Friday, December 30, 2011

What it takes to be a PR professional-1

Commits alumna ANKANA CHAKRABORTY (Class of 2009) worked in public relations in Bangalore for two-and-a-half years with leading agencies Corporate Voice Shandwick and Text 100. Here she tells aspiring PR professionals how to make an impression and be a success. In short, she says, learn how to pitch to hitch the scribe.

Public relations as a profession can be both gratifying and downright frustrating. On the one hand, you experience the ecstasy of generating great coverage, while, on the other, you have a bunch of people who do not seem to appreciate it. What’s worse, they crib that the coverage does not include the CEO’s ability to juggle china while singing! At that point you scream in exasperation, “God, why me?”

It doesn't have to be that way. So here are my top tips to make your mark in PR:

Pretty soon you will realise that your life revolves around, and depends on how well you know, the print publications (yes, it is sad that most clients still insist on print). I am sure your morning will begin with “tracking the papers”. Make the most of this. Don’t just flip through the pages, don’t read only Bangalore Mirror. Make extensive notes. Study the columns and supplements that each newspaper or magazine publishes and the content they carry. You can then map that to your client’s requirements.

Equally important is tracking journalists. If you want to make a successful pitch, you first have to know what excites the journalist, what he or she is writing about. And no short-cuts, please. Any one article by the journalist cannot be the basis of your pitch. Follow the trends the journalist follows. Only then will you be able to make a pitch that the journalist cannot say no to.

Again we come back to the pitch. And to make it work you have to think of it as the piece without which the puzzle is incomplete. So we have taken care of the publication fit, the journalist fit, and now comes the industry perspective. No journalist is paid to write praises about your client. The pitch will work only if it has an angle that the journalist has not thought about yet. This is where knowing your industry comes in handy. You can have easy access to how the industry has evolved and what is happening right now that will shape it in the future. Figure out where your client can play a role in this and pitch that angle. What matters most to you may be totally irrelevant to a journalist. Remember that it’s what they — not you — think is important that matters in the end.


PR has been rated as the second-most stressful job in India. And there are valid reasons for that. The pressure can get to you easily and in your quest to get more coverage you tend to irritate the hell out of a journalist. Now don’t do that. How many of you have enlisted your phone number with the Do Not Disturb registry? Poor things, they can’t even do that.

So do not call journalists incessantly; do not flood their inbox with press releases. If journalists say they are not interested in a story, they mean it. Reaching out to them again and again will further annoy them and guarantee you’ll be ignored the next time.

What you can and must do is meet them in person. Then again don’t go just because your boss asked you to. Prepare well, make a list of what you want to talk to them about; a “what’s up” kind of preparation is not good enough. Do not get overtly friendly in your very first meeting; it is not natural. Go with an agenda, and don’t pretend that you did not, the journalist can see through that. Remember, it is okay to go with an agenda, just make the agenda solid.

Understand that you cannot control the end product. It is unethical for you to ask, to see, or to proof a copy of the story beforehand, or to dictate what the reporter can and can’t say. Doing so will backfire — trust me.

There is one more thing that irritates a journalist more than all that I just said, and that is bad language skills. No one expects you to write sonnets. But a simple, grammatically correct document can make the journalist’s life a lot simpler. And trust me they will remember you for writing good documents.

Yes, clients are a necessary evil. And most of the time they are more painful than nice. Set the clients’ expectations right. Do not promise the sun, stars, and moon and then fail miserably. Plan, plan, and plan. If plan A fails, you still have 25 possible versions left to salvage the situation.

Be very patient and consistent. Don’t lose hope. PR is a process. You know who hits it big overnight with a story flashing across publications? Criminals, bad politicians, naughty celebrities, terrorists, and natural calamity victims. Do you want to be one of them?

Ankana Sinha is now the brand manager for Pro Nature Organic Foods in Bangalore.



Thursday, December 29, 2011

What it means to be a corporate communications professional-2

Commits alumna SUSHMA SHANKAR (Class of 2008), who works with IBM in Bangalore, explains what really happens in corporate communications and what exactly she does as a corporate communications officer:

Nothing can bring disaster more rapidly to a business and to its people than a breakdown in communications and in understanding. Thomas J Watson Sr, 1961

Almost every person to whom I have handed my business card has asked me: What do you do in IBM? I would love to proffer Wikipedia’s definition of what I do, but what you read on the internet or in text books is quite different from reality.

When I mention IBM to anybody outside the company, the first reaction I get is, “Oh, that is a nice company to work for.” Or, “I’ve heard the company has employee-friendly policies.” This has been a result of effective communications within the company and with its stakeholders. Years and years of effective brand-building have helped bring about a positive reaction and recall among people, as well as boost share value. This is what corporate communications strives to achieve.

So what is corporate communications? Simply put, it is communicating the company’s policies, ideas and strategy to its stakeholders be it the company’s employees, customers, shareholders, or its business partners. In many large companies this function has multiple departments:

External Communications (communicating to customers and other businesses through PR and advertising, managing relationships with analysts, bloggers, shareholders, etc.).

Internal Communications or Employee Engagement (communicating to your employees, communications from the management to the employees, building employee and management relationship, and communicating to the sales force).

While Corporate Communications helps build the brand, the goal of Marketing Communications is to help meet sales figures.



On a day-to-day basis in a large organisation, many types of important communications are sent out via different channels: mailers, intranet articles and posts, internal blogs, communities, company websites, etc. Important information is dispensed and relationships are built through these communications.

For example, crisis communication is an important part of Corporate Communications. To understand this better: If a company is facing a bleed in employee attrition or, in tough times, has to let go of employees, it takes a communications team to handle this type of crisis situation. Multiple messages and multiple channels are used to prevent panic and provide assurance that the company is in control of the situation.

This is just one example of a situation that Corporate Communications officers handle. With multiple stakeholders watching a company’s movements and its policies, communicators are the link among these stakeholders.


I work on internal communications and seller communications at a regional level across the different lines of businesses. Each region consists of many countries, and some communications need to be created and deployed at a macro level. I work on communications campaigns for internal communications goals, such as communicating about the Code of Business Conduct and encouraging employees to comply with the code, or communications to mid-level managers on where to access important information that they need on a daily basis to handle employee issues.

A campaign consists of some or all of the following: e-mailers, intranet articles, presentations, printed collateral, etc. It is exciting to plan a campaign. It takes a lot of creativity, sense of humour, and awareness of the brand’s personality to create an effective campaign. A good example is of these posters that were created for the Smarter Planet campaign and have been used internally and externally.


Corporate Communications may not sound very exciting, but the challenges you face in this profession are at a human level. There is a lot of psychology involved in this profession. While it is easy to create a communication, ensuring that the message is effective enough to achieve a change in mindset or to break employee indifference is not easy. It takes creativity to send across a message that is attractive it’s a lot like using advertising to attract the employee’s attention.

I hope I have given you a fair idea of what corporate communications involves and why it is important to an organisation. The best way to get an inside look into corporate communication is to get some internship experience in a retail organisation or an IT company for a few months. Practical experience helps bring to life what you have heard from many experts who have worked for many years in this profession.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What it means to be a TV news producer-1

Commits alumna KHUSHBOO JALAN (Class of 2007), who has been with CNBC-TV18 in Mumbai for almost four-and-a-half years now, is the producer of the channel’s flagship show, India Business Hour. Here she outlines the news producers' responsibilities, from attending editorial meetings to “rolling” their shows:

News producers are part of the editorial team in a news channel and form the core of the news desk. Every channel defines a news producer’s role in different ways and a producer is also known by many different names in different channels.

A news producer is expected to have editorial knowledge that will facilitate crisp, factual content/output generation.

The daily edit meet is conducted in order to get an idea of what is expected from reporters, companies, political authorities, and other sources during the day and to decide what each news-wheel will contain. All members of the team, including the news editors, sit together and get a sense of stories likely to be worked on through the day, the events, announcements expected, etc. The producer then works on structuring the show, deciding what news is priority, and in what fashion the news has to be presented (“reads”, “links”, “packages”, etc.).


News producers collect information from various sources (including news agencies and reporters) and write “reads”, or reports for the anchor to read. “Reads” are accompanied by visuals, graphics, VTWs*, etc. A news producer decides what visuals or graphics are best suited to accompany a read. Reads are also sent in by reporters and are subbed by news producers before being put on air.

Graphics are created/subbed by producers to accompany reads, anchor links, packages, etc. The producers can either use set templates created by the graphics team or get special graphics made (by the online graphics team).

This role differs from news channel to news channel. News producers are expected to have working knowledge of video editing software (the most commonly used software is Avid). Video editors are available to do the major editing work but in some channels a producer does a considerable amount of video editing (bites, visuals, teases, headlines, etc.)


Reporters who attend events or are on the field meeting company executives, government officials, or other sources, send the interviews/tic-tacs**/bites to the office as direct feeds from the OB (outdoor broadcast van) or uplinked from the OB or sent on tapes) and producers go through the feeds and identify the appropriate bites for their shows.

Reporters also send flashes (important pointers from the bites/speeches/press conferences/interviews) which go on air and which are helpful pointers for identifying the most important portions that should go on air. Producers have to be quick to make sure the bites are put out on air as soon as possible. A number of times bites are taken on air ‘live’ as they are coming into the system.

Reporters file their news stories (packages) and then get them video-edited. Producers go through the scripts, which are generally cleared by the news editors and prepare the Astons (or supers) for bites and “Topics”, which accompany every VO, or voiceover, in a package. Topics are usually four or five words long and have to convey the essence of the story.

Producers also put in graphics in a package if necessary (usually if there are too many figures, charts, quotes, etc., or if there few supporting visuals for a story). After a reporter has completed editing a story, the producers check the packages for any visual/audio glitches and to ensure that the correct visuals/bites, etc., have been used and the package is ready to be taken on air.

News producers also “roll” their respective shows. Rolling a show means that the producer sits inside the PCR, or production control room, and along with the crew (studio director, switcher, sound person, teleprompter operator, production team) ensures that the show is on air on time and news is put out in the correct order.

The producer has to constantly communicate with the anchors and the studio crew, informing them what needs to go on the show and directing them on what visuals/graphics, etc., have to be taken on air.


A producer has to be quick and ensure that reads/bites/packages are ready to go on air. The producer should be prepared to make changes to the show cue if a news item needs to be moved higher or lower depending on its importance.

News shows are generally rolled live and hence the producer has to be capable of handling “Breaking News” situations. The producer should be able to put out the news as and when it comes in, accompanied by supers, topics, visuals, or other elements. The producer has to also decide which guests would be appropriate to talk about the particular news item on air and with the help of the guest coordinators ensure that the guests are willing and ready to talk “live”.

The team sitting outside (assistant producers) provides support in terms of writing, cutting visuals/bites, creating graphics, ensuring reporters are ready on time for their live links, etc. Some shows are also pre-recorded and they have to be laid with graphics/VTWs/topics, etc., which is called “patching” a show. This is also done by the producer.

A CRUCIAL ROLE: One of the main duties of a producer is to manage time inside the PCR, i.e., ensure that breaks are taken on time and the show ends as per schedule. This includes ensuring that reporters stick to their allotted time limits. A producer also has to make sure that all the necessary news items are carried on the show and to ensure that the show still finishes on time. This includes accommodating "Breaking News" which is not accounted for when the show is timed before going on air. So we always leave a buffer time when we plan the show. Managing time is one of the most challenging aspects of rolling a show.

Broadly these are the functions of a news producer. From taking editorial calls to ensuring that the show looks good on air, a producer does it all.

*VTW stands for Voice To Words. There are two kinds of VTWs used at CNBC-TV18. TVTs or Translation VTWs are used for bites in languages other than English (we translate them into English and put it out in sentence case). Regular VTWs are used to show either highlights from a person's interview or additional information for packages/reads/tosses***, etc. These are in title case.

**Tic Tacs are basically mini interviews, Q&As, conducted by reporters on location. We either use sound bites by themselves, or, in the Tic Tac format, more than one bite with the reporter's questions. The reporter holds the mic and asks questions and then turns the mic to the interviewee for the answer. So, "Tic Tac".

***Reporters often do live "links". Pre-recorded reporter links, which go on air later, are referred to as "tosses".

  • Want to know how to have a successful internship at a TV news channel? Read this post.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What it means to be an event-management professional


Commits alumna DIVYA JAISING (Class of 2008) worked with leading event-management company George P. Johnson (GPJ) in Bangalore for two-and-a-half years before moving to the Brigade Group. Here she provides insights into the challenges of being an event-management professional. She also tells us what event management has taught her and continues to teach her:


1. a. something that takes place; an occurrence.
    b. A significant occurrence or happening.
    c. A social gathering or activity.
2. The final result; the outcome.
3. Sports; A contest or an item in a sports programme.

All of us, keeping this definition in mind, have at some point in our lives managed an “event”. A cousin’s birthday party, a friend’s bachelorette or bachelor party, a college festival, a close relative’s wedding, etc., etc. The only difference between managing one of these events and being an event management professional, really, is that you get paid if you are the latter. :-)

So if each of us has done it before, it can’t be rocket science, right? Not that it isn’t stressful, hectic, extremely frustrating at times (the want-to-tear-your-hair-out kind), but essentially it is managing a lot of elements to put together an event, keep the client stress-free, and get paid to do just that.

From my experience of working with one of the more “corporatised” event agencies, a typical event agency has three essential teams that help to put an event together from start to finish.
  • Client Servicing/Business Development
  • Creative Department
  • Production/Operations
Client Servicing/Business Development: The client-servicing department essentially plays the role of mediator between the client, the creative department, and the production/operations team. They usually bring in the briefs, either from existing clients or after pitching to new clients, and drive the entire event during the planning stage, getting necessary approvals from the client, and passing on changes wherever required

Note: Client servicing also serves as the punching bag for all departments AND the clients. :-)

Creative Department: This team includes graphic designers, copywriters, 3D artists, and the Creative Head. They usually ideate, put together themes for events, and work on the actual creative elements (things like backdrops, invitations, stage design, branding elements, e-mailers, etc.)

Note: The Creative department is usually cribbing about their creative work never being appreciated. :-)

Production/Operations Team:  Once the plans are finalised and creatives are set, the Production/Operations team takes over and executes the event. Which means getting the required vendors, negotiating rates, spending hours on set at the site, and ensuring everything is executed according to plan

Note: These guys are usually the owls of the office, working away at night, and are more often than not the tech geeks using terms only they can understand.

Some agencies are not as streamlined and usually the same people may perform more than one of the above functions.


1. PLANNING IS KEY: I have learnt that the first step to organising a successful event is good planning. Planning ensures you have covered all grounds. But and always, and I mean ALWAYS, have back-up plans (things don’t always go the way you want them to on events). Plan A, Plan B, and sometimes a Plan C and D will ensure that whatever surprises that might be sprung at the last minute are taken care of. The most essential part of planning, of course, is making those checklists. I’m now so used to making checklists that even in my personal life when I’m planning a trip or a get-together, the first thing I do is put down a checklist. :-)

2. MULTITASKING IS A MUST: When you have a list of a hundred things to do (literally) you have no choice but to multitask. Checking your e-mail while talking on the phone and giving directions, changing channels on television, and eating dinner all at the same time has now become a piece of cake (I’m perfecting the art really).

3. CRISIS MANAGEMENT SKILLS COME IN HANDY: One of the most valuable things I have learnt from event management is how to handle a crisis. Some things are just not in your control and in event management there is no second chance, just like in theatre. When plans A, B, C, or D don’t work and if something goes wrong, a solution needs to be found, however last-minute it is. That’s why it is so important to learn how to handle a crisis, why it is so crucial to understand the situation and look for solutions instead of panicking, which could lead to a nightmarish situation. In my opinion, in most cases the make or break of an event depends largely on the crisis management skills of the event manager.

4. PEOPLE MANAGEMENT SKILLS ARE ALSO NECESSARY: Sometimes in this field, I’m sure like in many other fields, you realise that more than managing the event (which might actually be the easy part), managing the people involved is really the tricky part. Different temperaments, many decision makers, different ideas, different styles of working — sometimes more energy is spent just trying to get the balance right and not rubbing anyone the wrong way. After a bit of practice, though, you get the hang of it :-) (I still have a long way to go on this front). It sure helps in the non-professional field as well.

5. ATTENTION TO DETAIL IS A BIG HELP: Before I got into events, I thought I had an eye for detail. It was only after being thrown into the big bad world of events that I realised just how much I still had to learn. It really is the smallest things sometimes that make the biggest difference. For example, a minute-by-minute flow of the event will actually show you the loopholes that a normal agenda for the event might not. 

Having worked with George P. Johnson, one of the more corporatised agencies, on events for one of the biggest brands in the world, IBM, for close to two-and-a-half years was one of the best learning experiences of my life. It continues to help me work better in my current job with the Brigade Group where I am working on a project that requires me to not only handle the communication, marketing, and events, but also assist in overall project management of India's first experiential music museum coming up in Bangalore. Incidentally the Brigade Group is celebrating its 25th year and I have been given charge of handling the overall celebrations which started in October and will continue till the end of this month.

Being an event management professional is definitely a challenge; it’s not for the faint-hearted. Working long hours, sometimes for days without sleep, can get quite stressful. But the satisfaction of having completed a successful event is a different high altogether. One thing’s for sure: you work on something different every day, as no two events are the same. It’s one hell of a roller-coaster ride, which you just have to enjoy.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why the Kindle Fire is the best thing since sliced bread for book-lovers (a Facebook conversation)

What am I reading on my Kindle Fire now?
 ·  · 

    • Sanhita Ghosh Congrats! Party! :D
      Friday at 1:50pm · 

    • Shiv Sujir So you have moved on to the 'e' side.
      Friday at 2:22pm ·  ·  1

    • Sharat Sareen is it good to use?? better than ipad for books??
      Friday at 4:03pm · 

    • Ramesh Prabhu Well, Sharat, I found the Kindle Fire to be the right size to read books on -- isn't the iPad a tad unwieldy to hold comfortably (like you would hold a book)? As for the reading experience itself, after just a few days of reading books and graphic novels on the Fire, it seems so natural now to turn on the Fire, tap on the image of the work I want to read, and keep tapping pages to move forward or back.

      I can choose from a variety of fonts, increase the font size of the text, go to maps (in the book about Cleopatra, for example) and pinch-zoom to view details. And, of course, I can tap on a word to get the definition instantly from the built-in dictionary.

      Saturday at 10:52am · 

    • Ramesh Prabhu Also, I can highlight text, add notes, bookmark pages. I think all these conveniences truly add to the pleasure of reading a book on the Fire.
      Saturday at 10:53am · 

    • Sharat Sareen Do the eyes get tired after sometime or is it just like reading a book?
      Saturday at 11:30am · 

    • Ramesh Prabhu No, not at all, Sharat. I can adjust the brightness to suit the light around me. And I can increase the size of the text to the point where I don't need to wear my reading glasses. Isn't that amazing?
      Yesterday at 10:58am · 

    • Ramesh Prabhu If you want to read about how the Kindle Fire stacks up against the iPad, here's an illuminating article from the Wall Street Journal:
      Yesterday at 11:01am · 

UPDATE (June 26, 2013): The Kindle is now available on Amazon's India store. Here are the reviews, from today's Mint, of the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle FireHD: "Here come the Kindles".

What it takes to be an IT journalist

Commits alumnus Ayushman Baruah (Class of 2008) is the Principal Correspondent of InformationWeek, reporting out of Bangalore. Here he gives us insights into “technology journalism”:


I have been working as an IT journalist with InformationWeek for close to two years now. Prior to this, I was working with The Financial Express, also covering the IT industry. So, since I graduated from Commits, all my experience in journalism has been in covering technology, or, precisely, the business value of technology — which is also the tagline of InformationWeek.

As the Principal Correspondent of InformationWeek India, I am responsible for covering news in the technology sector across South India. As is well-known, Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India and there is no better place to be an IT journalist. Most of the top companies, Indian as well as MNCs, are headquartered in Bangalore.

My regular work largely comprises the following: 

1. Writing news stories for InformationWeek online. 

2. Writing in-depth cover stories, news analyses, and case studies for the print and online editions

3. Interviewing industry decision makers: CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, and heads of “verticals”. 

4. Covering press conferences and global (overseas) events. 

5. Building and maintaining excellent working relationships with IT decision-makers, mainly CIOs. 

6. Most important, keeping a close watch on all IT companies and IT trends.

How different or similar is IT journalism from mainstream journalism? The basics of reporting, writing and ethics are the same. I guess the core difference lies in the subject matter. Here, you need to have an interest in technology, and you must also understand and appreciate the business aspects involved. Some of it could be inherent; some of it can be learnt. Also, IT journalism requires less legwork and physical labour. In fact, I often term it as “white-collar” journalism. And I love the term as much as I love the profession.

As an IT journalist, you travel around the world, stay in five-star hotels, and get an opportunity to meet some of your dream corporate honchos. For instance, I have met Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Warren Buffett, Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani… the list goes on. I know many journalists get to meet them and some might also feel it is “no big deal”, but I beg to differ. We are perhaps one of the 0.0000001% of the world’s population getting to meet them. Not everyone gets this opportunity. So I think we should capitalise on this opportunity and try to learn from their ideologies apart from getting the regular news (which everyone gets). I always make it a point to take that extra step and pick up at least one good trait from these great men.

In summary, I feel a business/IT journalist must have or acquire the following skill sets (the basic skills like ability to write and report are a given): 

1. Ability to grasp new technology terms and jargon.

2. Ability to demystify jargon and write in simple English. There is a direct correlation between writing in clear and simple language and a sound understanding of the subject. You can’t explain to your readers what you don’t understand yourself.

3. Ability to analyse numbers (financial statements of listed companies).

 4. Ability to look beyond what is in the press release. Corporate press releases will only provide information the company wants publicised and they will usually hype up the company’s products and services. So one must read between the lines to get more information and ask the tough questions.

5. Be up-to-date with the trends in the market. You must read business papers and technology magazines regularly.

6. Ability to be unbiased when writing about a company that has just taken you on a junket (familiarity trip). 

7. Ability to listen to long lectures about a particular company or product but digest only what is relevant. 

8. Last, I think IT journalists need to develop their own domain expertise and differentiate themselves from the crowd. There are too many people doing too many similar things. You need to be different!

A NOTE ABOUT INFORMATIONWEEK: The magazine, which has been present in the U.S. for about 30 years, is the business technology market’s foremost multimedia brand. Globally, InformationWeek reaches almost 4.5 lakh business technology professionals at more than 2.5 lakh unique locations. Its mission is to help CIOs and IT executives define and frame their business technology objectives. It is published by LSE (London Stock Exchange)-listed United Business Media (UBM) group. The India edition, both print and online, was started in April 2010 and it has gained significant readership already.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What it means to be a corporate communications professional-1

Commits alumna TERESA ASHA ALEXANDER (Class of 2007) has been working in internal communications at Wipro, Bangalore, for four years now. Here she discusses her work and explains what it means to be a corporate communications professional:

First off, let me describe what exactly it is that I’m in charge of. I’m a part of Wipro’s internal communications team called Channel W, which is also the name of our internal portal. I create content for our intranet site, which consists of organisational announcements, “micro” sites managed by the various teams within Wipro, and our online features magazine, Odyssey. My work primarily revolves around Odyssey and the micro site Eco-Eye, which is Wipro’s environmental CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and awareness site.


My work for Eco-Eye includes preparing articles and slideshows on subjects related to the environment. To make my life easier, I’ve created broad topics such as Energy, Water, and Biodiversity. Every two weeks I write, get the articles edited, and then upload an article or slideshow under one heading.

I also talk to people who head Eco-Eye teams across Wipro in Bangalore and internationally and find out what Wipro is doing for the environment. For example, when our Eco-Eye team in Hyderabad cleaned up Manikonda Lake, I created a micro site on Eco-Eye that detailed weekly updates about what was being done, the people behind the initiative, and photographs of the work done.

There are, within Wipro, people who are doing what they can for the environment on an individual basis. I talk to these people and profile the work they’re doing.

If there are environment experts or celebrities in town, I try to schedule interviews with them or have them come over for a talk at Wipro. I also organise film screenings and, to facilitate that task, I’m in touch with various NGOs and filmmakers.

The point of Eco-Eye is essentially to spread awareness about the state of the environment and to keep members involved and motivated by sharing best practices across geographies. Green is the next big thing in the corporate world and Eco-Eye gives Wipro a head start.

Odyssey is Wipro’s online features magazine, which is a platform for our techies to learn about the happenings in Wipro and in the world at large, and also take a break.

Big initiatives like Wipro’s annual marathon or small ones like the corporate sports tournaments that Wipro participates in and wins, are written about and the people profiled by me. I handle the interviews, the sports and arts reports as well as the chat sections in Odyssey.


We think of people to interview, get in touch with them via their websites or any contact information we might have, pursue them relentlessly, and finally get an interview, either face-to-face, on the phone, or over e-mail. I then edit and upload the text. It can be a long drawn-out process with people taking time to respond or not getting back at all.

My technical team has created from scratch a chat tool that we use to help people talk to employees. Wipro is a huge company and sometimes people have no idea what is happening with top management and vice versa. Our chat tool is a simple way for, say, the CEO to talk online to employees. Even the heads of the various verticals within Wipro use the tool to communicate new strategies and policies. My job here is to be the chat facilitator. So if the head of Information Systems (the team Channel W falls under), wants to talk to all his teams, they come to me with a request, I get the links and pages created, and then, on the day, go over and help them use the chat tool. Once a chat is completed, I edit and upload the transcript, always making sure that the homepage reflects the latest chats.


This is basically features writing. I come up with ideas for articles, slideshows, and quizzes to be “converted” to features under each section and I’m evaluated on the feedback and footfall each article receives. Accordingly, I need to ensure the section’s homepage is constantly updated with new content, which I need to create.


To sum up, Internal Communications is primarily about employee engagement. It is one of the many tools that organisations employ to keep their employees motivated and connected, especially in a company as large as Wipro.

What I’ve learnt over my last four years at Wipro

1. Know your audience
No matter how well you write, no one is going to read something they are not interested in. Always actively seek feedback because that will give you an idea of who your audience is. The better you know them, the better the ideas you come up with, which means that you get more positive feedback, which ultimately equals a better appraisal session.

2. Learn to listen 
When you have to liaise with various people within an organisation, from senior management to the average Joe, your listening skills are very important. Ask pertinent questions which will come to you if you have been listening closely. You will make a positive impression on the person who will return to you in the future for similar requirements. Remember that you are the spokesperson for your team, so dress well and put your cell phones on silent. Again, positive feedback about you is always a good thing when it comes to appraisal time.

3. Learn the technicalities

All our uploads and the maintenance of the various micro sites are made possible through our Content Management System, Typo3. Jhoomla and Druple are two other CMS tools in the market. I had to learn to use the tool and today I am considered the most proficient among the members of the content team! It is important that you know your CMS tool as that way you have complete control over a written piece of work from start to finish.

4. Take complete ownership
The Channel W team consists of a content team, a design team, and a technical team. If you say you’re going to do something, treat it as your baby; for example, one article needs people from content (we do write the article!), design (to decide the look and feel of the page), and technical to work on it together. Sometimes the design team or the technical team has a heavy workload, so it is up to you to follow up with them and push them to meet your deadlines.

5. Mistakes are inevitable
We all fumble and sometimes we make serious mistakes. Apologise and correct them immediately. While it is easy to get frazzled and not take any action, I’ve learnt that the faster you correct your mistake, the more you will be appreciated. Or at the very least, not yelled at that much!

6. Find out what other companies are doing
I know that Wipro’s intranet is unique as I have friends in Infy and CTS and TCS who talk to me about their work. Through our conversations, we each have learnt what the other company is doing, which is a godsend when you need to come up with that next big idea!

7. Learn how to deal with office politics
Nothing is certain but death and taxes… and office politics! It is a historical fact that when two or more people come together, someone’s always going to say “You’ve got the bigger apple, why is that?” Experience has taught me this about office politics: ignorance is usually bliss. Try to maintain good relations with all around you and when there are conflicts, sometimes just yelling a little at each other helps.

8. Internal Communications is about organising yourself
Sometimes you’ll have a chat, interview, and article deadline all on the same day. I find it extremely helpful to write a to-do list for the week and then one for each day so that you can keep ticking off things that you have completed. Ditto for processes; for example, an internal chat has one set of rules to be followed and an external chat has a different set of rules. If you have two separate checklists, then you minimise your margin of error.

9. Prioritise your clients

You have internal (within your team) and external (outside your team) clients, and you have to prioritise your work accordingly. You will deal with demanding external clients who have no idea about how you do the work you do, and ask for seemingly absurd results. Learn how to placate them and tell them what best you can offer them. Try not to create a situation where your manager has to step in as that usually means that your client has escalated matters because they are unsatisfied.

All-in-all, internal communications can be really interesting as you get to meet interesting people within your organisation and learn about what they do and why they do it. You also have your finger on the pulse of the organisation and are sometimes privy to information before anyone else, which is exciting. You get to explore your creativity and learn about how much you really understand the people in your organisation and their culture, which is essential, after all, to being a good internal communications professional.

What it takes to be a TV news anchor

Commits alumna FAYE D'SOUZA (Class of 2004) is the assistant editor of personal finance at ET Now in Mumbai. She also anchors the "Investors' Guide" show on the channel. Here she gives television news aspirants helpful advice on what it takes to be a news anchor:

I will not pretend to know how to become an anchor on a television news channel; I am just a product of a series of events in my life that brought me here. Even so, I don’t consider myself an “anchor” as much as I consider myself a journalist presenting the show I work on is just one part of the job I do.

Nevertheless, I have put down some pointers that I hope might help those of you who see anchoring as a career choice.

There are two parts to being an anchor: content and presentation. Let’s start with the former.

There are several people who might lead you to believe that looking good is enough to become an anchor, and it probably is, but it’s not enough to keep the job. If you watch television news regularly you will know that the strongest and most respected anchors are those who are experts in their respective fields, specialists. Looks fade, knowledge and experience don’t.

READ at least seven newspapers every morning and scan updates on the internet right through the day. There is no excuse for being ill-informed in this business. Other than news, it helps to read whatever you can get your hands on. History, literature, the classics, the contemporary, art, music, even culinary books. It helps tremendously to be well-informed.

WRITE: Make a habit of writing your own scripts and run-downs. It will build your credibility as an anchor.

RESEARCH: Always be prepared. Find out everything there is to know about the guests on your show, about the stories you lead into, and the subject matter of your show.

Don’t confuse presentation with good looks. As I have noted above, looking good is temporary. But diction, clarity, and enunciation are not. Thankfully there are some tricks you can use to work on your presentation:

When you are reading those seven newspapers every morning, read them out loud. Become comfortable reading aloud in front of other people. If you are embarrassed by the sound of your own voice or you have trouble reading fluently, then anchoring is not going to come easily to you.

RECORD YOUR VOICE: We all think we know what we sound like, until we hear our voices played back. Make notes of the areas in which your voice falls short, the words you are having trouble pronouncing, and the problems you have with breathing while you read. Once you have a handle on your problems, speak to your teachers about them. Commits has the good fortune of having an accomplished voice trainer in none other than Ranita Ma’am, the dean, who can work wonders in this area.

WATCH YOURSELF: Make many tapes of yourself anchoring, watch them later when you are free to be your greatest critic. Make notes of the problems with your body language, facial expressions, and posture. Remember: an anchor needs to build a relationship of trust with viewers; a fidgety, nervous anchor will have no luck.

BE WELL TURNED OUT: Make sure your hair is always done, your face clean, and your clothes neat. Especially when you are not in the studio. You have to see yourself as on-air material before anyone else does. Start to look after your appearance now.

UPDATE: On November 1, 2015, Faye D'Souza launched a new channel for the Times Group, "Magic Bricks Now".


UPDATE (December 13, 2017): Earlier this year, Magic Bricks Now was rebranded as Mirror Now, a general news channel helmed by Faye D'Souza, who has been drawing praise from all quarters for her superb performance as journalist and anchor. Yesterday TV news legend Barkha Dutt tweeted this photo (see below). Her post read: "One for the album. I brought together Salma Sultan, Dolly Thakore, myself and @fayedsouza at @WeTheWomenAsia #WeTheWomen."


Also read:
  • Want to know how to have a successful internship at a TV news channel? Read this post.  
UPDATE (May 4, 2015): Veteran journalist Aakar Patel wrote an interesting piece recently in Mint Lounge on TV anchors he has interacted with. Read the article here: "The art and whimsy of being a TV anchor".