Sujit Patil | Influence 100 2022
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Sujit Patil

VP & Head, Corporate Brand & Communications
Godrej Industries

Sujit Patil has overseen a stellar communications evolution at Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies -  one of India’s most diversified and trusted conglomerates.  He and his team have one of the most comprehensive and wide PR, reputation building and brand communications mandate in the country. All told, Patil and his team manage a wide portfolio of businesses ranging from FMCG, real estate, agriculture, animal feed, chemicals, food, oils, financial services, amongst others.

The operational scope spans across PR, digital PR, influencer engagement, managing key opinion leaders, building communities, government body relations, academic interventions, research-driven narratives, experiential owned media platforms, measurement and analytics, ORM & crisis management. His philosophy of POEMS (Paid, owned, earned media strategies) for integrated communications has been institutionalized to tell the Godrej story to over 750 million consumers in India close to 1.2 billion across the world. 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.  He leads a team that has been ranked number one on Reputation Today’s top 30 communications teams in India, fifth time in a row.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
There have been many wow moments of PR creating a delight for businesses. I see it all the time. My favorite during the past two years has been our PR-led campaign to educate masses on the right hygiene practices to beat Covid-19. This program saw the integration of POEMS – paid, owned, earned media strategies, sampling, influencer engagement, government body partnerships – to reach out to over 100 million people across over 70 cities in India. This pilot led to a 2X growth in demand for hygiene products.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
With dwindling attention spans, too many mediums, explosion of data, prevalence of fake news, inherent need to be pompous in brand communications and increased attention towards hyperlocal content, the communicators challenges are on a rise. In India, the diversity of languages adds to the complexity. However, with technology and the new pandemic led insight to be more empathetic and inclusive, communicators are adapting themselves towards crisper formats that are snackable, believable and authentic. With enhanced conversations around the metaverse and commtech, the year could be quite decisive for many in terms of laying out processes and plans for contemporary PR practices going forward.

What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
The way the PR industry demonstrated resilience and the ability to adapt to newer ways of working is noteworthy. It is heartening to see communications consultancies and agencies sailing through the pandemic with aplomb.

What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
Not much could be done in the space of diversity and inclusion. I feel the pandemic took the situation back by a couple of years. Capability building in agencies to service clients in the new circumstances – enhancing tech, data and measurement skills – could have been better.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?Being meaningfully engaged and involving myself in social causes beyond work helped a lot. My passion for weekend farming kept me connected to nature and energized me a lot after a packed work week. The trick was to remain positive, spending quality time with family and friends and consciously not giving oneself a situation to be glum about.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
Not much of a movie buff. However, I did occasionally watch and got hooked on to a few web series. ‘Suits’ has been a favorite. Watched a lot of travel and food shows. Created a construct for writing my own book in the realm of contemporary public relations.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A very good sales and business development professional. The first four years of my career were as a sales engineer selling high-end instrumentation products and services to chemical, pharmaceutical, and petroleum plants. Maybe a farmer growing vegetables and fruit!

Sum up 2022 in one word.