Chandramouli is a Chemical Engineer turned Communicator who began his entrepreneurial journey straight after his engineering in 1990. His business experience began with chemicals & went on to stock-broking, banking and exports. His engagement with communication began in 1998 – a business that has obsessively consumed him since then. In the last decade of his career he has promoted 6 different communication companies under the Comniscient Group umbrella. Of these, two are PR agencies and, one of them, Blue Lotus Communications, has been awarded the ‘Agency of the Year’ by two reputed organizations in two consecutive years. Two other businesses are gold standards in their own sectors; Bluebytes, a news research and Analysis Company, and Trust Research Advisory, a business efficiency advisory. The unique combination of his engineering background, communication business experience, and his other entrepreneurial exposures, brings an inimitable perspective to communication.
Chandramouli lectures in several communication colleges and is also the author of The Brand Trust Report, India Study (2011, 2012 and 2013), and Decoding Communication.
N Chandramouli talks to Estrade Editorial Team about his entrepreneurial journey from being a Chemical Engineer to a Media Expert today.
- Give us an Introduction about yourself?
I began my entrepreneurial journey straight after completing my engineering in 1990. The transformative journey from being a Chemical Engineer to a Communicator began with chemicals & went on to stock-broking, banking and exports. The year 1998 proved as a game changer when my engagement with communication began, more than a decade later I am still obsessively consumed by this field of work and its vast potential.
I have been associated with 6 different communication companies under the Comniscient Group umbrella. Of these, three are PR agencies and, one of them, Blue Lotus Communications, has been awarded the ‘Agency of the Year’ by three reputed organizations. Two other businesses are gold standards in their own sectors; Bluebytes, a news research and analysis company, and TRA (formerly Trust Research Advisory), a brand diagnostic company giving Brand Intelligence and Data Insights.
In my journey I have found that this unique combination of my engineering background, communication business experience, and my other entrepreneurial exposures, have given me an extremely different perspective to communication. I enjoy lecturing in several communication colleges, as that helps me gain perspective and add to my learning as well in addition to this I have also authored Decoding Communication.
- How do you think the communication businesses have evolved in last decade?
Some of the most significant changes that technology has delivered in the last three decades have been in the field of productivity and communication. Communication today is instantaneous, simple and cheap. We can transmit documents, videos and images anywhere in the world, instantly and at no cost. You need never be out of reach. Today anytime access, real-time sharing, has become an everyday occurrence and not something spectacular or complicated. In the corporate world communication has impacted not only the way business is done but also the intrinsic nature of business. As a sector in itself the communication business has become exceedingly complicated and simple at the same time. While the means and methods of communicating have made it easier to communicate the sheer number of platforms makes it impossible to track this communication for brands leading to the requirement of special tracking serves or metrics to be able to track and calculate communication.
- Please share your Achievements
I believe that the recognition that our work brings us is our achievements. With each client we sign on and retain add to the number of people that believe in us. Our association with several brands is what builds us up. Today there are several leading brands using our Licensing symbols associated with The Brand Trust Report, India’s Most Attractive Brands as well as India’s Most Trusted Educational Institutes, and that gives me a true sense of achievement.
In addition to this Blue Lotus Communications, has been awarded the ‘Agency of the Year’ by three reputed organizations in the years 2010 by Holmes Report, 2011 by India PR Corporate Communications Awards and in 2014 by the Public Relations Society of India.
- Please comment on love and hate relationship between Media and PR Agencies?
Media and PR agencies have an extreme close and symbiotically dependent equation wherein they both need each other to exist given the current environment. PR agencies function to make sure that the right things are heard, in the right places and by the right people for their clients. It is fair to say that public opinion is moulded by the media and this makes it essential for the two mechanisms to co-exist. Similarly for the media to have an in-depth idea about anything or to be able to share information it is essential for them to partner with PR agencies need of as they bridge the gap between the communication of brands and journalists.
- What is the biggest challenge you have faced for TRA?
Initially the development of the concept of trust and putting together a detailed matrix that could convert the intangible of trust into a measurable asset which could help build brands proved a challenge. The Matrix is a result of rigorous research and hundreds of hours of interviewing with sociologists, psychologists and communication experts to understand the hidden nuances of trust. After this being able to gain acceptance among brands for The Brand Trust Report, as a credible resource was a challenge which we have successfully overcome and today the report’s stature has reached a point of recognition in the Industry. With each new report such as India’s Most Attractive Brands and India’s Most Trusted Educational Institutes we see the scepticism, which proved as a daunting challenge earlier. fade away.
- What according to you differentiates Blue Lotus from other players in the same segment?
We began with a simple concept for PR that would change not their fortunes, but those of their clients. PR that would eventually give back to society. PR that would make a difference. It is with these ideals of doing PR differently on which Blue Lotus Communications stands.
Blue Lotus is a mythical flower that blooms once in 3000 years. It is said that every time this flower blooms it brings forth a period when things of universal good occur. It is said that the last time this flower bloomed Gautam Buddha attained nirvana. In short symbolically our logo stands for everything that is true unerring and good. And since this is exactly what was envisioned for the way we do PR, the small group gave itself the name of Blue Lotus.
Today we have over 150 employees across 9 offices in India and handle over 50 renowned clients, including the few it started off with. Yet it still retains the objective it started off with – it still does PR differently, we still work for the fortunes of our clients and yes, we still do our best to give back to society.
- PR Agencies never brand themselves. Your comments
A PR Agency primarily is known for its work, which speaks for itself and doesn’t require any branding as the agency known for its brands it handles and how well they handle them. PR agencies are seen as extension of their clients therefore it is essential for them to be able to mould to the client’s brand personality rather than use a one size fits all kind of approach. Therefore a strong identity is essential but it is not necessary to communicate this or brand itself as a PR agency’s reputation precedes itself and must not over power that of its clients.
Data Insights by N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA