When responding to clients and public inquiries, what question do you find most difficult to answer?
Actors want us to focus on creating great profiles for them and managing their public images. But most of them think that PR is as instant as Maggi Noodles. They expect to see a change overnight. – At times their demands are so extravagant that they They need to be given a reality check. I have to generally go through a barrage of questions before the actor decides to come on board with me. The most difficult questions include, ‘Do you know journalists in every publication? I want media to write about how popular I am and how I am an achiever with a huge fan following. They must be mentioned the awards also that I have had got. Will you be able to do it?’ This is despite them inquiring about me repeatedly from many actors. So it’s all a balancing act between managing actors, assuring them of results as well as giving them a reality check whenever needed.
What personality characteristics are most important to be successful in public relations?
As a PR, I feel the first thing that you need to master is to be patient. You also need to learn not to take anything personally. At times, actors have no idea what they are saying and use words which can hurt you. One needs to treat actors like directionless children and handle them with the same love and affection sometimes. A good PR is not just someone who keeps you in the news. A personal PR is someone who you can trust blindly and who knows everything about you. With time, he becomes your true friend, philosopher and guide. A PR has to be competent enough to assure and comfort his clients in their time of need and, at the same time, not get emotionally involved. A good command over English is helpful as well as necessary to explain and handle grievances. Actors don’t only look for publicity today. They look for a mature individual who would guide them in every sense of the word.
What you have to say about Social media boom?
Social media boom is a reality today. But social media is not a benchmark of popularity. Likes and followers can easily be bought and boosted and some actors also take part in such practices. Social media is not the end of the world. Actors like Shivin Narang, Shashank Vyas and Vivian Dsena are not social media junkies. They are active as per convenience, unlike actors who make everything public on a daily basis. Social media cannot substitute for PR. With technology taking centre stage, the value of social media can’t be denied but it is not the only thing.
Which have been your most interesting actors who you have promised and are an example of successful PR?
Actors like Mrunal Jain, Vivian Dsena, Arjun Bijlani, Shashank Vyas, Sharad Malhotra, Shivin Narang, Rashami Desai are few of the actors where PR has made a big difference to their careers, personal lives and reputation. Mrunal Jain’s strength is his fitness and body and that has been highlighted and reinforced to the extent that he is considered as one of fittest men in the business today. There were many actors in ‘Uttaran’ but not everyone is successfully remembered as Rashami Desai and Tina Dattaa and they are still in circulation media wise. Vivian Dsena had an outstanding career graph. His constant media presence has garnered positive media support. He is good with words and speaks his heart out. The same is true for Shashank Vyas, who is still remembered for his role in ‘Balika Vadhu’. He has recently transformed himself physically and looks amazing. Arjun Bijlani is considered to be a hit star. This shows that the right media presence is integral to an actor’s career. Ssharad Malhotra is a media-friendly actor and his take-me-as-I-am attitude does the magic. Shivin Narang carries his heart on his sleeve but not everyone can understand this Delhi boy who is spontaneous about his affection and respect. Vivian, in spite of being an A-list artist, lets his PR do what is best for him and trusts him completely. He doesn’t entertain media directly and everything is routed through us. That is the reason he doesn’t get any bad press as there is no chance of slipping of words or information which is just not meant for public consumption.
You end up knowing everything about the personal lives of actors especially when their boyfriends /girlfriends break up or their marriages are on the rocks? How do you handle that?
A personal PR knows his clients inside out but it also depends on the actor about how much they want to open up. A PR is not less than a father who pampers his children and provides security, love and affection to nurture their individuality. A good PR keeps his clients in the news for the right reasons, highlighting their strengths and is a perfect interface between them and the media. To handle a couple who breaks up is not as difficult as you are supposed to handle everything with maturity. You have to ensure that no personal information is shared. Secrets are to be guarded. It’s easier with clients who are honest about their situations than those who sugarcoat or lie.
What is the issue you feel should be addressed?
The majority of actors are not good in terms of dealing with payments. They don’t stop travelling in their luxurious cars or stop their foreign holidays or shopping or partying, but when it comes to paying, they come up with false excuses and fake sob stories. I often wonder how do they look at themselves in the mirror. In fact, some of these actors fight with the production house even for a few thousand. Many people have often told me to dump such actors, as I can surely do without them. But work has always been a priority to me and that involved managing all kinds of actors. I never take anything personally. Spending on a good PR is a career investment, yet people cut down on here. PR is an important component of an actor’s career. Many of them are aware of this but still, prefer to spend theirs on partying rather than spending on hiring a PR. I have experienced possessiveness too. Everyone assumes I am close to an x set of actors only. I don’t bother much as I am not accountable to anyone for anything. I mind my own business and live in my own world. Very few actors genuinely understand the effort that goes into getting an article to come in print or fixing an FB live interview, as everyone has tight schedules and different priorities. Coordination needs promptness and patience.
What you have to say about competition in the industry?
PR is not everyone’s cup of tea. No one can take away my intelligence and ideation power and that is what counts. People who don’t know much about PR are also in the business. Few of them only seem to be there to pass their time and most of them are only for making some quick money. Money is important but then good money need to follow good work in any profession. You have to love your work genuinely care for your actors.
How do you unwind?
I love watching films. I like Rajesh Khanna, Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone’s films. At times, I even go to the theatre alone and enjoy it to the hilt. I also like to read non-fiction books. Conversations over a hot cup of coffee are my favourite.
Today due to social media awareness the actors are updating and giving breaking news directly to their social media platform as a PR what do you feel? In a way they are doing their own PR. Please share your take.
Giving breaking news via social media works for certain actors and certain news items, not for everything. Selectivity and exclusivity matters. When you are exclusive to certain papers and journalists, they stand by you in times of need. Moreover, from social media, the media can interpret and make their own stories, which you just can’t control at times. Social media needs to be used intelligently
The actors change their PR agencies quite frequently. What tips would you like to give them in this regard?
If your PR is good, stick to him or her. PR is like getting hitched. Sometimes actors get lured by other PRs who make fake promises. Many times actors jump at such offers and that reflects on their lack of stability. Changing a PR just for the sake of it is foolish. You don’t change your friends or life partner, then why you want to change your personal PR? You have to trust your PR.
An actor and his/her PR can become good friends. What is your take on that? Or should they maintain an absolute professional relationship?
There is just not much scope for friendship unless you have free time. You surely bond well and more with certain actors. Certain actors are more expressive and demonstrative and may put selfies etc on social media with you. People who are genuinely close to you know it, irrespective of whether you highlight or express it or not.
In a world that works on controversies, how do you find that right balance between rumours and news regarding your client? Do you feel that some level of speculations is necessary for the client’s media presence?
PR is a very customized profession. You have to deal differently with different situations. What is poison for one, maybe nectar for another?
For a public relations expert, crises management is a top priority. What are the things that you must remember while dealing with any crises?
You have to take care of the sentiment of the actor as well as follow your principles. What is right is right and you can’t let an actor fool himself or herself or the world with their excuses or lies. You have to be patient and explain to them that you are doing, logically. They need to be told in no uncertain terms that what you are going to decide for them will be objective and good for them and they need to trust your intelligence, expertise and maturity. PR Se Pyar Karna jaroori hai agar aap apne career ko Pyar Karte ho (laughs)