Friday, October 17, 2014

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about...

Famous writer Oscar Wilde once remarked:

"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

How true.  Most of the startups or small entrepreneurs are so busy putting their product or services in place, they often forget to communicate with the people they should be talking to. At the pre-launch stage itself, the business plan must also plug in a robust public relations strategy in order to build relationship with diverse groups of people.

The challenge of course is from where to begin. How does one put a public relations strategy for the best visibility in the marketplace?  How the company, or for that matter, the organisation would get perceived?

Here are a five tips to make people talk about you.

1. Begin with the end in mind. Answer the 'whys'
Why are you in a particular activity, project, business idea? Why are you doing this?  Till the time, the why is explained, nothing can be achieved. Answers to 'why' bring in the sustainability of any product or service that you may be building.  The 'why' provides the key to the vision of the enterprise, the ultimate goal and objective, and the human issues that it intends to tackle. The 'why' helps an organisation build its purpose of existence and the route it must take to achieve the goals.

2. Define your key stakeholders.
For any enterprise there are set or group of people who are stakeholders... the people who matter. They can be customers, prospects, business associates, collaborators, dealers and distributors, the bankers or investors, etc.  All these are primarily your external audience, with whom you need to interact with periodically; not essentially face to face, but through a structured periodical communication using diverse tools that are available today.

The process begins by preparing a list of such stakeholders. Create their profiles and contact details so that you can network with them and benefit.

3. USP: What's so unique about you, your product or service?
The USP emerges once you are able to answer the 'whys' at the first instance about your organisation, your product/service.  why is your product important for the users? What challenges it addresses for the people?  And how your organisation helps? 

4. Talk about it
Keep each stakeholder about the USPs, the case studies or the success stories. If the story is really newsworthy, share it with media. Identify the media outlets who would belong to your product/service vertical and would be interested to carry your story.

5. Acquire Leadership Position:
You are the best person who knows about your enterprise, your product or service.  You are an expert in your domain.  But does the world knows about it?  Start sharing your knowledge and expertise with the youngsters, students, and those who can be considered later for working with you.  Network with professional organisations, and your peers, to continue to train and mentor other professionals.  That would help you catapult into a position where you would be a true brand ambassador of your domain.

Go ahead.  Just do it.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Chandigarh to host Startup Weekend

Chandigarh is the emerging Cyber City of India.
With many of the engineering graduates opting for entrepreneurship instead of looking for placement, the scene is turning green for the new startups.

Not only that, a diverse conglomerate of organisations are helping create an enabling ecosystem to support the budding entrepreneurs, in which the local successful businessmen and professionals are chipping in their time and resources. But more importantly, they are holding hands of these startups to reach the next level of success.
The newly formed Startup Accelerator Chamber of Commerce (SACC), which is unique in its own right, has completely engaged itself in supporting bright youngsters of Punjab to transform their ideas into business enterprises.
SACC is a not-for-profit chamber which has brought together like-minded entrepreneurs, angle investors, financial institutions, academics, and the community to empower the youth and propel them into the success-orbit.
SACC recently tied up with world's most renowned group of startups, Up Global of Seattle, USA, to organise Startup Weekends regularly in the region and identify bright ideas for entrepreneurship.
The first one is scheduled 25-27 July at the Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) in Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park at Chandigarh...a 54-hour exciting session spread over the weekend to help people see their ideas metamorphosing into an enterprise.
As a precursor to this event a Boot Camp was organised on 18th July at the EDC which was a huge success.

More Details:
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Friday, June 27, 2014

Make the Best of Your Internship

For any student to understand the critical nuances of a profession one wishes to enter, internship is the first step to get first-hand insight. In many professional courses, internship is mandated, while passionate students driven by the desire to get hands-on experience would grab such opportunities.  Brilliant students who are career conscious and determined to make the best use of their free time would scan the industry or businesses where they would like to work, and approach them for internship.
Organisations look forward to interns to bring in new and innovative ideas as well as engage them in projects that otherwise may remain on their backburner, especially conducting quick market surveys, reaching out to their customers, or even making interns try their products or services for quick feedback. 
There are variety of assignments that organizations offer to an intern and more than anything else, internship is a valuable addition to one’s resume. Many a times an organization may pick up a student for regular employment after the completion of one’s internship period, provided the candidate demonstrates real passion to learn, participates and works with the team, picks up the finer elements of team work and coordination. 
If you are just going to collect a certificate of your attendance and not doing anything, the organization may blacklist your educational institution from receiving future interns, and those who excel not only ensure a better career prospect for themselves but also bring in good name to their institution.

Wanting to be an Intern? Here are some Dos, and Don’ts.

  •       Go to the internet and check out everything about the organization you wish to intern with.  If this fits your career profile just go for it.
  •          Brush up your own academic knowledge of the subject and see what knowledge you can share with the organization or the services that you may wish to render based on your own skills that would be useful to them.
  •          Even if you just want to be with the organization to learn more, prepare a list of all the new skills that you wish to acquire at the organization and the questions that you would like answered. 
  •          Keep a diary.  Develop the habit of maintaining a diary not only to record the tasks that are assigned to you but also to jot down your own observations of various processes to accomplish a task that organization adopts.  The manager you are working with may not have enough time to teach you each and everything. You will have to ask to find your answers.
  •          Learn to report back and keep your senior/trainee manager informed about the progress of your assignments, and in case of any challenges in executing them, again ask as to how you could solve it.
  •          Most importantly, understand the office culture and become a part of it, and a team player, always willing to take up any assignment. Avoid disappearing for a day without informing anyone and reappearing with a lame excuse.  You will lose the respect if you are indisciplined.
  •          Respect the project deadlines.
  •          Dress up formally.  Many a times, young boys and girls, straight from the college would either walk in with shorts, painted t-shirts with weird messages emblazoned on their chest or equally bizarre hairdos.  Be formal. Dress up in formals.
  •          In an organization, access to computers is unlimited; don’t misuse it by spending time on social media.

Internship is the time to hone your skills, learn new ones, and become employable, ready for the highly competitive world. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What 2014 holds for PR professionals?

One of the biggest trend in the industry seems to be inevitable equation of PR with digital or social media.
Digital media seems to be predominant in the western PR world, where the digital media professionals are trying to dabble into PR strategies. This may be alright for the western world, though I do not completely agree with this emerging trend, especially when we look at Public Relations function holistically.
Even PR Newswire in one of their articles on PR trends for 2014, limits itself to  "engaging digital audience with engaging content" as a major element.  Somehow the focus on print, radio, electronic, and outdoor has been pushed to the back burner, and has come to be known as "traditional" with digital, mobile and social channels ruling the roost.

  • The major trend for me in the high-speed information exchange global network, imperative too, would remain the PEOPLE.  You may call them publics, stakeholders, targetted groups, and what not; it is the human element that would be the foundation of all communication.  The tools can differ to reach out to them. Yes, the technology is relegating today's reality into obsolence in a jiffy. It is time to go back to the basics of communication management, and review the fundamentals.  
  • For people living in under-developed and developing countries, the information needs to be interpreted to them and involve them for their own benefit and convenience.  Therefore understanding their needs and aspirations is the key to the success of any communication. 
  • Secondly, we are crying hoarse about "engaging" the recipients of our messages through lively content.  The "message" had always been the key element in a successful and effective communication process.  Yes, the PR practitioners need to upgrade their skills and expertise in understanding the technological strengths and weaknesses of various digital outlets and develop content according to the channel for communication being used for delivery of the message. The diversity of social media has made it imperative to develop content appropriate to the channel being used and understanding whether it is ultimately reaching the targetted audience or not. 
  • Thirdly, the outcome of a PR exercise or a communication campaign would be another emerging trend.  No longer the popular measurement tools would suffice. The corporate especially are looking at RoI on each spend on communication, and tangible impact, which is possible only if the PR fraternity moves beyond the myopic selection of media to spread their message.  A campaign needs to have holistic view of the communication issues at hand and how this is going to impact the thinking, and the lives of the people involved. 
  • Lastly, but not the least, it is time for the professional bodies to actively engage themselves in upgrading and standardising the academics, research, continued training, and accreditation.  The professional practitioners would have to come forward to
    demand for it in order to achieve excellence for the PR profession, and have a talent pool of practitioners.

As we move into 2014 in a few hours from now, let us contribute to the success of PR movement.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How does it matter to me?

"How does it matter to me?" or in chaste Panjabi it is often remarked, "Kee farak penda hai?" or even when some of the manufacturers, businesses or service providers are confronted with the short-cuts being deployed in their processes, they would quitely quip, "Sanoo kee" (What to me?).

We confront this issue in Indian businesses day in and day out, the reason it gets a beating in the international markets, and even now are facing the flak from the global MNCs operating within the country who continue to have an edge over local trade and business because of the quality and reliability that they offer.

It is time for the Indian businesses and trade to look beyond their own immediate benefits or profits and take care of the ultimate user of one's products and services by building trust for their brand.

More often than not, the PR agencies everywhere are asked to project a 'good image' of the organisation or its brand, and ensure editorial coverage in media.  And invariably, many of the agencies get into action of pursuing the media persons with their releases to get space, without double-checking the authenticity of the organisation's claims.

In order to meet the global competition, to scale up their own operations and capture newer markets, the mantra is standardisation.  And it is high time that the industry understands it in case it wishes to be a part of the positive change that everyone wishes to bring about of 'India Shining' or that of 'Incredible India'.

But why standardisation? The standards do not mean getting an ISI mark on a product.  It does not mean establishing norms of operations.  Standardisation is a process of self-discipline, a conscious attempt to understand the impact of the product/services on direct consumers and the public or the world at large.  Standardisation means being conscious of one's social responsibility and ensuring that your products or services are safe, reliable, and trust-worthy.  And that is the first step towards creating a great exciting brand.

When the world is engaged in combating environmental issues, energy efficiency, efficient management of resources, and portability of products and services anywhere around the globe, easing the lives of the people, in short, looking for overall positive change, the standardisation is the key, as the International Standards Organisation is focussing this year on the World Standards Day theme, "International Standards Ensure Positive Change".

This change, as Mahatama Gandhi said, begins with us: 'Be the Change that You Want to see in the world',  Because everything that we do matters to someone, somewhere.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

TiE Mentor is out

The latest issue of the quarterly newsletter of TiE Chandigarh-Punjab Chapter is out.  This is a part of the PR initiative to strengthen the internal communication by sharing activities report with TiE members.
Please click here if unable to view the newsletter.