Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Sangeeta Waldron about her career, what motivates her, and what inspired her latest book, Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am a published author of two business books. My latest book is Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations and my first business book The PR Knowledge Book was published in 2019.
Otherwise, I am a multi-award winning Public Relations professional, where I was recently named in Commetric’s top ‘15 of Women Influencers in PR & Communications’ and in the ‘Top 100 of the PR Influencer Index.’ I run my own London based PR agency, Serendipity PR & Media.
I enjoy writing and am contributing global editor for the India CSR Network, the largest news platform on sustainable business news in India. I also guest lecturer at Coventry University on journalism, social media and PR.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I have always loved books and have wanted to write a book since I was ten years old, and had always thought my first book would be fiction. I had never thought I would write business books.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I have always enjoyed writing and believed it was one of my ‘superpowers’ and when I set-up my PR agency in 2009, I also wanted to write, so I managed to land a job writing for an influential US sustainability business news platform. Writing regularly for the platform, ensured that my writing skills were continuously well-oiled and helped my written word to keep evolving and growing.
In 2018, a publisher called Business Expert Press (BEP) asked me if I would be interested to write my first business book about public relations. I said, “No!” at that time, because I had a lot going on with my company and did not feel that I had the time for such a big commitment.
Then suddenly towards the end of 2018, I felt I wanted to write the book. I had this urge one night and I sat-up in bed, with my note book, woke my husband up and made him brainstorm with me! The next day, I approached (BEP), I remember it well, it was just before the Christmas of 2018 and BEP was going into the Christmas holiday period. They asked me to send in a book proposal before the end of 2018 with my ideas for the book, along with an outline of the chapters etc., which I did. I then heard from BEP in the January of 2019, with a yes.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
I wrote the first completed draft of my first book by April 2019, just in four months. My husband called me ‘paperback writer’ as I spent every moment writing the book, as I had a deadline set by the publisher and I had to get the first draft to them by the start of that April. After, which I worked with my book editor.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Well true to my form, I had the idea for my second book at the start of January 2020 and sent my proposal to a publisher I know called LID Business Media who publishes business books. They considered my proposal and said they would like to publish my book and wanted to do so in October in 2020. So, I had to finish writing my book by the July.
However, the pandemic delayed things and my book was pushed back by the publisher. Hence, my book published this February 2021.
What made you want to write Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations?
For long as I remember, I have always been passionate about the planet and sustainability. I was watching the news about the devastating bush fires in Australia in January 2020 and it got me thinking about how could I help to make a difference. The answer I got was that I could help all types of businesses do better by the planet, if they understood how to create authentic brands and become more ‘conscious with their operations’, where they had corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the heart of their business strategies and brands, which would help to improve things for the planet.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations?
Hmm, there were a few…self-belief, that I could write a book like this and do it justice. I also wanted to use the power of stories in the book and include real-life global stories from businesses and business leaders who were successfully doing CSR.
Finding the right stories (case studies) needed work and then approaching these people and convincing them to share their story with me for the book. Strangely, the pandemic worked to my advantage, as suddenly everyone around the world was in lockdown and people had time to be interviewed for the book. My next personal angst was then doing justice to their story.
Also, during this time of writing the book, I should also mention that I had lost my mum and there were days, when it felt that I was writing through thick fog. I could not understand my own thoughts, I then realized it was grief and when I had this awareness, the writing process suddenly became a little easier. The book then kept me busy.
What was your research process for Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations?
I knew what I wanted to write and how the chapters would unfold. This helped my research. I also wanted to prove what I was writing through relevant and up-to-date data and research. So, I researched using authentic sources such as Harvard Business Review and other similar platforms for data. I also spoke to my business network when I was looking for specific research and case stories. My business network was a good resource for me.
How did you plan the structure of Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations?
This is a good question, and it was down to my instincts. I had a clear idea about how I wanted the book to flow and unfold. I had clear intentions and also knew that I wanted someone relevant to write my book foreword.
Importantly, I also talked my thinking through with my publisher and the editor for my book and they were fantastic. They helped me develop my ideas and helped create the structure.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations need?
Yes, I did and I think all authors need a good editor to help shape your thinking. They bring a certain expertise and clarity of thought to an author.
I had an editor to help me develop my thinking after my first draft of the book. I then went away and worked on those suggestions and completed my second draft.
I sent my draft through and the publisher was happy and I was happy, and then it was sent through for the final process of editing, proofing and layout.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Get into the practice of writing, it will help to find your voice and develop your own style. Start a daily journal, it helps getting into practice of writing. Always keep a notebook and pen by your bedside table and in your bag – so you can jot down ideas as they come to you. Ideas don’t have to be elaborate, they can be words, random thoughts. Write about the things that bring you joy and are a passion. Before you know it, you will have a book!
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I think I am ready for that fiction book that I always thought I would write when I was ten! I have ideas mulling around in my head.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Absolutely! The book has been so well-received by the international media and readers. The book is timely and the global pandemic has accelerated the need and interest in the book.
Plus, my biggest thrill is that an Indian publishing house called Jaico Publishing has bought the rights to my book, which will be published in India, 2022. It’s very special, because when I lived in India during my teens, we had Jaico books on our bookshelf. Who would have thought, I would one-day have a book with them?!
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