We’ve already chalked out 2015 vision & roadmap: Ashwani Singla, PSB

07 May,2013

It’s been a busy yet fruitful second year for communications shop Penn Schoen Berland, which completed two years in India recently. Having carved a niche for itself, the focus by PSB has been in establishing its corporate and political consulting practice where it is beginning to find its niche in these domains.


Ashwani Singla, Managing Director & Chief Executive – South Asia, Penn Schoen Berland asserts that the firm has worked hard in building its capabilities and setting a good foundation. In fact the leadership team at PSB has already crafted a 2015 strategic vision and roadmap for growth leading to that year.


In an interaction with Johnson Napier of MxMIndia, Mr Singla highlights the highpoints of the second year for his firm and outlines what the future will unfold for PSB in India. The market is vibrant and dynamic enough, he says, and ultimately those who deliver value to clients will thrive. Excerpts:


It’s been two years since you launched operations in India. How would you describe the second year of your journey in India?

The journey has been very satisfying for me and the team at PSB; we have grown as a team and served blue ship clients across corporate and political practice areas. We have not only attracted senior talent but also young and dynamic professionals from premier management institutes in India and the APAC region. We have also built our capabilities and have set a good foundation. My leadership team and I recently crafted our 2015 strategic vision and a roadmap for growth leading to that year.


How have you grown in the past year across the specialities that you operate in, pan India?

We have focused on our efforts in establishing our corporate and political consulting practice and I can confidently say that we are beginning to find our niche in these arenas.


You began your Mumbai operations with the introduction of Capital Market Communications for the finance community. How has the vertical delivered for you since it launched last year?

As you know, last year has been particularly challenging for as regard markets and we haven’t see the growth that we expected from our offering, however we remain committed to growing that practice. We have some very interesting irons in the fire…:)


Have you launched any other speciality units after CMC in India? How have they performed since?

Our focus has been to build our corporate and political consulting practices. Our corporate image and corporate affairs work has grown and Gaurav Bhagowati, a senior media and public advocacy professional has joined the firm this year as a Director to handle the growing portfolio of our work. Our corporate political polling and consulting work is seeing growing traction. Ashish Rastogi, a senior market research professional has joined recently as a Director to lead our Insights Services and Suvir Paul, Director now leads our Corporate Image and Corporate Affairs Services unit.


How have clients responded to your multiple service offerings, particularly during a tough 2012?

Yes, our clients have faced marketplace challenges but they have needed us more than ever during this time to help generate the insights and develop campaigns in order to get the edge they need. Spending is cautious but when we have demonstrated value of our offer, they have found the budget.


One of PSB’s USP has been to recruit highly qualified professionals and have them run the show for you in India. How fruitful has this approach been for you in India?

It has been fantastic. Our “Unagency” Approach has really been appreciated by our clients and they want more of it. Clients value the advice they get from senior professionals and the quality they see in our work with top class young talent. Senior leaders in the firms are hands-on and engage with clients on a day-to-day basis. Our young associates also get great exposure working with seasoned professionals and the empowered work place they get when they work with clients directly.


Digital, led largely by social media, seems to be the go-to terrain for communication agencies in India. What is PSB’s emphasis on that front?

What works for the client in a particular campaign works for us. As you know our campaigns run on 3i philosophy. Insights driven, Integrated across stakeholders and mediums and Impact business.


The communications market in India is seeing the emergence of many new players who are out to carve a niche in the market. How do you view their entry into a market that’s already cluttered?

The market is vibrant and dynamic enough to absorb new players and ultimately those who deliver value to clients will thrive.


What were the challenges that you were faced with last year, particularly from the client and industry front?

As we bring new thinking and a new approach to managing strategic communication we need to invest a lot of time to help people grasp the nuance. Once they get it they become believers.


How, in your opinion, is the Communications (including PR) space evolving in India in the recent past?

Communication is a dynamic sphere and it will continue to evolve as people evolve and how they consume information evolves.


Where do you see PSB in India as you enter the third year of operations in India?

We are building off our solid foundation…:)


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