About a year back I acceded to Pitch and one of my first lip to the magazine was: “I want to write for this, as it is my kind of stuff!” Brands, probably, are the centre of any youngster’s universe today, not to shy away, so were mine. All a writer needs is a pen and paper. In today’s world, a tab bringing it down to the basics – a QWERTY keypad. Well not only that, every writer needs to grow and hence, needs a platform. But then a marketing magazine? Really?
“A correspondent for Pitch magazine,” I thought, “swanky office, chilled out work, beautiful people, glistening fame, lots of money and hard core contacts.” Nothing much changed, there is an office, there is work, there are people, there is fame and there is money, as well as contacts.
Talking about contacts, my foreperson asked me one day, “If you call a party, how many marketers can you gather?” At that time, the question left me speechless. Was there a philosophical connotation attached to it? Maybe, because, I did not have an answer. In my short journey as a correspondent, in which, I am marked as a novice by many organisations in the industry, I somehow muttered up the courage to approach and dole out my visiting cards to many. â€˜Networkingâ€™ is the word. CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, VPs, EVPs, MDs, the list is never ending. At first, I did not even have the knowledge that such a compendium of condensations could exist, and that too sometimes in a single company or brand. For what it is worth, I understood the value of that visiting card. Even though a visiting card of my own was a pretty cool property that I luxuriated, but the power of that card somewhere in the companyâ€™s directory or the marketerâ€™s pocket, did not get them at my party but sure was an asset.
In one of the editions of Pitch magazine, there was a piece to be done on the “Top 5 Marketers of the Month”, one of whom, shortlisted, was Shah Rukh Khan. When I came across this, I was left perplexed, maybe, because of certain repugnance towards his loftiness as an actor. I asked to myself, does SRK have any brand equity? After I understood the apparent â€˜fundaâ€™ of SRK marketing himself, I thought, that makes me a marketer too. ATL, BTL, Creative agency, Ad-networks and the Marketing ecosystem was Greek to me at first. Thank God, my editors became my chaperones and put me on the right track whenever I went astray. Just to be clear, they still do.
There was always a first in the job – the joy of the first by-line, the first interview, the first tele-conference, the first email responses from the spokesperson and the first conference (all successful though). Every time something like that happened, there was a close connection that I could find to the punch line of a product by Cadbury, â€˜Shotsâ€™. Nevertheless, my walk through the unknown, proved not only to be adventurous but something that I became passionate about. The thrill of coming up with a story everyday and taking comments from virtuosos not only increased the erudition about a subject but also embellished the network.
As a person, I was never knavish, and in the profession, sometimes one has to say “No”. Getting hundres of prss releases a day, and multitudinous phone calls from â€˜account executivesâ€™ or â€˜image managersâ€™ AKA PR professionals, was a part of the job, but so was to abnegate the request for various interactions and carrying their story ideas. Sweet talk was the path to liberation. The moment of verisimilitude is when the PR or Corporate communications donâ€™t come back to you with your query, which makes you think, “Is this professional behaviour?” And also acts as a rhetoric, did you take up the story pitch in the first place?
Probably, the perks of being a journalist are not accessibility or being ebullient, but the exposure. When the Marketing Director of an international luxury automobile is a phone call away, or the Vice President – Marketing, of a QSR giant you can call by the first name in an insouciant manner, or you know that your editor is there to back you up at every professional step, you somehow do see daylight in your job. So what if you did not get the story, at least you know the top bosses… So what, if the Corp-Comm did not revert to your mail, at least you know who to call and who not to… So what if you wear red spectacle frames…?