Meet the woman entrepreneur who created a big buzz around Robin Sharma’s India tour and other successful brands
Growing up in Mumbai in the 80s and 90s, Diana Fernandes says she was an introvert with very few friends; an average schoolgirl who did as she was told to.
Three decades later, this 37-year-old turned that childhood perception right on its head, by heading Bloomingdale Public Relations, one of the fastest public relations and marketing agencies with operations in India, Dubai, and Singapore, and a long list of prestigious clients.
All in the genes
Diana says entrepreneurship was in her genes. “My mother has been running a successful corporate gifting business for the past 40 years. When she began, women doing business were hardly heard of,” she says.
As a child she accompanied her mother for meetings during her holidays. “We used buses and trains, and travelled from morning until late evening, visiting multiple corporate clients. It really made me appreciate all the work that it takes to build a business, brick by brick.”
Diana completed her bachelor’s in commerce and an MBA in marketing and HR, and began working when she was still studying. She spent 10 years at Planman Marcom in business development, client servicing, and media relations. She moved out in late 2013 to work with her mum but eventually realised PR was her calling and set up Bloomingdale the same year. Five years later, she set up base in Singapore to tap the APAC market from there.
She says, “When I thought of starting something on my own, the few clients whom I spoke to were very supportive. They said they would work with me whether I do something on my own or be a part of any organisation. That gave me the confidence to start from my living room in 2013 with three other ex-colleagues who decided to join me. We started work with just two to three clients to begin with and never looked back.”
Bloomingdale is a full-service public relations, digital marketing, and influencer marketing company, and has grown to cover all aspects of digital marketing, including social media management and advertising, search engine and display network advertising, remarketing, email marketing, creative services, and influencer marketing. Its clients are across industries: hospitality, technology, lifestyle, startups, and real estate.
“Our major clients have been associated with me for over a decade each. Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity giant; Mad Over Donuts, a Singapore-based gourmet donut chain; and Mitashi. Over the last few years, we acquired Havwoods International, UK’s largest wood flooring experts; Bayroute, one of the fastest growing Middle Eastern fine dining restaurant chains; Route Mobile Ltd; RichFeel Trichology Center; and Vista Rooms among many others,” she adds.
Among their diverse campaigns Diana rates the launch of Tiger Balm Neck & Shoulder Rub as a “fabulous experience”.
“We managed the entire event end to end; right from handling logistics, curating the entire conference, organising media, social media influencers, et al. The response was phenomenal. Handling Khandani Rajdhani’s multi-city annual Aamlicious Festival year after year has been an excellent campaign too. Another campaign we are super proud of is Mad Over Donut’s annual ‘Donut Day’.
“Another campaign I am super proud of is Author Robin Sharma’s India Tour. The buzz we created was astounding, which helped the book The 5AM Club, top Amazon’s No. 1 bestseller charts in India. His 20/20/20 principal of waking up early and owning the day became a phenomenon. There were hashtags trending on social media. There were groups following the 5AM early rising phenomenon. Since Robin is an internationally acclaimed author, the buzz was tremendous,” she adds.
The agency also forayed into Dubai with a Hiranandani Group project.
Diverse projects and clients
Over the last six years, the company has catered to over 100 clients across industry verticals.
Says she of the progression, “When I started Bloomingdale, I had no clue how big I wanted it to be. I decided to take each day as it comes and do some phenomenal work for my clients. My living room soon turned into an office and I had a few work stations and laptops that I bought with whatever little savings I had. Then we had moved to a flat downstairs and my home and office were now one above the other. I worked through my pregnancy and immediately after my son was born. In 2018, apart from starting Singapore operations, we started Dubai operations with a JV with a local PR firm in the UAE. Today we are a team of 22 with around 20 existing retainer clients.”
Diana believes the public relations space is an evolving one. “Today, PR is no more confined to articles in newspapers and magazines or some show on TV. It’s all consuming and far more exciting. And that’s exactly what we do. There are no defined boundaries as to what services come under PR and what doesn’t. We do whatever it takes to ensure the client’s brand is visible and highly recalled among its TG. We do cross-promotions, tie-ups, influencer collaborations, award nominations, speaker ops and much more. We curate campaigns and go all out to ensure that our clients garner maximum visibility.”
Weekends and weekdays are all alike
Diana says there’s nothing called “work-life balance”. “I don’t really have designated hours of work; weekends and weekdays are alike. Sometimes I’m chilling with my son on a Monday afternoon and working late at night or early in the morning that day. Weekends too are spent doing meetings or catching up with clients for lunch/coffee or just being at home. I do make sure I’m there every morning to get my son ready for school and back home early evenings for playtime.”
Her future plans for Bloomingdale are centred on making the Singapore operations as big as India and looking at the APAC market from there. “It’s been a great beginning. The success of our international operations is in sync with our long-term strategy of being a part of a larger global media conglomerate in the future. We’ve had offers in the past too; but I guess I’m waiting for the right time to take that plunge,” Diana says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)