Treading on the extraordinary path of Public Relations

Life can take us on unexpected journeys, and for me, it all began with a move from Calcutta to Delhi. Settling into a new environment and searching for employment was no easy task. Having led a cloistered life back in Calcutta, the prospect of employment in Delhi seemed daunting. However, fate smiled upon me as I landed a job in the Hospitality Industry at Hyatt Regency, Delhi, a pivotal moment that marked the start of my transformative journey.

Little did I know that this move would lead me to an extraordinary path in the world of Public Relations (PR). Soon after, I found myself in the company of Xerox India, one of the largest copier/printer manufacturers globally. I was appointed as the Executive Assistant to Resident Director-Business Operations, India – an opportunity that allowed me to learn from a Harvard-educated American gentleman. My role involved liaising with various Xerox entities across the globe, providing me with invaluable experiences.

My journey with Xerox continued as I worked alongside five successive Xerox heads, each from different countries, enriching my professional repertoire. During my tenure, I also had the chance to engage in PR activities, representing Xerox India despite lacking formal training in the field. Little did I know that this experience would lay the foundation for a significant shift in my career.

As my Xerox journey neared its end, I felt a mix of excitement and trepidation about what lay ahead. I wondered how I would fill this new void and make the best use of my time. It was during this juncture that Paul Arrowsmith of Xerox PR offered a helping hand, introducing me to Prema Sagar, a notable figure in the PR world. Although I expressed my lack of expertise in PR, Prema assured me that I could learn on the job. With her encouragement, I stepped into the world of PR as the Secretary General of PRCAI (Public Relations Consultants Association of India).

Initially, the transition was daunting, but I remained determined. My journey with PRCAI was an enlightening experience that opened doors to the vast landscape of Public Relations. Working closely with several talented Presidents, such as Nandita Lakshmanan, Deepshikha Dharmaraj, Chetan Mahajan, Sharif Rangnekar, Nitin Mantri, and Atul Sharma, provided me with valuable insights and wisdom. Their unwavering support and guidance played a pivotal role in my growth within the industry.

Running an association is no easy task, and my role as Secretary General required managing various aspects of PRCAI, from organising events, and engaging with members, to overseeing finances. With each passing day, I picked up valuable skills on-the-job and developed a deep appreciation for the PR profession.

Under the dynamic leadership of the PRCAI Presidents, we focused on nurturing the PR industry in India. The introduction of yearly Mini and Annual PR Summits provided a platform for industry leaders to share their expertise, fostering growth and collaboration. As my involvement with PRCAI deepened, so did my passion for PR. My dedication and contributions to the industry were recognised when I was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Awards by Reputation Today, Exchange4Media, and PRCAI. These awards served as a testament to the meaningful impact I had made in the field.

Today, as I reflect on my journey, I am humbled by the transformation and growth I have experienced. The transition from a marketing background to the dynamic world of PR has been both challenging and rewarding. My time at Xerox instilled in me valuable principles, including the importance of training and a customer-centric approach.

As I continue to embrace change and evolve, I am grateful for the legacy I have built in the PR world. Now, at the ripe age of 84, I embark on a new chapter as a Senior Mentor at the Promise Foundation, all thanks to the unwavering support of Amith Prabhu.

Life’s journey has been a roller coaster ride, with unexpected twists and turns. From relocating homes and changing professions, I have learned valuable lessons that have shaped me into a seasoned PR professional. As I look back, I cherish the experiences that have defined my path and the impact I have had in the world of Public Relations. With a sense of pride and fulfilment, I eagerly embrace the future, knowing that my journey is far from over.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Jayoti Lahiri
Jayoti Lahiri, a veteran in the Public Relations community who served the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) for over 15 years as Secretary General moved on recently.

Currently, she is a Senior Mentor at The Promise Foundation

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