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How technology is rebooting communications: Ashwani Singla, founding managing partner of Astrum Reputation Advisory on the PRmoment Podcast

Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast.

On the show today, I’m chatting with Ashwani Singla, founding managing partner of Astrum - Reputation Advisory. Astrum is an Indian PR firm which specialises in reputation management and corporate communications.

It employs 30 people in India and one in America!

Ashwani set up Astrum in 2015, previously he worked for the likes of Genesis Burson Marsteller and Penn Schoen Berland.

Most of the listeners of this podcast are in Europe, so I thought it would be good to get an Indian perspective on how technology is likely to change PR. The scale of India’s technology sector is obviously huge, and it’s interesting to get a perspective from a country whose GDP is growing at over 7%, compared to the UK’s at about 0.5%.

Before we start, we’ve got some huge news - The PRmoment Awards 2024 are OPEN! The final entry deadline is on January 26th.

There are some exciting changes this year; we’ve tweaked the categories, refined the entry form and with no additional entry fee, we’ve launched a regional champions scheme so we can reach the work right across the UK.

Do check out the PRmoment Awards microsite.

Also, thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.

Here is a summary of what Ashwani and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:

2 mins Astrum recently published a report on how communicators can navigate the digital disruption we’re seeing currently. Ashwani talks us through the three conclusions coming out of that report.

3 mins The report was titled “Technology Reshaping Communicators?” What were the lessons from the report about how AI is likely to change the framework for effective reputation management?

9 mins How are consumers responding to AI-produced content in India?

“Content consumption is going to become more personalised, experiential, and immersive.”

11 mins Does AI mean that reputation management as a business function requires a reboot?

“Social science, data science: to be able to assimilate information and patterns quickly to be able to create content.”

“You must be proficient at making videos…visual storytelling is the next skill you must acquire.”

14 mins Ashwani talks about the example of Prime Minister Modi as a 360-degree communicator.

16mins Largely our consumption of content is going to go through the mobile phone.”

18 mins What are the dominant channels on mobiles in India?

19 mins Where does India see itself from a global economic and political influence perspective?

“India sees itself as the voice of the global South.”

“India is not dependent on exports like China, it is largely a domestic economy. That makes it unique and a robust, stable economy.”

25 mins Are we seeing a change in how consumers use social media? Closed digital channels such as WhatsApp are ever more popular. That has huge implications for how brands use social media.

27 mins Aswani talks about how deepfake content has already become an industry and how it was used in the Bangladesh elections.

“Big tech has become a big risk for governments…so compliance is going to play a very big role in the reputation (of big tech firms.)”

34 mins Do we have enough good senior in-house corporate comms decision-makers to lead the PR sector through this period of huge change?

“I see a FOMO factor in the (PR) industry.”

36 mins The increasing importance of communications and reputation for brands.

“We are going through a period of future shock - the pace that technology is changing our lives is so rapid.”

“The gains are tremendous. I keep saying to everybody in the communication industry that you could not be in a better place today because reputation and risk are centre stage for every board member.”

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