Perfect Relations CEO Bobby Kewalramani says the field of PR is full of challenges as it deals with creating, managing and sustaining the image of an organisation or an individual
Mumbai: As the jet-setting chief executive officer of Perfect Relations, Bobby Kewalramani is responsible for managing all operations of the company globally and is the interface of the agency-client relationship. So, when we requested him for an interview, we didn't receive an immediate reply. It was only after a few days that we knew that he was actually on tour.
Kewalramani holds an honour's degree in economics from St Stephen's College, Delhi, and has a masters in economics from the Delhi School of Economics. A switch from economics to an MBA programme ensured proficiency in finance and accounting as well.
Following a stint with the Birla group, Kewalramani moved into media management and worked with top media houses for 14 years. During this period, he has held positions of responsibility in The Times of India, The Sunday Mail and the Observer group.
Today Kewalramani divides his time managing images of clients spread across 10 branches of Perfect Relations. Excerpts from the interview:
Earlier what was known as 'public relations' is now known as 'public affairs' and 'corporate communication'. Has there been a paradigm change over the years in the functioning of these departments? And in what way are these functions different?
Public relations is the art of creating and implementing communication plans to create and sustain a desired image for a target audience. It is also known as an image management exercise. Nevertheless, public affairs is a critical element in the public relations function primarily aimed at bringing about policy changes, changes in mindsets of the target audience and usage patterns.
Corporate communication, on the other hand, is a public relations (image management) exercise undertaken by the companies to create the desired image. This involves creating awareness of the companies being perceived as having qualities of good employers, being shareholder-friendly, being socially responsible, and being transparent and law-abiding among its target audience.
How did your entry into public relations come about? What is your background?
I have been associated with the communication industry since the last 14 years. Having worked with top media houses like the Times group, the Sunday Mail group and the Observer group, my entry into the field of public relations and corporate communications was a natural extension.
What are the challenges you face in your field of work? How do you tackle them? Have you encountered a crisis situation? If so, how did you resolve it?
The field of public relations is full of challenges as it deals with creating, managing and sustaining the image of an organisation or an individual. Each and every activity undertaken by an organisation has an impact on its image, thus making this process a really tough challenge. If mishandled, such actions could result in a crisis-like situation with adverse impact on the image that we are trying to create and protect.
During the course of our work, we come across several crisis situations on a routine basis. However, with decades of experience in crisis management, handling such situations is where our expertise lies and that is what we have been doing successfully. Crisis management basically involves three important steps - recognising the crisis, identifying the possible crisis and putting systems into place to avoid / minimise the effects of the crisis.
How do you handle relations with the media? What is your perception of how companies should be approached while reporting news about that company or your clients?
Since the media plays a significant role in the entire public relations exercise, handling media relations is one of the most critical tasks. Also, being the interface between the company and the media, we enjoy a strong relationship as a single-point source of information to the media.
Do you think your profession is rewarding? What is your advice to youngsters who wish to enter your profession? What are the basic qualifications and aptitude required?
For candidates with ability and yearning to learn, public relations offers a great opportunity for growth. It is a highly rewarding career, offering unlimited opportunities but requires a high degree of commitment, dedication and hard work.
To enter into the filed of public relations, the candidate should have the following qualities:
- Excellent writing skills
- Good oral communication and presentation skills
- Multitasking abilities
- Ability to work long hours
How do you relax from the pressures of work? What are your hobbies?
I really enjoy the pressure of my profession. Nevertheless, to unwind I spend time with my family, relaxing at home, playing bridge, watching cricket and soccer matches. I also enjoy travelling and reading books.