Managing a Crisis with Dr. Shabnam Asthana

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In today’s global media world, a crisis demands a quick and steady response that considers the subject matter and the stakeholders that are involved. A crisis can jeopardize a company’s reputation, financial security, and important international ties. Keeping this in mind, Dr. Shabnam Asthana, a multi-faceted professional in the ever-changing field of PR, addressed the PR batch of 2022 on Thursday, 7th of April 2022.

Dr. Shabnam Asthana has over 25 years of rich professional experience in the global PR and communications industry. She started her career in the educational field as a High School teacher and moved on to working as a corporate professional with various reputed companies. Subsequently, Dr. Asthana started her own PR and communications firm in 2005, “Empowered Solutions,” presently with various branches around the world including USA and Canada. She’s also a published author having written a popular book titled “Romancing your Career.” The book talks about her corporate journey and experiences and has received extensive media coverage, and has been widely appreciated with excellent reviews from its readers.

Dr. Asthana began her lecture with a warm introduction from Ms. Karthika Balachandran, a student of batch 2022. After which, she moved on to shed some light on explaining what Crisis Management is. She emphasized, “Time is the essence,” for identifying and managing a crisis. Crisis management can prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe. Dr. Asthana further explained how the change in the digital medium and the evolution of smartphones has made everyone a PR person nowadays.

The lecture was insightful with various case studies being discussed by Dr. Asthana including Indigo Airlines, United Airlines, and Zomato. She prompted interesting class discussions about how each company could have handled the situation better while explaining these case studies. Keenly interested, the students shared their opinions and questioned her, putting forward their doubts and discussing previously-learned theories on the subject.

In the second part of the lecture, Dr. Asthana discussed various PR fiascos that were handled brilliantly; amongst which were the Johnson & Johnson Tylenol case, PepsiCo’s can tampering rumors, racial discrimination lawsuit handled by Texaco, Cadbury’s worm infested candy bars, and many more. These examples helped the students actively engage in applying learned concepts, objectives, and knowledge to hypothetical situations by using Critical Thinking skills. Dr. Asthana, then, went on to talk about the personal image crisis of famous personalities like Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Vijay Mallya, and Prince Andrew, and discussed how they handled it. She spoke about the four phases of Crisis Management and added that ,“The phases of crisis need to be recognized and managed well.” She explained how a “PR professional has to constantly monitor the situation until the damage dies down.”

Dr. Asthana concluded the lecture by showing students a short video about her PR journey and life. The video included little snippets, achievements, awards and interactions from her life. She said, “PR is a fascinating world;” and encouraged students to explore the industry with a multi-focused vision. The lecture was ended with Ms. Karthika Balachandran giving her closing statements by thanking Dr. Asthana; and our director, Dr. Sreeram Gopalkrishna; for giving the students an opportunity to interact and learn with an industry specialist. Dr. Shabnam Asthana’s lecture most definitely inspired the PR students of batch 2022 and gave them a new insight into the industry they are about to step into!

Sakshi Sreewani
(Batch 2022)