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PR Parables: How grace under pressure made a PR pros life so much better

26th September 2017


It has been nearly one decade and more to this incident and yet. And yet. That moment of truth is clearly etched in my mind. This is about an incident where one could have easily been at the receiving end and never hear the end of it.  A mysterious moment ends with a lasting lesson in leadership.

  Read on.

The full team from this technology company had congregated to meet the media and to announce their next power packed next generation microprocessor . It was a big deal for all those who were representing the company and even for the media. The venue for this big press meet was at the Taj Palace in New Delhi. A swanky and safe hotel by all measures. 

The media started to trickle in and soon we had a fairly packed  hall, the PR and Comms team were busy ushering  the media guests and getting them settled and seated. It was a big announcement and the CEO along with the marketing head were getting ready behind the screens, doing their final rehearsing of their respective presentations. 

Soon it was time for the show to begin, the lights dimmed and the emcee welcomed all the guests and handed over the podium to the CEO. The CEO's speech was short.His task was to set the context and do a brief introduction. Basically to build the suspense around the new to be launched product. And when he reached towards the end of his presentation, he invited the marketing head on stage.

That thunderous applause welcoming the marketing head, was perhaps foretelling, it was the   “sound before the storm”, he was walking towards the podium but then suddenly and only god knows why he did, what he did. While walking towards the stage, the marketing head suddenly stopped and came over to the table where I was seated along with six journalists , he took out his mobile phone and gave it to me saying.  " please keep my phone with you, I don't want it to buzz while I am on stage", and he quickly made his way to get onto the stage. 

He had just started to speak, when I noticed a senior journalist on another table, stand up and walking out from the hall, I immediately got up to check why was he leaving early, this conversation at the door didn't last for more than ten seconds. Cause the guy was rushing out.

I walked back to the table where I was sitting and to my horror, I discovered that both mobile phones were missing, mine and my boss's !

You can well imagine my plight, losing  your own phone is bad and on top of that if you lose a phone which your boss entrusted you with , you are dead meat. Losing two mobile phones in one go, was also a big monetary loss too.

I was left feeling dazed and dumbfounded, not wanting to believe in what had happened .     

We never found out who stole two phones from one table where 6 other people were present. That mystery never got solved. Not till date. While this entire experience left me quite shaken and guilty, the gentleman boss that he was, he didn't show his disappointment, he agreed it was his mistake as well and that he shouldn't have piled me with two phones. And during the rest of my tenure, he never ever brought this incident up 

Thank you Jayant Murty .... your kindness was memorable, You truly showed the way and made it amply clear that if one aspires to be a leader then one has to have an innate ability to forgive.

Moushumi Dutt is a senior corporate communications professional. PR Parables is her monthly column for PRmoment India on learnings from her PR life.


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