“PR TRANSFORMS CRISIS INTO AN OPPORTUNITY” : MAHUL BRAHMA
Interviewee: Mahul Brahma
Interviewer: Priyanka Sharma & Ankita Sajal
Date- 1st December,2015
Recently, I had a chance to interact with Mr. Mahul Brahma, Corporate Communications & Branding head in mjunction. He has been kind enough to agree for an interview about his experience in the profession.
Here are an excerpts from the interview:
Q: How has been your journey so far?
It has been a very interesting journey so far. I have done my Masters in Economics from University of Calcutta.I have been a senior journalist for a long time and have held senior editorial posts in The ECONOMIC TIMES,CNBC18 and FINANCIAL CHRONICLE.Then I started my Corporate communicator career as media advisor to MR. Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman of RP-SG group, and as a PRO of CESC.Later I joined Ambuja Neotia as head of corporate communications & Branding and media advisor to Mr. Harshvardhan Neotia, Chairman and MD of the group.I am currently head of Corporate Communications and Branding for a Tata Steel and SAIL joint venture, mjunction.
Q:Why do you think corporate requires Public Relations specialists?
PR specialists plays a vital role in operating the corporate houses in an efficient manner.PR helps in maintaining the positive image of an organization.They often report directly to the CEO of the company and serve as advisors in strategic planning for enhancing the profile of the company.PR assists in boosting the credibility of an organization,since it works through numerous reliable intermediaries.
Q:What is the difference between Public Relations and advertising?
Both advertising and PR are attempts of persuasion and involves using the mass media.While both techniques have similarities, yet they are essentially different.Advertisements involves creating paid announcements to be promoted through different types of media.Whereas the role of a PR is to get free publicity for the company. PR based publicity is more credible because it is viewed as a third-party endorsement.On the other hand,advertising appears less credible because the viewers and consumers knows that it has been bought by a company trying to sell them something.
Q:What are the essential qualities of a PR?
Some of the essential qualities that are expected in a PR professional involves the following-
- Should have strong communication and influencing skills.
- Possess excellent writing ability to clearly articulate messages.
- Ability to work under pressure and willing to work for long hours.
- Updated with the current affairs
- Should be creative,innovative and possess troubleshooting skills.
- To build and maintain relevant media contacts.
- Must have leadership qualities to effectively work in a team.
- Should be a patient listener.
Q.How would you go about finding relevant contacts and sources?
It is very essential for a PR to maintain contacts and sources.Since I have started my career as a journalist,I have been in contact with large number of people from media industry.That has proved to be advantageous in my profession.Social networking also aids in building contacts with media .
Q:What sort of media outlets do you follow on a day-to-day basis?
Google news is one of the easiest and common medium to keep updated with the current affairs.You get collage and montage of everything that has been published across media.On daily basis, I read THE ECONOMIC TIMES,that has been my old habit and I have also started my career as a journalist in ECONOMIC TIMES.Apart from that,as a corporate communicator and branding head in mjunction ,my matter of concern is mainly upon news related to e-commerce,coal,steel or any kind of changes in policies related to it.
Q:What are some of the recent growing trends in the public relations industry?
As far as public relations industry is concerned, the entire system of the media management or public relationship is based on certain basic fundamentals that remains constant.The recent changes consists of the rise of new media, i.e. social media, that has become very important part in building media relationships.Earlier we use to deal only with print & television journalists and now there are new age writers who are experts in social media.Identifying and reaching out to the influential bloggers forms an important part of building media relations,since they have large number of followers.
Q:Who are the major clients of your company?
The major clients include- TATA. SAIL and coal India.
Q:Do you have any strong competitors in the market?
We don’t have any strong competitors since, mjunction is a unique kind of e-commerce company.
Q:What kind of internal PR strategies being planned for the company?
It is very essential for a corporate communicator to pay heed to internal resources of the organization. The main focus is to enhance company’s relationship with the employees by facilitating good communication among them. An organization’s success at every level depends on internal PR being valued at both macro and micro levels. One of the best tool to keep the employees informed and feel connected is through internal newsletters. At mjunction, we have mjpost , which is a quarterly in-
house newsletters that reaches out to the employees. It features achievements of employees, recognitions and other notable moments. Even the internal stakeholders are kept updated by providing
information regarding the new contracts, award ceremonies and other happenings within mjunction.
Q:What are the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiative taken by the company?
As part of our CSR initiatives, mjunction promotes a trust called ‘ejunction’. It promotes basic computer literacy and communication skills free of cost to the underprivileged sections of the society.We also organize a conference where these people are given opportunity to inspire the audience.
Q:What is PR crisis? Have you ever faced any such crisis in mjunction or in your previous company?
PR crisis is the circumstance that arises when an organization faces a challenge to its reputation. It may arise because of an unpredictable event that might have a serious impact upon an organization’s image. The company should accept their mistake if they went wrong somewhere because the media as well as the people will be more willing to forgive an honest mistake than a calculated lie.
Earlier when I was with CESC as a PRO a PRO there was a power disruption at NRS hospital. The most interesting dimension of that job was the brand recall only happened in absence of the service. In a hospital when the power is not working, it is extremely critical because there are ventilators that are on power system and people may lose life because of the power failure, there are critical operations that are going on which due to power failure may result in loss of life. So when a power supply was disrupted, People pointed towards CESC and media aimed it’s PRO. As soon as I came to know about the power failure, I immediately interacted with the media to ensure them that we are looking into the matter and trying to resolve the issue as early as possible. It is important to be demonstrative because the media as well as the public will have their own assumptions if no information is given to them by the company during crisis. Once you’ve got the situation under control, use it as an opportunity for making lasting changes. The crisis should be utilized as advantage for strengthening the image of the company.