Posted in Articles on September 18th, 2014 by admin

Genesis Burson-Marsteller recently held its annual Gabbys Awards to recognise and celebrate internal campaigns, excellence in team work and an overall commitment to Genesis Burson-Marsteller.

This year’s theme was ‘Being More’, and the award’s focus was on visual storytelling — campaign presentations and employee engagement programs that were told using images, animation and video.

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17 September 2014

Posted in Articles on June 23rd, 2014 by admin

The number of people taking to social media to stay connected in real time is increasing albeit at a slower rate on some platforms. Given the reach social media platforms provide, it makes it imperative for marketers to access the real time data where the consumer is, and what he or she is saying. So that they can act upon them in real time…

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Credit: Campaign India
18th June 2014

Posted in Articles on May 29th, 2014 by admin

Yu Yu Din, Head – Digital Strategist has shared her views on ‘the role of social media: how it has changed the way we interact with the world’ on NDTV Prime’s new technology show, The Contrarian. The show airs every Wednesday at 8 pm. Her comments appeared along with other social media experts. You can watch the latest episode of The Contrarian here

28th May 2014,

Posted in Articles on May 5th, 2014 by admin

The last couple of years have seen a huge shift in the way gender diversity is perceived—both, within as well as outside the workplace. While specific incidents have led to watershed developments, there is still a long journey ahead on the road to equal opportunity workplaces across verticals.

It requires organisations to take the lead in making this happen, and The Outstanding Speakers’ Bureau (The OSB) has created a concept to support organisations in this effort. The comprehensive thought leadership plan on Women’s Safety and Gender Diversity is modular and can be customised to the specific thoughts and requirements of the organisation.

For details on the plan please get in touch here.

About The Outstanding Speakers’ Bureau

This is a unique and distinguished service, where we represent speakers of high calibre and high impact. Exemplary representatives of their fields, our speakers include, story-tellers like Devdutt Pattanaik, Mallika Sarabhai and Shruti Sachdeva, industry leaders like Ravi Venkatesan, Pramod Bhasin, Dr Omkar Goswami, Santosh Desai, Tejpreet Singh Chopra, Raghu Raman and Tjaco Walvis, bureaucrats, thinkers and activists like Arun Maira, Dr SY Quraishi and Dr Siddiq Wahid, inspiring entrepreneurs like Piyush Tewari, Ajay Chaturvedi, Antti Ohrling, Agnelorajesh Athaide and Ajeet Bajaj, and more.

Our vision at The Outstanding Speakers’ Bureau is to go beyond representing our speakers and create programmes to address the current need and ask of the corporate world. Not just that, we are also laying emphasis on customisation and mentoring, which is a growing need in the corporate sector. This customised programme for Women’s Safety and Gender Equality is one such endeavour that we are sure your organisation can benefit from.

Posted in Articles on March 20th, 2014 by admin

Prema Sagar, Principal and Founder, Genesis B-M has been, once again, recognised in IMPACT magazine’s list of Top 50 Most Influential Women in 2014. She has been ranked 19, up from 24 last year, amongst the most influential women in media, marketing and advertising and has been acknowledged for her pioneering work in India’s Public Relations industry. The third edition of the list was revealed last evening, March 19, 2014 in Mumbai.

GBM’s client, Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo congratulates Prema and says, “I have known Prema for more than 25 years now and so it is difficult to pick on a few aspects of her versatile personality to highlight. At the core, Prema is uncompromising in her integrity. Every thought and in every action, she repeatedly demonstrates what she firmly believes in. Often, a good advisor, needs to have the conviction to tell you what not to do! Prema has no dearth of that personal conviction and yet, she is someone who makes an enormous amount of effort in understanding her client’s world and best interests. But if there is one thing that Prema needs to be recognised for is the fact that she is truly self-made and an inspiration for those who get to watch her in action!”

Posted in Articles on December 16th, 2013 by admin

Genesis Burson-Marsteller, leader in integrated communications, organized a post-election panel discussion in association with Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI) in New Delhi.

With this panel discussion, Genesis Burson-Marsteller has set the ball rolling for Being More Conversations, a thought leadership platform for expertise and experience come together to deliver insights and ideas to approach a constantly changing world.

The panel discussion convened acclaimed academia, including Dr Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Research Director, India Development Foundation and Dr Rajiv Kumar, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research along with senior members of the press, including Anil Padmanabhan, Deputy Managing Editor, Mint and Shekhar Iyer, Senior Associate Editor, Hindustan Times.

The panelists offered their views on how the outcome of the 2013 state elections is likely to influence the political and economic outlook of India in the coming year. The discussion was moderated by columnist and former newspaper editor, Rahul Sharma, President – Public Affairs at Genesis Burson-Marsteller.

On the occasion, Prema Sagar, President, PAFI and Principal & Founder, Genesis Burson-Marsteller said, “After the recent state elections, Indians have woken up to newer possibilities, we want to know what is in store for the future, we want to know who will fight for our cause more. A panel as accomplished as we have today, write, critique and keenly observe changing trends. They are our best guides to give us a glimpse of those new possibilities.”

Posted in Articles on December 12th, 2013 by admin

PRWeek celebrated its 15th anniversary in the US by introducing a Hall of Fame to recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to the communications industry and PR profession.

The inaugural group of six inductees (listed below) were honored during a celebratory dinner in New York City on December 2nd. PRWeek will induct three more individuals into the Hall of Fame each year.

The 2013 inductees are:

Harold Burson, founder, Burson-Marsteller

Al Golin, founder & chairman, GolinHarris

Jon Iwata, SVP, marketing & communications, IBM

Charlotte Otto, senior corporate strategist, Weber Shandwick; former global external relations officer, Procter & Gamble

Marcia Silverman, former global CEO, Ogilvy Public Relations

Posthumous award:
Marilyn Laurie, former EVP of PR and brand management, AT&T

Posted in Articles on December 11th, 2013 by admin

A busy week of PRWeek Awards judging and our first Influencer Summit ended with the sad news of the passing of Nelson Mandela at age 95: one of the greatest people – and communicators – of the 20th century.

There’s no need for me to add to the acres of newsprint and bits and bytes that will be devoted to the great man over the next few days, suffice to say his example is one that can inspire people in all walks of life, not least the communications profession.

But it set me thinking about role models, inspiration, leadership, and fortitude in the face of adversity.

Also this week, on Monday night, we honored our own legends at the inaugural PRWeek Hall of Fame dinner, instigated to coincide with the 15th anniversary of our brand in the US, and the first of what will now be an annual fixture on the PR calendar.

The initial group of industry luminaries to be honored were Harold Burson, Al Golin, Charlotte Otto, Jon Iwata, Marcia Silverman, and, posthumously, Marilyn Laurie.

Burson, the founder of PR agency Burson-Marsteller; Golin, founder of GolinHarris 55 years ago on the back of startup client McDonald’s; former Procter & Gamble comms chief Otto; and former Ogilvy PR CEO Silverman accepted their honors in person and then joined me for a discussion about changes in the PR industry over the years, their mentors, and tips to aspiring PR superstars of the future.

There was a real feel-good atmosphere amongst the audience of senior communicators in the room, as normal competitive instincts were set aside for the night to honor the Hall of Fame inductees and the wider profession.

Attendees included agency heads such as Andy Polansky, Renee Wilson, Karen van Bergen, Chris Graves, Donna Imperato, Fred Cook, Robert Dowling, and Pat Ford; and client-side folks including Kelly Vanasse and Paul Fox from Procter & Gamble, Bridget Coffing from McDonald’s, Angela Buonocore from Xylem, Paul Hicks from the NFL, and Bill Hughes from Pitney Bowes.

As usual, Harold stole the show without really knowing it. He was fresh from a recent trip to DC where the texts of his reporting from the Nuremberg Nazi war crimes trial in 1945 and 1946 had been published for the first time. Harold is donating the transcripts of his work for the American Forces Network to The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The standing ovation from the whole room that greeted his arrival on stage was heartfelt and meaningful – he is truly an icon of our industry, and what he has to say about communications and business still resonates completely. And he admitted to me that, for him, the evening was the equivalent of being awarded a Nobel Prize.

Just as Mandela lays serious claim to being one of the most influential people of the 20th century, Harold more than lives up to the “most influential PR person in the 20th century” tag bestowed on him by PRWeek in 1999 – and he is still going strong well into the 21st century.

Another highlight for me was when former AT&T comms head and founder of Earth Day Marilyn Laurie’s daughters Amy and Lisa accepted the Hall of Fame honor on their mother’s behalf. Each honoree was featured in a two-minute video summing up their career and achievements and there were more than a few teary eyes in the house as these were relayed on the big screens in the room, especially during the segment on Marilyn.

She too was a real pioneer in more than one field. She invented Earth Day in 1970 when environmentalism was not an issue and, one year later, began her journey in the communications department at AT&T that would involve transitioning from being a “little Jewish girl from the Bronx” to being part of the management executive committee with an EVP title “trying to help row the boat.”

In her video, Marilyn said she “started as far from the center of power as you could get in a company of that size,” but she and her colleagues “believed they could change the world – and we did.” She added that she hoped “I caused some people who do what we do to think you can do it with integrity and with courage – and you won’t get killed along the way.”

When facing difficult decisions, Laurie’s associates and co-workers would often ask “What Would Marilyn Do.” She said she liked to think “she changed a few things along the way,” and she sure did.

The same can be said of Harold Burson, Al Golin, and the other honorees – and at the end of a sad but still uplifting week, it’s a great time to reflect on the timeless values, humility, and founding principles that define great communicators – from our inaugural Hall of Famers through to Nelson Mandela himself.

6th December, 2013

Posted in Articles on October 31st, 2013 by admin

Every year in November, we come together to celebrate the birthday of this incredible place we call home-Genesis Burson-Marsteller. And every year, I am struck by how far we have come, how large we have grown, how many clients we have. You might wonder why it seems surprising. Well, the reason is that it still feels as warm and close-knit as it did when we started out. We may have grown up to become a ‘mid-size company’, but at heart we remain the small, cozy firm, where the person sitting next to us is not just a colleague but a friend, a confidant, almost like family.

As I look back at the 20 years’ journey, it doesn’t feel like two decades-it feels like yesterday.
I am reminded of my father every time someone calls me a successful entrepreneur. He was of firm belief that no one in our family could succeed in business-we were thoroughbred service-class! I still remember the look on his face when my brother and I announced we wanted to set up a printing press. We started Genesis Printers in 1981 with one Mercedes brand letter-press printing machine and one client. It was there that I learnt that there was no job too big and none too small. We used to do everything. We even started a magazine that I wrote, published and delivered. They really were my formative years.

In 1989, my life took a different turn and brought Priya Paul, of the Apeejay Surrendra Group that owns the Park Hotel, into my life. They were looking for an image change without going for advertising. No one knew about public relations back then-nor did I. But we didn’t need to know the definition-we just needed to be creative. Thus was born ‘Going Public at the Park’ a monthly speaking event that brought attention to the hotel as a high-profile hospitality location.
Many moons and a course at the Frank Jefkins Institute of Public Relations in London later, I decided it was time to plunge headlong into this. In November 1992, Genesis PR came to life. There were three of us servicing three clients-Thai Airways, Travel House and of course, The Park Hotels, which was a relationship that lasted a decade.

A few people came into my life at that point, giving me just the right nudges. One of them was Kavin Sethi, then the public relations manager at Lufthansa. I remember constantly locking horns with him and discussing the nuances of PR with him. Tarun Das, back then the secretary general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was another strong influence in my life. He gave us the chance to manage the PR for the Indo-British Partnership Initiative (IBPI), a high-profile event to be held in Mumbai, and this gave us the launch-pad to enter the big league!

These people didn’t just help me. They also helped Genesis PR to develop better PR for PR, which was a nascent industry in India at the time. Indian companies didn’t have exposure to PR or the concept of PR as a strategic communication function. Former editor of The Financial Express YC Halan encouraged me to write about issues relating to PR and gave us the opportunity to come across as thought leaders.

Another remarkable experience of these first few years was the launch of Daewoo’s Cielo car in India. It was a luxury car, and for the first time in India, this was a product launched purely through public relations. Cars were flown from Korea for the multi-city launch press conference. We called journalists in the morning, prospective dealers in the afternoon and potential customers in the evening over dinner. Everyone got a chance to experience the car first-hand and were wowed by the overall look and feel. Against a target of 60,000 cars, Daewoo was delighted to find that 123,000 cars had been booked in advance, without any advertising! For us, it was a huge learning experience and a chance to really firm up our place in the minds of the Indian companies as people who could really provide impact through PR.

Time flew and as our client base grew, so did our business. We realized that we needed to strengthen our leadership. We also realized that we needed to expand our services to cover Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata. In 1996, we opened our Bangalore office, while in 1997, we set up the Mumbai office. An office was also set up in Kolkata mainly to service Indal.

Even as we grew, though, we were all very clear that business growth would never come at the cost of integrity and ethics, which is something that we stand by even today. The value system at Genesis has been the same from day one.

We also decided to invest back aggressively into the company to build capability, expand our service offerings, and create differentiators that would make us invaluable to our clients.

To deepen our relationships with the existing clients and to nurture loyalty and continuing business, we began creating more value by expanding our services to include PR-allied functions such as event management, content writing, news monitoring, reputation audit and evaluation, editorial services, research training workshops, online communications solutions and government relations.

Technology was to be our differentiator from get-go. Even though many of our clients didn’t have a computer for everyone, we ensured that there was one on everyone’s desk. Then, we made sure that our regional focus remained strong and so we did away with having a central business plan, relying on the regions to lead from the front. We also were the first to introduce practice areas: industries, services, consumer and entertainment, IT and telecom, and others.

To accommodate our growing ambitions, we moved the corporate headquarters to a swanky office in Signature Towers, Gurgaon. In my head I was clear-we had to be the best PR firm in the country!

We also realized that as a leading light, we also needed to elevate the industry even as we climbed up our own growth path. The PR industry as well as the overall business environment needed to be made more aware of the role that PR could play. Through workshops, talks and one-on-one sessions we sensitized clients as well as media on how we could add value at both ends. We also realized that measurement, audits and research had a huge role to play in making the PR industry more credible in the eyes of the clients and led us to get a seat at the strategy table with them.

Over the next few years, we strengthened our processes and also put in place measures to make the firm more professional-both in terms of what we did and how we did it. We also expanded to Chennai and Hyderabad. We were also rising steadily in the eyes of our clients, who began to trust us with more strategic counsel. Slowly but surely, I could see Genesis PR take on a life of its own. My baby was growing up!

As years passed by, people came and went, and each of them left a lasting impact on the firm and on us. Each of them brought invaluable experiences, knowledge, capabilities and insights, and added value in their own way. And then, in 2005, Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations giant, came to India and we became a part of them, charting a new course in the history of public relations.

I truly believe that we are where we are because of our people and the relationships we have built over the years. In all the madness of over-communication, too many platforms, rising stress, the one thing that shines through as a beacon is the deep connection each of us have with each other. It is the reason why so many of those who move on come back and join us! Even among our clients, the daily ups and downs may carry on, but at the end of the day, there is a high value they place on us.

Today, we are no longer teenagers-we are 21. And the maturity and balance expected of us, especially given the ups and downs of the economy, is much higher. No matter how far we come from where we began, though, we can never be far from our roots-our values, integrity and client focus. I always say you must understand the client’s pain points. If we see around us, those pain points have grown, so we must be even more concerned.

The wonderment and excitement with which we started our journey is still there. In this new phase, we look forward to the next level of growth with our integrated offerings, our growing centers of excellence and our expanding services. We have to keep this light burning inside each of us!

Posted in Articles on October 15th, 2013 by admin

Rahul Sharma President of Public Affairs

More than two years ago a taxi driver in Kerala told me that he would vote for Narendra Modi if he ever got an opportunity. A year later – and this was before Modi won the Gujarat state elections for the third time – a hotel doorman in Chennai said the same thing. And earlier this year a young engineer working with a technology company in Bangalore echoed similar sentiments.

In the two years since the Kerala cabbie voiced his support for Modi, the perception that the Gujarat chief minister (and yes, he continues to be in that role) is a strong administrator, decisive, incorruptible and a man who keeps his promises has only strengthened. In New Delhi, in Kolkata, in Lucknow, Bhopal, Jaipur and Mumbai, Modi looks down upon us from posters and billboards – half smiling, half mocking, challenging everybody – especially the Congress that seems to merely follow his political agenda.

Never has an Indian politician been “branded” as Modi has been. We have NaMo phones, we have NaMo tea stalls, there are already two biographies out in the book stores and a biopic is underway. We also have a NaMo kurta, and probably many other products to come as the election temperatures rise.

Pitched as Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) potential prime ministerial candidate after the 2014 elections, Modi is setting himself up against a much younger, yet non-branded, Rahul Gandhi – the scion of a political family that has either ruled or helped rule India for a very long time. A perception battle between the two – amplified by the media – is probably the most top-of-the-mind dinner table discussion these days and one that Modi seems to be winning, at least for now.

As Modi launches his political blitzkrieg, mowing miles with his first-mover advantage, it is amply clear that he is working to a sharply targeted multimedia strategy put together by a war room that is propping him as a leader who can change India. The early start bodes well as it will give Modi and his team enough time to convert the fence sitters and break away those charmed by the Congress.

The media is helping by headlining every word Modi utters and television panel discussions are only cementing his position as a man who matters. Slowly, but surely, Modi’s image of a steely leader is getting entrenched into the political and social frequency of an election that is still some months away.

On the other hand, Gandhi seems weak, indecisive, and battling his own party, as he tells people his mother was upset with his choice of words when he interrupted a party press conference to oppose a proposed ordinance allowing convicted parliamentarians to keep their seats that was cleared by the prime minister and his cabinet.

Set up against a wily politician and an orator who can transfix the crowds, Gandhi’s image of a reluctant inheritor only gets a fresh shine every time he speaks.

The battle is between a man who thinks on his feet and seemingly wants to lead this large and diverse country, and another who still doesn’t seem to have made up his mind about whether he wants the job. In the public relations battle, Modi has won the first set. He’s still got to win the match though.

The shift in perception since the days when the national media called Modi a “murderer” after the deadly 2002 religious riots in Gujarat has been slow but huge.

No longer is Modi the pariah he once was. No longer is he hated or reviled as he was. No longer is he a political embarrassment (to many) as he was. No longer is he in the headlines for the “wrong” reasons as he was. Feted by the industry, the youth seeking jobs and a middle class frustrated with the Congress government over poor governance, dynastic politics and inflation, Modi seems to have grabbed people’s imagination and emotions.

Gandhi is sincere, but he lacks the power to hold the crowds and veer them to see his point of view. That’s because while Modi is all over, Gandhi pops in and out with statements that only raise more questions. New Delhi’s political citizenry is widely convinced that the young man wants Congress to lose badly so that he could then clean up the grand old party’s corrupt, wobbly script.

I remember watching Modi make the crowds dance during his election rallies in his home state back in 2007. Thousands of people wearing the “Modi Mask” followed the slow wave of the man’s hand from left to right – hypnotized by the sheer power of his oratory and stage theatrics. It scared many a political pundit. Gandhi is no match. In fact, the entire Congress party is made of weak speakers who sound unconvincing even when they mean business.

But let’s remember that a few months is a long time in politics and a lot could happen between now and the elections due by May next year. Winning a public relations and a perception skirmish is only part of the larger battle that Modi has to fight to help the BJP return to power after a decade in the wilderness. Voters might love Modi, but they might still choose not to cast their ballot for his party.

Eventually, Modi will have to make people believe that he is not as divisive as many believe him to be if he wants the top job. That’s easier said than done. The posters and potshots are fine for now. The winner in the public relations battle between Modi and Gandhi will only be announced next year – the day the votes are counted. Until then, watch the political theatre and enjoy.

Rahul Sharma, former newspaper editor, President, Public Affairs, Genesis Burson-Marsteller and a founding member of the Public Affairs Forum of India

10th Oct, 2013