Shanthi Jeuland on Authenticity and Female Empowerment in the Workplace

Managing Director of COCO PR Shanthi Jeuland chats about how she set up her very own communications agency after a decade of professional experience
Photo: Sharon Leisinger

After more than 10 years in the communications space, Shanthi Jeuland felt ready to step out on her own. In 2016, the seasoned PR pro set out to found her own agency: COCO PR. In the last eight years, the small-but-mighty team at COCO PR has worked on projects with major businesses such as IKEA, B.P. de Silva Jewellers and Pepsi, and even fresher start-up companies to accomplish their communication objectives with finesse.

Below, we speak to the Founder and Managing Director on what makes COCO PR tick, empowering young women in the workforce and how the agency strives to circumvent upcoming challenges in the media industry.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind founding COCO PR and the unique approach you bring to the world of communications?

Certainly! In 2016, I embarked on the journey to create COCO PR with the vision of establishing an agency that goes beyond the conventional. I wanted to focus exclusively on brands that are not just market leaders but also pioneers, setting new standards and reshaping their industries. COCO PR offers big-agency-thinking with a boutique approach and years of experience working with some of the world’s biggest brands and established clients. We also thrive on a dynamic and refreshing blend of digital and traditional communication strategies. Our clients include global brands, startups, solopreneurs and everything in-between.

Photo: Sharon Leisinger

What are your three most important learnings to date that you would impart on a fellow business owner?

Under-promise and over-deliver. It is always important when starting out to be realistic with yourself and your clients. Do not promise the world, promise what is attainable and go from there—it is always the best for everyone in the end. BE AUTHENTIC! I cannot stress this enough, at least for me. Do not try to be something or someone you are not, do not sacrifice your ethos for anyone or anything. It is so incredibly important to stay true to yourself as your business grows—you end up working with the clients you should and being in the spot you were meant to be in.

What are a few future goals or plans for the agency?

I would love to expand our hospitality and luxury lifestyle brand clients overall, and diversify even more from what we currently have in terms of categories of client industries. Another important goal is for COCO PR to continue building an incredible team, expanding our social and marketing sector, and big-picture for me is to have office space in London, India and Paris. Who knows!

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

Always have a person or brand that you admire and look up to. It is important not to think you know everything, and always be open to change and learning and never to be hard on yourself, even though I know that it can be difficult if you are on the road to be your best.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

If you are passionate about something and have unique knowledge about it, believe in that. There is only one of you. Nowadays, careers are far more fluid. So never be afraid to pursue what you believe is right at the time. You can always continue to pivot down the line. You don’t know where that first step may take you.

Your portfolio includes prestigious international brands in corporate, lifestyle, hospitality, and travel. How do you choose the clients you work with, and what criteria do you consider when taking on a new project?

Choosing the right clients is crucial. We look for brands that share our passion for pushing boundaries and innovation. Our criteria include a commitment to excellence, a unique story, and a genuine desire to make a significant impact. We believe in creating partnerships that are not just professionally rewarding but also align with our values.

Can you share a personal philosophy that has guided your career in communications and continues to inspire your work at COCO PR?

One guiding philosophy for me is, “Innovation is the heartbeat of success.” This mantra drives our approach at COCO PR, reminding us to constantly seek innovative solutions, challenge the status quo, and pioneer new paths for our clients. It is the essence of our commitment to pushing boundaries and creating impactful narratives.

What is your leadership approach like?

Tenacity and creativity are at the heart of my leadership approach. In the dynamic world of PR, tenacity is the driving force that helps us overcome challenges. It is about persevering, staying resilient, and maintaining focus on our goals. Creativity, on the other hand, is our secret sauce. Hand-in-hand with continuous learning, I also empower my team to think creatively out-of-the-box for innovative solutions. That way, we have witnessed groundbreaking campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences. Also, I believe in empowering my staff to be leaders of their own and never to be afraid to make decisions. By doing so, when employees feel trusted and supported to make decisions, it fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Photo: Sharon Leisinger

COCO PR has experienced remarkable growth despite the challenges in the PR market. Can you share a specific instance that encapsulates the resilience and determination that have contributed to the agency’s success?

One standout example is when faced with a challenging market situation, we reevaluated our strategies, embraced innovation, and demonstrated resilience. By adapting swiftly to the evolving landscape, we not only overcame the challenges but also emerged stronger. This instance underscores our commitment to continuous improvement, adaptability, and the unwavering determination that propels COCO PR forward.

What are some key trends and challenges you see in the communications industry today, and how does COCO PR stay at the forefront of these changes to deliver exceptional results for your clients?

The communications industry is evolving rapidly, with digital transformation and changing consumer behaviors being key drivers. COCO PR stays ahead by investing in ongoing training, staying abreast of emerging technologies, and fostering a culture of adaptability. We pride ourselves on being trendsetters rather than followers, allowing us to provide our clients with cutting-edge strategies.

Looking ahead, what are some of your personal and professional goals for the future, and how do you envision COCO PR evolving in the coming years?

Personally, I aspire to continue making a meaningful impact in the communications industry and inspire the next generation of leaders. Professionally, COCO PR aims to further solidify its position as a go-to agency for brands that embrace innovation. We envision expanding our footprint globally, collaborating with even more groundbreaking brands, and continuing to redefine the standards of excellence in communications.