An interesting October in Indian Public Relations

I think there is something about October when it comes to scandals in Indian Public Relations. In 2011 this was the month when the famous company Vaishnavi Corporate Communications wound up. This year was equally interesting. As the #MeToo campaign grows, the first person from corporate communications to be outed appeared on our timeline. Just a few days prior he was at PRAXIS with his entire team. The enquiry at Tata Motors progressed at a rapid pace and as this column was being written word was out that Suresh Rangarajan was asked to separate from the company.

The other interesting tale which has multiple layers to it is the Curious case of Sonia Dhawan at Paytm. When the news first broke it was hard to believe. It still is. As someone who has interacted with this professional, I find it difficult to comprehend that she would do something like this to a boss and company she was loyal to. Time will tell, and the courts will decide if she indeed was the mastermind of a corporate blackmail scandal. For those unaware you may search online to find out more.

The point of today’s column is to emphasise on the need for professionalism and ethics more than ever before at the work place and especially for those working at reputation management firms and reputation management departments of companies. While professionalism and ethical behaviour seem like a cake walk as concepts, they need considerable amount of resolve and effort to imbibe.

Professionalism is like the foundation of a building and our careers are like buildings. Ethical behaviour is the roof of the building. These two are important for a building to remain strong. The façade, the paint, the windows are all open for renovation and this is our general behaviour, the job changes, the interactions we have among other things.

Ethical behaviour or Ethics is about constantly finding the difference between the right and wrong and choosing the latter. Professionalism is about striving to do and say the right things. These two go hand in hand. If we can master this and make them a way of life, then we are home and dry.

An interesting case that also unravelled last week was that of Binny Bansal of Flipkart. The entire case is publicly available for one to read. It has been debated in the last five days, but the jury is out. If Binny engaged with a former employee in a manner that was not the right way. Reference here is to engaging external firms to buy the silence of an individual with whom he had a consensual relationship. If you have done no wrong, then there is no need to fear or buy someone’s silence. And if you make the choice to do then you may as well share it with the organisation that is spending billions of dollars to own your brand as reputational risks crop in.

All in all it has been an interesting past few weeks for students and observers of reputation management.

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Amith Prabhu
Amith Prabhu is the Founder of the PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS, India’s annual summit of reputation management professionals.

He is also the Founding Dean of the School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe).

He can be reached at @amithpr on twitter.

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