The Story of a Small Town Girl Setting New Standards for PR in India
On a hot summer afternoon in Delhi, a young girl entered a small office in a dodgy building and left an hour later with a spring in her step and twinkle in her eyes. She had got the job, and her new company was a start-up called Avian Media. It had two employees, including the founder and managing director and two clients. The girl’s family and friends were apprehensive. They could not understand why she wanted to leave her present job, where she had been working for almost six months, and join a start-up? But the girl wanted to take the “risk” as she had fallen in love with Avian’s burning desire to make a mark in the communications world. “They dare to dream,” she told her parents, “and I want to live that dream.”
Fast forward to 2016, 12 years on, Avian Media is one of the top communications consultancy in the country, with 140 employees, 80 clients and six offices. And that girl is still with Avian Media, leading the biggest and most challenging portfolio of clients which comprises of 40% of the total business that Avian has today. She is the Regional Head for northern India.
Meet Neha Mehrotra, Avian’s undisputed queen of client servicing. In an industry who’s reputation is driven by the strength of its ability to add strategic value to business, Neha is helping redefine PR’s place in the boardroom. It’s a painstaking journey of 13 years marked by hunger, ambition, exceptional talent and a dogged determination to accept nothing but the best for our teams and clients.
When Neha joined Avian Media the challenges were plenty. At that time, all Avian needed was someone who would work like they own the place. And, Neha did just that. She owned Avian and its growth. An astute leader, Neha has been running Avian’s multi-million dollar business in the North. Clients love Neha. Her campaign-driven approach, ability to manage large businesses and knack of understanding a client’s psyche, make her a rarity in the business of communications today. Neha has been leading the communications for the entire Airbus Group of Companies – Airbus, MBDA, Airbus Military and Airbus Group corporate for the past 13 years.
Other than Airbus, she has worked with Ford, Sona Group, Qualcomm, Phillips, and many other marquee clients. You will see her passion and love for what she does come out strongly when she talks of the internationalisation campaign on Airbus and several other campaigns on Philips. Ford deserves special mention. Neha was the National Integrator and Lead for the corporate business of Ford India. The Ford India communications was held between three agencies and Avian Media was the one point of contact, with Neha leading the campaign to change perception about Ford India. In one single day, press conferences were held in 28 cities to highlight the proximity of Ford dealerships/ workshops in smaller towns, this was the culmination of the campaign and Neha drove the entire programme. But that’s how Neha is – passionate and high on energy. That passion rubs off on the rest of the team, motivating them to deliver results.
Clients need leaders
For too long, the PR industry has been seen as a bunch of order-takers at the end of the value-chain, while strategy and creative programming is led by advertising and other marketing functions. Neha is one of the few professionals who’s helping change the rules of the game. She has devised a programme called ‘Clients for Life’ that aims to keep the PR industry one step ahead of navigating communication challenges for brands and positioning us as true advisors and partners for life. The programme has become a guiding light for showing clients the true power of communications, a quality of service that sets industry benchmarks and inspires millennials to choose and keep PR as an aspirational career choice. “Neha has been one of the strongest pillars of Avian Media. I have seen her grow into a thorough professional, always ahead of the curve and an inspiration to the agency. Her key strengths are derived from her knowledge of understanding the client and that knowledge helped her champion the Clients for Life programme. She always has a constructive view on how to move the business and industry forward with vision, ambition and expertise,” says Nitin Mantri, CEO, Avian Media
Talent needs role models
Not only is Neha a trusted advisor to her client, she is a mentor for young people joking the industry. She has single-handedly conceived and ran SEED, a threemonth- long training programme for fresh batch of recruits in the company. The programme has been implemented nationally and is followed for all new batches year after year. “It’s about getting the basics of PR and client management right and as an industry we need our senior client counsellors to show the younger ones how it’s done, challenge them to think differently and give them the space to fail forward,” says Neha.