Working on a Marquee Client – Chapter 5

There are five things that stand out for me and I always remember when I think of my first year in my first proper job. I say proper because before I did my post-graduation I worked as a full-time volunteer for one year and prior to that during my under-graduate days I ran a tiny knowledge centric enterprise. So, I have four years of that experience to count. 

Hutch was no ordinary client. It was an international brand with interesting parentage. It was a late entrant to the telecom field in India. There was so much to do and so much to learn. 

I still remember my first media round to get myself familiar with journalist who covered telecom. I read magazines, newspapers for days together and then went to meet the likes of Thomas K Thomas, Anup Jayaram and few others. Then a second time I was on a media round it was an event that Rahul Dravid was attending as Hutch’s brand ambassador at the Hotel Imperial. And most journalists who attended were those who covered sports. 

The other time I was in Lucknow to help launch the first shop on wheels which was called the Hutch Mobile shop that moved from one location to another to help address customer queries in the neighbourhood. 

The best moment was witnessing UP West get the Hutch brand through a launch in Agra with the legendary Asim Ghosh, Sandip Das and Harit Nagpal in attendance. I still remember Asim Ghosh tell the media that he admires two brands – HDFC Bank and Jet Aiways and wishes that Hutch provides service the way these two brands do.

The most exciting event was to take a dozen journalist from Delhi to Jaipur on a Sunday to watch the Hutch Sirmur Cup which is when I witnessed a Polo match for the first and last time. In the bargain I got to see a queen – the late Rajmata Gayatri Devi, who was in attendance.

There were events galore including the Botham and Lamb Show, the Prithvi theatre festival at India Habitat Centre where I worked closely with an interesting mix of Sanjana Kapur, Shailesh Khurana and Shrey Khetarpal. 

In addition to this, I also had an interesting month-long stint working on Bridal Asia with Divya Guruwara and Rashi Bhimani as clients.

But my best learning came from my many interactions with PK Khurana and Rashmi Chaturvedi – they were regional affiliates and treated me like their own child guiding me to navigate their strongholds of Chandigarh and Lucknow. 

One incident I will never forget is how I almost goofed up. Those were the days of SMS which once sent could not be retracted and there were no smart phones. At one event my boss had to leave before lunch, and she had asked me to update her on how it went and if the client was happy via SMS. I began to talk to the client to gauge her mood and got a sense that she was generally happy with the way the event had turned out. In my excitement I typed – Client is happy with the way the event turned out and instead of sending it to the boss I sent it to the client. I realised it immediately because the client was standing next to me, so I heard her phone beep. I quickly begged her to delete the message and she obliged. But to be transparent I told her what it was, and she was more than happy with my honesty and enthusiasm. 

The first rule of Public Relations is honesty and that is the cornerstone of Ethics. I am glad I got the kind of exposure and experience in the first year of my job by opting to be based in the location where the company’s head office was. 

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

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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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