Guest AuthorNeha Bagaria

The Power of Public Relations: An Interview with Ziniah Baruah, AVP at Howden Broking (India)

By | Sandhya |

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, public relations (PR) plays a pivotal role in shaping an organization’s reputation, establishing strong relationships with stakeholders, and driving overall success. To delve into the importance of PR and its critical role within an organization, we had the privilege of speaking with Ziniah Baruah, Assistant Vice President at Howden Broking (India).

In this insightful interview, Ziniah shares her expertise and sheds light on the significance of PR in today’s dynamic business environment.

Can you define public relations, and how does it differ from marketing  and advertising? 

Public relations (PR) is the term used to describe the strategic  communication used by businesses, people, or other entities to build and retain  acceptance with the public, including their target market, stakeholders, and the  larger community. Building and upholding a positive image, reputation, and  understanding of an entity is the main goal of public relations. 

Advertising typically tries to market goods or services through paid channels.  Building and maintaining relationships with an organization’s multiple stakeholders,  including clients, employees, investors, media outlets, and the broader public, is the emphasis of PR.  

Marketing is a broader discipline that encompasses both PR & Advertising.  

How important is storytelling in public relations, and how can organizations use  storytelling to connect with their audiences and build brand loyalty? Can you share any examples of successful storytelling in public relations? 

In public relations (PR), storytelling plays a crucial role because it enables  businesses to emotionally connect with their target consumers. Storytelling aids  businesses in standing out from their competitors in a congested market. A  brand can distinguish itself and establish a distinctive identity and  thought leadership by creating interesting and memorable narratives. 

I am still a fan of Ariel’s ‘Share the Load’ PR strategy. This campaign discussed how tasks like doing laundry are not only the responsibility of women. The campaign went viral when Sheryl Sandberg (former COO of META) praised it for changing perceptions. Ariel’s narrative highlighted how a society with gender equality is certainly going to have a better future. And aren’t we in 100% agreement?

How has social media changed the landscape of public relations and provided opportunities for organizations, including smaller businesses with limited budgets, to engage directly with their audience and make a significant impact?

Social media platforms allow businesses to engage with their audience directly without  the use of traditional gatekeepers. This transparent means of communication makes  it possible to respond quickly to concerns or problems, increase openness, and receive fast feedback. 

PR operations can be carried out by organizations of various sizes thanks to social  media. Smaller businesses with fewer resources can make a big difference by  producing interesting content and directly communicating with their audience,  somewhat leveling the playing field. 

Can you share any advice for individuals who are interested in pursuing  a career in public relations, such as education or training opportunities,  key skills to develop, or networking strategies? How have you stayed  current and continued to grow professionally in your own public relations career? 

Apart from the most commonly used term “excellent communication skills, I would urge  you to also focus on upskilling yourself beyond traditional PR practices. Get  acquainted with data analytics, event planning, media relations, social media  management, and influencer marketing. You can grow as a more relevant PR professional if you diversify your expertise.

How important is crisis communication planning in public relations, and  what are some key elements that should be included in a crisis plan? Can  you share any examples of successful crisis communication strategies? 

Unexpected incidents can occur and have a big effect on stakeholders, operations,  and the reputation of an organization. We can successfully manage and limit the negative  impacts of a crisis, maintain public trust, and, in certain cases, even turn the situation in our favor by having a proactive crisis communication strategy in place. 

  • Risk Assessment 
  • Spokesperson Identification and Training 
  • Identifying Communication Channels & Developing Message Dissemination Protocols • Pre-approved Messaging 
  • Stakeholder Engagement 
  • Monitoring and Listening 
  • Post-Crisis Evaluation 

The key to an effective strategy is a customized plan to meet the unique requirements of the brand and comply with its sector-specific guidelines. 

Maggi India’s crisis communication management tops my chart. In 2015, reports  suggested that the instant noodles contained higher than permitted levels of lead. 

Nestle India used social media wisely during the Maggi crisis to reassure customers  and convince them to keep purchasing the noodles in the future, reducing further  damage. The Maggi India Twitter account also made an outstanding effort to reply to  each customer tweet about this matter with a prepared response describing how lead  naturally occurs in soil and water.

Nestle furnished customers with an easy-to-understand explanation of the science underlying the prohibition. Maggi noodles had  made a stunning comeback by June 2016, returning to a market share of 57%. 

How do you stay up-to-date on industry news and trends, and what  resources or publications do you rely on for professional development?  Can you share any tips for continuous learning and growth in public relations? 

Be a part of a community with similar aspirations and goals, and network well  within that community to track and understand new trends. Knowledge is best  gained outside your comfort zone; therefore, engage with various discussion  forums where topics concerning PR & Media are being talked about, and also seek  a mentor who can coach you and share knowledge.

Attend the Masterclass by Zinnia  Baruah, Asst VP, Howden Broking (India)

Date:  Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Time: 6.00pm-7.00pm

Mark your calendar. Stay tuned for registration link

About Zinnia  Baruah, Asst VP, Howden Broking (India)

She is an integrated marketing and communication professional with robust skills and proven experience in creating effective communication strategies and PR campaigns. 

Her mantra is:  Communication is beyond disseminating key messages; it is creating empathy towards them. The goal is to retain an affinity with your audience and be on a constant quest to remain relevant.

Republished with permission and originally published at

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button