Poonam Kaul, Nokia Comms Head, on Nokia’s PR Strategy in India

Poonam Kaul, Director - Communications at Nokia India


In an exclusive interview with Image Management, Poonam Kaul (the Director of Communications at Nokia India) discusses how the Nokia brand is in transition, what the cell phone giant’s communications strategy will be for 2012, and how the communications function has evolved over the course of her professional life.


Q. From manufacturing paper and rubber to designing cutting-edge smartphones and apps, what Nokia “does” has come a long way.  How important is brand evolution to the Nokia story? Is the brand still evolving?

If I just step back in history and you would’ve read about Nokia, the name comes from a river in Finland. We were one of the mainstays of the Finnish economy at that time. In the early 90’s, we took a call to consolidate and get focused on what to do. Telecom came up, which in the 1990’s was not something that people were really talking about.

I think what Nokia really stands for is long term vision. It’s always thought of the future. So about the Nokia brand evolving – it’s always evolving.  But at the core, it’s all about connecting people. You would have heard this consistently from us over the last couple of years and you will continue to hear this about Nokia. It is inherently about connecting people. On top of that, “how and where” you do can change because context changes – the brand has to evolve.

For entry level phones and smart devices, however, the brand has to talk a slightly different language. It’s really about what’s happening on the phone, the ecosystem. This doesn’t mean that the lower end of the brand doesn’t have the same conversation, but at the high end, the conversation is much more evolved. So the brand has to, in a different context or environment, has to evolve; but inherently you remain about connecting people.

Q. Over the course of your professional career, how do you think the communications function has evolved? What changes are still necessary?



Q. The new Lumia range, powered by Windows Phone, has earned lots of critical acclaim from tech journalists the world over, but some market experts feel that sales figures still don’t do justice to the phone’s quality. What is your communications strategy for 2012 to highlight Windows Phone as a newer and better OS in India?

I think I should correct that perception about sales, because globally we’ve sold, in the first quarter, 2 million devices. But, again, while we’re happy with the sales of the product, we also understand that what we’ve launched is almost like a new religion. You’re asking people to move from Symbian, or an Android, and for people to really understand what this system is about, it takes time. It’s not like you snap your fingers and people say okay, this is the next best thing after sliced bread.

All the consumer feedback and research that we have seen points out that the moment people start using this device, they don’t want to let it go. So, that is, from a communication point of view, the most important focus. How do I get more people using this device, to get more people to experience the device? So even from a marketing perspective, we are picking up things to do which are more experience, than just awareness.

If you remember, when we launched in January, we had this massive blitzkrieg on radio, TV, everywhere that “amazing everyday”. That phase was really about awareness. Now, the phase is really about getting people to experience the device. At retail, for example, we’re doing this thing called “satisfaction guaranteed” where we ask people to actually take the device, use it for a week, after which they can decide to either keep it or return it. Until more people start using it, we have to keep at it, do these things, to build awareness, to build experience based strategies around the product.

3 thoughts on “Poonam Kaul, Nokia Comms Head, on Nokia’s PR Strategy in India

  1. Agreed in toto with Ms. Kaul that PR can be of immense value to only those companies who understand the importance of strategic communications…

  2. I would be interested to learn more about Nokia’s social media strategies. We are all dealing with the 4C’s of the internet age – content, context, connection and community.

  3. Always fun to hear opinions regarding how PR industry is
    visualized by the key industry people, opportunities, challenges and the
    emergence of PR from just a concept to the eminent communications function. I
    particularly enjoyed Poonam’s quotes in video saying-

    “”PR is evolving and become strategic function

    “”As an organization if you understand strategic
    importance of PR, that makes you way ahead in communications functions”

    And, the changes by which PR industry is healing itself by
    adopting best practices, metrices, and also dropping the weak methodologies, as
    Poonam says:

    “”Measuring Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs)
    is NOT the way how you evaluate PR”.

    We at CARMA International, the
    company which I represent in India for Media research & PR evaluation,
     also put our conscious efforts on creating awareness of how important PR
    & Measurement as a business function is…and contribute on global scale to
    create Innovative metrics to develop intelligence about media content &
    incorporate it into business planning.  

    tweet: @khannaneelima

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