Work hard to leave your imprint

How does it feel when someone forgets your name? Or rather when someone calls out a wrong name for you? Or even worse, someone pretends to remember you but can’t recall your name? Well maybe disgusting, annoying or insulting? But do you know that these feelings shouldn’t be coming to your mind. Rather you should think that why didn’t your presence leave an unforgettable mark in their minds. Like why didn’t you do something that extraordinary and unforgettable?

So, like I mentioned in my second last blog, I recently completed my two months of internship at a reputed Public Relations firm. And thanks to my jovial nature I ended up making some great friends. I mean, I can seek their help in future and they won’t turn me down. I know I will not be avoided by them. Question here is, what difference does this make? Why is it so important to leave good imprint on someone’s mind? Why is important to be acceptable and loved?

Answer is simple. So that you get your work done easily. Or rather to put it in a more professional way, to get importance. I’ll share my internship experiences here to make my point valid. So, during these two months, I used to abide by deadlines, do my research well, ask questions till I got clarity. I used to stay back till 8.30pm and work even when the office hours got over at 6pm. I used to help others with their work load when I didn’t have much on my plate. There were days when I had to scan papers and look for coverage for a particular client. During those times, I not only looked for my client’ coverage, I also looked for my colleague’s client’s coverage. And the moment I found any, I used to take a picture and WhatsApp it to my colleague. The response to that WhatsApp was not only a Thank You but a sense of gratitude which I could sense. That was immense for me.

I remember one of my colleague who told me that she appreciated my constant questioning till I got clarity. I recall my manager who praised my extra effort and dedication to make work (coverage) happen. I remember her appreciating my 60 mails a day to numerous journalists, when I thought that she will be irritated with so many mails (I used to mark her in CC).

For me, the net result was, being loved and appreciated to the point when the India Practice Chair asks you to join back. Also, I would love to share her note here but then that would give away the name of my Public Relations firm and for some personal reasons, I want to keep it under wrap. I know that I have left my mark there and they will always remember me, no matter what.

So, next time if someone can’t recall your name, don’t let those dreadful thoughts cross your mind. Rather ask yourself, these three simple questions.

This blog originally appeared on the author’s blog site.

-Riya Sarkar

Riya is a student of the Class of 2018 of the Post Graduate Programme in Public Relations at SCoRe. She has completed her Masters in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. She can be reached at Riya Sarkar on LinkedIn and @sarkarriya_92 on Twitter.

What Sets Apart the Best Programme in Public Relations

It is often said “you learn best while on-the-job”. Sure, working does give you exposure and experience. However, as it is essential to any part of a job in Public Relations, it’s always better to be prepared. Imagine joining a PR firm and being able to comfortably grasp most tasks you’re given for the first time! That’s how you should feel from the moment you enter the PR world, and the institute you choose to study at should cover as much as they can during your PR course.

Here are four major pointers for PR schools to help students begin their PR journey –

1. Up-to-Date Curriculum

The PR course and its modules should be in line with and relevant to what’s happening in the PR and communication business.

Workshops during a PR course can make up for any gaps in the course structure, as they are independent and can be conducted based on what’s happening in the PR world in real-time.

Breaking down case studies is one of the best ways to show students how PR can be used for different things in different ways. It helps when the examples of familiar brands are used.

2. The Right Faculty

The faculty should comprise of PR and corporate communications professionals, as well as others who are connected to the profession in different ways. Practical knowledge is the key. For students, going from being part of the target audience to eventually joining the business – it only makes sense to learn from these professionals.

Students need to be encouraged to ask questions in whatever they do. Teachers must also facilitate experimentation with the way students approach projects and assignments.

3. Choose a Place that Offers Practical Exposure

It is not enough to give students notes to which they may or may not refer. Students doing a PR course need to be able to apply that knowledge and perform tasks on a regular basis using that knowledge.

  • Writing: Practice makes perfect. The focus should not just be on the theory of the perfect way to write, but instead, a weekly practice of writing in different styles, via different mediums and for different sectors etc.

Most people who manage to make their way into a PR course can write, covering the general basics. But once you’re there, even the basics must be reiterated, and extra guidelines added on. This should also include how to write emails and draft different kinds of documents such as a pitch note and a press release (they are not the same).

  • Computer skills: There should be a strong emphasis on the importance of PowerPoint presentations, and the use of Microsoft Excel. Mastering these should be a major part of the computer skills curriculum. The basics of digital design and editing are also essential.
  • Social media: Students must get used to being active on Twitter. It’s best to start them off from the first week of their course. Since Tweeting is one of the fastest ways to break news, it may be a major part of their lives in PR. Starting off early will help once they begin working. They also need to be reintroduced to social media – when to use different platforms – and how to build brand audience or strengthen existing ones with engagement.
  • Public speaking and presenting: Assignments on how to conduct themselves – body language, tone, speech etc, is a must. This should also include soft skills, dressing and etiquette. These are usually taken for granted, but when introduced as part of a course, it serves as a reference point in the future.
  • Mock interviews and scenarios: Mock interviews should be conducted in class as presentations. These should include job interviews and media/client interviews. Along with this, team building assignments and exercises are a must. This helps in training students on how to think and deal with different people and situations.
  • Event planning and management in PR: Students should be introduced to how events are organised, especially in the PR world. Making a real event or two a part of the course is the best way to apply that knowledge.
  • Visits to corporate offices: Meeting and learning from people in corporate communication helps students see how they work to maintain and build almost every brand there is.
  • An internship as part of the course: A well-planned internship shows students what life will be like when they start working in PR. They may not be involved at every level, but they get to observe and sometimes even be part of the kind of work their teams, seniors and bosses do. This is also their first chance to apply what they’ve learnt during their PR course in a real setting. Monitoring this internship makes sure students get the most out of it.

Through this exposure to corporate offices and PR firms, students also get to see how PR and corporate communications teams work together.

4. Build Skills for Research, Clients and Media Relations

  • How to read news: Help students get into the habit of reading the news every day. This includes studying the way news is reported across the media, along with the proper way of scanning newspapers and mapping opportunities.
  • Research: The students must have an idea of what to expect when interacting with the media. They need to get used to researching before they reach out to anyone. This will help them be prepared with some background information on a brand or person. Students should also be encouraged to begin noting the kind of stories a journalist writes. This helps create a database, which will be part of any PR job.
  • Rapport-building and smart pitches: Help students understand that client servicing is a two-way street. Students need to be introduced to the nuances of client-firm relationships. The next bit of learning is how to get the media to care enough about a story. This should include practical activities and assignments, including things like mock pitch calls and how to build and maintain a rapport with the person you’re pitching to.

There is so much more to how the world of PR and Communications functions, but covering these points in a PR course gives both students and institutes a good start.

For students reading this – If the institute/course you’re considering covers these essentials (and hopefully more), you’re good to go. Above all, as they say, “It’s what you make of it!”

A version of this article originally appeared on Shiksha.com

– Amani Kerr

Amani is currently a Digital Communications Associate. She studied History at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC), Mumbai. Amani loves to sing and has lent her voice to several musical projects. She is currently writing and composing original music for her first EP. She can be reached at @amani_kerr on Twitter and here on LinkedIn.

5 Essential Skills in Public Relations

A brief history of PR

PR has gone through a transformation phase since the early 19th century. The field has witnessed two of the greatest professionals ever produced: Edward Louis Bernays and Ivy Ledbetter Lee. The former is referred to as the Father of PR, whereas the latter is remembered as the founder of modern PR.

Both contributed massively to what we know as PR today. Ivy Lee is best known for his work with the Rockefeller family; he advised them to start their own foundation and invested in philanthropic work. Edward Bernays is popularly known for propaganda, his first campaign ‘torch of freedom’ is one of the best publicity stunts in history.

PR is a management function which has the power to change people’s perception and influence public opinion in favour or against the situation. The various facets of Public Relations are Behavioural change, Crisis management, Image building, Reputation management and Public policy. Individuals or large corporates use these to enhance their trust.

You might wonder what any of this has to do with the title of the blog. I believe one has to be aware of the kind of work done in the past to develop the necessary skills for PR.

Below I have highlighted the 5 most important skills I think one needs to work in PR:

  1. Communication skills – This is one of the important skills, if you’re considering a career in PR. You have to be a good communicator and also learn to inculcate the habit of listening and understanding the other person’s point of view. It is also important to interact with different stakeholders for your client. To master this skill you have to be street smart and observe subtle nuances and culture because you will be interacting with wide a range of individuals through various platforms like social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), Traditional medium ( Press Release, Authored article blog post) among others.
    With growing emphasis on Digital media, it is important to be proactive and reach out to your audience because now customers want to interact with brands directly.
  2. Research skills – A PR person should be proficient and carry out lots of research. It plays a significant role in pitching a story to the journalist, drafting speech and other reports in your career. It gives you an added advantage while communicating with other stakeholders. You have to have accurate information on different subjects; you should be up to date with the current affairs. A strong command of Marketing, Sociology, Psychology and Branding will take you ahead in your career, trust me, if you’re inquisitive, you’ll enjoy this aspect of your job.
  3. International Perspective – An international and multicultural cultural mindset will help you in adapting to different culture and people. When you attune to people you will realize that there are a lot of cross-cultural differences, every country is different in their own way. A message that will work in India might not work in a western country; a good PR person appreciates and anticipates these differences. Fluency in multiple languages is a plus because it will help you interact with many different people on a personal level.
  4. Creative Thinking – We have arrived at a point in PR and marketing communication where products or service offering are becoming obsolete within a quarter or a year. In order for you to give the best advice to your client, you will have to think out-of-the-box so that you can capture your customer’s attention in a fragmented market. It also means gauging when to take a risk and thinking creatively in such a way that no one has ever thought before. Having a creative bent of mind will bring success in your professional life.
  5. Social Media Skills – PR professionals must be aware of all the various forms of social media; they should keep themselves updated with various tools search marketing (pay per click and search engine optimisation), internet marketing and digital marketing. At times the same kind of messaging won’t work for every platform; some platforms need different messaging. Google Analytics and Google AdWords certificate programme will help you to boost your profile; a good PR person not only knows which platform to use in various situations, but also how to use each platform to its fullest potential.

-Hassan Mujtaba

Hassan is working as an Associate Account Executive at Adfactors PR based out of Mumbai. He holds a degree in Business Administration from Utkal University and has a Post-graduation diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC), Mumbai. He is a voracious reader and loves to cook and travel. He can be reached at @hassanmujtaba93 on Twitter and here on LinkedIn.

Managing the interview line-ups of a celebrity!

The entertainment industry in India has an enormous number of eyeballs glued to it always, day-in and day-out. A million dreams in the hearts, young or old are woven by it. The ocean of fans outside the homes of our superstars speaks volumes of the super-influence that the entertainment industry has on Indians. The glitz and glamour of the showbiz world, without a doubt, looks like a cakewalk on the screen.

This popular industry has a prodigious follower base across the globe and it is only growing with time. With the proliferation of reality shows, advent of social media and unique content, the rat race of being in the eye of the audience has become a serious business.

When we see these celebrities coming to a show to promote their upcoming shows or movies, it appears as if they have just come there to watch it like the other audience in the studio. However, that is not the case. An immense amount of effort and research is put behind the way they behave and what they speak. A celebrity has to go for an interview fully prepared. It is no cakewalk for them. These promotions are hectic. Running around from one place to another on a tight schedule is not a smooth sail.

I am not stating the facts post an extensive Google search. I am able to do this for I have had the chance to manage the interview line-ups of a few television artists recently. It has taught me the three very crucial things:

1)                  Make sure everything starts on time: Start dropping reminders to the celebrities at least 2 hours prior to the interview. Start coordinating with their drivers and provide them with all the required details. I know celebrities have a reputation of reaching for interviews really late. However, I am of the opinion that a celebrity’s punctuality will always be a trait that the media will remember. Make them realize the fact that it will garner a positive reputation for them

2)                  Be pro-active. Think ahead: Prepare a list of everything that you will need to know. This is just like doing your homework beforehand. Every minuscule detail has to be taken into consideration. Look after the routes, make sure you have every concerned person’s contact details with an alternate number, check after the artist’s food arrangements, their requirements etc. You have to know EVERYTHING

3)                  Never reach late for a live event: When I say a live event here, I press more emphasis on the live event especially on a digital platform (Facebook live, Instagram live, YouTube live etc.). The advancement of digital media has allowed the fans to watch their celebrities interact with them real time. That means it leaves no chance for any kind of an editing. It is not the celebrity but the media outlet which will be on the receiving end of the negative response by the fans. Fans that are eagerly waiting for the celebrity to come online and interact with them. You don’t want the artist to lose credibility with the media, because such things spread in the media universe like fire. This might end up putting the artist’s reputation at stake.

I am sure these tips will definitely come into handy if you are about to start the job!

This article originally appeared on the author’s blog site.

-Shreya Dubey

Shreya Dubey is a student of the PG Programme in Public Relations at SCoRe. She has completed her Bachelors in Mass Media from S.K. Somaiya College of Arts, Science and Commerce.

Reality Vs Expectations

Internship, the word itself terrified me. My seniors wouldn’t even want remember the days of their internship. The days of horror, as they would recount. Somewhere along the way I had made the decision that I would never intern. I promised myself that I would never buy coffee, clean tables and do others work. Why intern when we can start working? So when I was informed that I would be interning at a PR firm for 2 months I could help but think 57 days of torture. I didn’t have any other option , I had to intern but I made my mind that I would not serve coffee. However, this perception did change when I joined my internship.
It was only weeks for my internship and I had already started receiving advices. I was told, internship is the best thing that can happen to a student. Contrary to what I always believed. The main purpose of the internship was to get a job. Impress the firms with your capabilities and compel them to bring you back as an employee. It was an opportunity where you get exposed to the corporate world while one studied. I was told, I would be working in one of the top 10 PR firms in India. This chance was not given to everyone and I should not miss out on it. Do not waste your time and always ask for more work was engraved in my mind. Yet, I could not stop the jitters. Internship continued to haunt me. With all my courage I joined my firm.
I have often heard, expectations are never matched by reality but I had never experienced it. That was about change. I was happy when my expectations were not matched. I did not have bring coffee or clean tables, rather I was shown the practical side of the PR world. I learnt a lot more on ground than in class. I was exposed to what clients expect from us and what should we expect from them. The 57 days turned into 2 short months. Asking for work had become an habit. Once the barriers fell, I couldn’t help but enjoy my every moment spent in my internship. Today when I am asked about internship, all I can say is, It is the best thing that can happen to a student.

This blog post originally appeared on the author’s blog site.

-Reenal Lobo

Reenal Lobo is a student of the PG Programme in Public Relations at SCoRe. She has completed her Bachelors in Commerce from St. Agnes College, Mangaluru

Importance of Homework!

When I recall my childhood days, I don’t really remember a happy child who loved her homework. I reminisce a cribbing child who felt irritated with pending work. She was someone who loved wrapping up work and going back home, free. Like someone, who wanted work to stay at work place and get back home, baggage free. But then as days passed, she grew up and learnt to deal with the dreadful, homework. Also, as she grew up, the definition of the word homework changed for her. In some years, the definition evolved from ‘completing the homework’ to ‘research’.

Now that I have completed my two months of internship at a reputed Public Relations firm, I really understand the importance of the word, homework. These two months have changed a girl from being a I-don’t-care-about-homework to homework-is-important girl.

The first incident which triggered this change was this journalist who works for The Hindu publication. During my internship, I was handling a consumer technology client. And for that client’s work, I had to call up journalists and pitch. So, one of the work was to pitch for a renowned Sri Lankan Opera singer. As usual, I was asked by my senior to talk to the features journalists for this singer. And for two days, in spite of making numerous calls, I realised that none of the journalists were interested in writing about her and some even said that they cover different beats. And that’s when I realised that perhaps I was reaching out to the wrong journalists. I did my ‘homework’ and mapped out a set of journalists who write on music. On the third day, I made my first call for this singer. The name of this journalist was Anurag Tagat. When I explained him that I have someone’s profile and I feel it might interest him, he interrupted me by saying that he only covers music. On mentioning with conviction, that I know his beat and the fact that this will definitely interest him, he did sound happy and surprised. And at last, I bagged my first interview opportunity for this singer. My ‘homework’ on this journalist gave me success!

And that’s when I realised the worth of the word, ‘homework’. I realised why teachers put so much stress on this particular thing or rather why was I scolded all the time for not doing my homework.

There is another incident which I particularly recall from my internship days. One day, during a call with a journalist, ten minutes into the conversation, he sternly said that he has changed his publication. And when I told him that I was aware of it and wanted to talk with him regarding that, he did sound happy. Furthermore, he appreciated that I have done my homework well.

So, finally the cribbing child has grown up and now appreciates her homework.

This blog originally appeared on the author’s blog site.

– Riya Sarkar

Riya is a student of the Class of 2018 of the Post Graduate Programme in Public Relations at SCoRe. She has completed her Masters in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. She can be reached at Riya Sarkar on LinkedIn and @sarkarriya_92 on Twitter.

Briefing Points Before Starting a Public Relations Internship

I was lucky enough to work at a well-reputed Public Relations firm this year. To make things easier for anyone and everyone that is interested in doing the same, please see below to get yourself acquainted with the job.

First things first, you will be assigned Four basic things that every Public Relations intern gets to do:

  1. Media lists

You will be asked to update Media lists. This may seem like a very trivial thing to do but its integral for every PR professional to know what journalists cover which beats from which publications. If it’s done right, this will help you get your basic PR learning in this regard.

  1. Media follow-ups

You might also be asked to make up follow up calls to journalists to get opportunities in getting coverage for your client. For this, make sure you write down a script with every possible question and response you anticipate from this conversation. Try a few trial sessions and before you know it, you’ll get a hang of it.

  1. Print/Online/Broadcast/Social Media tracking for your clients and their competition

You will be asked to either manually or digitally track the news for your client and competition. This will take a lot of your time but make sure you track properly. Take breaks when you can, don’t let this process get the better of you.

  1. Media Releases

To get yourself ready for this task, read as many press releases as you can find online. Try to understand the language and the framing used for them.

Practice, practice, practice.

Apart from these tasks, it’s extremely important to do your research about your firm, key members of the firm, members of your team, your client and your competition. This knowledge will help you add value to the team.

Likewise be aware of what is happening not only in your industry but all industries in the country. For that, you’ll need to read newspapers and follow web pages of regulatory bodies. This will help you become a force to be reckoned with in your team.

Be enthusiastic and make the right connections and hopefully your company will ultimately integrate you into their firm.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog site.

-Ishaan Lahiri

Ishaan is a student of the Class of 2018 of the PG Programme in Public Relations at SCoRe. He has completed his Bachelors in Psychology from Ambedkar University, Delhi. He can be reached at Ishaan Lahiri on LinkedIn and @LahiriIshaan on Twitter

What Public Relations Professionals Do for Their Clients

One of the most integral parts in a public relations career is not client servicing but client delight.

Public relations professionals are hired to become an extension of a client’s team. Client’s work with us and depend on our ability to solve a challenges with our expertise. To win their trust, a PR professional must already have the answers and solutions in place before the client ask the questions.

A few things I’ve learnt about client servicing are:

  1. Firstly, setting clear expectations and painting a realist picture to the client.
  2. From time to time we must create graphs and charts of the goals achieved and share them with the client. These will help them know where their money is being invested. This also ensures that there is something to measure with and compare to later.
  3. Always, always keep the client in the loop of activities performed and the crucial materials. This way, everyone is on the same page with the goals and company messaging.
  4. We are playing the role of a communication consultant. Therefore, we should have in-depth knowledge about the industry and client’s company. Using this, we need to provide strategic advice to our clients which will help them strengthen their position.
  5. PR campaigns are successfully carried out based on a reasonable understanding of the client’s objectives, goals and need.
  6. In client servicing, it’s important that PR professionals work towards fulfilling the outcomes, as well as understanding and integrating the client’s needs too.
  7. Difficult clients do exist. It is a skill to be able to work out something that suits both you and your client. If reasoning with a client does not work, you need to adjust the plan accordingly without compromising on the main goal and targets.

The ones who master the art of client servicing will sail smooth in the field of PR and communications.

– Devika Joshi

Devika is a Management Trainee at Genesis Burson-Marsteller. She holds a postgraduate diploma in Public Relations & Corporate Communication from Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC), Mumbai and a bachelors in Management Studies (BMS) from Mithibai College. Devika loves to explore new places, and travels whenever she gets a chance. She can be reached at @Devika_J on twitter and here on LinkedIn.