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Monday, June 19, 2017

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE
A SPORTS PUBLICIST

SUHASINI MITRA AT WORK
By Suhasini Mitra
Class of 2013
Sports PR, PlayRight, Bengaluru

When I was at Commits, I wanted nothing more than to become a sports journalist. All my efforts were dedicated to writing about sport, be it in the college newspaper, in my class assignments, or in my news bulletin story for which I got an exclusive with former badminton ace Prakash Padukone (yes, Deepika Padukone's father)!

But as life would have it, I ended up becoming a sports publicist  not that I am complaining, oh no!

So what does it mean to be a sports publicist? To put it in the simplest terms, I get athletes and sporting brands and organisations to feature in the various forms of media: print, online, and electronic. I am a storyteller for my clients and my aim is to get them out there.

It all looks easy when you handle athletes like Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, javelin world-record holder Neeraj Chopra, South African cricket star AB de Villiers, but some days that involve 16 hours of back-breaking work are tough.


SUHASINI WITH A.B. DE VILLIERS AND SAKSHI MALIK.
A COLLECTION OF SUHASINI'S MEDIA ACCREDITATION CARDS.

It is the challenges, though, that keep me going every day. During these four years at PlayRight, even when I have worked months without weekends, there hasn't been a single day when I have woken up and gone, "Ugh, office again." Honestly for me it is a case of doing what I love and loving what I do. 

Let me take you to a time when I was among the last of my classmates to get a job. That was a difficult period for me, as you can imagine, but I had made up my mind to become a sports journalist, and I was willing to compromise on my dreams only if I got to stay in sport. I went to 18 job interviews, got rejected by 11  some because I have a severe stuttering problem and some because I just wasn't lucky enough, I guess. But mostly it all happened for the best. They say it's always darkest before the dawn. So true. Just as I was about to give up and go home, PlayRight came along.

PlayRight built me up, day by day, piece by piece, and call by call. My boss, Nayantara Pani, told me to look beyond the stammer and get things done by talking. Today I am happy I took the advice because not only have I worked with some of the biggest names in the country, but sports journalists across the country know my name. My personal relationships often govern how many of my stories get picked up. Of course, forging these relationships has taken a lot of effort and almost two years. Being on call till 11 p.m., assisting journalists and clients in ways that went beyond what my role required, taking their feedback in the right spirit  these are a few things that helped me get it right.

Finally, if you are thinking of becoming a publicist, forget the glamour involved  that is a very small part of my job. Envision a future for your client, believe you can get there, and be prepared to give it your all. At times, go beyond the "all". Remember a story well told is always a memory embossed.


SUHASINI HANDING OVER A PRIZE TO ONE OF THE WINNING TEAMS AT A FAREWELL PARTY ORGANISED BY THE FIRST YEARS FOR THE CLASS OF 2017 AT COMMITS LAST MONTH.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Exploring the Northeast: my travel blog

IT'S A WHOLE NEW WORLD OUT THERE!


Manipur: Floating islands, navigating a "phumdi", a tribute to the fallen, mythical dragons, a live concert... click here.

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Assam: Rhinos, rustic chic, the world's biggest river island, traditional dances, tribal culture, a dinner cruise on the mighty Brahmaputra... click here.

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Meghalaya: Living Root Bridge, Asia's cleanest village, the wettest place on earth, Mawsmai Cave... click here.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

How grit can make you successful in your career

How important is the grit factor? Grit, defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals, isn't something you are born with. It can be learned. Here's how:

LISTEN TO THESE TWO FASCINATING PODCASTS

1. Hidden Brain, hosted by Shankar Vedantam (here you can listen to this particular episode, download the podcast, and read the transcript)


2. Freakonomics Radio, hosted by Stephen J. Dubner  click on this link: How to Get More Grit in Your Life.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

If newspapers die, what would happen to allied media fields? What would happen to, say, PR and advertising?

THE NOTE I SENT OUT TO MY STUDENTS JUST NOW:

Hindustan Times is shutting down its Kolkata edition as well as its editions in Ranchi, Bhopal, and Indore. Details here.
One of the reasons could be a decline in circulation followed by a decrease in ad revenue.
Young people (including media students, some of whom get as much as Rs.5,000 a month as pocket money) refuse to pay as little as four or five rupees to buy a newspaper. Could this be the reason for a decline in circulation?


I urge you to consider what would happen if newspapers and magazines all over the country were to suffer the fate of HT's Kolkata, Ranchi, Bhopal, and Indore editions.
If newspapers die, what would happen to allied media fields? What would happen to, say, PR and advertising?
What would happen to journalism?
Do use your imagination to consider what would happen to your career in the future.
And please think about buying at least one newspaper every day. And persuade your friends to do so too.
Best wishes,
RP

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UPDATE (January 17, 2017)

Death of a newspaper: Read this piece on The Hoot, which describes how HT's Bhopal edition was "slowly stifled before it was shut down earlier this week"  A requiem for the Hindustan Times, Bhopal.


UPDATE (January 19, 2017)

There is already blood on the floor of one of the last bastions of print media in the world. Major national dailies are shutting editions, laying off staff, slashing costs, and freezing expansions and investments. Smaller papers have been doing this for the last five years. Worse is to come if taxes are raised under the GST regime, if the damaging two-month impact of demonetisation persists in this quarter and the next, and if the government does not at least part-discontinue the wage board.

That is an excerpt from a hard-hitting edit in The Times of India today. Read the column in its entirety here: Indian newspaper industry: Red ink splashed across the bottom line  Hard-hit by factors beyond its control, print media needs reasonable tax and labour policies.

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UPDATE (January 30, 2017)

WHY THE GUARDIAN WANTS YOU TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION:





Friday, January 6, 2017

Can you write a three-word intro? Do three-word intros work?

Here is the three-word intro Sam Borden wrote for a golf story in The New York Times:
It was in.


To understand why it is a great intro, you will need to read a little bit more. But don't take my word for it. Instead let a master, the man I consider my journalism guru, Roy Peter Clark, guide you through the story's spectacular structure. Here is Clark's post: Want a lesson in focusing your writing? Read this hole-in-one lead.

PS: Marvel too at the nut graf in the original news report  again, just three words.

  • Learn more about Roy Peter Clark: The power of writing. Commits students can also borrow from our library three wonderful books written by Clark: Help! for Writers, How to Write Short, and The Glamour of Grammar.
  • On New Year's Eve, Roy Peter Clark retired from Poynter, a legendary journalism institute. His first piece since retirement was published six days later: 40 things I learned about the writing craft in 40 years. There are so many great points on the list, these three especially:

8. Tools not rules: We could think of writing as carpentry, learning how to use a set of tools. Rules were all about what is right and what is wrong. Tools are all about cause and effect, what we build for the audience.

9. Reports vs. stories: Reading scholar Louise Rosenblatt described a distinction I adapted to journalism: that reports were crafted to convey information — pointing you there. Stories were about vicarious experience, a form of transportation — putting you there. 

19. Emphatic word order: The journalist with news judgment decides what is most interesting or most important. That judgment can be conveyed in word order, placing the key words at the beginning or end. Not “The Queen is dead, my lord.” But “The Queen, my lord, is dead.”