Thursday, 16 July 2009


I would like to start this blog with a bit of tom-tomming, a beating of one's puffed up chest, if you may. When you work zealously and are committed to your profession as if it were your religion then it feels tremendous to be lauded publicly and to be recognised by the media, one's seniors and the peers.

Here's a copy of the article that appeared in the Indian Express in Circa 2002, bestowing the recognition on yours truly.

FACES BEHIND THE PARTIES: PR pack of Delhi hotels
Anoothi Vishal

New Delhi, February 19: Dinners for Sir Vidia, champagne for Picasso, kebab for both the Hus(s)ain saabs— not just MF, but also the ‘wheeling’ Amir Raza, supper theatre, Subbirammi theatre, spirited book launches... So, we’ve been partying like there’s no tomorrow and unlike last season when the constant refrain was ‘‘a quiet sit-down at a friend’s’’, this season, it’s more like ‘‘Mondays at Maurya and Tuesdays at the Taj!’’ But even as the swish set squeezes out the last drops of the Red, many remain ignorant as to those who make all the happening parties happen: The women with perfect smiles and the often unenviable task of being the hotels’ faces. For those who may have missed their presence, here’s an introduction:

Anjali Chatterjee, InterContinental: With a 15-year experience behind her, Chatterjee is an old-timer even if she doesn’t fits the kanjeevarams and kundan image. But, then, as she says, ‘‘PR has changed. You can compare it with formal dining of a decade ago, where it used to be stuffy four-course meals.Today, people want something relaxed. Similarly, with PR. People want you to be direct.’’

Best of competition: Everyone. PR Talk?

Abha Negi, ParkRoyal: She’s the other veteran and tries to perhaps unconsciously propagate a maternal image by addressing everyone as ‘‘beta.’’ She places a premium on being ‘‘sensible.’’ Well, that’s one adjective you could use for her.

Best of competition: Ashok’s Manjula Arun for her no-nonsense approach

Aruna Dhir, The Oberoi: She confesses to be always in ‘‘fourth gear’’ and may not be the easiest of people to work for. But even her detractors confess to her competence. As for Dhir, she’s simply ‘‘benchmarking with the best’’— with the likes of Leora H Lanz, ‘‘PR diva’’. Her mantra: To reinforce her hotel’s image in any which way — right from the way her faxes look, to her own body language.

Competition: Chatterjee; Abha Negi ‘‘no one’s ever had a bad word for her.’’

Vandana Ranganathan, Taj Mahal: You could be excused for thinking she’s one with the swish set. Like this person at the last Subbirammi do at her hotel obviously wanted to confirm: ‘‘She is someone, isn’t she...’’ Ranganathan is certainly orbiting there, but that’s another story. What’s more pertinent is that she was perhaps the first to set off the whole trend of ‘book launches’ over kebabs and sharab, when she took up the Penguin offer for Shobha De’s Speedpost.

Best of competition: Madhulika at Maurya Sheraton — they always get ‘‘covered’’.

Madhulika Bhattacharya, Maurya Sheraton: She won’t reveal her age because she wants to be taken seriously. Ask her about her hotel’s image, and that’s serious business too: ‘‘We are not a frivolous hotel.’’ Well, people are taking both Bhattacharya and her hotel very seriously these days. So, Bhattacharya doesn’t complain even if she has to be on best behaviour every minute. ‘‘I’ve gained in confidence and maturity’’, she shrugs. It helps when Amitabh Bachchan is tete-a-teteing with you.

Best of competition: Aruna Dhir: ‘‘I like the classy way in which they are covered.’’

Sakshi Dureja, Taj Palace: Dureja’s forte has to be one-to-one relationships. Suffice to say, everyone likes talking to her and never mind that as a ‘‘hotelier plus PR person’’ Dureja doesn’t believe in having ‘‘raw conversations.’’ With anyone.

Best of the competition: Aruna Dhir; Amrit at Le Meridien and Abha Negi at Park Royal.

Vinnie Narang, Hyatt Regency: Agreed Anjoo Mohun is a tough act to follow but Narang’s not even trying!

Competition: Aruna Dhir is a brand !

Dilip Cherian on what it means to be the best PR/ Event Manager

The top two hotels in terms of high-competence, high visibility PR are Taj Mansingh and Maurya Sheraton... The PR people at Maurya are becoming more aggressive but the Taj still manages to pull in more people because they target the right people for the right event...

There are four qualities, I look for in a PR-event manager

How much influence does she carry with the hotel’s management: Aruna Dhir of The Oberoi has that.

Ability To Create: To use your imagination and be able to refer to your ‘potted memory’ given the constraints of the hotel. I won’t rate anyone on this.

Willingness to detail: Aruna again.

Accessibility: They should be on a 24/7 availability. Some people are so much on the move that they return calls half an hour later. If I’m doing an event with you and want to speak to you right now, I should be able to. Vandana Ranganathan of Taj Mahal is good at this.

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