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Sujit Patil joined Godrej Group in 2013 after a nine-year stint as head of communications at Tata Chemicals and has overseen a stellar communications evolution at the Indian industrial company. Under his leadership, Godrej has overhauled all aspects of its communications operation, starting with a sophisticated insights capability and encompassing an advanced approach to measurement and evaluation, digital, owned media, online reputation management and data-driven PR.
Those efforts have not escaped the attention of Patil’s peers, with Godrej winning the Diamond SABRE Award for excellence in reputation management in both South Asia and Asia- Pacific, along with Company of the Year at the former show.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
Godrej L’Affaire was launched with a larger purpose of enhancing the connect of Godrej Masterbrand with Millennials and youngsters. We launched this first of its kind brand agnostic owned media platform with three objectives: experiential engagement with influencers, building communities of brand advocates and creating relevant content based on experiences with the participating brands. All the elements of paid, owned and earned media strategies are employed in the amplification and outreach. The measured results and the admiration scores for the Godrej brand apart from the humongous authentic content created by over 40 brands has been amazing.
What are the comms industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
The biggest challenge will be reaching out to stakeholders in an authentic and engaging manner during a time when there are no physical events, alarming socio-political trends, uncertain economic conditions, and a higher degree of scrutiny on corporate behaviour. However, it’s also the time to reimagine! Going back to the drawing board, eliminate processes and mechanisms that are low on outcomes. It is like rehashing the boilerplate of the organization. This is the time for professionals to build competencies that will enable them great outcomes on the other side of the pandemic.
What have you most admired about this industry in 2020?
I was thrilled at the way the Indian PR industry folks came together. I think the conversations, the support systems, the sharing of ideas to address the issues of communications during the lockdown, the willingness to help each other and the actions discussed to alleviate the pains of professionals who lost jobs and just being there for each other was amazing. It just proves that, although a small community, it can come together to drive a large impact.
What has most disappointed you about this industry in 2020?
Many large organizations have had to reduce the retainer fees of PR consultancy partners, and many small organizations and a few severely impacted sectors had to completely let go of PR agencies, at a time when communications have been on an overdrive.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Family, colleagues and friends have been a great support and I have tried to make time for energizing conversations on video calls with them. Our school group got activated during the lockdown and periodic banter with about 60 childhood school friends connecting after over 25 year has actually been relaxing! Also started on Instagram to share my learnings of weekend farming and lessons from Mother Earth.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
My most recent inspirational book has been “Shivaji, The Great Maratha” by Ranjit Desai. My all-time favourite book on PR is “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR” by Al Rise and Laura Rise. I am currently in love with the TV show Suits on Amazon Prime.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Working in the sales function: I started my career as a sales engineer.
Sum up 2020 in one word.
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