Prathna Vohra is the founder and brand strategist of a Mumbai based agency called Spark Plug (earlier Brand Genie). Vohra is aware of the impact brands have on people and society. Print in terms of media has a very limited scope in the present day. But if we look at print and packaging, in terms of overall content creation - that is the future.
Beyondesign: Do tell us a little bit about your journey
Prathna Vohra: I started my career as a broadcast journalist, as the launch team of Times Now. I moved back home to Bengaluru and since there was barely any lifestyle journalism happening here, I decided to give PR a shot with an opportunity that just came my way. One year into it, I decided to become an entrepreneur and set-up my company at the age of 23. It has been almost 18 years and every single day is as exciting as the first day I started out.
Beyondesign: Share a hurdle that has changed the path of what you do
PV: I do not see anything as a hurdle, I see everything as an opportunity to learn something new. I am evolving everyday, from PR which was only media relations to a full fledged Integrated Marketing company - every day in this fast evolving industry, is a learning.
Beyondesign: A story that helped you want to keep going when the times got tough too
PV: I think like most of us, the toughest time was during covid. Since I work with a lot of hospitality brands, there was a time that they had little to no business. We all had to reinvent ourselves, think of ways to engage with the audience but also be sensitive to the times we were living in. But the relationship and bond that I built with them during that time, I know will last forever. I always live with the mantra that - ‘this too shall pass’
Beyondesign: What role do you see print and packaging playing in the modern PR landscape?
PV: Print in terms of media has a very limited scope in the present day. But if we look at print and packaging, in terms of overall content creation - that is the future.
Beyondesign: How can PR companies effectively leverage print and packaging to enhance brand messaging and communication?
PV: PR starts at the conception stage of a brand. A lot of brands make the mistake of getting a PR company on board, when their entire packaging and messaging is in place. I believe that a Branding and PR company should work on the ideation of a brand from the word go.
Beyondesign: With the rise of digital media, do you think there is still a place for print and packaging in PR campaigns? If so, how do you see it being utilised?
PV: Print and packaging has not really changed, it is the mode of communication that it needs to adapt to. The depth of content and the thought behind the packaging, is still at the core of every brand - it is the representation that has changed mediums.
Beyondesign: How can the PR industry work with print and packaging companies to create more sustainable and eco-friendly solutions? Do you see this happening soon ?
PV: As mentioned, a brand should look at working with all their partners whether it is the branding, PR, social media and marketing company, from the beginning. If sustainability and eco-friendly solutions are at the core of the brand, the communication should reflect the same and all partners need to ideate this together.
Beyondesign: How important is design in the print and packaging world, and what are some trends that you see emerging in this area?
PV: We are living in a highly visual world but also a very cluttered one. It’s clean, easy and thought provoking content and packaging that is the future.
Beyondesign: How can print and packaging be used to help clients stand out in a crowded market, and what role does innovation play in achieving this?
PV: I think communication is going back to the roots. Its clear and honest packaging and content that is standing out. In a world full of emerging brands, the well researched and thought through brands are making the brands. So I really think brands need to invest a lot more time on their values and work with their branding and PR partners to help reflect it.
Beyondesign: What are some of the challenges that PR companies face when working with print and packaging, and how can these be overcome?
PV: I believe the PR companies come in too late into the overall brand representation stage. They are usually given a brand with the name and values that have already been pre decided. I think that is a very big reason that a lot of PR agencies are going the integrated marketing route where they work on the branding, packaging and marketing of the brand - and this reflects on the overall brand representation.
Beyondesign: One quick tip for the next generation wanting to pursue the same career path you have.
PV: A whole lot of patience and the willingness to learn and adapt. This is one of the fastest evolving industries and you should consider it, only if you are ready to hustle, build relationships and work beyond your regular 9-5. n