PR Insight 7 minute read
Rescuing clients from a celebrity crazy mob, frantically looking for a pen to label an invite (wait until you read what was used to scribble the name of the editor!), having clients coin a name for you because your real name was way too difficult to remember – the life of a PR professional is colourful to say the least.
And in order to celebrate the Holi weekend, we decided to speak to you to get some of your most colourful PR moments. So enjoy the Holi festival, read on and don’t forget to leave your brightest, most vivid PR memories in the comments section.
Saving a movie star
Publicist to the movie stars, Dale Bhagwagar can never forget an instance, where he had to save actress, Manisha Koirala, from being molested and manhandled by people in a crowd.
Dale says, “The incident happened a few years ago, during the launch of Akbar Khan's magnum opus Taj Mahal - An Eternal Love Story, at the famous Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. I was the publicist for the movie. That evening, a huge audience had gathered at the Fort lawns, including a lot of unruly Jodhpur local media guys, most of whom had turned up uninvited.”
“After the mahurat shot, which was re-enacted on stage, Manisha Koirala stayed back on the request of some TV correspondents for media bytes. Within seconds, Manisha was gheraoed by the unruly crowd of around 200, and I saw hands coming out of nowhere and touching her waist and shoulders, trying to catch her attention and even provoke her as she started asking them, angrily, to stay away. From my PR point of view, it was a desperate crisis situation for a lady's security, which called for desperate management.”
“That is when I intervened in true-blue fin style, and started shaming the mob, while screaming at them holding the mic to my mouth. My instinctive reaction had the desired effect on the mob on the stage. Sensing that they would be identified and stand the risk of being thrashed by the large audience in the lawns, they backed off and disappeared into the crowd. Even today, I shudder to think what could have happened that evening, if I hadn't used my PR instincts and shouted on the mic.“
When you don’t have a pen to personalise an invite for the Editor!
Nihal Shaikh, the PR lead for HolidayIQ.com has what she calls, “a small and simple 'colourful' moment in my first month in PR.”
Shaikh was on a media round for an important client's press conference and, as always, requested to meet the editor, assuming he wouldn’t be free. Shaikh told us, “I was ready to drop off the invitation with his assistant when he unexpectedly called me in. As I sat waiting at his table while he was wrapping up a call, I was mortified to realise I didn't have an invite with his name on it and nor did I have a pen on me! He was very stern and imposing and I tried to keep a stoic face while frantically scrambling through my bag under the table hunting for a pen. The only thing I managed to fish out was my electric blue kajal and with no other option at hand I wrote his name and gracefully handed him the invite.”
That’s not where the story ends. “His fingers had blue smudges on them which he had inadvertently transferred to his chin and forehead and soon enough he looked at his fingers, puzzled and wondering what the weird colour was. I confessed to my kajal being the culprit in a heartbeat. He stared at me for a moment unsure whether to lose his cool or yell at me while I thought my career had ended. Then he burst out laughing. With that he broke the ice and somewhere reassured me that everything is about making human connections and this is especially true in PR.”
For Neha Mathur Rastogi, founder, WordsWork, “The most colourful, happy or hair raising moments have to be the minutes before and right after a client win or a client renewal!”
A recent win for Rastogi was the mandate for the mayor of Amsterdam’s visit to India. Rastogi says, “It was a competitive pitch and the client went back to the Netherlands - after a long wait and follow up we finally got the good news last week and the whole team celebrated by "going Dutch" for a well-deserved lunch out!”
For Abhoy Chattopadhyay, also with WordsWork, one of the most colourful moments was his stint with the ISL franchise FC Pune City. He says, “To ensure that every single person behind the team’s performance, along with the players, was recognised in all forms of media, nationally as well as internationally, was a moment which kind of made me feel on the top of the world. BBC Radio UK, Wall Street Journal UK & US and other European magazines had been writing about FC Pune City and when you as an individual are the central force behind getting this activated, then the results are nothing but a celebration.”
Getting ticked off by a client
Shailesh K. Nevatia, Independent PR Consultant: “I had to take care of Mahesh Bhatt's hospitality post an interview with the PTI. From the restaurant it was about a 50 meter walk outside where a car was waiting for him, while walking he embarrassed me by saying hope I won't see you again, because of you I have to walk this much on an open road.”
Getting a new name from a client!
Samarpita Samaddar remembers an incident that still gives her the shivers. “It was right after my post grad that I joined India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) as the public relations officer in 2010. It was my first event ever – a fundraiser for IFA by none other than Naseeruddin Shah. Two of his plays we were being presented in Bangalore - ‘Waiting for Godot’ and’ Manto Ismat Hazir Hain’.
‘Waiting for Godot' started. Naseeruddin Shah, Benjamin Gilani, Randeep Hooda, Akash Khurana were on the stage. Five minutes into the play and suddenly a woman walks in. I was sitting right at the front and for a split second I thought, there's no woman character in ‘Waiting for Godot’. So who is that woman? Before I finished my thought we all jumped to go to the back stage. By then the woman was yelling, "Who has parked their car in front of my house? Please take it out we cannot go out". The play was stopped as Naseeruddin Shah and the rest walked off the stage.”
“I will never forget that night. I was 23 that time, in crisis management mode, making sure that none of the publications blamed IFA for that incident as it was my priority. Not a single story blamed us.”
“My boss and mentor, Arundhati Ghosh had told me one thing that night after seeing tears in my eyes, "Smile and just breathe, everything is fine." Everything indeed was.”
“I was given the nickname "Copernicus" by Akash Khurana along with Benjamin Gilani (because my real name was too difficult to remember!) that night when we wined and dined together after the play. It was indeed one of the most colourful and beautiful nights of my life, and one I will never forget!”
Samarpita Samaddar was nicknamed ‘Copernicus’ by actor Benjamin Gilani as her name was too tough to remember!
So there you are a nice selection of some of your most colourful PRmoments! Happy Holi!