Welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview with Sangeeta Waldron, a well-known name in the communications and media sector for over three decades. She has expertise in publicity, branding, marketing, media, and social media across the UK, Europe, the US, and Asia.
Sangeeta is the author of the book ‘Corporate Social Responsibility is not Public Relations’ and is pleased to be acknowledged by the PR Influencer Index, being in the top 100.
In 2009, she set up Serendipity PR, a London-based independent, full-service communications agency working internationally, across arts, culture, food, fashion, films, books, and business.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Sangeeta Waldron: I have been in the communications and media sector for over three decades, and have publicity, branding, communications, marketing, media, and social media experience across the UK, the rest of Europe, the US, and Asia. I am pleased to be acknowledged by the PR Influencer Index and I am in the top 100.
I published my second book, Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations, which has been well-received by the media, and I enjoy working with brands and organizations to help them build authentic corporate social responsibility into their brands and business strategies, which also helps them to create inclusive content and thinking that is diverse.
In 2009 I set up Serendipity PR, and thought, if I can launch a business in the middle of a global recession and survive, then this business will survive anything, and one pandemic later, I am still here!
The agency works across arts, culture, books, and business in growth markets; and our cross-sector approach transcends geographies and cultures, ensuring clients benefit from my strategic insight and international network across art, business, and media. Serendipity PR has experience and success in launching brands to markets in the UK and internationally.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffet, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Sangeeta Waldron: I would say to Mr Buffet, I believe in the power of serendipity for business and the fact that I am in the elevator right now proves that!
My company is called Serendipity PR & Media, a London-based independent, full-service communications agency working internationally, across arts, culture, food, fashion, films, books, and business. With the experience and successes of launching brands to growth markets globally.
Our biggest strength is that we have a cross-sector approach that transcends geographies and cultures, ensuring clients benefit from our strategic insight and our global network across art, business, and media.
We are a creative global connector; an innovator in brands, digital and social campaigns; and experts in corporate social responsibility for all businesses.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Sangeeta Waldron: The world has changed since 2020, and quiet quitting, along with an organization’s corporate social responsibility policy and authentic purpose are key trends that have emerged from the global pandemic.
What keeps employees engaged and happy is the purpose of the business that they are working for, as people want to work for a place that is making a positive difference to the local community where they are operating and to the wider planet at large. This is all part of employee well-being and when employees feel part of their workplace, they feel valued.
They have a sense of commitment and loyalty to where they are working. Business leaders/CEOs need to be engaged top-down and bottom-up and need to walk their talk. Companies need to shift their thinking and enable their employees to find a balance between work/life balance.
I am adapting, by helping others adapt – helping all types of businesses, and business leaders to understand CSR and build it into the heart of their business strategy and brand. When CSR is incorporated this way, employee well-being naturally follows; businesses naturally attract talent and keep talent.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Sangeeta Waldron: In 2013 the UN published a report, which showed that more people in the world had a mobile phone than they had access to a clean toilet! So, online marketing was only ever, going to grow stronger as we spend more time online.
Going back to the global pandemic, data shows that it has accelerated online shopping by five years. We also saw that those businesses that had no online presence struggled and never made it when things started up again. This woke up businesses across sectors to invest in their online brand presence and to be consistently engaged.
Therefore, for the year ahead, I think, we will see more brands/online businesses investing in their owned media via social media, newsletters, video content, and podcasts to be able to tell their own news story. It will also be about small engaged communities. As smaller communities have loyalty and better engagement with the brand.
I think the cost of living crisis and conscious consumerism will impact ‘influencer marketing’ and the relationship between the brand and the influencer will need to be far more meaningful and engaged.
Finally, those brands, online businesses, and organizations that are not authentic with their purpose, or who are misleading about their CSR, will find that they will be called out online for greenwashing. So, I will be capitalizing on this in the interests of the planet and working with all types of businesses to ensure that are authentically CSR-led.
Christopher Hitchens, an American journalist, is quoted as saying that “everyone has a book in them” Have you written a book? If so, please share with us details about it. If you haven’t, what book would you like to write and how would you like it to benefit the readers?
Sangeeta Waldron: I believe everyone has a book or two in them, and I yes, I have published two business books.
I wrote my second nonfiction book in 2020 during the global pandemic, set where the world is at a tipping point – climate change, plastic pollution, bushfires, disappearing forests, and explosive conversations about diversity, and inclusion.
The book is called Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations and has been extremely timely! Now more than ever, it is important for all types of businesses to have authentic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives that are not a publicity spin. This book demonstrates that CSR is the future of business.
The book’s foreword is by the respected British environmental journalist Lucy Siegle, and the book was first published in 2021 in the UK and US. This edition of the book contains 15 global inspirational interviews with thought leaders and entrepreneurs, including David Katz, CEO of Plastic Bank; Lois Acton, mentored by Anita Roddick, founder of the Bodyshop, Fred Huguez, who escaped the LA gang culture who talks about the essence of sustainability.
I have also interviewed an Indian Yogi, who shares his wisdom about Yoga and how it stimulates a mindset for sustainability. The interviews within every chapter, along with the research, show there is international public support for businesses to do better and that CSR is driving investment. This is the time for all types of businesses to have CSR as the lifeblood for all their customers and employees.
The book was shortlisted for the Business Book Awards in 2022 in the sustainability and change category.
In November 2022 the book was published in India by the leading publisher, Jaico Publishing, and went straight to number 8 on Amazon India. This Indian edition of the book has 18 interviews, to make it special and relevant for the Indian market.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?
Sangeeta Waldron: There are so many things to say here, but if I were to choose, it would be don’t underestimate trusting your instincts when running a company.
Successful business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson openly talks about trusting his instincts/intuition. If something does not feel right for you, it probably isn’t…I have found when I override my instincts about something, it usually does not work out for me. This could mean turning down client work when it does not feel right and there is power in saying no.
My example of this is when I first set up my business in 2009, I was in a discussion of working with a potential client who on the surface looked great, yet my instincts were telling me not to take on the project, so I listened to that inner voice and did my due diligence, and found that the client was not who they said they were.
That experience has since taught me to always do my due diligence and that instincts are a powerful soft skill.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Sangeeta Waldron: Hmm, good question, I think success for me this year, would be to start writing my third book at some point; have a wonderful family summer holiday, and be able to look back in December 2023 thinking and feeling, ‘Wow! that was an incredible, happy year that was on every level’
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Sangeeta Waldron for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Sangeeta Waldron or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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