In any downturn, the first budget to be cut is marketing – in general CFOs have never understood marketing and see it as tinsel and fluff. The second is the public relations (PR) budget. You may imagine what the standard CFO response to PR is. There is also a sense that anyone can do PR – after all it’s just putting things in the best possible light and communicating that fact. I have always loved that “ . . it’s just . .” In fact PR is so very important, you can’t afford to leave it in the hands of amateurs – and I speak as an amateur in PR. And it’s not just when things go wrong, either – which is when even the most crusty CFO wakes up to the idea of PR. Don’t believe me, but do have a look at Eben Black’s very short, witty and highly entertaining e-book guide to PR and lobbying. In less than an hour’s reading you’ll either be convinced or you might be a CFO – but perhaps who is shaken a little in his or her conviction as to the value of PR. Lies, Lobbying and Lunch – PR, Public Affairs and Political Engagement: A guide, written by one of the most experienced journalists and lobbyists, will at the very least lay bare some of the secrets of these black arts and will convince even the sceptic that there is something valuable here.
In today’s world, where a new organization props up every now and then, connection with the public is paramount if a company wants to grow and sustain itself in the market. Public Relations is the right medium for conveying your ideas and thoughts to the audience and also form a favorable image in the minds of the public. It has always been a misconception that Public Relations is limited to just writing press releases when it is so much more than that. Public Relations is the way of building and establishing good relationship between the organization and the public, where public includes the company’s customers, shareholders, investors and potential customers.
Public Relations is the crux of any person / group / institution to be a link to the public at large directly or indirectly.
The process provides the public activities taken by the person / group / institution for the benefit of internal purposes or to inform the public at large about any given information.
Today we are Presenting Shabnam Asthana who has been working in the PR industry since over a decade and is also the proud founder of Empowered Solutions.
Shabnam has many years of rich experience of working with Startups and Small Business (Nationally and Overseas) and helps startups get noticed and create their mark in the business world.
Shabnam believes that coupled with grit and determination far sightedness and long term planning play a vital part in any career and one must be in a constant state of motivation. Is it any wonder then, that even with the numerous awards and accolades bestowed on her for her work in PR, she strives to beat the mundane by exploring new avenues. She is an invited speaker at various International and National forums where she participates in discussions and talks on entrepreneurship. She believes that no profession should be straitjacketed and there should always be room for experimentation and exploration. It is this very spirit which has seen her debut as the author of “Romancing Your Career “ a book on her experiences in the corporate world and a must read for any professional.
Let’s Meet Shabnam and see what she has to tell us about her venture in her own words.
1.What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
The Name of my venture is Empowered Solutions. The name spells effectiveness and positivity with the word power being harnessed in the right direction. We equip our clients with the power of knowledge and execution that would work best for their needs.
2.Who is your target Audience/clients?
” The world is our oyster. ” Any working professional , any company (start ups , small, mid sized, established and big ), students, housewives. Our clientele is diverse and we cater to everybody.
3.Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
My venture is based in India , Pune Maharshtra, we had an office till very recently in San Francisco USA now we are contemplating a move to Canada, for our satellite office.
4.What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
We are a PR and Communications consultancy. We extend all communication related solutions, we offer the entire gamut of PR services, Internal and external PR, newsletters, company visibility, image management, crisis management, media relations, spokesperson training, preparing speeches and talks , We offer Event management services including corporate get togethers, dealer meets, sales conferences destination weddings and Bollywood celebrity meet and greet events. We offer image consultancy and personal grooming to individuals. We also offer soft skills training services, to colleges, institutes , Corporates and Individuals. ( please refer to our website www.empoweredsolutions.in for further details )
5.Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it came to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
Having worked in senior corporate positions for nearly 20 years, I understood the magnificent dimensions of my PR profession and I understood that there was a wealth of opportunities housed in my profession waiting to be explored and working for just one company would limit the possibilities and I was enthused with the desire to broaden my horizon. On the other hand , I have always valued the wealth of relationships that I had created during my work tenure and realized that if I branched off on my own that wealth would always be with me, so the desire to explore more than what I was doing coupled with the wonderful network that I had created helped me establish my own venture.
6.Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
I started out with the zeal to create a name for myself and my company and there are very big names in the PR world but I never see them as competition, at the risk of sounding a little pompous today my company and me have carved a niche for ourselves. We may not match up to the big names in terms of turnover but at all the reputed forums National or International we have presence. Today I have as a PR person been on the receiving end of extensive media coverage for my work and that makes me happy.
I always feel that an individual must always be accessible and never hide behind the excuse of ” I am busy “. We at Empowered Solutions never hide behind ” I am busy ” all of us make great efforts to answer every mail, every call that comes in. I as the Founder Director am always accessible to speak to anybody who calls me for work. We live by the mantra – Communicate effectively .
We also respect peoples time, we are never late for meetings and in our work we honour deadlines.
7.How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us some thing about your co-founder/s
8.How did you hired your first team members? What skills Do you want in your employees/team?
My first team members came in through reference and networking. Excellent communication skills, constant upgradation of individual skills, thirst for knowledge and punctuality rank very high in my list of employee skills.
9.What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
Our Pune team is in place and we are not looking at hiring or expanding more here, but like I mentioned above we are looking at establishing an office overseas most probably things are in favour of Canada.
10.Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
On the highest rung of the ladder – well established and set. We are already on a steady climb up.
11.What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
Just continue giving in our best to our clients and in turn providing the very best to my team as a company.
12.Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
No and don’t have any plans as of now too.
13.What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
There weren’t any insurmountable problems just the regular teething troubles. I started off with my wealth of contacts and networking and everything fell into place soon.
14.What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
Making people understand the value of PR. Initially a few people were not receptive to the value that my work would bring and the cost attached to it, but I successfully impressed upon them the value of a good name and reputation and in the modern times who does not value those ? So the initial challenge was overcome by good sound reasoning and knowledge that I imparted to them regarding PR and its value.
15.Are you married, single or in a relationship?
16.What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I am a fitness enthusiast so hit the gym whenever I can, I am an animal more precisely a dog lover and my dog Scooby means the world to me , I play and relax with him. I am very fond of golf . I am an avid reader and now a published author. I have recently authored a book ” Romancing Your Career ” which delves into the various facets of the corporate world. It’s a book that any working professional or student or career enthusiast will love and get inspired by. It is available only in select book stores overseas but readily available online including Amazon. I am already contemplating writing my second book.
17.Whats your favorite food & holiday destination?
I love rice in all its forms it can be Spanish or Thai or Chinese cuisine but whatever has rice in it that is adapted to suit the Indian palette . My favourite holiday destinations are Gstaad in Switzerland and London in UK.
18.Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
I have no idol as such but yes my biggest motivators were my father Mr. Onkar Nath Panchalar and my elder sister Neelam Kumar whoa are in the same profession and were very successful.
19.What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Entrepreneurs have a higher degree of self drive and motivation because they occupy a hot power seat where they have to perform and be an example for others in the team unlike any company or individual that they work for and they are accountable for all the blame and glory that comes to them . There can be no loopholes for non performance here they must get the company going by leading from the top and being at the helm of affairs. The entire team looks up to them for motivation. The sense of ownership be it blame or success is immensly strong here. You may well argue that it is there in all companies that you work for but the difference lies in the degree and intensity . The involvement is higher and at its peak because the sense of ownership for everything is very pronounced.
20.If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I don’t have no regrets therefore I would do everything the same way that I have been doing them.
21.How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
When you are on your own people look at you and view you with a different lense. They see you as a dedicated and committed individual strong enough to start off on your own. Lady luck has been smiling on me brightly so far and I have been a regular invitee at notable social platforms whether it is just a social page 3 kind of a party or a coveted speaking engagement Nationally or Internationally. My love for networking gets fanned during such high profile social events.
22.Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Romance your Career and read my book Romancing your Career which give you wonderful insights into the corporate world and a successful career .
23.Tell us something about your education & family background.
I am a double post graduate . Have completed my Masters in English, from Delhi University have an MBA in Marketing Management , have a post graduation degree in PR & Advertising from Symbiosis. Have several International accreditations as well.
24.What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains.
We live by the philosophy we are open 24 x7 all of us are workaholics so no client will have to wait for weekends or any holidays to pass in order to contact us and not only that we work effectively and tailor make our solutions for our clients.
25. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
The threat of getting sucked into a number game and measuring their success only in commercial terms and stop enjoying the learning and experiences that their work arena offers.
26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
I consider myself immensely successful and I measure my success by the bright smiles that greet me whenever I walk into a clients office or whenever I walk in to my office and see the positive faces of my employees. I measure my success when I see my diary blocked with engagements and travel.
27.Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person
Shabnam Asthana – Director
020 – 60205125
email id – [email protected]
website : www.empoweredsolutions.in