PR professionals share their best and worst times in PR

Like any other profession, the life of the PR executive is full of challenges, of highs and lows, of good times and bad.

Our PR pros share these memories with PRmoment India.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!

A development issue crisis 

Mahima has learnt a lot about handling PR for development issues

Mahima works for the Pivotals and after three and a half years in PR she's experienced some intensive learnings while working on communication for the developmental sector in India.

She says, "I remember, in 2017, I worked for a client, focused on 'Right to Education'. That was the moment when I faced the true litmus test of being a PR professional. Here, the main agenda was to educate the EWS community to register themselves for the admission processes and that had to be done vis-à-vis this client. With rigorous brainstorming sessions and immense fieldwork, I learnt how important community radio and Hindi language media could be when it came to working on these issues. My happiest moment came from solving this challenge."

One of the most challenging memories for Mahima, was when was she had just entered the world of PR.

 Narrating one of her early experiences, while working for a client in the wastewater management sector she says, "Getting coverage in favour of this client was a tough task, but I persevered and after burning many a midnight oil, I managed to get it covered by a key mainline financial. However, the big blow came when a renowned investigative portal did a negative story on not only the brand, but the overall industry, thus ruining our entire effort, and throwing us right into the middle of a crisis."

Saloni Sachdeva, who works in public affairs at MSL India says, for her, "The best part of the job is that opportunity comes your way no matter the age, designation, gender, race or qualification, it’s purely based on your appetite for creativity and talent. "

She adds, "The most challenging bit? A crisis doesn’t come with notice, you can never switch off, even if you’re on a vacation, so to tactfully handle it at even 4am in the morning, is challenging, yet the most exciting part of the job. Like there was this one time when I was trying to calm the client’s nerves while simultaneously having to dance at a relative’s wedding!"

The joy of cracking a story on a new sector

Sarbjeet Sharma, senior account executive with Adfactors PR, learned so much from working on the launch of India’s first REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust).

Sarbjeet worked on the first real estate trust IPO

The challenge was, "Raising close to Rs 5000 crore in a difficult scenario, where on one hand the financial year was ending and on the other hand, general elections for India were also announced."

Sarbjeet shares that, "As a part of our strategy one-on-one interactions with influencers ranging from broking house analysts, to scheduling independent media analysts and columnists were arranged prior to the IPO, keeping focus with respect to creating awareness about REIT and how this instrument will bring in an altogether different aspect of investing and owning commercial real estate for investors."

Sarbjeet concludes that "Most of the leading broking houses came out with positive recommendations for the IPO. The success of this IPO has prompted several stakeholders who have been waiting in the wings to consider REITs IPOs in the future."

Monica Tarwani, a PR professional, says through good and bad times in PR, her biggest learning is that the idea that a "PR person only coordinates with journalists for the press releases is under the wrong impression."

Sharing an example of a great PR life memory, Monica said that, "At that time I was working with the 20:20 MSL, I worked for Logitech in 2014, a brand which is known to everyone in the consumer electronics segment. To promote their new Bluetooth speaker, we suggested a fashion blogger and a photographer who were the right fit to promote the brand. I worked individually with the fashion blogger for creating the influencer product promotion video. I went to Mumbai for 2 days to shoot the video which involved  ideation, scriptwriting, music selection, editing and delivering the final product to the client who was head over heels for that attempt."

Monica says PR is much more than press releases

Among her challenging memories, Monica outlines her experience with Hindustan Tin Works Ltd. way back in 2011, for which the PR team worked on the environmental yearly campaign, 'Canvironment Week', a worldwide initiative to use cans which are eco-friendly.

Monica says she went to each publication house to explain the idea. Monica admits that journalists weren't very interested, "We had to then rope in a TV celebrity who became the brand ambassador for the campaign to get more traction in media. We also advised our client to add some infotainment elements including partnering with an A-list fashion design institute to spread the cause." 

The good old days of print media PR

Raghavendra Rao, partner and CEO, Bernay IMC harks back nostalgically to, "The best time when print media was at its peak and TV media was just maturing while there were barely any online media. For one of our clients, we had to organise an exclusive interaction with media and we had discussions debates on which media for over three hours. Finally, we zeroed in on a wire agency IANS that too from Delhi while the client was in Bengaluru."

Raghavendra adds that "The CEO spoke to the journo and the telecon lasted for 40 minutes. The news peg was that the brand was to bring in an FDI of 100 million USD in the textile industry. Next day was most satisfying, we had 127 clips of the news in all leading dailies across India in both mainline, finance and regional media. The marketing lead of the client told us not to generate any clips for two months in a lighter vein!"

Sharing a tough time in PR, Raghavendra says, "The worst memory is that I was with JSW (Steel and Infrastructure major)  and had to deal with local media at the district level. While they only controlled the district pages and couldn’t hurt the brand much, the journo wouldn’t understand business sentiments and would look at every story with a political lens since that was mostly the news he was used to covering. Media in smaller towns continue to be like this despite visible media changes."

The product launch PR story 

The Nokia E Series

Akanksha Jain, AVP communications, Pine Labs shares the incredible learning opportunity that was working on the Nokia campaign during her stint at Text 100. 

"I helped to launch the Nokia Eseries in India and drove a strategic PR campaign aimed at building mindshare for business mobility as well as creating brand awareness for the Eseries range of phones by Nokia. Nokia Eseries was a brand purely built on smart and innovative PR that targetted specific user groups of young executives and audiences in a manner they would like to consume. Leveraging influencers in their own streams (at a time when social media was only starting out and influencers were not a Tweet away!) and using innovative campaigns like Dilbert, this campaign made a huge impact."

Akanksha worked on the campaign for Nokia E series

Coming to her challenging time in PR, Akanksha says, "The worst memory will be the crisis communications management done for the internet firm AskMe group, from the initial turmoil to the 4 odd months of crisis campaign post temporary suspension of operations. At a time when the company decided to suddenly pause operations (post a couple of months of downsizing that was hardly reported) leaving thousands jobless and with overdue salaries, as the group communications head, I managed to get the brand/leaders’ messages out in the media well, while also putting across the employees’ point of view where I could. This one was a very difficult phase as I had to not think about the uncertainty in my career due to a proposed shut down, and work 24x7 (without any financial commitments) to support the management. A great experience of crisis communications, and one of the toughest one at that- this surely was the most challenging memory of my career."