After newsrooms, PR professionals allege harassment by journalists, former colleagues

#MeToo (Trigger Warning)

The #MeToo movement has really gained prominence in India with celebrated names from Bollywood and senior editors and journalists being named for habitual harassment. This week, name after name has hit the headlines. It's not surprising then, that PR professionals are also beginning to discuss #MeToo in the context of their experience with journalists. While no names have been outed yet, privately PR professionals say journalists can be among the worst offenders are among the worst offenders where harassment is concerned.

A senior in-house professional shared privately how his wife was repeatedly asked by a senior journalist to add him as a Facebook friend after sending across a release. 

This is just one of the examples of what PR professionals say is a systemic cycle of harassment while they pitch their stories. The power equation between PR professionals and journalists makes it very easy to push PR professionals into a corner with harassment. For a young, and they often are very young, PR professional to fight this requires institutional backing from her or his workplace and a culture that firmly discourages harassment. 

There are innumerable examples of harassment ranging from insisting on meeting for coffee, to calls and messages at odd hours from outright physical intimidation. 

But these allegations are not confined to just journalists. 

This week, quite a few allegations have been made against senior PR professionals both at the in-house and consultancy level. While those names are out there on Twitter and very serious allegations have been made, PRmoment India will not publish the names due to legal reasons. 

PRCAI statement 

In response to the #MeToo Movement, PRCAI issued a statement saying, "PRCAI strongly condemns harassment at the workplace. All our member firms have signed to a code of conduct which covers harassment. The association has been actively preparing our members by conducting POSH workshops and roundtables at our HR forum."

This is a defining moment for the PR business in India, one of the most vibrant and fast-growing media and communication sectors in the country. It is time to set rules in place about harassment at work and more importantly implement those rules,

At the end of the day, it's about a safe work culture. 

If you have been affected by sexual harassment at the workplace here are some resources that may help. 

- Legal help with harassment.

-Counselling help with harassment.

- Detailed resource list for #MeToo assistance

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