Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The young and the bold and sometimes foolish

When I joined my first job, my designation was Marketing Communication and Public Relations (PR). I had zilch experience in PR, except for the usual college projects on drafting Press Release etc. I got to write my first Press Release in the first week that I joined. It was a small press release about someone joining our company in some capacity. So I dutifully wrote it, got it approved etc. Now this company had a PR agency, but the PR manager wanted me to have experience of disseminating the Press Release the real way, i.e making a database of Journos and then mailing them individually after calling them up and then following the story as it broke in papers worldwide. During the week that I sent out the Press Releases I learnt some big lesson made some huge gaffes and became a minor celebrity in the PR department.

Case number one:

I call this all-supreme journo in a prominent newspaper and tell him of the Press Release. He grunts when he hears the subject of the release and tells me to mail to him. Next day I see that the news has not come in the paper. So I promptly call him. He tells me that it is not such an important news and that he will publish it on Friday. So I mull over that information and call him again and ask him if he could publish it on a Thursday as Friday is followed by the weekend and people who miss the news on Friday may miss it altogether. He is livid. He asks me my name, when I have joined and enquires if I know who he was etc. I told him that I knew nothing about him and why he is acting so difficult? I heard sputtering and choking noises on the other end as he tried to control the indignation of being spoken to with such irreverence. To his credit he calmed down and gave me an impromptu lesson on talking to senior journalist while trying to get your matter published etc. In my inexperience I missed the point totally. And so I again reiterated that I wanted the news on Thursday, to which he replied that he would speak to my boss the PR manager. I don’t know what transpired between them, but the news got published on a Thursday and my PR manager was suddenly smiling at me. I got a couple of calls from our PR agency people too, all of them chuckling that I had called a spade a spade, i.e called the senior journo ‘difficult’.

Case number two:

I call this very important Business magazine for the same press release. The person I am directed to is the top journo, a business and technology writer who thinks that people should read his bio-data and research his articles before even speaking to him. Not knowing him from Jack I called him and told him that I was mailing him the press release and please may I know when it would be published. There was pin drop silence. Then he quietly asked me if I knew who he was. I honestly told him ‘no’. He suggested I find out and call him again and then he slammed the phone down. I hate rude people and any act of rudeness only makes me bold. So I promptly called him again and told him that it was not nice of him to be so rude. He must have been taken aback but he said mildly “Oh really and what do you expect me to do? Take orders from a rookie PR like you who doesn’t even know how to talk to a senior journalist?” I told him that I was sorry if he felt I was ordering him around and that all I wanted was my press release published. He told me to mail it in and kept the phone down. The news got published and when he dropped by our office to interview my MD, I was called to meet him. When I walked into the conference room he exclaimed “So this is the kid who was talking so boldly to me?” He was a distinguished old man and we took and instant liking for each other and remain friends to this day. He is still Mr. High and Mighty and I am no more in PR.

After joining this new company, as is the usual practice I called up all the journos and informed them of the change and I happened to speak to these two gentlemen. They of course, took lot of pleasure in reminding me of my first Press Release and I was left very red faced at my naiveté.

Today when I see the new PR gals shivering at the thought of speaking to a senior journo, I realize that it was my total lack of awe, bought on my complete lack of knowledge of PR practices that pulled off that coup.

And my PR manager…she just played her cards ( a wet behind the ears PR gal) very well. Kudos Ms SS !!

24 comments:

Jagan said...

i just sent u a gift for ur new job...its waiting in ur mailbox ;-)

Anonymous said...

LOL:-)

Amusing stories, especially since watching loads(truckloads) of indian films in 4 languages have taught me, who was raised entirely in the west, how one behaves for the power holders. But lucky you, you were able to make friends out of a sticky situation!

-kajan

Mind Curry said...

very interesting..it just shows you are such a good person at heart, and ofcourse at work.

Fleiger said...

Now that's why they say, "Ignorance is bliss" sometimes... Though ignorance in right areas is what they mean by that.

emmanuel said...

strange are the ways of life.....stranger are the realisations.......

sometimes u feel u r the one, sometimes u feel u r among the ones and sometimes u will feel u r not the one......

nice post....... :)

silverine said...

Jagan: Thank you!!! I have put it up on my board :)

Kajan: Thank God I got out of the situation none the worse from my experiences :)

mind curry: Nopes, I was lucky to get out without major damages.

flieger: Very true!

emmanual: Thank you :)

Jiby said...

after years of struggling to get to a good position and then followed by years of people fawning on them for favours people really get into the bad habit of taking themselves too seriously.

really fresh post...i guess its only when we are young we can be irreverent and pose some ego problems to old hands who are otherwise good people...

i have developed this "bad" habit of calling people by their first names. i just keep forgetting that people so love to be called sir and madam here!

Ganja Turtle said...

2 days of roaming around in bangalore looking at light eyed "mallu" looking women and wondering if they are "it" and getting dirty looks! enough is enough-am back in clean, green cochin!

what a coincidence - i cracked an interview at chennai and almost decided to shift and was "retained" at the very last moment...just couldnt bear to leave kerala ;-)

"What we call the beginning is often the end,
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from."

Do well,silver lady!

silverine said...

Jiby: Thank you :) If I could, I would have stuck to PR but fawning and flattery is just not my cup of tea.

GT: Thank you, do well yourself Ivy Leaguer!! And FYI I don't look mallu...never did :)

Ganja Turtle said...

Oh no....here we go again - back to square 1!

Mind Curry said...

no i insist! ss will second me! :)

@ GT - awesome quote about the beginning and the end. i am yet to figure either.

silverine said...

GT: That's life :)

Mind curry: Thank you dear doc :)

Jay Sun said...

Always good to call a spade a spade, brings people down to earth …

And, congratulations on your new job!

Jagan said...

u really put it up ??

Akshay said...

sigh...those were the days... remember first day first show of some movie...us using a certain doe eyed gal to get the tickets from the guys at the beginning of the que...as usual...they of course couldn't say no...we knew that...and then using her again at a crowded Pizza Hut...the manager a puddle at her feet as we gleefully walked in amidst the glares of the not so charmed...and one day pushing miss doe eye a little too far for our own ends and she...stomping off in a huff after that classic line 'you guys just want to use me'...pin drop silence around and miss doe eye went red...we were redder...those were the days my friend...


reposting the comment because I knew you will delete it ;-)

silverine said...

Jaysun: Thank you:)

Jagan: Yes!!!! :p

akshay: How can I forget the days when you guys used to pimp me... :p
So when did it stop? Last time I remember grinning at a repulsive manager so that you guys could seats for some crap movie was day before yesterday. The devil doesn't wear Prada, he wears Lee ;)

Ganja Turtle said...

@silv: lets do it again...*sighs and hoists backpack and laptop for one more b'lore chakkar*

@mind curry...man, I know exactly what you mean..but dont let it out...these single pretty women dont like pondering men...esp doctors ;-)

Anonymous said...

lolz Akshay... those were the dayz indeed!!!

Chanel

mathew said...

Lol!!awesome..

So u are nominated for the bravery awards this year!!

silverine said...

Chanel: Isn't he sighing too much these days? Looks like someone is getting nesty ;) I think it's time we started searching for a nice girl for Akshay *absolutley straight faced here*

Mathew:"Thank you mum, Dad, my doggies, and of course almighty God for this award!!" *sniff*

:P

G said...

heh heh

Do you believe in coincidences? I don't. I loved this post. I used to be in close proximity to someone who was in PR and I remember her first days as a PR novice to the last days when she quit as a Partner with the same agency. It had been a long road for her and I was there, sharing experiences. Your post reminded me very much of those days.

Now, this is where the fun begins. PR was nascent then. I would assume there weren't too many Ms. SS's in the PR Biz, eh? Would this office happen to be located close to a hospital? And run by a Post Script? heh heh, just checking, we all like to Sherlock sometimes!

silverine said...

G: This happened approximately two years ago. PR was an independent dept in most companies and PR managers were very much in vogue then :) Actually once you get over the initial fear it is very easy to deal with journos as they are constantly looking for stories. Once you align yourself with them and help them with stories it is easy sailing in my experience. It is the skill of the PR person in quickly making stories of small events and giving it to the newspapers that does the trick. I have sold stories of inter departmental transfers too, it's how you package it :)

Ganja Turtle said...

"doe-eyed"! ah ha!

silverine said...

GT: "doe-eyed! ah ha!"
ah ha ??