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The Editor’s point of view

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Finally someone who believes that PR professional and Editor share a professional relationship and need to be honest with your client and reporter. Having been a Reporter, PR agency and Corporate Communications guy handling both groups – Reporter | PR Agency – Richa’s piece is bang on target. Only hope PR agency owners and Clients learn to value PR counsel and understand its importance beyond peddling media releases and stories. PR is way beyond this & extremely strategic in nature but needs to be nurtured and built very carefully and both Client & Media need to respect your inputs which can only come when you know and research them well.
Great post – was so keen to blog on these topics but suffering from interia and lethargy – thanks Richa!!


At Adfactors PR, I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop with the renowned ex journalist Shishir Joshi, who has worked with leading media institutions like The Indian Express, Nagpur Times, Hitavada, CNN.com, NDTV, Aaj Tak and his last assignment was as a Group Editorial Director with MiD DAY. Shishir initiated an education initiative Journalism Mentor (www.journalismmentor.in) part of JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism. And is currently the CEO at Bombay First – an initiative now in its 20th year to make the city a better place to live, work and invest in. It aims to serve the city with the best that private business can offer.

  1. Build a Non-Transactional Relationship: To begin with, identify editors from select publications which matter the most to your clients. Know more about them, their current role, recent articles written by them, style of writing, about their previous stint, what they like, their…

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Written by schelluri

May 8, 2014 at 11:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Indian Youth and Parents: Learning Football Is Like Learning an Instrument

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How true – learning football with professional training is different from just hitting the ball in a playground

Written by schelluri

April 17, 2014 at 11:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Divided state, divided media

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Brilliant piece on State of Media in Andhra Pradesh – written by Sevanti Ninan for LiveMint. 

Source: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/Pgfl9xpctEJILt8FLb8HkO/Divided-state-divided-media.html


I had been part of the journalist fraternity in 1993-2001 working in Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle & TImes of India and then part of the PR fraternity – first in PR agency, then in corporate communications function with GMR Hyderabad International Airport. Presently, run a small boutique consulting firm helping client build brands & manage reputation using a bunch of communication tools like Media Relation, CSR & Stakeholder Engagement, Issue & Crisis Communication, Advertising, Events & Sponsorship, Internal & Marketing Communications and working with a bunch of clients in different industry sectors.  This changing media landscape has made the task of handling Public Relations using Media as one of the tools a very tough & challenging task for PR professionals.

One of the growth industries triggered by, first, the prospect of, and, now, the impending reality of a separate Telangana state, is media owned by people from the region. Suddenly, it is no longer enough that Andhra Pradesh has far more news channels than any other in the country—some 15, not counting impending and new entrants. What matters is whether the owner belongs to Andhra, or Rayalaseema, or Telangana and whose aspirations the media outlet is striving to represent.

At the end of August, Hyderabad got yet another English newspaper called Metro India. Speeches made on the occasion touched upon the most striking characteristic of the media landscape in this state. Bharatiya Janata Party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said that if the paper wanted credibility, it should stay away from political affiliation. Chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy said he understood that the earlier newspaper from this group was begun out of compulsion, but he believed this one was being launched out of passion. The reference was to Namaste Telangana, the print mouthpiece of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), in which its leader K. Chandrasekhara Rao has a stake.
And the industrialist who part-owns Namaste Telangana and is now launching Metro IndiaC.L. Rajam, assured his listeners that this paper would strive to remain neutral “as much as possible”. Perhaps to that end, it is published by a company other than the one with a political imprint. A couple of years earlier, another Telangana industrialist started another newspaper and TV channel called The Hans India and HMTV, respectively. Those two have also sought to retain a neutral identity.
Andhra Pradesh’s media landscape has become such a chequerboard of affiliations that the politically aligned mediascape in neighbouring Tamil Nadu pales in comparison. With the impending division of the state any discussion on the media’s role has journalists in the state taking you through a newspaper- and channel-listing of who supports which regional formation. Match that with each channel or newspaper’s caste and political affiliation and you get a clear picture of the political economy of the media. There is the Kamma media which supports the Telugu Desam Party and a united Andhra Pradesh; Reddy media which supports the Congress and YSR Congress and the continuance of a united Andhra Pradesh; and Velama media, which includes one group that is from Andhra and pro-Andhra and another that is from Telangana and neutral.
A number of media outlets have political owners, at least in part. Even the franchise for a channel like Zee 24 Ghantalu belongs to a Congress politician. A TV channel begun earlier this year, Channel 10, has a huge public shareholding, believed to have been organized by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Other media outlets are owned by scheduled caste leaders affiliated to both the Telugu Desam and the TRS. Even village folk are befuddled by these affiliations: a carpenter in a village in Adilabad district told me plaintively, “Overall we do not know what to believe because each person gives their own news.”
Even if you once grew up in this state and have been visiting it since, nothing prepares you for the way identities have suddenly sharpened. You are told that mostly politicians and businessmen from the Andhra region have been the media owners thus far. A newspaper like Eenadu which has been around for 30 plus years (and would now be considered an Andhra publication) is solidly entrenched all over Telangana. Every village one visited in Karimnagar and Adilabad districts for instance, subscribed to it, with only one reporting that it got a few of a copies of Namaste Telangana, which was begun in 2011. Until the recent emergence of T News and V6 as Telangana channels, the news channels in the state which were launched in a huge burst of expansion and after 2001, are all owned by “Andhras.”
Now you have the curious phenomenon of a newspaper or TV channel which is not even aspiring to cover the whole state. Namaste Telangana editor Allam Narayana says the question of trying to sell it in the other regions does not arise—it is a publication meant to give a voice to the aspiration for a Telangana state. The tagline under the masthead says “Our paper, our state.” Why did people from Telangana not invest in the media before this? He says, “Capitalists are feudal in Telangana. Establishing media is costly. They did not see value in it.”
Does the editorial line have to follow ownership? Potturi Venkateswara Rao, former chairman of the Andhra Press Academy and editor in his time of many publications, says that happens because managements now drive the editorial line. They are divided in their regional affiliations and news coverage is influenced by them. Narayana agrees. “Managements have been aggressive in deciding media policy. There are no editors. They are not prevailing.” You are saying that? You ask him. Yes, he grins.
In the sister publication Metro India, Mr. Owner has solved the problem by designating himself Mr. Editor as well.

Sevanti Ninan is a media critic, author and editor of the media watch website thehoot.org. She examines the larger issues related to the media in a fortnightly column.


Written by schelluri

September 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

PR after the Mega Merger

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Evolving face of Public Relations in India – will this mega PR firm bring change


MergerSince the last fortnight the entire media industry has been busy analysing the impact of the merger of two media giants – Omnicom and Publicis. The alliance will not only create the world’s largest advertising company with $23 billion in revenue, toppling current market leader WPP plc., but will also create the world’s largest PR company with a combined fee income of over $1.8 billion as well.

PR companies owned by Publicis Group include MSL Group (has strong presence in India, entered India by acquiring Hanmer & Partners and later it also acquired 20:20), Publicis Consultants and Kekst & Company; while Omnicom owned PR companies include, Fishburn Hedges, FleishmanHillard (Strong PA presence in India, was recently in news), Ketchum (entered India few years back by acquiring Sampark PR owned by N S Rajan), Porter Novelli, Marina Maher Communications, Portland and Cone Communications.

Immediately after the deal, all sorts of speculations…

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Written by schelluri

August 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

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Why Srikakulam????

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Ask any industry captain to consider investment in Srikakulam district – all you get is a stern glare that is full of question marks?? Recent incidents of any corporation wanting to set up shop both in public & private sector have not been encouraging. Violence, death, protests, public hearings getting sabotaged, growing activism are factors worrying an investor to consider Srikakulam. But what led to this situation needs some careful understanding?

The moot question is about why Srikakulam district is unable to create employment & income generating opportunities, despite incentives from the State Govt. It has the advantage of a long coastline of 193 kms and spread over 5,837 sq. kms with a population upwards of 25 lakh; but more than 75% of the population is still dependent on agriculture, saltpans, fishing and sundry jobs.  


Whether it’s sand mining, fish research center, thermal power, nuclear power plant or pharmaceutical industry – protests are widespread. What are their lurking fears to permit and partner in any development project. Is it fear of losing land, poor compensation, provision of jobs, issue of pollution, human rights; bad rehabilitation & relocation policy for land losers; lack of proper jobs for land losers – without skill up-gradation; ill-health from the industries; political interference. Maybe a combination of all these factors and misguidance by some vested groups as well.

This kind of ambience definitely doesn’t augur well for any industry. Even if the best incentives are offered – no businessman would like to risk his investment and work in a tense environment that puts his men & material under threat of constant uncertainty. If the entire work cycle is to come under the cloud of protest & negative sentiment – he/she would re-consider his option and move to a more congenial industrial atmosphere that fosters development. Remember how the Tata Nano project moved lock stock & barrel from Singur to Sanand in the backdrop of a similar protest & negative sentiment.

INDUSTRY COMPASSION OR LACK OF IT: The scale of industry coming up or proposing to set up shop needs to take cognizance of these local issues; identify the stakeholders, understand their issues, myths & concerns and partner with both the local Panchayat officials and also with govt. administration. Is it lack of compassion by the industry captains denying these villagers who forfeit their land for the project & get a raw deal in the process and get further exploited by the vested groups and politicians. Is the industry being driven by profiteering motive and denying the local villagers their share of the progress either social, economic benefits accruing from the said project??


The biggest loser is the Srikakulam district and its citizens. Can we change this?? I propose an initiative titled Srikakulam First that will identify the issues plaguing the industrial development, partner in stakeholder engagement and work in conjunction with local villagers and Govt. administration. Members of Srikakulam First could be people with origins & roots in this district – who have done well for themselves in any area – education, politics, cinema, sports, IAS, IPS, artist, business etc. Let’s identify such people – form a committee and work on a time-bound agenda to bring change!!


This needs to be done on TOP PRIORITY – with the rising protest groups, violence in the form of protests, media reportage, angst within the village folk against any development could create the much needed gap for extremist forces to enter and create a Singur-like situation in West Bengal?? 

Written by schelluri

May 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Do Journalist also need basic qualification??

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Justice Markandey Katju – Chairman, Press Council blog on Journalists need qualification (http://justicekatju.blogspot.in/) – A commentary on the same..

A great initiative that has been overdue for a long time.  As a former journalist with Times of India, Indian Express & Deccan Chronicle and now an independent communication consultant for clients – I feel it’s imperative that some basic qualification is required to write a story or report an event.

Despite an MA -Economics from Univ. of Hyderabad, used to be wary while reporting on economic or business issues and consult with seniors during my reporting career. Today, when I meet business reporters in leading dailies – feel sad at their competency levels and understanding of macro issues, RBI policy, GDP and other subjects but they write with gusto – unquestioned by the publication and at times, make a mockery of themselves and their shallow understanding of the issue.

With an onslaught of new media houses coming up in addition to those already present – it’s more a numbers game than a talent issue. In Hyderabad for example, there are 18 TV channels in Telugu – if you see the profile of these reporters – their stories or style of reporting is obvious and hence the viewership. There is hardly any TV channel that has a proper content plan but they run 24×7 news channels and keep showing the same piece over & over again.

Also, the lack of basic qualification merits higher attention especially when the reportage causes great damage to an individual or firm with an

inaccurate report with some damaging visuals that have been fabricated. Unfortunately, it’s the responsibility of the victim to prove his innocence – the issue of rejoinder or clarification is getting lost in the process. The sheer lack of a redressal mechanism for someone whose reputation has been damaged by a wrong news report makes it even more difficult and at times painful to trust the media house or reporter. 

Clinical Trials, Microfinance, SEZs, Power Sector, Aviation, Telecom are some of the areas where my clients operate and I am always at wits end to explain how the media works with the clients since irresponsible reporting is the default norm. TV channels run havoc with stories and visuals that have not been corroborated or cross-checked with the other party – basic minimum requirement and client then either resort to ignore the report or find ways to “Manage” the media in their own fashion.

The job of a communication consultant gets very difficult to operate in these circumstances and hence am keeping away from media relations purely on account of this lack of basic qualifications to report.

Take the issue of energy crisis in Andhra Pradesh – 4-6 hours of power cuts imposed in metros and longer duration in villages. The media reporting is only on power cuts, problems faced by citizens and farmers and closure of SME and how thousand are rendered jobless due to power cuts. Not a single TV channel or newspaper makes an attempt to get to the root cause of power cuts – why is there no generation happening in Andhra and what happens to the large number of projects that are “in hibernation” unable to generate despite getting requisite mandatory & regulatory permissions.

The media is not keen to understand why projects are being stalled by activists, environmentalists and farmers and generation coming to stand still in Andhra. A celebration of disruption called “Bhutalli Panduga” OR Festival of Mother Earth was organized in Sompeta, Srikakulam District by National Alliance of People Movement – AP Chapter to celebrate the success in stalling the 2640 MW coal-fired power project and it completing 1000 days. A three-day conclave with different academics, films, radio plays and the works were organised celebrating disruption – media coverage was huge in local dailies. Not a single daily questioned what is the need for this three-day conclave, where are the funds coming to organise such a large event – power for the function etc OR is stalling a power project call for such celebration??

With over Rs. 75000 crore being invested in projects in India from Nationalised  PSU banks and equity coming from promoters and some global PE firms – all currently stuck due to lack of political will, red-tapism and mindless agitation & protests by green groups – there is no power projects taking off the ground. The banks will not question Govt. inaction or lack of policy inaction; promoters are scared lest further delay is added to their project and hence don’t talk in public for and the red-tapism and bureaucratic delay adds to the delay and the media is laughing & enjoying the fun from sidelines.


Just now there is a report of Credit Suisse, a rating agency downgrading Tata Power Mundra project since the tariff hike sought by the company due to bringing imported coal from Indonesia is unlikely to get sorted soon and hence losses of over Rs. 1500 crore  will mount on the company.

(Read: : http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/credit-suisse-downgrades-tata-power-shares-fall-656970.html)


A SC bench of Justices HL Dattu and Ranjan Gogoi said recently: The moment a power project is to start, litigation is filed in court. If initially, the project cost is Rs 1000 crore, it escalates to Rs 10000 crore over the years and tax-payers money is wasted. They go on add – No one wants power plants, but everyone wants bijli.”

(Read: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-01-25/india/36546959_1_power-projects-kudankulam-nuclear-power-plant)

Every sector has a minimum qualification as you rightly pointed out but journalism profession needs none but they have the right to question how a company or govt. could start some work \ project without getting the minimum qualification to execute the same. Lack of understanding and nowadays, willingness to understand also and the pressure of one-upmanship, pressure of advertising & TRP ratings are bringing a lot of disrepute to the profession. 

As a former journalist and now an independent communication consultant – it pains me to see the profession withering with such blatant violation of basic rules to function. Hope your attempt garners sufficient support and some amount of basic guidelines are put in place for the profession to become truly Fourth Pillar and not medium that doesn’t get ample respect

7 things journalists wish PR pros knew about pitching By Becky Gaylord

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As a former journalist, who now handles PR for clients, I know what it looks like from both sides. I sympathize with the gripes I hear from public relations folks. But I empathize with the journalists who moan about flack fails.

Though they might not admit it, most journalists actually like solid, professional PR people. The others pretty much drive scribes crazy. Here are seven of secrets that these solid PR pros know:

1. Get to know the media folks you’ll need before you need them.

If you wait until you need to reach a journalist before initiating any contact with that person, it’s already too late. Relationships are everything. Your call will be returned and your email answered much more quickly if it’s not a cold pitch.

2. Respect media deadlines

Publication deadlines are only part of the picture. Be a sleuth (but not a stalker). Notice the rhythm of the day for the media people you need to reach most often. Scan for the timing of their posts and updates on social media sites for clues. Or send a short message and ask when they want to be contacted. Do they want only emails, not calls? Write down these preferences and honor them as best you can.

3. Provide information promptly without interrogating.

PR people used to ask me, regularly, “How are you going to ‘use’ the information?” Or, “What’s your angle?” The solid PR pros don’t do this. They get back, with the information requested, as soon as possible. That helpfulness garners goodwill. Cross-examining media about their intensions never does.

4. Don’t push, beg, or threaten.

I wish I could say this doesn’t happen, but it does. Pros just don’t go there.

5. Stay with the media you need to reach

This doesn’t take an advanced degree, but it does require persistence. Set up a Google Alert or a Topsy Alert for the names of journalists you need to track most closely. Know their beat, their topics, and what they’ve covered recently. This is what archives are for, if you need to get caught up in a hurry. If you pitch without doing this, it’s obvious to them and embarrassing for you.

6. Make sure the “news” you’re pitching is truly newsworthy.

And be prepare to state why, compellingly. If it is newsworthy, pitch freely. Journalists will want to know about it. But if it’s not, use another channel to spread the message. Bugging media with a pitch that’s promotional or not news to them (see N. 5) likely means a chilly reception the next time you call, regardless of that idea’s worth.

7. Know you will win some and lose some

Unless you are doing PR for a presidential candidate or for Facebook, you’re going to have to vie for shrinking space, fewer staff members handling the news, and major stories that always risk pushing aside smaller-tier pieces. Don’t take it personally. Pros don’t. But they do learn from their mistakes.

Becky Gaylord worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including The New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and was associate editor of the Plain Dealer’s Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact.