Puneet
Sandhu

Associate Director

Harvard PR

Writer, marketer, and DEI professional based in London.

Puneet Sandhu is a writer, marketer, and DEI professional based in London. She is obsessed with the future of work and careers and writes about related issues for outlets like The Muse and Fast Company. Puneet started her career as a journalist covering local politics in the Indian capital of New Delhi and now works in marketing and communications, helping tech companies tell stories about their impact in the world. Her DEI work is focused on supporting organizations looking to launch, communicate, and rally momentum around their equity goals and programmes, and she also serves as co-chair of Boston University’s College of Communication’s DEI Alumni Council. Outside of work, Puneet’s interests include reading and writing fiction, listening to music, and exploring London’s history.

Favourite campaign of 2021 and why?

This isn’t a new campaign, but 2021 took Spotify’s Wrapped playlists to another level. (For the uninitiated,your Spotify Wrapped list is a dynamic, personalised video which shows which artists you listened to the most, the song you listened to the most, what countries your favourite artists are from, and so on.) It’s a collection of fun, interesting factoids/stats about your listening habits and trends over the year that users can then share on social channels.

After a year of being in lockdown, Spotify users all over the world had spent way more time on the app than they had previously. Spotify used this high-engagement phase to entrench users further by releasing their Wrapped playlists a few weeks early. This let users reflect on a strange, surreal and often, devastating, year, through the music they listened to. I’ve always appreciated how Spotify helped users enhance the very personal connection they feel with their music, and nowhere did this show more than in 2021’s Wrapped lists.

Who is your communicator of the year?

The Indian farmer. They staged the world’s largest non-violent democratic protest against their government, who had introduced three new farm laws that would greatly affect their livelihoods and families, without any input from them. The protests started in autumn 2020, and had gained steam by November of that year, both in India and abroad. It is estimated that 250 million people outside of India staged protests of their own in support of the farmers who were camped outside the borders of New Delhi, the Indian capital city, for almost a year. From a communications perspective, I was most impressed by how a movement this big – leaderless, at that! – was able to 1) stay on message while, 2) controlling its message. The farmers, many of whom had no experience with national/non-regional media, were always authentic, concise and emotive in their messaging, and carefully chose which reporters and outlets they would speak to. The movement also started its own newspaper – both print and online – that it used to share its point of view, while also amplifying its messaging on social channels like Instagram and Twitter. After a year of protests and staying on one consistent message, the farmers recently received news that the laws had been withdrawn. This could not have happened without their smart communications tactics, which not only caused visiting dignitaries to put pressure on the Prime Minister, but also saw support from the likes of Rihanna on social media, forcing people across the world to sit up and pay attention.

Person of the year?

Riz Ahmed. I’ve been a fan of his for years, but I’ve come to appreciate his deftness with words and media even more during the pandemic. Not only did he translate some cancelled concerts superbly into a virtual mode (I never thought a “webinar” concert could be so much fun), but he also started a new initiative I feel strongly about: Missing & Maligned – The reality of Muslims in popular global movies. We’re living in an age where Islamophobia is normalised – and becoming even more dangerous – and Riz Ahmed’s courage and clarity when exposing bias and calling for action is commendable. Especially because Muslim celebrities don’t often get a lot of public support on these topics!

Favourite comfort food?

Anything my mom makes – is there another right answer here?!

Film you have watched more times than any other?

Bridesmaids – purely by accident, since it’s always on the TV. But this movie makes me laugh and cry, and it’s such a great testament to strong female friendships.

Song you can’t resist dancing to?

Dancing On My Own by Robyn

Event you are most looking forward to in the next 12 months?

The day when everyone in the world has access to a COVID-19 vaccine.