Thursday, 20 August 2015

How to Become the World’s Best PR - Essential Skills (Part 2)

Being the Public Relations professional in a Company is akin to being a performer in an international circus. There is the tight rope walk between all the publics through which you must deftly manoeuvre your brand message, the juggling act where you have hundreds of balls of your various functions up in the air, the drama of jumping through fire lit hoops crafted by the crisis situations your role lands you in, the jester’s performance since you must keep a smile plastered on your face even in the most do or die instances and the class acrobatic cum trampoline show where you jump from one plank of responsibility to another with exhibited ease.

Jokes apart, the role of a PR professional is cross-dimensional, multifarious and with new challenges springing up all in a day’s work.

In Part 1 of this theme we looked at fifteen of the essential skills that you must equip yourself with in order to be a top-notch PR player. Let us look at the remaining significant traits in the second Part -

Be Glocal 

Do not be a fish in the pond, be a whale in an ocean. There; I went on the habitual cliché. The point I wish to drive home is, grow your horizon beyond the local and national and benchmark internationally. Better still, be Glocal with local sensibilities and a global perspective.

Build Relationships

Develop healthy and productive relationships with a wide array of publics – ranging from Government representatives, diplomats, artists and performers to Travel & Tourism industry folk, eminent community people and hotel guests, the last being perhaps one of the most important.

And yes, you must also have an outstanding rapport with your colleagues – a lot of them end up being your media talent. In any case, you are playing on the same side as them in the winning game of successful Brand identity and Reputation Management.

On a Learning Curve

Stay keen, curious, excited and hungry for knowledge and information. A piqued interest in anything new or offbeat or out of the ordinary makes you a fascinating story-teller and a dynamic PR professional who is always loaded with rich nuggets to share.

It could be the la-di-dah lobby flower arrangement, the specially flown artisanal products at the Spa, the enchanting towel origami in the rooms, the consignment of bespoke wine bottled specially for the hotel, range of patisserie uniquely offered by your Pastry Shop, the Christmas decorations that set you apart, the tailor-made menu conjured up by diving into rich recipes of the legendary past of a regional cuisine, the distinctive and latest fleet of limousines – the options are endless and exciting. 


You must develop a keen inclination towards Travel; it offers education like no other and is one of finest teachers of all. It makes you a global professional who can fit in international and multicultural work milieu with ease. It exposes you to the fascinating cultures and people from around the world. You get to see and learn firsthand a lot of practices that your international hotel adheres to. And Travel turns you into an interesting person and a great conversationalist.

Educate yourself

Read up on issues of General importance. You should have a cultivated interest in a wide range of topics and must make a habit of reading up on them. One of my favourite bosses, and the second mentor in my corporate career, used to nudge us to read extensively. He himself would begin his day by giving a long glance to the finance and business sections of the morning papers and then proceed to read hospitality newsletters as and when his time would permit.

At a meeting, in order to motivate us, he shared a leaf from his experience. One morning, he told us, he had kept busy reading up on the automobile industry and the latest developments in that sector. At lunch,  that afternoon, with the Managing Director of an auto major, he managed to build a good connection by showing up as an interested, informed and intelligent hotelier who was on the same page as the important guest and could identify with the guest’s focus and demands with ease.

Wining & Dining

Half of your work time will be spent in entertaining. Half of the other half will go in working closely with the F&B department. Hence, it will make a lot of sense to develop a sort of deep fancy and affinity for food as a stream of work along with appreciation of good food and wine.

This will help you hold your own at Menu launches and Wine dinners, be a knowledgeable conduit between the F&B colleagues and the media, not look like a greenhorn or a misfit and bring high value to those entire PR, Sales and Brand management strategies that revolve around food and beverage.

Public Speaking

You must hone your skill in Public Speaking. As a PR representative of your Company, there will be a zillion platforms where you will need to wield the mike and come out looking like a Pro.

From internal meetings and PR presentations to charity balls, community events and webinars; there will be so many occasions for you to get on the podium and speak, that it will do you well to practice public speaking on a regular basis.

Use a mirror, use colleagues as guinea pigs, grab every chance you get to speak in order to come out as the outstandingly foremost Ambassador that you, in your PR role, are meant to be.

Event Management

Develop an expertise in Event Management. As a Hotel PR person, this chunk of responsibility falls in your lap. While, behind the scenes, there is a lot of hard work, sweat, toil and coordination that goes into it, this is fun and electrifying work too. In the course of your tenure you get to handle a big bag of events ranging from fashion shows, art exhibitions, supper theatre to piano concerts, symphony orchestra and sporting tournaments, to name a few.

Corporate Social Responsibility

You must work with the General Manager’s Office and the HR Department to develop a strong strategy based on Corporate Social Responsibility. Companies have been known to endorse Government-led projects in earmarked villages, sponsor environment-focussed activities, offer scholarship to children with special needs, support a community developed around sustainability and green belt model.

There is a lot you can do, as pay back to the Society and you must partake of this privilege. After all, a Company’s real worth, value and success is truly measured by what it contributes to the Society in which it thrives.

Crises Management

The role of a hotel PR is made dicey and thrilling, at the same time, by the eclectic range of crises you may be called to handle. Crisis Handling and Issues Management are the two extremely important areas of responsibility in your strategic role. At hotels it could range from a simple bad review of a food festival to the dramatic unnatural death on the premises; from the repercussions of a bad speech made by the head honcho to a run-in with the law on account of a questionable activity of a suspicious guest. The gamut is wide and could come with no precedent. Therefore, you must really learn the ropes of handling different kinds of crises, with tutored calm and maturity.

Internal Communications

Because the internal publics are as significant in your scheme of things, do pay a lot of heed to Internal communications. Make sure that you are as focussed on sharing the Company news with the employee base as you are with the media. Work hand in glove with HR on employee events and workshops. Step out and provide media training to an extended set of people, thereby developing an army of skilful and well-versed brand ambassadors.

Personal attributes

With such diversity in your daily duties and a rich mixed plate of responsibilities there are a set of personal qualities and attributes that will help you get head and neck above any comparison.

Some of the important ones are - attention to detail, promptness in responses, capacity to handle stress, ability to deliver on short notice, a talent for genuinely liking people and building relationships, being likable yourself and easy to get along with a varied set of people, multi-tasking, keeping calm under pressure and being passionate about what you do.

If you develop each of the above skills / traits, then you will have less to rely on sham, superficiality and spin; all of which have given PR a bad name.

A truly qualified PR professional brings respect to their own self, their organization and their area of competence; founding their career on a bedrock of sound PR fundamentals, performance best practices and work ethics.


Picture Courtesy - Google Images

Note - This article first appeared on Hospitality Net -

Monday, 17 August 2015

How to Become the World’s Best PR! Essential Skills (Part 1)

Many young people get into the world of Hospitality Public Relations wearing rose-tinted glasses and thinking that it is going to be a joy ride. They think working in a hotel is going to be a one-big never-ending party with hours spent in wining and dining, a fun affair with the most important factor being that you look your pretty / handsome best.

Just yesterday, a well-established Travel and Food Writer in the Subcontinent raised a pertinent virtual dialogue about how she misses good, honest PR of yore. She rued the fact that a lot of people getting into hospitality PR do not come with the right skills and more significantly, with the right mindset. There is more chaff than grain, she lamented, stating that the PR world has become superficial, messy and mediocre with too many untrained cooks spoiling the publicity broth.

So where are we going wrong? Let’s review the characteristics that we should come to be identified with and look at traits that should form an integral part of our personal toolkit; not just in the world of hospitality but in any other industry.

Be an Expert

Know your field well. You are the master of the PR Universe in your Company. Hence, be adept in every rule in the book, current practices and upcoming trends.

Know your Company 

Know everything about your Hotel there is to know – from Corporate Mission & Vision and Brand Philosophy to the Company bottom line.

Know other Departments too 

Know about the functioning of each department, from the fancy food & beverage to the gritty housekeeping. You never know where a good story, promotional idea or media talent is lurking to help you get a peg or build a campaign. Besides, you are THE news generator for all the impressive things done by your compatriots in different departments.

Know your Competition

Endeavour to learn whatever there is about your Competition – their outstanding facets, USP, what they do differently from you, their new product / feature launches, where do they fit in your competition analysis. It helps you differentiate your product and add more muscle to your PR efforts. Plus, all the added knowledge arms you to the teeth to handle your portfolio like a virtuoso.Stay on top of all your visibility platforms – from slide presentations on in-house television, media packs, FAM backgrounders to mobile or tablet interfaces and the Company website. Any dead wood floating around is bad news and shows you, the most, in a very poor light.

Work well with the Media

Do not make the mistake of treating media merely as a vehicle that carries forward your communication capsules. You wouldn’t be farther from the reality, if you thought and acted thus.

Media is an ally; in fact your strongest that helps people measure your worth as a PR practitioner and gets you a high performance rating on your appraisal. This is true. Many organizations still think that the single most important role of a PR person is to get visibility in the media. Often, a PR Agency’s work on your Company account is rated on the basis of the extent of coverage it gets.

Like a good friend, media must be treated with respect, trust and genuine liking; with sincere efforts made to meet the common goals. You must develop good information for them, share exciting newsworthy items with ample thought about which media likes what, when you must embargo your news piece and when you must adhere to the exclusivity demands.

You must pay heed to how best you balance your rapport with different representatives and media houses. You must, non-negotiably, react to the media requests in a timely fashion, get out of your comfort zone to develop real relationships and deliver in the best way possible nine times out of ten.

You must also learn to withhold the virtues and brand guidelines of your Company in a happy, result-oriented, productive confluence with what the media seeks without having to bow down to unrealistic pressure.

Nobody said it would be easy. It was never meant to be, nevertheless efforts made to seal a mutually beneficial pact and a mutually respecting relationship with the media is easily your biggest feat.

Writing skills

Develop a fondness for words and a skill for writing – from professional to flowery and rigorously formal to rhetorical content. More times than not, you are the in-house Content Writer for your hotel for a variety of things ranging from a guest letter and newsletter text to due diligence report or brochure copy.

Crunch the Data well

Know a thing or two about database management. As a PR person, there will be a wide spectrum of lists that you will handle. It will come in handy if you know exactly how to build, store and mine the data. Also, at all costs, keep the data dynamic devoid of any dreg and debris.

Be Creative

Stoke your creative side. As the PR expert you are the Chief-in-charge or via media or the bridging factor for all the demiurgic initiatives, be it advertising, stock photography, website and marketing collateral, press kit presentations, food & beverage and general events conceptualization.

Be fond of Figures

Cultivate the left side of your brain too and develop an affinity for figures. It pays to understand the Company balance sheet, understand fiscal issues, make balanced and pragmatic marketing & PR budgets and work towards profit protection.

Printing and Design

Foster a penchant for Printing techniques and design basics. I enjoy getting to learn the various stages of printing and diving into the magnificent world of fonts and designs. I get a sense of immense satisfaction from creating beautiful collateral. In any case, whether you like it or not; mastering this territory will help you deliver great results as this line of activity falls in your purview.

New Trends

Catch up with the evolving times and get abreast of the latest trends in marketing and PR – be it digital marketing, social media deluge, new presentation techniques using most modern gadgetry, photo and file share internet tools and sundry technological innovations in the field of PR and its allied services.

IT Skills

You must attempt to become proficient in a wide range of Computer related skills from Word to Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, CorelDraw; whatever assists you in becoming an exceptional worker. From Adobe to Video conferencing with a picturesque stop-over at Picasa, you must endeavour to learn as many IT tools and techniques as you can.

In the second part of this piece, we will talk about some more qualities that will help you stand apart from the commoners and transport you into the top 1 % of the exceptionally qualified Royalty.  

Picture Courtesy - Google Images 

Note - This article was originally published on Hospitality Net -


Saturday, 15 August 2015

What kind of Organization do you wish to work for?

Would you rather work in a progressive organization and achieve more or stay put in a mediocre one striving to improve it?

We all have worked in both kinds of organizations. There, really, is no ideal organization and every place has its mixed dynamics as much as there are a melange of people who work there and bring in their set of values, drives and energies adding to or depleting the corporate culture.

I used to lament about the deep-rooted politics, credit-stealing, clique driven and yes-man culture in my last organization. And now when my niece cum soul child talks of her experience with a Swiss MNC or a progressively Indian Legal Services sector, I notice that things are not very different.

I am sure most of us want to work with wonderfully advancing organizations with utopian work environments without realizing that each of us is an essential cog in the corporate wheel.

My experience says that we need to do a lot of internalization and introspection in order to make our organizations optimum places to be in.

The three essential factors that go a long way in making your place of work one of the best places to work in, for you, are -
  1. Making intellectually-stimulated, synergized contributions to the greater good of your Company’s standing and Gross Output
  2. Balanced expectations that are as much in sync with your own behaviour as with your demand of the others
  3. and your adaptability quotient
Yet, having said all this, when the going gets really tough (and absolutely against your grain) then the tough get going (to find another place under the sun)!

So, how do you endeavour to make your Organization the best that you work in?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Types of Co-Workers!

One of the biggest challenges of going out to work in a Corporation is to find a place for yourself under the Corporate Sun amidst a maze of a million different behavioural patterns, psychological slants, social leanings and mindsets displayed by scores of co-workers we have to work along with.

In the thick of such diversity, that struggles to stand on the common platform presented by the Company’s Brand vision, core business and inherent value system, you must attempt to fit in. Like the proverbial odd shaped piece you must acquire the required form to find a place in the complex jigsaw puzzle.

Your success at work is defined by four important things –
  1. Whether there is a good fitment of your skill set and work experience with the expectations of the role you are in.
  2. Whether you have an outstanding and well-cultivated rapport with your boss / supervisor.
  3. Whether you have a honed perspicacity to evolve and do you possess a basic nature of perseverance.
  4. And not least important of all, your relationship with your co-workers.
In fact, ability, or a lack thereof, to get along with the other employees is one of the predominant reasons for attrition, performance levels, job satisfaction and engagement.

How commendably you perform, how remarkably you deliver and how many times you show on-or-over target achievement derives not just from how good you are in your role but also how well you work in a team, together with intra or inter-department co-workers in order to stay result-oriented.

Hence, it becomes imperative to know what are the different types of co-workers one will have to relate to.

I think, broadly, they can be divided into four categories –
  1. There are great and efficient workers with questionable personal attributes.
     2. There are excellent people with poor set of work related skills.
     3. There are pathetic workers with deplorable personas, AND
     4. There are wonderful, top notch colleagues with exemplary attitudes.

No organization is immune to this. Depending on the personal and professional characteristics of people at large, these categories exist in different permutations and combinations.

Our response to them, our dynamics of equations at work and the matrix of relationships therein is a result of the chain of reactions set off by each of these conductors.

How we align ourselves, differentiate and discern, eke out a positive outcome from our interaction and learn to balance the business relationships with such a diverse demographic will define our success as a professional and a competent performer.

Isn't it?