When I graduated in mid 80’s the job market was just opening up. Economy wasn’t as vibrant as it has been in the last 20 years. However early in the career had an opportunity to join a large publishing house in Mumbai and then PR was still an evolving subject. But I was eager to work in a large corporate as a PRO. Now in media either you were a part of editorial or advertising. Editorial was largely led by women hence there were openings in advertising and marketing. I also simultaneously ventured into PG in advertising and marketing. By the start of 90’s I was an established space marketer and continued till mid 90’s. But I did realize that there is a profession called PR or Corporate Communications but most corporate had Corporate affairs as a wing, hence did explore in large outfits mainly MNC’s and big brands, but wasn’t successful. However by late 90’s PR/Corporate Communications was maturing as a profession and was fortunate to join a large Mumbai based agency to head their southern operations. This was a time when Mumbai based PR agencies started growing steadily. It was a wonderful experience and working with large teams and brands gave ample exposure. Must mention here Mumbai agencies have a professional outlook and their style of operations is truly applauded. While Delhi was largely public affairs market due to the presence of Federal Govt and they were looking for fixers. Finally, I was in my early 40’s and with good exposure to media on a pan India basis I did get an opportunity to work for steel and mining sector to head their MARCOM and I grabbed the opportunity. Since I had developed pan India media relations with my agency sojourn, working for a national brand from a small city was a huge advantage for me as the local media was vulnerable. Hence my media contacts did help make the burning mining issue a national one due to my expansive media links.
After working with large corporate till 2015, when I look back, I feel I hurried things and could have held on to the agency profession. Because large corporate do not follow ethics in their business more so those who operate from small towns. While I went to a small town with national media exposure which came in handy for the brand as I could tell the story to my national “media friends” but the fact is also that the large steel maker due to their unethical practices grew highest when the illegal mining was at it peak. This meant they were also the beneficiaries of the large illegal mining which shook the nation. To add to it their HR was very clearly divided for north and south Indians since the promoters were north Indians the northies got preference. The head of the plant was bent upon getting his “own” men into the plant so that he can be the suo-moto ruler of the location and get his share of the pie. This didn’t go well with many within the plant. I was also baffled by the level of corruption which existed within the facility this was a surprise to me as I got to know that this existed in a private sector too.
But the icing on cake came from the Startups with whom I have been working with for the last three years. Most of them have been genuine and are there to make a difference in their own domains. None were looking at shortcuts and were willing to wait and watch the situation as they wanted to build something noteworthy. Most of the founders have had 15 plus years of experience in large brands/ corporate/MNC which brought in the expertise and intent to make the best of current situation and grow gradually. Some of the initiatives taken for these startups have paid dividends to respective brands and the results are visible. However communications has evolved and there are choice of media to chose from for better brand traction and reach. While my learning as a PR professional continues.