India’s Adfactors PR chief sets out a post Covid-19 reputation strategy

Madan Bahal, Managing Director, Adfactors PR, (pictured above) has said that both startups and mature companies have to navigate the post-COVID-19 world through effective communication and reputation management.

I would agree, and add that when you join climate change, Industry 4.0 and the generation gap into this equation you have uncharted territory that demands immediate action to protect and enhance reputations.

His view: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment where customers may not blindly trust a new product, service, or business. As a result, reputation management and effective communication strategies for businesses have become increasingly important.”

So, how do you start?

Madan Bahal advises that with new market realities emerging in the post-pandemic world, a strong line of communication between a business and its customers can instil positivity and reliability around the brand.

“The post-pandemic business environment will be one represented by growing geopolitical complexity, a more polarised society, and the chance for backlash if the popular sentiment is hurt.”

His advice works for startups and mature companies alike, saying they have to navigate these challenges through effective communication and reputation management.

Despite the rising popularity of public relations (PR) services for business communications and crisis management, some fledgeling companies are still reluctant to give PR a serious thought.

According to Madan, there is often temperamental incompatibility between young startup founders and PR firms due to a mismatch in expectations. However, founders eventually realise the importance of public communication for attracting talent, announcing fundraises, and dealing with crises, he added.

Madan has been an entrepreneur since 1981, co-founded Adfactors PR in 1997. Adfactors PR is India’s largest PR firm, serving over 300 retained clients across 40 cities in the country.

Madan compares startups to fragile organisms vulnerable to risks in a complex environment.

“For these startups, public relations and reputation management add a ring of protection, trust, and credibility. This gives them a competitive advantage across the board,” he said.

Madan highlighted the positive and negative perceptions the media held about the young startup founders. “Startups were perceived to be transformational and big contributors to economic growth, however, they suffered from insensitive hire-and-fire policies or toxic work culture,” he said.

Now, getting down to what you do when facing all these challenges – here is his list of seven actions which can protect and build reputations:

  1. startups should view every action from the lens of public interest
  2. invest time in maintaining healthy media relations
  3. establish listening posts to guide and alert potential reputation risks
  4. place CXOs, CFOs, or CHROs as reputation leads
  5. build crisis protocols to enable rapid responses
  6. make the purpose of sustainability, diversity, and inclusion the guiding principles for actions and communications
  7. realise a sincere apology goes a long way in reputation management

It is hard to imagine any organisation which would not greatly benefit from his advice.

(Thanks to YourStory India and “TechSparks 2020” for much of the above content)

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

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