Tuesday, October 9

Dour Smiles

My roomie got married last week, she embodies a typical Tamilian woman from a small fishing hamlet, a village tucked far away whose life is in flux just as the city she now lives in. Busy with her career,she crossed the unholy threshold of 35 years of age, sacrilege for a young single working woman - especially one working in the metro Chennai too far away for the village elders to keep an eye on her. Their tongues conjured up gossip their eyes couldn't see. Some well meant meddling from her boss set the record straight. She set her up with a family friend and few days later love was in the air and wedding bells rang in the distance. Both of them were mature successful people but awkward when it came to romance - it was very cute! I tried hard to keep a straight face when she whispered sweet nothings to her fiancee in front of me assuming I did not understand Tamil :P - I was happy for her, but sometimes I really wished she would take the calls elsewhere :P The wedding was a quick, small, intimate, elegant and beautiful affair. She looked amazing! I guess the happiness and the whole 'bridal glow' does make a difference. I didnt know anyone else at the wedding and busied myself people & custom watching.
One phenomenon I noticed was, each time the couple were photographed they had such severe dour expressions as if they were proud hostages of some mishap. The moment the camera was off, they smiled and greeted who ever was congratulating them...was entertaining.. :) Alas, Love does conquer all :)

Saturday, September 29

An eye for an eye and PR for PR

Google before you speak is the norm of the day, and if you google “PR scene in India” - after an article that appeared in Forbes (January 2011) and a wiki page you will see three pages of links to "PR Love Scenes". No, - PR in India is not as steamy as Google suggests – those links will take you straight to forums of a soap opera “ Pavitra Rishta” as I learned today. How very painful! Unless you are atleast remotely associated with the broader communications industry, you most probably aren’t aware of the realities of a PR portfolio. We insiders understand that the job comes with generous dash of glamour sheathed in eternal foresightedness, the ability to improvise continuously, strongly living the message you speak, thick skinned perseverance and rigorous hard work. Many corporates are yet to understand the application of PR in the long run and need to see it as a strategic instrument to build the brand and not a cheap quickie to fifteen minutes of fame. Few trends noticed • There is slow but noticeable maturing of the local industry - processes and systems aligning to global ones • Increased footprint of large global players in India and Indian firms associating with global networks • the large global players customizing practices to match Indian tones maintaining better practices • Mushrooming of many smaller format agencies Last week I received a mail from a much respected industrialist, a lengthy and heartfelt congrats on my career standing in ‘HR’. He went on I detail to appreciate my perspective on an industry issue , and attributed the same to my three year stint in HR dealing with people of myriad aptitudes and capacities. I enjoyed the appreciation, but I DO NOT WORK IN HR. This from a person who engages a PR firm for his initiatives and whose son is mass communication graduate working as a Journalist with a leading national news magazine. Anyway – I had fun replying to him :)
One must admit there is a certain amount of intrigue generated. Highly opinionated souls too check their thoughts for a minute before commenting on your career choice. They need that minute to comprehend what would you possibly be doing, sometimes it is fun to be ambiguous and let their colourful imaginations run riot. The industry is influencing and changing perceptions about brands, practices, cities and countries as a whole however, there is so much more that can be done to connect a PR job profile with a layman’s perspective. We aggressively focus on business development; some amount of enthusiasm needs to be directed towards effective PR for the PR industry in itself!

Saturday, September 1

Smell the roses

so many times in life when somethin suddenly happens..
you feel you aren't prepared.... you were thinking of it..
but it kept slipping your mind....and then ...
there!! its in your face...

we're so preoccupied with little trivialities...
that we dont bother to stop to smell the roses,
beckoning us with their deep colour,
strong fragrance and sometimes seductive sometimes innocent sway with the wind
....these roses...
how i wish i had smelled them when they had cast their glances on me.....
how i wish!!!

Friday, June 22

Public Relations - An Indian perspective

PR...oh Yeah! Public Relations is still a very niche space in the Indian market today. Being the business of influencing people and creating perceptions, PR is yet to go a long way in familiarising itself with the masses. To quote a very basic example, it is difficult to explain to someone what you do. An automatic frosty nosed stare of disdain awaits you the moment you utter something which doesn’t sound like ‘doctor’ or‘engineer’. Public Relations sounds too different even from other familiar terms like‘teacher’, ‘banker, ‘manager’ or even the adventurous ‘advertising’ or ‘branding’.You are lucky if you can drop the names of certain corporates or media and getaway with it. Many corporates are yet to understand the application of PR in the long run and need to see it as a strategic instrument to build the brand and not a cheap quickie to fifteen minutes of fame. India has a reasonably mature PR market, started with the Tata’s, later agencies like Good Relations and further down the entry of many Communication Conglomerates. But we need to clear the air and establish ourselves. Alienating ourselves from advertising, events and other formats also contribute tothe confusion. More emphasis needs to be laid on an integrated approach addressing the brand as a comprehensive whole. The Assocham report released in March 2010 shows the growth of the PR industryin India to grow to US$ 6 billion by end of 2010 with a CAGR of approximately 32%. The study reports the biggest challenges of the PR industry to be thefollowing: • Lure of better pay: Skilled manpower is scarce, professionals will be poached for higher salaries. • Leadership crisis: Not too many established players, presenting a crisis of leadership in middle & smaller firms, which makes people move to larger, more reputed PR agencies. • Lack of understanding of PR: Most people, even from sibling professions, don’tunderstand PR. • Perception issues: Many stakeholders, including media and corporate organizations,consider PR to be similar to that of a spin job. However, there is hope as things are slowly but surely changing for the better.Journalists and public relations practitioners have a more symbiotic relationship today. The industry experts need to adorn roles of academicians and theoreticians and groom the next PR community. Till then you have to face the music when asked,
“Beta, what exactly is it that you do.”

Friday, December 3

Social Networking Wars

The creation and propagation of a virtual identity in sync with one’s biological identity is a reality that can’t be escaped. Social Networking Websites create a reality more real than real and very few people can afford to live outside it.

Initially rose as the domain of the geeks incepted with the likes of chat services and later sites like Friendster, Hi5, Fropper and the like, today not having an active web profile means social suicide.

The barons of social media become iconic, all geeks who made it big from a garage. Facebook, Twitter and MySpace top the list in popular SNWs.

Orkut - Google’s gift to mankind opened up an abyss of possibilities. The high of seeing old pals, the animated discussions on the forums, posting, snaps, videos, writing testimonials and of course scrapping - delineation and fantasy. It was the perfect antidote to a boring day. Freud would agree! Alas, 7 years down the lane it got little rusty at the edges.

Then Facebook made its dramatic entry and holds the title of the number one social networking website by overtaking MySpace users. The world spoke a new language with micro-blogging, punctuated with emoticons, ellipsis and LOLs. It is fun to be a part of the buzz, and of course it comes at the cost of being judged by hits. No surprise to be at your wits end often.

With it came the issues of Cyber Stalking and Privacy. Divorces, the pink slips and admin issues were ascribed to FB and the gnawing need to update statuses twice an hour. People you are not in touch with also are updated about the little empty nuances of your day because you are commonly connected through contacts four times separated.

San Antonio-based market research firm Pear Analytics analyzed 2,000 tweets (originating from the US and in English) over a 2-week period in August 2009 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM (CST) and separated them into six categories:

Pointless babble — 40%
Conversational — 38%
Pass-along value — 9%
Self-promotion — 6%
Spam — 4%
News — 4%

According to TechCrunch, worldwide monthly page views for MySpace have declined from 47.4 billion a year ago to 38 billion today, a 20 percent drop. In the same period Facebook has grown from 44 billion to 87 billion, a near 100 percent increase.

MySpace has seen a 16 percent year-on-year drop in page views, from 41.6 billion to 34.8 billion. Facebook has grown from 13 billion to 20 billion page views per month.

With all major stockholders’ fear in sharing the pie grew, convergence became the buzzword. Google launched buzz, a space to create profiles and update statuses. It compiled Orkut, Blogger, Youtube, Picasa, Maps, Translate, Gmail & Buzz into a seemingly enticing mix to keep one glued to the browser.

MySpace took profile customisation to a new level which transcended positives and though backed by Google was criticized for skanky bling, losing out on popularity to Facebook – the current sovereign of SNWs. MySpace added the ability to sync your MySpace status updates with Twitter and Facebook so that when you post to MySpace, it auto posts to Facebook. It makes the site seem less selfish when they allow you to sync with their rival and that means greater success overall.

Twitter positioned itself differently and played as a personal interface for those who wished to express. The celebrity bandwagon hopped on and directly interacted with
fans and this brought in most traffic for the prolific micro blogging site. Now integrated into most corporate, celebrity and personal sites with RSS, Twitter stays a sliver ahead.

The huge ego masseur, Facebook, created a continuous self esteem boost with the concept of popularity. Popularity meaning widely liked by one’s peer group members or socially dominant. FB made popularity network centrality, the approach not on merely being liked by others, but by status attributes such as number of friends and the length of the wall and ethnography techniques.

Applications surrounding the concept like Farmville, Mafia Wars etc in association with Zygna games created to echo popularity positively correlated with higher attractiveness, leadership skills, humour, extroversion, academic achievement and success in general. Also, from a corporate view, a lot of applications allow a greater way for businesses to promote themselves thus making FB rule the roost now.

However, the war is yet to be won.

Friday, March 19


The word now carries a body of meaning so well defined. A temporary identity, rather a mask. One you adorn when at one place. Your profile at each website create to mirror your identity or to project one you desire to.

Its fun to be a part of the buzz, and of course it comes at the cost of being judged by hits. No surprise to be at your wits end often.

Actually i wore three profiles last year. Began with that of a carefree student lounging away happy and independent on the best campus in the world. Surrounded by friends, caring two hoots about tomorrow or today for that matter. Next came one similar to a nymph..matured too soon to a lecturer, a metamorphosis too fast. The sudden plunge into responsibility, responsibility for minds not too unlike myself, in an institution where only women walked. and as is the case with such societies, norms were woven into the fabric.Rules both said and unsaid permeated the air. Never knowing who's feet i was stamping on was disturbing.

Fun it was, but I couldn't be too comfortable in my skin. I identified more with the crowd i was to tutor, just not too sure that was the way it was meant to be. Uprooted and sown again quick, yet another paradigm shift.

Now am independent. responsible for myself, none else. this is the skin i choose to flaunt. Identify with it or not. too soon to tell

Thursday, October 8

Gal pal gangs :)

Being a girl, the people you have most fun with are often your gal pal gangs..am 22 years and fourteen moths old now...and really miss all my GPGs...

I started to hangout with other girls of my age only after i was 8..so its only then i was introduced to the sinful pleasures of gossip... learnt the myriad expressions of surprise, awe, shock and horror a face can contort into...the juicy tidbits of trivia...all so new..so exciting...the only people who understand and mirror you panorama of feelings..down to the most intricate interest in seemingly the most insignificant detail.

As i moved from school to au lycee to grad studies,post grad studies and now work the topics we discussed didn't change too much nor did the degree of animation or excitement but of course i evolved into a more enlightened soul. Emancipated from ignorance with multiple perspectives, shared over culinary experiments, slumber parties, combined study sessions, huddles at boring parties in whispers and mails, fervent texts and shouts across the dance floor, discreet notes passed halfway around the class and of course hours of chatting on the phone..!

It is a pleasure you mustn't deny yourself. Shopping, dieting(ahem ahem), dressing up, studying(lol), flirting, handling all the messes d'amoureux, gossiping, cooking,cleaning,grooming, fighting, gossip(again), exercise, crying,laughing, imagining the worstEST case scenarios..secret outings without letting your parents/bfs know....;) wooohooo..!! fun..!!!

Now, the time spent with each of these gangs marks a paradigm in my life..hmmm...six gangs later i guess i've grown up :( i no longer have a heterogenous group of gals dealing with a similar set of issues around me...no longer have those murmerd discussions late into the night punctuated with whispers and stifled squeals... those impromptu bouts of shopping,bunking,movies,absconding 4m boring stuff....

in short i miss my gal pal gangs :(