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.”