Communicators have a responsibility and that responsibility is not just towards the employer, group or subject but towards the society too, which when practiced, becomes ‘Conscious Communication’, says, Shrutidhar Paliwal, VP & Head, Corp Comm & Media Relations at Aptech Ltd. in an exclusive interview with Richa Seth. Read on the interview below for more insights.
1. As the brand communications custodian for Aptech globally, what are the key 5 learnings from communications strategy in the international markets that can be adopted by India?
As a brand, Aptech has its presence across over 40 countries with 1300 centres of learning spread across two major streams of business-individual training and enterprise business. Under Individual Training, Aptech offers career and professional training through its Aptech Computer Education, Arena Animation & Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (both in Animation & Multimedia), Aptech Hardware & Networking Academy, Aptech Aviation & Hospitality Academy and Aptech English Learning Academy brands. Enterprise business includes Content Development (Aptech Learning Services), Training and Assessment Solutions for Corporates & Institutions (Aptech Training Solutions, Aptech Assessment & Testing Solutions).
We adopt 4C Strategy for International Markets which governs the communication strategy i.e.
- Cultures (knowledge, familiarity & follow)
- Communication (appealing, direct & touching)
- Competitive advantage (testimonial campaigns, alumni & word of mouth)
- Consumer Behavior (influencers)
We also face a supermarket situation in many countries where in students are exposed to various options, media etc. Everyone is trying to target the potential customer by highlighting USP and engaging with them resulting to information overload. As a mature brand, we do cohesive branding to effectively reach out and create a long term memory and higher brand recall.
2. How do you ensure consistent communication about the brand Aptech across the globe, especially as the company works on a franchise model?
Planned Branding practice often works miracle, especially since the brand has been in existence for the last three decades. To address the brand-fatigue, we did a re-branding and brand rejuvenation exercise in 2010, rolled across our target markets in two phases. One domestic and the other international. Also, to have a consistent and uniform global approach we have designed guidelines for all marketing collaterals for all our centres. While the regional product marketing is done by the centres, PAN country marketing about the “Brand” is done by Head office through digital and print media. Besides, all global franchisees get together once a year for a targeted meet up. This helps us to in maintaining our premium brand tag and keeping in sync with our brand image that is GLOBAL, and YOUTH CENTRIC.
3. What are the unique challenges you face when managing brand communications across the globe?
Some of the challenges we face are
- Keeping Up With local marketing trends and strategies
- Understanding the segment for effective communication
- Difficult to get complete picture of marketing performance
4. Please share your experience on working with Indian & International media?
The mainstream media in India has certainly been on a digital upswing and are in an advantageous position corresponding with the sales of tablets, smart phones and the habit of consuming news on-the-go is increasing by the day. However, the experience with regional or vernacular media, even with a sizeable market share has been less encouraging for technology adaptiveness. International media, on the other hand have had the first mover advantage, with rapid digitization, and putting in an extremely responsive structure in place; yet the present pressure on costs and lack of localization makes their journey pretty hard. Also, in my experiences with media in Vietnam, or the African countries, it is easier to reach the editor of their top news unit when compared to reaching out to even a small regional counterpart here.
5. Can you enlist the key skills required for a budding professional planning to join a corporate such as Aptech?
Apart from being well equipped with communication skills in writing and speaking, the person should have sound understanding of education industry in general and vocational education in particular. Good understanding of media – both traditional and digital, is a must. One should have capabilities in devising good communication strategy and implementing it. Skills in managing internal and external communication.
6. Anything else that you would like to add?
Communicators have a responsibility and that responsibility is not just towards the employer, group or subject but towards the society too, which when practiced, becomes ‘conscious communication’. Since all of us are blessed with versatile oral & written words and information, we must try and convert it to shareable knowledge. There are a few outstanding individuals who have created groups of communicators, which must be supported to aid the PR industry.