PR Powerhouses Of India: Shaking up the Scene with Sass and Strategy!

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Bengaluru: From enduring centuries of inequality to emerging as the driving force behind India’s public relations landscape, women have come a long way in reshaping the narrative of success. Historically, women faced numerous barriers in the professional sphere, battling stereotypes and systemic biases that hindered their progress. However, in recent decades, there has been a remarkable transformation, with women breaking through glass ceilings and establishing themselves as leaders in various industries.

In the dynamic field of public relations, Indian women have not only shattered stereotypes but have also proven themselves as indispensable assets, orchestrating strategic campaigns, fostering meaningful connections, and propelling businesses to unprecedented heights.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s time to recognize and applaud the trailblazing women who are redefining the PR landscape in India, leaving an indelible mark on the industry and inspiring generations to come. Join The Balcony Stories as we highlight some of the best women PR professionals who are making waves and shaping the future of communications in India.

Sridevi Rao

As a seasoned Public Relations Consultant since 2000, Sridevi has left an indelible mark on the industry with her strategic prowess and unstinting dedication. A former lawyer who practiced for a number of years, Sridevi began her PR journey overseeing the South India operations of a New Delhi-based PR firm, headquartered in Singapore, where she meticulously crafted brand narratives and orchestrated impactful media campaigns for clients based abroad. Her role involved extensive interaction with Print and TV media, ensuring optimal exposure and visibility. From organising press conferences to handling company launches and promotions, Sridevi’s multifaceted approach garnered widespread acclaim, establishing her as a trusted liaison between clients and the media.

Transitioning to becoming an independent PR Consultant in 2005, Sridevi’s expertise expanded, and her clients encompassed myriad diverse sectors, including Hospitality, Art and Culture, Real Estate, Educational Products, Beauty and Health, Lifestyle, and much more. Her impressive portfolio includes collaborations with renowned brands in the restaurant space such as Impresario Handmade Restaurants, Keen Mustard Hospitality, Azure Hospitality, House of Commons, Longboat Brewing Co, and 1522 among others, Star Hotels like The Leela Palace, Grand Mercure Bengaluru at Gopalan Mall, and The Lalit Ashok, and Lifestyle brands such as Swarovski, and Orra. On the Art and Culture front, she handles Bangalore Literature Festival, Bengaluru Poetry Festival, Bangalore Business Literature Festival, Green Literature Festival, Ranga Shankara, Attakalari Centre for Movement Arts, and Atta Galatta, in addition to a plethora of Artists, Authors and the like. Her command over a number of languages and a keen understanding of local culture and dynamics, has helped her to build an excellent rapport with the Vernacular media as well. With an impeccable track record and a keen understanding of market dynamics, she has earned the trust of clients and media alike, fostering enduring relationships that drive success.

Sridevi’s commitment to community service is equally commendable, as evidenced by her pro bono work for organisations such as Karunashraya and other NGOs, as also adult education programs, awareness campaigns, and legal counselling sessions which has empowered countless individuals.

With her pursuit of excellence and Client satisfaction, Sridevi continues to redefine the boundaries of success in the PR industry.

Arzoo Afzal Sait, Out Of Office 

From a foundational education in design to spearheading the marketing and PR directives of prestigious brands, Arzoo Sait’s journey through the dynamic landscape of branding and public relations stands as a testament to her strategic foresight and unwavering commitment to excellence. Graduating with a keen understanding of brand dynamics, Arzoo’s early career saw her making significant contributions to Bumble India and Massive Restaurants, where she honed her skills in restaurant management and PR strategies for brands like Bo-Tai and Farzi Cafe.

Arzoo’s expertise continued to flourish as she took on the role of Marketing and PR Director for V&RO Hospitality’s luxury segment, overseeing brands like Mirage and Taki Taki, before establishing her own agency, Out Of Office, managing PR for 48 distinguished brands and leading successful launches for culinary giants, fashion icons, and unique ventures across India like Tim Hortons, Bastian Bangalore, Franck Provost, Mango, Tyaani by Karan Johar, Shantnu & Nikhil, Ritu Kumar, Physique 57.

Additionally, the agency manages all of Embassy Group’s F&B brands, including Sanchez, Sriracha, Hops Haus, and Zest, their luxury catering wing. Her story is one of passion, dedication, and the relentless pursuit of excellence, making her a distinguished figure in the industry and beyond.

Manjuu, BrandIt Communications 

With an illustrious career spanning over 28 years, Manjuu has cemented her position as a seasoned professional in the realm of PR and marketing. Renowned for her strategic prowess and adept media counsel, she has been instrumental in shaping the communication strategies of countless organizations across diverse industries.

Having dedicated the last 24 years to assisting organizations in shaping their reputations, Manjuu’s expertise extends to brand strategy, corporate communications, and navigating complex communication challenges. Her journey began at Magna Publications, where she delved into the nuances of advertising and space selling before venturing into renowned publications like New Indian Express and Man’s World. Noteworthy collaborations with industry luminaries such as Minhaz Merchant further enriched her repertoire.

Manjuu’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to found BrandiT Communications after a stint at Big FM, where she realized her true calling lay in PR. Under her leadership, BrandiT Communications has thrived, delivering impactful communication solutions to a diverse clientele.

Throughout her career, Manjuu has spearheaded numerous projects, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. Notable collaborations include ventures with NSRCEL, Altigreen, and prestigious establishments like Leela Palace Hotels, Bangalore.

As she continues to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of PR and marketing, Manju’s dedication, expertise, and unwavering commitment to excellence continue to inspire and shape the industry.

Tarunjeet Rattan, Nucleus PR

With a career spanning over two decades, Tarunjeet Rattan has made significant contributions to the field of communication, encompassing PR, journalism, and events. Transitioning from roles in premier agencies and corporate houses, she embarked on an entrepreneurial journey, founding the highly acclaimed boutique firm – Nucleus PR. Through her work, Tarunjeet has not only amplified the voice of the PR community but has also championed initiatives such as PRPOI, a vibrant community dedicated to upskilling the industry.

As a board member of the prestigious global PRBI network, Tarunjeet has left an indelible mark on the international stage. Her accolades include numerous awards for her outstanding contributions to PR and entrepreneurship, including being named the ‘Top Influencer in the country’ in PR by a leading publication for the fourth consecutive year. Widely recognized as a PR expert, Tarunjeet is frequently sought after by the media for her insights and expertise in the field.

A thought leader in her own right, Tarunjeet seamlessly integrates her expertise in communication marketing, branding, digital strategies, and industry insights to drive impactful storytelling and enhance brand reputation for her clients. Her proficiency in leveraging data-driven insights further underscores her reputation as a formidable force in the realm of communication. With an impressive roster of clients and a proven track record of success, Tarunjeet continues to redefine the standards of excellence in the industry.

Shruti Kedia and Prarthna Vohra, Sparkplug Inc

Shruti Kedia and Prarthna Vohra bring a wealth of experience in communication and brand strategy, each with over two decades of expertise in Mumbai and Bangalore, respectively. With a rich background working with renowned brands in the fashion, lifestyle, and hospitality sectors, their profound understanding of PR and marketing enables them to craft distinct brand positioning for every client they collaborate with. Sharing a bond forged during their studies at Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communications Pune, Shruti and Prarthna are not just business partners but also close friends.

Their shared vision led to the inception of SparkPlug, a company aimed at disrupting the traditional norms of brand communication. Their goal is to adopt an integrated approach to offer a more immersive brand experience to clients. SparkPlug operates on the principle of empowering brands through integrated storytelling, forging meaningful connections that resonate with audiences, and driving success through strategic, multidimensional campaigns.

Among their notable achievements, Shruti and Prarthna have spearheaded ground-breaking initiatives such as launching the first Social in the country, orchestrating successful national coverage for clients like Chunda Shikar Oudi, which significantly expanded the brand’s reach. Their collaborations with A-list celebrities like Sobhita Dhulipala and Shilpa Shetty have further solidified their reputation for delivering impactful campaigns. Noteworthy ventures include the successful launch of India’s first colour-changing gin, Nisaki, in collaboration with renowned chef entrepreneur Tarun Sibal at Barfly Goa.Shruti and Prarthna have led pioneering initiatives for renowned brands across various industries, including luxury, hospitality, food & beverage, travel & tourism, retail, fashion, celebrity PR, alcoholic beverages, education, and more. They have collaborated with esteemed names such as Mont Blanc, Tommy Hilfiger, ITC Kitchen of India, Bombay Rayon, Paul & Shark, TBZ, Indian Terrain, Impresario Hospitality, Bonsai & Bodhi Tree, Chunda Group of Hotels, Bellona Hospitality, Street Storyss and Swwing, helping these brands take shape and find their unique voice.

With a commitment to curating and collaborating to create maximum impact, Shruti Kedia and Prarthna Vohra continue to redefine the standards of brand communication, setting new benchmarks for innovation and excellence in the industry.

Sonalika Pawar, Bold and Beyond 

Sonalika Pawar, the CEO of Bold and Beyond (formerly Meraki Creative Inc.), is a visionary leader reshaping PR and marketing. Under her guidance, the team has grown from 2-3 members to a robust 40, specializing in various sectors. Sonalika’s impact extends beyond leadership; she’s renowned for launching prominent names in Lifestyle and Hospitality like Puma, BMW, Heineken, Belvedere, The Leela Palace Bengaluru, Leela Bhartiya City, Swiggy Steppinout, Pernia’s Pop Up Shop, One 8 Commune, Shangri-La Hotels, JW Marriott, Heads Up for Tails, Andaz Delhi, Ascent Decor, Pinklay, Suta, Dessange Paris, Vedant Fashion, Social, Nevermind, Arvind Lifestyle, Nicobar, Aratt Hospitality, and various other brands pan India.

Recognizing the need for digital talent, Sonalika founded Bold & Beyond, bridging gaps in the digital era. In just two years, the agency boasts over 200 partnerships, a testament to Sonalika’s visionary leadership. With a 300% annual growth rate, Bold & Beyond is a contemporary agency crafting extensive media campaigns and resilient branding strategies.

Sonalika’s leadership ethos emphasizes inspiration, talent nurturing, and diversity. Her vision extends beyond business triumphs, fostering a culture of innovation and extraordinary client experiences. Outside work, she finds joy in travel, cuisine, and the company of her canine companions, Leo and Sushi, reflecting a dedication to life’s simple pleasures. In the dynamic world of PR and Marketing, Sonalika Pawar stands as a beacon of innovation and excellence, embodying unwavering dedication to creativity and exceptional results.

Meghna Shah, Tandem Communications 

With a rich 20-year career in PR & Communications, Meghna Shah has established herself as a stalwart in the industry. Her deep understanding of PR dynamics and strategic prowess across diverse sectors has earned her a distinguished reputation. Meghna’s approach to client servicing is anchored in fundamental principles such as Brand DNA, Creativity, effectiveness, and cost efficiency, ensuring that each client’s unique needs are met with precision and innovation. Some of her clients are Bath and Body Works, Farah Khan Fine jewellery, Advaya, Forest Hills, Hilton, Gogunda Palace, H&M, Phoenix Kessaku, Loreal Paris, Nykaa, Maserati, Mont Blanc, Kay Beauty, Ritu Kumar, Rolls Royce, and many more.

Throughout her career, Meghna has demonstrated a keen ability to navigate the complexities of the PR landscape with finesse. Her strategic acumen and insightful approach have led to the successful execution of numerous high-profile campaigns and initiatives. Meghna’s dedication to achieving tangible results for her clients has cemented her position as a trusted advisor and partner in their journey towards building and enhancing their brand presence.

In addition to her professional achievements, Meghna is known for her commitment to excellence and her ability to foster strong, lasting relationships with clients and colleagues alike. Her proactive attitude and unwavering dedication to client success have made her a sought-after expert in the PR industry. With her wealth of experience and proven track record of delivering impactful results, Meghna continues to set the standard for excellence in PR and Communications.

Nidhi Agarwal, Ebony & Ivory PR

Nidhi has carved a remarkable path in the realm of PR and Corporate Communications, amassing 18 years of enriching experience marked by numerous milestones. Commencing her journey as a PR executive in 2006, she swiftly ascended the ranks, eventually attaining the distinguished positions of General Manager and Vice President at Madison Communications, one of India’s premier media firms. Over her decade-long tenure, Nidhi led operations in South India, orchestrating highly successful campaigns for esteemed brands like Britannia, Cafe Coffee Day, PUMA, Apollo, and Shangri-La. Her unwavering commitment to delivering tangible results garnered accolades from clients and peers alike, underscoring her prowess in the PR domain. Seeking fresh challenges, Nidhi embraced the role of Head of PR at Housejoy, a burgeoning tech startup, where she played a pivotal role in shaping the brand’s reputation and implementing effective communication strategies.

Fuelled by an entrepreneurial spirit, Nidhi embarked on a new venture, founding Ebony & Ivory PR, an integrated communications agency renowned for its digital-first approach. In a remarkably short span, the agency has emerged as a trusted partner for forward-thinking brands across diverse industries. Notable clients include Soch, TBZ, WROGN, JCPenney India, Multiply Ventures, Your-Space, Kanine India, GOPIZZA, and Evolved Foods. Nidhi’s PR journey is characterized by continuous growth, leadership, and a fervent dedication to crafting compelling brand narratives. With Ebony & Ivory PR, she envisions shaping the future of strategic communications, propelling brands to new heights of success.

Among Nidhi’s notable campaigns, one stands out for its exceptional impact: PUMA’s launch of their new brand positioning – ‘Forever Faster.’ Spearheading the campaign, Nidhi orchestrated the grand arrival of the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, to India. Leveraging this unique opportunity across various stakeholders, including the running community, media, students, cricket enthusiasts, and employees, the event garnered widespread acclaim. The strategic mix of online activations and on-ground events propelled PUMA’s positioning as a leading player in the running space, yielding a remarkable ROI worth 300 Mn INR across social and media platforms within a week.

Another memorable campaign orchestrated by Nidhi was the BBMP “Wake up Clean up” initiative, dedicated to addressing Bangalore city’s mounting waste management challenges. Through a series of educational events spanning seven days, Nidhi galvanized massive participation from students, hospitals, residential buildings, and offices, culminating in impactful workshops, art installations, and press conferences. The campaign sparked significant positive media coverage and constructive discussions, resulting in a radical shift in the media’s narrative towards fostering citizen responsibility. The total media evaluation value amounted to a staggering Rs. 18,08,74,549, showcasing the campaign’s far-reaching impact and lasting legacy.

Gitika Taraporewala, Clover Connect

Gitika is the visionary founder behind Clover Connect, an acclaimed boutique communications agency based in Mumbai. With a rich over two decades of experience both in India and internationally, Gitika has emerged as a trusted advisor in the realm of PR, digital influence, talent management, and events. Through Clover Connect and its sister agency, Criesse Communications, she has steered the representation of prestigious brands spanning luxury, lifestyle, entertainment, hospitality, and celebrity domains. Notable clients include Zoya and Nebula by Titan, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Phoenix Marketcity, Phoenix Palladium, Coach, Armani, Paul Smith, Jimmy Choo, Audi, Mercedes, and Steinway Lyngdorf.

Gitika’s expertise extends beyond brand representation, encompassing a diverse portfolio of PR projects, including collaborations with renowned celebrities such as Gauri Khan, Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Leander Paes, Zaheer Khan, and Rehan Poncha, among others. Reflecting on the agency’s ethos, Gitika emphasizes a commitment to strategic brand principles, execution excellence, and collaborative partnerships with clients. At Clover Connect, the focus is always on delivering PR solutions that authentically enhance a brand’s equity among its key stakeholders.

Prior to establishing Clover Connect fifteen years ago, Gitika honed her skills at esteemed agencies like Ogilvy PR and FCB Ulka. A graduate with a passion for communication, she continues to spearhead Clover Connect’s journey towards shaping impactful narratives and fostering enduring client relationships in an ever-evolving industry landscape.

In conclusion, the stories of these exceptional women in the field of public relations and communications exemplify the transformative power of passion, dedication, and strategic vision. From pioneering boutique agencies to leading renowned firms, each professional has left an indelible mark on the industry through their innovative approaches, unwavering commitment to excellence, and unparalleled expertise.

Ishita Singhal, Sass Communications

A 29 year old young woman entrepreneur has successfully launched her own firm—Sass Communications—a public relations and communications agency. She is a firm believer in correlating public relations with storytelling. Her precision and attention to detail has helped her garner a strong clientele. She has successfully managed to understand the requirements of her clients to the t and at the same time provide a flexible and conducive work environment for her team members. As a result of her hard work, dedication and passion, she has boarded brands like Type Beauty, Praush Beauty, La Mior, The Skin Diet Company, Friday Feeling, GNC India, Conscious Chemist, Fix My Curls, Pro Touch, Bella Vita Organic and Bevzilla which are some of the leading names in the lifestyle and beauty industry. Her journey for the past five years in the public relations sector has been insightful and all about expanding her horizons.  The one-man-army boutique PR firm, Sass Communications was a brave step towards creating something from scratch. While she was studying fashion marketing at Pearl Academy, New Delhi, she discovered her passion for this field and that helped her begin this entrepreneurial journey in 2020. She had previously gained ample experience by working with firms such as The Communications Council, Value 360 and brands such as Rosso Brunello and Lotus Herbals. A marketing maverick, she has worked with renowned brands such as Jio Saavan, Sirona, Paytm, Onitsuka Tigers before taking a leap of faith and starting off on her own.

The intention behind creating her firm was to provide quality and customised services to the clients. While working in these correlated fields, she realised there were gaps in the industry that only valuable communication and good relations could fix. As a leader in her area of expertise she adheres to innovation and has handled a diverse range of portfolios with utmost meticulousness and rigour.

Ishita says that it is not only media attention that the brand needs to get but maintaining good public relations is equally important to retain customers and formulate a desired image. The aim with Sass Communications was to create impactful brand stories, value-driven public relations and a voice of the brand amongst all the surrounding noise. The strength lies in constantly reinventing and developing unique, integrated messages for clients that maintain brand authenticity – ensuring strategic and focused media coverage. Having a 360-degree approach, a friendly ecosystem and maintaining good relations with our clients with a healthy work environment that is flexible but focuses on a smooth functioning has come handy in this journey.

Equipped with a transformational idea and her team, Ishita has successfully been recognised amongst the top 75 entrepreneurs by startup reporter. She has been able to retain 90 percent of her accounts owing to the fruitful ambassador launch campaigns, store launches, media events and other talked about events in the city. Her urge to become an entrepreneur was strong from the start and she worked relentlessly towards turning her dreams into a reality. The company started booming with all the zeal and commitment towards it and then there was no looking back. Today she holds a strong experience in relationship building, networking with media, influencers and celebrities, conducting campaigns and event curation. The next move is to expand further into creative verticals such as content creation and product styling. She has been triumphant in managing to build a collaborative ecosystem for the clients and maintaining synergy at the same time. Her journey as an entrepreneur and a leader has been about a good challenge, growth and inspiration. Her outlook for Sass Communications is one of constant advancement and progress. She has great hopes and aspirations for the firm and a sound plan in place for expansion into various related dimensions.

As they continue to shape the narrative of brands, foster meaningful connections, and drive impactful campaigns, their collective contributions serve as an inspiration to aspiring professionals and a testament to the limitless possibilities within the dynamic realm of PR. In celebrating their achievements, The Balcony Stories acknowledge not only their individual successes but also the broader evolution of the field, propelled by the ingenuity and resilience of women leaders like them.

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