bound to come. Though I come from a business family, I was the first woman in my household to step out and venture into entrepreneurship. Not many people expected me to succeed the way I did. Apart from such perceptional challenges, there were practical challenges as well. We were young, short of resources and funds and lacked the kind of industry experience major clients wanted their PR teams to have. Yet, we overcame these challenges by working hard, doing our homework diligently before every client meeting, nurturing a network of friends in the media and advocacy field to help us fill in the experience gap wherever needed. Since we bootstrapped our business, cash was always a concern. However, we learned to manage our resources efficiently and productively.
Is fast developing Social Media a threat to the PR industry? Explain!
I would not call it a threat but definitely it is a challenge that has forced the PR industry to reinvent its own ways of working. Unlike conventional media, any news – correct or false – spreads like wildfire on social media. Similarly, with large footfalls on social media platforms, reaching out to people is faster on social media than through conventional media. However, social media and traditional media cannot replace each other and will continue to exist parallel to each other. This is why PR strategies are today created keeping in mind social media impact as well. Any campaign has to run on both platforms. This is an evolution that was bound to happen. Around 15 years back, before smartphones flooded our markets, it would have been difficult to imagine a media landscape where social and digital channels were equally important as newspapers and television news. But, here we are dealing with this rapid evolution. At Teamwork, we responded to this challenge by establishing a dedicated social and digital media management teams which conduct social media campaigns for our clients.
How will you evaluate the future of the PR industry in India in the face of huge competition?
The future is good. While competition is increasing, a parallel development has been the rise in the market for PR. Two decades back, Public Relations was a specialty considered a luxury by most companies and organizations. Today, with the rapid evolution of the media, PR has become a necessity. A lot of people who earlier believed in focusing more on advertisements are now realizing the long term benefits of having a subtler PR strategy. The COVID 19 crisis has in recent times forced many organizations to slash their huge advertising budgets; many such companies are now turning to PR which can be done at a fraction of the cost of Ads but has a subtler yet sustainable impact. I expect this market will continue to flourish in the coming years. We may also see some consolidation in the industry.
You work across clients from different verticals and sectors and their demands or requirements must be different and may be varied. How do cope with them?
We cope with them by establishing dedicated specialty teams. While our main thrust is on Healthcare Specialty, we also offer services to a wide range of other organizations – educational institutions, startups, corporate, lifestyle, FMCG clients to name a new. The nature of the work required for each of these sectors is widely different as you rightly mentioned. Our teams work on dedicated specialties and nurture their knowledge and experience on the same. So, while a team of PR executives and writers has expertise in healthcare communication; another has core expertise in startups and corporate.
What is the USP of Teamwork group?
As mentioned above our USP is healthcare communication. We are the only healthcare specialty communications company in the industry and we have spent a decade learning the intricacies of healthcare communication. Health communication is different from other sectors. It requires individuals working on it to have a dedicated understanding of how healthcare functions, the prevalent disease epidemiology, the sensitivity of conducting communications for hospitals etc.
What is the next level for Teamwork?
Becoming the biggest specialized health and wellbeing integrated communication and advocacy firm not only in India but footprint across Asia-pacific market.
What is your vision for your company for the next five years?
Over the coming half a decade, Teamwork will be strengthening and expanding the service offering spectrum so that our patrons can get integrated and omni-channel communication supports for fast emerging communication requirements and dynamic business environment. This will also involve expanding the talent pool and resources. We are already operating in over 65 cities of India through a network with direct offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. We aim to set up offices in all six metros over the next two years and then add on other emerging cities such as Pune, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Lucknow, and Indore after it.