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A lot has been talked about My Name Is Khan and the FUD surrounding the topic. I had a rather unique experience this evening in Nasik - and let me be very clear that it has no direct connection with the movie. I had walked into a Belmonte (a brand under the umbrella of S. Kumars Nationwide Limited) showroom to check out some suits. While at the shop, I noticed a strange thing across the store - all the blow-ups of Shah Rukh Khan had a newspaper stuck upon it, covering the face of him. I thought maybe SRK has stopped endorsing the brand, and maybe some other ambassador was already in place and the blowups of the latest celebrity was yet to come in, and so on. But then, I had to ask and confirm. The store manager made a peculiar face and replied, "It's simply a precaution to keep our store from getting vandalized." It made sense now. This showroom, made entirely of huge glass panes, with tens of huge blowups of Shah Rukh Khan, would be an open invitation for the activists to come and smash it all.

Multiplexes  refusing to screen the movie got the assurances of the ministers that they will be provided security to avoid any untoward incident from happening. Now who would've imagined that the issue in hand would make apparel showroom owners potential targets too. "Who'll provide us security," asked the manager. I must say, I was left speechless.

Recently I met a group of entrepreneurs in Nashik, who under partnership, have decided to set up a business in the BPO space. Now, it has been only couple of years since Nasik saw BPOs being set up in the city. Naturally, there was this sudden surge of BPOs in the city. Having said that, one of the many problems that these entrepreneurs mentioned is ‘there is just too many of us who do exactly the same kind of work for the same pool of clients’.

Such is the dilemma of a lot of entrepreneurs in various segment of business. What one does not realize is the fact that the real problem is the ‘mindset’ of the entrepreneurs. Professor Philip Anderson of INSEAD in his column ‘How to Zig When Others Zag’ has beautifully penned on how to deal with this mindset problem. “Entrepreneurs can often become trapped by their own definition of who is my customer, what is my business model, and what is my value proposition,” said Professor Anderson.

I highly recommend this article to any entrepreneur who is facing the issue of how to stand out in a crowd of similar businesses. As for the group of entrepreneurs who brought this problem to my notice; I shared this article with them, and they say it has realigned their way of thinking in a good way.

In our line of business, we happen to contact several entrepreneurs who have not interacted

with any journalist/media house before us. Because these are not media-savvy people, they turn out to be extremely cooperative and/or way too skeptical. Now, no one is blaming them for being like that. However, these are some pointers that can help:


Begin with understanding certain things for your knowledge

Ask about the publication/station/channel that this story is being done for. It is imperative that you understand the positioning of it for you to answer in the right perspective. Now, do understand that even if it is a publication/station/channel that you have not heard of – it does not necessarily mean that someone is trying to scam you. Ask for a website, sample of the magazine, and so on for verification. Also ask for a deadline and get an idea about the story, so that you can prepare yourself for the interaction. Get the contact details of the journalist you are interacting with (email address, office phone number, cell number, etc)

Please do not keep postponing the interaction

As mentioned above, you did ask them for their deadline, yes? You might have genuine reasons why you cannot make it for the interaction on the set day/time. But the journalist has to file the story on his deadline. It will be nice if you at least give them a heads up about this well in advance, and reschedule the interaction some time within the set deadline. 

Speak in the language you are comfortable interacting in

It is the information and matter that matters; not your fluency in English. Please do not feel pressurized to speak in a language in which you know that you will stutter or stammer in the major portion of the interaction. 

Request the journalist to facilitate the interaction in a language that is comfortable for you and at the same time can be understood by the journalist. This way, you will be able to get things across in much more lucid way. The journalist can always seek help in understanding jargon later.

Pay attention to the questions, and stay focused when answering.

Hear out the question, take a breath and channelize your thoughts before starting to speak. Yes, we understand you are excited about the interaction, and you want to use this opportunity to talk about the latest things you are doing at your company. However, if the question does not call for it – refrain from dragging everything into gassing about your products, services, and other pros of your company.

There are only a handful of entrepreneurs who do not meander away while answering. In my personal experience, NR Narayana Murthy is the best example I can quote. He is as crisp as it can get while answering a question asked.  This interview he gave us is transcribed in verbatim.

Also, since this is your first interaction and in your excitement you might have ended up saying something that is better left off the record. Do not hesitate to request the journalist to keep it off the record. Contrary to the common belief, journalists do have ethics.

Do not hesitate to give away your photographs.

If asked for photographs, please provide them. The reader/viewer can connect to what is being said if there is a face that he/she can see. No one is asking for a professionally shot passport-photo; give some photo which has you more in a relaxed or candid pose – trust us, it looks good.  Provide photographs that are of good quality i.e. decent digital camera quality, at the least.

Also, if you are not asked for photographs, do not force-request them to carry one. It is perhaps a story that is not being designed to accommodate certain/any pictures.
While talking about pictures, we understand the zeal to be on the cover of the magazine. If you are worth it, it will be published just there. Do not ‘demand’ for your photo to be published on the cover.

Please do not overdo the hospitality.

The journalist coming over for a meeting for an interaction is just doing his/her job. Do not overdo the hospitality part, in the hope that he/she will give you better coverage. Simply be courteous, do what is necessary.

Follow up and keep in touch.

Once the story is published – ask where you can find the copy of the magazine / newspaper / journal / webpage address, etc. If you want extra copies for the record or distribution purpose, request for it – it is likely that that can be arranged for. You can also try requesting for a PDF of the story if it has been published in the print medium.

You now have the contact details of the journalist you interacted with. Every once in a while, why don’t you drop a line on email, text, or a call perhaps? It always helps to remain in touch – both ways.

Publicize the coverage in various mediums.

Congratulations on being covered by the media. Now, publicize that coverage. Include links to the coverage web page / website / video in your email signatures, your email newsletters, on your website, on your twitter / linkedin / facebook / orkut, and such.

How to be a good client

Posted by: Binesh Kutty in in the news

Tagged in: strategy , relationship , provider , how to , client

Yes, this is a topic worth thinking about. Don’t we all seek services from some provider some point in our business, mostly for activities that are not your core competency? Then, don’t we all cuss the provider for not doing the job as required. Have you stopped for a moment and thought that maybe the problem is not with them, but with you as a client? 

Being a good client is pretty much a ‘ask-yourself-first’ project. Here are some self-questionings that can help:

Sure it has been a long time and there is no pilot ready yet.
Have you been dillydallying about the basics? Make up your mind first!

Sure they messed it up. Does your ‘brief’ to the client explain each and every requirement clearly and in detail?

Sure you need it done fast. They are slacking!
Are you giving the provider at least the minimum time required to do it?

Sure the coordination is atrocious.
Do you have too many people coordinating a deal which requires only a few people involved?

Sure they are demanding more/extra monies.
Are you demanding for elements beyond the scope of the original deal?

They say the website/creative/etc looks just fine. It is not! Not on my computer.
Have you checked your system for problems? Please open the stuff on some other computer(s).

We had had 100 meetings and yet this is going nowhere!
Did you really need to call them over for those 100 meetings? You are wasting time, you know.

They just won’t listen to me!
Are you listening to what they have to say first? Keep the communications going both-ways – one at a time?

I do not understand why they won't talk to me directly?
Are you rude, angry, or frustrated in most of your conversations?

Many elements are missing. How many times do I need to mail them to get it done?
Have you provided them with all the resources that they need from your end?

I don’t like the grumpy faces they carry around!
When was the last time you appreciated them for any work done?

I appreciate them all the time. They still are grumpy all the time!
Are you paying them on time? :)

Let me begin with listing down some reasons why you should not get your company on social media.

  • You want to be on it because everyone else is
  • You do not understand the ‘purpose of being’ on social media
  • You do not have a ‘minimum time to spend’ that you can dedicate on a daily basis
  • You do not have the ‘bandwidth’ to interact with people following you
  • You do not have enough ‘thoughts’ (content) for the sake of updating
  • You want to simply sell/advertise your products/services and make fast money

Have stated the above, this list is by no means an exhaustive list and is not necessarily in an order of importance. The word ‘You’ is used to collectively term you as a person, as a company, and as a team.

Not so long back, I received an email from an electrical equipment manufacturing and distributing company. The email was meant to announce about them foraying into social media. The spectrum of social media here was eleven different platforms viz. Forum, Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn, YouTube, Metacafe, SlideShare, Scribd, Flickr etc. I said to myself, “Interesting! Let us see how they manage to pull off their existence in all of them.”
Few weeks down, I visited all of the websites individually, only to find few (and different ones at that) of their employees ‘following’ each of the websites. While the websites showed a decent number of updates in the initial days of the launch, the frequency had gone down to no updates in 2 weeks at some of the websites. The updates in the initial few days were only about products that their company sells. Few weeks more, and I found out that the person who was running the show has quit. Result: The company has redundant presence on 11 different social media platform – and it is out there for the world to see (whenever it does).

Need of the hour is for companies such as these to understand the the whys, whens, whats, and hows of social media. It is imperative to understand that you need not be present on many social media platform to be looked upon as a social-media-savvy-company. If you want to be known as that, please take some effort to understand the difference between a blog, a forum, micro blogging, social bookmarking, social networking, etc. Once you understand these, you will realize, for instance, that if you have a forum running on your website, you DO NOT need a Facebook Group for discussions to take place. In fact, please try and understand the difference between a Facebook Profile, Facebook Page, and Facebook Group to begin with.  Ask yourself questions such as, "What purpose will updating on Twitter serve for my company? Drive Traffic unto the website? Keep them posted about all our activities? Do some promotions? Should my website have buttons to enable posting content unto social media, instead of just having button that leads to my social media pages?"

For the sake of understanding, at least look up online for whitepapers and presentations about Social Media. Here is a nice presentation by Olivier Blanchard about Basics of Social Media ROI. Here is another presentation by Yongfook. Do some research, talk to people who are already doing it, "SOCIALIZE" and then do it right!

The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose  -  Richard Grant

Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time  - Timothy Leary

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