Friday, September 19, 2008

Vaishnavi secures Reliance Industries' PR mandate

Sambit Saha reports in The Telegraph

Vaishnavi, one of the largest communications consulting firms in the country that counts the Tata group as one of its top clients, is ready to add another: Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

Vaishnavi Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, the holding group company, has formed a new entity that will handle the account of the Reliance group and all its subsidiaries.

This is the first time that Reliance Industries will have an external agency managing its communications. The corporate communications department of Reliance Industries has always been handled internally from the days when Dhirubhai Ambani started putting together his vast empire.

Even after the Reliance empire was carved up in January 2006, the Ambani brothers — Mukesh and Anil — stuck to the old formula.

But Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd is now looking to seek professional expertise from outside the group.

Vaishnavi has created NeUcom Consulting under an entrepreneurial model. Manoj Warrier will head the new entity. Warrier was the executive director of Vaishnavi looking after operations in the north and west. Vaishnavi Advisory Services Pvt Ltd will have a significant shareholding in the company.

NeUcom is beginning the journey with Reliance. It will handle media relations, media strategy and the internal communications of Reliance and its subsidiaries.

The new outfit has been set up to head off the risk of a potential conflict of interest with Vaishnavi’s other clients.

Vaishnavi Corporate Communications handles the accounts of the Tata Group and the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Although this is the first time that the Tatas and the Ambanis will share the same communications entity, experts reckon that this is a sign of the increasing professionalisation in the corporate communications business. Management consultancies, legal firms and taxation entities advise a variety of clients without infringing client confidentiality; the public relations business has started to take its first tentative steps in that direction.

However, the development comes soon after Mukesh Ambani came out strongly in support of Tata Motors’ troubled Nano project in Singur. Ambani’s statement had sparked surprise as he is usually reticent on controversial subjects.

NeUcom will handle its first assignment for Reliance Industries on Sunday when the oil and gas giant is expected to make a major announcement.