(October 11, 2023) JP Morgan Chase and KNOW Women have awarded the New York based entrepreneur Neerja Patel with ‘The 100 Women to KNOW Across America Award 2023’. It is a recognition that JP Morgan Chase, the American multinational financial services firm, and KNOW Women, A global media company and community dedicated to amplifying the voices of female leaders, executives, and entrepreneurs bestows upon the most successful, influential, and honourable women in the American society.
Neerja is the founder of Neerja Public Relations, a boutique brand management firm that she established 13 years ago by blending her fervour for public relations with her strong affinity for the South Asian community. Under her leadership, the firm has successfully executed marketing campaigns for companies like Lufthansa Airlines, organised events such as the AR Rahman concert, and engaged in collaborations with distinguished personalities like Archana Kochhar, Padma Lakshmi, and Vir Das.
Neerja’s strong ties within the South Asian diaspora in the United States fuel her commitment to strengthening and empowering this vibrant community. “We just wrapped up South Asian New York Fashion Week which was a four-day event in New York City celebrating South Asian fashion and designers,” she shared with Global Indian as she connected from the US.
The Lufthansa and other meaty projects
“We were engaged as consultants for Lufthansa‘s new route to India, a project that originated through a multicultural advertising agency. They sought our expertise in crafting a campaign that resonated with the South Asian diaspora,” Neerja shared while talking about the coveted project. Her firm’s contributions encompassed defining the target audience, understanding the community’s unifying factors, establishing brand positioning, and devising a comprehensive advertising strategy spanning television, radio, and online platforms.
“We also assisted in crafting compelling copies, developing an interactive website to gather consumer data, overseeing casting for the commercials, and much more. The cherry on top was the honour of getting to be the face of the national campaign! We worked with Lufthansa for two of its vital projects,” says Neerja.
Other than that, one of her favourite projects has been an impressive sold-out show with a capacity exceeding 15,000 at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center, featuring the Grammy and Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman.
Currently, her brand management firm is working with Girls That Invest on a two-week PR tour in partnerships with Google, Shopify, SALUTE, Brown Girl Magazine, and more. “We have many exciting things coming up, including a three-day Diwali Dance Fest at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida,” tells the PR maverick.
For the upcoming festive season, Neerja is also collaborating with Kulture Khazana, a brand that encapsulates the essence of celebrating culture and heritage in the Western world through edutainment products for children. Together, Neerja Public Relations and Kulture Khazana aim to create a delightful festival experience for kids while enriching their heritage knowledge through engaging initiatives.
Helping non-profits amplify their cause
Neerja and her team find deep satisfaction in involvement with non-profits. With a multifaceted approach the firm’s PR services, assist non-profits in crafting and executing successful campaigns. “This involves putting their initiatives into the spotlight, sharing their compelling stories and impactful work with both the community and the media. The objective is to amplify their message, raise awareness for their causes, and provide vital publicity support for any upcoming events such as fundraisers they may be hosting,” she says. Working to make meaningful causes successful gives deep job satisfaction to the entrepreneur.
Neerja’s immigration story
Born in Mathura, Neerja recalls relocating to the United States at the age of seven, leaving behind a household filled with aunts, uncles, and cousins. While she moved to the US at a tender age, she believes that certain cultural aspects from her carefree days in India, such as the different sounds, scents, and flavours of food, have been permanently etched into her memory.
Her maternal aunt’s family also immigrated to the US along with them. They resided together in Minnesota, where their grandparents stayed. Ten of them shared the same roof, even utilising the basement to accommodate the large family.
Although Neerja and her sister were the only Indian children in their school district, she never allowed the Western landscape to overshadow her cultural identity. Despite immersing herself in new surroundings, Neerja ensured her participation in whatever little cultural activity, including festivals, functions, food, and music that the minuscule Indian community in Minnesota had to offer. She steadfastly preserved the cultural bonds of her roots amalgamating her heritage with the new environment, while being immersed in the film and music of India.
During those days, when they had only the essentials, Neerja learned valuable lessons about hard work from her parents. She watched them labour tirelessly to build their American dream from scratch, advancing in their careers and providing a comfortable life for Neerja and her sister. “Even now, as they’ve grown older, their unshakeable commitment to work and resilience continues to amaze me,” Neerja says.
Juggling both worlds
To effectively balance her professional and personal responsibilities, Neerja relies on the support of her family. Although her mornings begin with ensuring that her kids are ready for school, as the day progresses, her schedule varies. During this time, her husband and in-laws living nearby step in to assist her, enabling her to focus on her job without worrying about the kids.
Additionally, Neerja finds emotional support from her sister, who may be far away in Minnesota but is always there to provide encouragement and comfort.
Talking about her take on entrepreneurship, Neerja remarks, “It is a challenging endeavour. It doesn’t come with a shortcut to instant success. The key is maintaining unwavering focus, practicing patience, and having unshakable faith in your efforts.”
She believes that instead of being intimidated by competitors, aspiring entrepreneurs should keep in mind that there’s ample space for everyone to thrive. “Your true confidence shines through your determination and your capacity to learn valuable lessons from setbacks,” she signs off.