“You need to consider yourself not just as a communications professional but as a contributor to the business” – Rachna Panda

You need to consider yourself not just as a communications professional but as a contributor to the business
Rachana Panda is Country Group Head, Communication and Public Affairs & Sustainability for Bayer South Asia since September 2020.

How have you observed the PR and communications landscape evolving in recent years, particularly in terms of digitalization and technological advancements, and what implications does this have for professionals in the field?

With traditional methods giving way to AI and data-driven strategies, the PR and communications landscape has changed considerably. It has transformed how we engage with stakeholders, emphasizing real-time interactions and personalized strategies.

I feel that professionals must recognize the potential of digitalization as an enabler – to enhance efficiency, analyze data for informed decision-making, and elevate our communication strategies as they navigate the demands for more transparent and authentic communication.

As a women leader in PR and communications, what are some of the key challenges you’ve faced, and how have you navigated them to succeed in your career?

Being in PR and communications for over 27 years, I have always felt that being a woman is more of an advantage than a challenge. As women, our interpersonal skills enable us to build strong connections. We also have an innate ability to bring innovative and creative perspectives to our work, adding more value to everything we do. For me, along with the constant support of mentors and leaders, remaining focused on my goals rather than obstacles has allowed me to navigate the system effectively and achieve success.

In your opinion, what unique contributions do women bring to the PR and communications industry, and how do you see their role evolving in shaping the future of communication strategies and campaigns?

In my view, we excel in areas such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and relationship-building, all of which are crucial skills in fostering strong connections with diverse stakeholders. We can think outside the box and challenge traditional norms, leading to the development of innovative and impactful campaigns that resonate with target audiences on a deeper level.

Looking ahead, I see women playing an even more integral role. I believe with our strong communication skills, adaptability, and collaborative nature, we are well-positioned to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of digital media and technology. Moreover, as diversity and inclusion become central themes in the industry, our diverse viewpoints will be essential in crafting strategies and campaigns that can help organizations address issues of representation and equality.

With the rise of social media and online platforms, how do you believe PR and communications strategies are adapting to engage diverse audiences effectively, and what role do women leaders play in driving this adaptation?

I find the evolution of PR and communications strategies in the digital era to be both fascinating and imperative. With the rise of social media, PR strategies need to be agile and authentic, with narratives that find resonance across various demographics, cultures, and backgrounds. Women leaders, with their multifaceted skill sets and insights, play an instrumental role in this adaptation by leveraging their natural communication skills. As I mentioned, we women often bring a nuanced understanding of the audience’s diverse needs and preferences, contributing to the creation of authentic and relatable messages. Recognizing and harnessing the power of women within the leadership team enriches the strategies, making them more reflective of the varied audiences we aim to reach.

As the PR and communications landscape continues to evolve rapidly, what advice would you give to aspiring women professionals looking to establish themselves and thrive in this dynamic industry?

I believe that the key to thriving in this dynamic landscape is a combination of resilience and agility coupled with a strong commitment to continuous learning. Apart from these, I would like to emphasize the need to consider yourself not just as a communications professional but as a contributor to the business. Always put effort into developing your business acumen. Understanding the broader business context has been a cornerstone of my success, enabling me to align communications strategies with overarching business goals and contribute meaningfully to organizational success.