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The Career of a PR professional

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

The PR industry is booming like never before, but it is not easy for everyone to make a mark here. Shweta Powar, who has been in the industry since almost two decades, and has a successful company she has built from scratch, gives Tanishka Sodhi the behind the scenes secrets of this profession

Working in PR is like working backstage. You connect the pieces and make things happen, slowly pulling the curtains up after you've put it all together from scratch, and then you watch from the corner the show you have hustled for. It is an under appreciated job, yet, there is no denying the fact that the Public Relation (PR) industry is booming like never before. Shweta Powar, a PR professional who has built her company Aria PR from scratch, tells us the behind the scenes of this very special behind the scenes job. “Communication is integral to PR, but there are a lot of other factors you have to master, as well. Creativity is a must, as is having a strategic view. You have to be aware of the international perspective of the industry your client is a part of, as well as aware of what will happen in the next 2 years in the field- you have to be steps ahead of your competition, always," she says.

Shweta worked in the airline industry for two years before realizing that contrary to what she had previously thought, this was not her dream. “That was when my farther pushed me to do a course in PR- he told me that it would be the next big thing. I started pursing my diploma while I was still working for the airline,” she said, adding, “I realized that my passion was communication. In my first job as a PR executive, the head of my department spotted something in me and told me I will go places- that, plus the big clients I was allowed to take care of boosted my confidence.”

The birth of her now 10-year-old company came soon after the birth of her daughter. “I wasn’t sure what step to take next, with all the changes in my life. It was my husband who suggested I freelance, so I started off with one client- a dental clinic – and after that, there has been no looking back. Everyone wondered what PR could happen for a dental brand, but the branding of such an industry can be important. Dental is not just drilling. It is the image you create for others, for example, going to the dentist can be an experience about your smile.”

Coming to the core of PR, Shweta, who has more than 18 years of experience in this field tells us, “Reputation, image building and publicity go hand in hand. It depends on us how we bring and create the recall in front of the target audience. The positioning has to be right- one wrong positioning in the media can change the entire game.
Sometimes, clients don’t understand that PR is not advertising, although it is interlinked. PR is about recall, which takes lot of time to build. It cannot happen overnight.”

The forte of her PR company is Health Care, Lifestyle, Wellness and Real Estate. For each industry, the communication and strategies differ. “For example, your strategy for an IT client has to be hard core. For real estate, you have to be aware of the the trends that haven’t even hit the market yet. A lot of people try to pursue only one industry, but according to me, the practical knowledge you get by taking on clients from different industries is something no book can teach you. My job is not monotonous at all, which is great. If today I’m doing real estate, tomorrow could be IT. There is a new challenge everyday, which keeps me alert and gives me the chance to lean everyday.  If I’m sitting with 10 people today from different industries, I can talk about all their segments,” she says. A surprisingly huge component of the PR industry is research. “We don’t just see what is happening in the international and national industry, but also what can happen, and if we can be a part of it,” she says,“There is communication everywhere- but there has to be a strategy behind it. You have to decide the right communication- who you will send it to, at what time, for what medium, etc. The planning is meticulous.”

We ask Shweta to bust a few myths for us. Is all publicity indeed good publicity? She responds with, “Most publicity is good, yes, but there is a way of handling things, especially crisis situations. You have to be smart and alert as to how to control and turn them. No one really likes negative publicity. Controlling a crisis is in fact, a huge part of PR. How do you mould the communication in the best way possible? In there a way to limit the damage? It is most challenging thing.” About whether PR really does require you to be sugary sweet, Shweta says, “If you know your communication channel and the message you have to get across in the required format, you can choose to be frank instead of extra sweet- which is what we do. It depends on the situation but we are always up front with our clients and the journalists about the deliverables and the news respectively.”

"As I am growing, there is a hunger to achieve more. Growth is on you as an individual, and how passionate are you about the job. As a PR professional you have to be there for the client-whether its 11am or 11pm Understanding what the journalist needs is important-like i said, research. How you pitch to them is very important."

Shweta is not just a PR professional; she is also an entrepreneur managing her company, as well as a mother. Talking about the challenges she faces, she said, "When i started this company, all I thought was that I have to learn and acquire knowledge.  It can get difficult at times, but the challenges keep you on your toes. If you have an attitude that you have to try until you make it to the end, it will surely work in your favor," She advices young students interested in this field to get some hands on work experience. "Do internships. Find out if this really is the career for you, and if it is, give it your all," she concludes.

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