Shailaja Rao, Co-Founder Skateboard Media, Becomes First In Her Family Of Engineers & Doctors To Opt For PR
I come from a family of engineers and doctors and I am the first one to take up communications as a career choice. My parents did not understand what PR was back then but fully supported me in my choice. Having done business himself as a mechanical engineer, my father always encouraged me to start my own firm and I would brush away the idea during my early days in PR. Having said that, I somehow always had the urge to be an entrepreneur someday and it’s only in 2012 that my dreams started to take shape in the form of Skateboard Media.
The trigger came from my experience of having worked with firms that were smaller then and became giants afterwards. Working with smaller teams and growing with them gave me a huge rush. I knew I loved it when you were part of the growing years and contributed fuel to the engine.
I was certain that we wanted to create something unique in the business of communications. Through Skateboard Media we wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the fast evolving nature of the business. For any brand with a need we offer a solution across the key pillars of communication : Public relations, Marketing consult, Digital PR & Blogger outreach along with Crisis management and high impact Campaigns woven and delivered through traditional and new age media tools.
We believe we are part of client’s team and look at their business as our’s and do not treat them like “clients” only. Thus the fee we charge also grows as the brand grows with us. It’s important to feel the challenges the company faces while building its brand and provide support at all quarters possible, even if it means to go beyond the contract. We believe in building relationships and be a part of their growth story.
Skateboard Media was curated with the idea of bringing in youthfulness & creativity to the business of communications. The inventive name of the organization itself is a reflection of wanting to innovate, adapt and create momentum. This encouraged us to take the final plunge and some brands decided to support our decision. We started with clients in the entertainment and lifestyle sector and in the first year of our inception bagged some fantastic work like Ingram Micro for the launch of iPhone 5, India visit of Mr. John Scully, Mirka India launch and added a Smartphone brand Gionee in early 2013. Manas Mrinal, Co-Founder of Skateboard Media started the company from home in August 2012 and I joined him a year later to take the company to the next level together. We moved out of our home office and took up a small office in Green Park. We added Brands like Shopclues.com, 91mobiles.com, ad:tech, mCarbon in our second year itself. There was no looking back from there on.
We then, took a decision of ensuring retention of clients and people and am happy to share that most of those brands who believed in us in the early years are still with us in 2017. Our DNA is not that of an agency but a consultancy and since our inception we have focused on providing a holistic business communication consult to our clients by cohesively working with both traditional and the new age media.
REASON BEHIND NAMING THE COMMUNICATIONS FIRM, SKATEBOARD
This probably was the most exciting yet most frustrating period. For weeks we used to think of 10 new names everyday and wipe them off every night. We were very clear that the name for our dream should be unique yet be youthful, exciting and fresh unlike usually what is expected. The name Skateboard Media represents momentum, adaptability & innovation that is true to the nature of the sport and is very relevant to PR environment as well.
TEETHING TROUBLES OF SKATEBOARD
Today the biggest challenge the industry is facing is talent management. There is dearth of talent due to the number of job opportunities they have today. Everyone including big or small firms are facing the same challenge. We, as an industry have a realise that it’s time we look at skills sets and not just experience. We need to look at people with the right skills and train them for the profession. This way one that has diverse experience will bring unique ideas to the table. Training and development of people is the single most important engagement firms need to invest in.
Keeping a great culture is very important, work is like second home to many. One needs to have a friendly atmosphere where everyone collaborates to co-create. Less hierarchy and approachable team mates including Founders is the way to communicate today.
Secondly, it’s most important to be transparent when it comes to your people and to your clients as well. We do not over promise or give a false picture of deliverables.
I have never been made to feel the gender difference by the industry. This field is as much for women as it is for men. There are many women who have made it to the helm of the business as CEOs and as entrepreneurs and very proud to be part of that brigade.
The first step is to believe and the next step is to take the plunge. ‘There are no rewards without risks’, that’s my motto in life. Women have great business acumen and can come up with profitable business ideas. Managing family and business is not easy but then again there is nothing more satisfying than watching your business flourish like seeing your baby grow up. Achieving success comes with its share of sacrifices. Whether a woman or man or for that sake anyone with a dream, has to evaluate what they want to be known for. The end result is pure contentment.