Women are the strongest creature in the world - Neha Bahri, Founder & Director of Bconnect Communications
Be it well-established brands like Weber Shandwick or start-ups like Delhivery, a seasoned communication and PR professional, Neha Bahri has contributed towards scaling the digital presence of several companies. ‘Bconnect Communications’ is a result of her struggles, learnings, and blind faith towards achieving her entrepreneurial dream.
Under her leadership, not just her company, but her clients too have won many accolades and nominations. Neha has earned recognitions such as 40Under40, Shepreneuer, Leaders 2.0., to name a few, for the disruptive work in the field of PR.
During a chat with Apeksha Sandesh, Neha Bahri shares about her journey so far, stories of her struggles and how she overcome them gracefully. Here are the excerpts!
Tell us something about your journey so far in the field of media and communications.
Approaching a decade in the field of communications now, I have explored all aspects of the industry including PR agency, journalism, and corporate communications. During my nine-year-long stint in communication, I have helped in scaling the digital presence of several companies.
In 2017, I laid the foundation of my brand consultancy venture ‘Bconnect Communication’. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which mowed down the spirits of many professionals, I started the full operations of Bconnect Communications. I was associated with almost 25 companies during this pandemic for their branding. I could multiply my business with sheer hard work and an out-of-the-box approach. It was not an easy decision as people in their mid-30s don't venture into something risky.
I achieved all this without the aid of anyone. All my clients reached me organically and continued taking my services as I could deliver them tangible results. Some of the brands that I have worked with had no digital presence, so I introduced them the importance of PR (traditional and digital) along with social media. I have provided training to the brands, which not only helped them connect with their target audience but even create a great perception in the minds of one and all.
My recent works talks about the brands like MyOperator, wherein my company helped brand achieve 120% growth in the business. We curated a campaign of start-up program, did a regressive communication, and formed partnerships like Invest India – the PM initiative to help start-up sector. With the help of this strategic partnership, the start-up community increased by 50% and in turn the conversion of non-paid start-ups to paid was 30%.
Chingari App had a negligible presence before the App Ban in India, and we received 5 inbound investors opportunities. The communication strategy was such that the brand witnessed over 150+ coverage and in a day, it was showcased 12 times on television on different channels. Today, the app enjoys a strong user base of more than 30 million and enjoys 400% growth month-on-month and from zero valuation to over 30Mn. Its stories even caught the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Anand Mahindra, Shekhar Gupta, and other bigwigs.
From being a seasoned employee to becoming a mother and now an entrepreneur, it takes courage to risk your everything. At an unprecedented time when millions lost their jobs, I didn't just sustain but also created jobs. So, in a nutshell, it has been a great journey so far!
Please share some of the important milestones of Bconnect Communications.
There were almost 25 companies associated with me during this pandemic for the brand awareness exercise. As a value-driven and result-oriented communication professional, I have created and built the brand image of the start-up ecosystem. Every step was a milestone in terms of learning and getting recognition.
How do you think your industry/sector will change in the next five years?
Honestly, in the field of PR the old habits tend to dominate practices that were picked up when toes were dipped in the industry. Public relations will be more customer-focused in the coming years. Social media amplification will be witnessed aggressively. It will be an amalgamation of traditional and social PR. A need for PR professionals to upskill themselves in the coming years to understand the landscape is foreseen.
You are a results-driven professional. Did you ever feel that your goals were overly ambitious? When and how did you cope up with that?
Challenges make you strong. I recall once someone asked me whether I could swim, and my answer was a “no”. The person quipped, “I will throw you in the swimming pool, and no one will be there to save you. You will have to help yourself to save your life and you will learn to swim as well.” I always take life situations like this. I reached out to my friends in the media asking for projects. I broke the barriers of my comfort zone and bagged some freelance work to keep my contacts alive and enhance my skills. The assignments were decent, and I kept on building relations in the industry. I regularly followed the trends, watched the happenings, and recorded the changes apart from applying on job portals. I polished my skills by taking a role in a small agency and learned from my two teammates.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far, due to being a woman?
My career has been a roller coaster ride. I was naïve in the industry and was not well-versed with industry trends or brands like Adfactors PR, Avian, or Weber Shandwick. It was a new page in my career. With little understanding, I landed at the wrong places initially and even faced situations where my dignity as a woman was compromised.
The role of a woman was fixed in our family, so for me, it was like breaking the glass ceiling. I decided to walk the extra mile and started reaching out to people. The scope of learning during my internship was limited. My first job was in a small firm that operated from the terrace of an apartment. I lost my first salary because the client refused to pay.
After my wedding, I had medical issues. Getting a job was not easy. I could never justify gaps in my CVs. I finally got an opportunity at an organization wherein I had to travel 2.5 hours battling poor health conditions. Furthermore, the industry landscape had transformed in 8 months, and I had to overcome the challenges of making the right work decisions, choosing the right place to work, staying patient, and neglecting politics to keep learning and growing in the industry.
What is your opinion about the women being represented in the media, films, and pop culture?
Women are the strongest creature in the world. Every female represents “power” and is the “energy” for other women in the world. Irrespective of the sector, whether an entrepreneur or a homemaker, or a film star, women are creating their own identity in the world leaving behind patriarchism.
‘Work from home’ and ‘flexible work schedule’ are new trends. But many women find is much difficult to cope with it. What is your take on it in terms of women employees?
We never had an opportunity of working from home. It is the pandemic that has given the push to working from home. Being a working married or single, I believe one should always be open to a flexible working schedule. Since the inception of ‘Bconnect Communications’, we have ensured to keep the flexible working hours for all the employees. Equality is what we believe in. If we give an edge to women, I think we are considering them weak. Women know how to balance things in life.
In your opinion, what will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? Do you have suggestions for them to deal with it?
The major challenge that the women are going to face is to get support from the family.
When it comes to deal with it; passion, and zeal to learn will help one succeed in any career. The mantra is to be as transparent and authentic as possible, to establish a lifetime trust and positive image amongst anyone.
Another key element for success is to have experienced guidance in the form of a mentor. I never had one, which is why I started with my share of ups and downs. Having a mentor is one of your biggest strengths as constant motivation, advice, and supervision will help you in becoming a strong leader with minimum pitfalls.
What do you consider the most underrated virtue of a woman?
It is hard to name one. There are many taboos attached to a woman in the society we live in today. But I feel, women are considered to be delicate darling, which is not the case. They are not weak at all!
What would you say to a young woman who is thinking about starting her own business?
I would sum up this in a statement, ‘GO FOR IT, CONQUER THE WORLD, DON’T LOOK AT THE FAILURE OR SUCCESS’. Something that makes you happy just do it. You will find many people to pull you down. But you put your best foot forward and try. There is no harm in trying and failing, at least you will not regret in life. You will learn.
Do you think Women’s Day should be celebrated? Why?
I believe men and women both are equal. It is humans who differentiate them on different parameters. Why do we need a special day to celebrate either of them (men and women) or both? If someone does good work, why can’t we appreciate then and there? Celebration and felicitation are two different things. I think a felicitation should be conducted irrespective of the day, like any other award function.
Apeksha Sandesh congratulates Neha Bahri for her contribution and commitment in the field of communication and public relations. We wish her good luck for all her future endeavours!