As the Head Marketing & Communications at Tata Power Solar, Vineet Arya leads the communications efforts of the solar energy company. In an exclusive interview with Image Management, Arya opines on Tata Power Solar’s attempts to rebrand itself after the exit of British Petroleum from the company formally known as Tata BP Solar.
Q. Integrated communications is a popular buzz-term these days. Could you describe the synergy between Tata Power Solar’s marketing and communications efforts?
Integrated marketing communication enables all aspects of marketing to work in harmony to promote a particular product or service effectively among end-users.
Since most external audiences do not distinguish between various forms of communication efforts from a brand, and evaluate based on the value proposition they derive, it is important that all communications are based on a singular strategy that ties in with the organizational objectives, especially those relevant to business and marketing goals.
Additionally, when a company’s sales, marketing and communications team function together, the impact on business and sales is substantial.
Q. After BP’s exit, can you describe the process of rebranding to Tata Power Solar? How did you ensure that the media and other stakeholders stayed abreast of your new brand?
Earlier, the company’s focus was towards manufacturing, a significant part of which was export oriented. Post BP’s exit, Tata Power Solar has shifted its business focus from pure manufacturing to being an integrated solutions provider.
Over the last year, our communication efforts, has been more to articulate this shift in focus, than the actual exit of BP. Tata Power Solar is, hence, focusing on rebranding itself from being a manufacturing company to being an integrated solar solutions provider.
Q. What is Tata Power Solar’s PR strategy for 2013?
The primary focus of all our communication effort, including PR, will be to consolidate our position as an integrated solar solutions provider and leader in this space with over 24 years of legacy.
Q. Some might argue that it is hypocritical to have a “green” Solar business under the Tata Power brand, which also has interests in traditional means of producing energy. How do you combat that?
The fact is that close to 70 percent of India’s power comes from the traditional (thermal) energy production means. Even at that, India is facing a huge energy deficit. It is thus important that we generate power in every feasible way to meet the growing energy demand of our country.
Individuals, corporate and society should get together as a country to focus on renewable energy as a viable long term solution. Therefore, Tata Power Solar is part of a larger focus on ensuring future readiness by the group, while meeting the country’s current energy requirements.
Q. What percentage of your job function would you describe as public affairs or lobbying?
As part of our communication effort, we aim to create positive public opinion about solar energy as a feasible and viable solution to India’s energy requirements. From that point of view, politicians and bureaucracy form a part of our overall target audience.
While I cannot put a specific number to it, communicating to the decision makers is a significant part of the role. I am further supported by a strong public affairs team based out of Delhi.
Q. What is your take on the state of communications education in India?
Like all other non-technical education, it is very theoretical and might not be in sync with the fast changing dynamic of the industry.
While it provides a good understanding of the field theoretically,, practical knowledge plays a larger role in the communications industry.
Q. How do you see the role of public affairs evolving in India?
India is still a very young and developing PR market as compared to the other developed economies in the world. It is brimming with a talent pool of fairly young professionals.
The demand of public affairs managers is on the rise, as MNCs and other global companies are investing more in India. They are looking at India as an important profit center, while the domestic companies are waking up to the importance of positive brand communications.
Hence, it has become a lot more professional now. Communications are now focused on creating the right public opinion, relevant white papers and research reports, influencing the right influencers, etc.
Interviewed by Kunal Pal for Image Management