A Letter to the Editor – From an Ardent PR Practitioner

Dear Editor (or whatever they call you nowadays, as where’s the editing),

It’s quite a toast to possibly the best of Shakespearean tragedies or possibly an ode to Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, as the drama and histrionics in the spectacle called NEWS on most channels in India is reaching new and hitherto unexplored levels of hysteria.

Not unlike what was Star Trek’s signature line–to boldly go where no man has gone before, which anyway is quite de rigueur (compulsory) in plain English for say India TV, as they often take us to new nadirs of bizarreness in what they show. They did show us aliens living on the moon and an expose on the enigmatic Yeti in the plains of Chambal, as you see he walked over from the Himalayas to warmer climes… now I’m wondering as a simple public relations practioner,  “WHERES THE NEWS?

Do we make a mistake somewhere when we want to talk about say company XYZ which has invested $5 million in say primary education in India. But that is not news, as who cares whether Indian kids get educated or not, but if we’ve got to talk about kids, let’s stick to Shah Rukh’s, Akshay’s, Aamir’s (err, though a bit older, but how does it matter as they are still star kids), or now the latest addition to the firmament, Ash’s beti, who will soon be deified by every channel, if they ever get to shoot the kid, metaphorically and literally. Now you see the whole of India is waiting with bated breath to catch a glimpse of the little miss universe in waiting (albeit a bit later).

We then move on to four or five similar bulletins to do with filmstars, Bollywood gossip, star power, what they are eating, what they inaugurated yesterday, the day before, the whole week, last week, last month, and all the time…as if we didn’t know which star inaugurated the latest Dior or Ferrari boutique in Mumbai or Delhi, we are going to be left behind on the latest news. Though completely irrelevant that this caters to only a group of well-rounded, happy, shiny, well-heeled (read Karan Joharesque) people who generally lunch.

So we in the PR industry are all waiting to land an account (client or business in plain speak) which is either Bollywood, though Amitabh Bachachan has very gravely told us that it’s the Hindi Film Industry, a cricket team (if an IPL one you’ve hit the jackpot), a businessman who has oodles of money to throw, a controversial political party or leader (though that does make news) or a glitzy, glamorous, ritzy awards night.

Now on awards night, man what’s to rave and rant about, as each channels with their sagging TRPs, not unlike bosoms, want to outshout each other and we are treated to a zillion permutations and combinations on different channels on Indian of the year, International NRI of the year, best mutual fund, best state, best bank, best politician (ahem, isn’t that a travesty usually) businessmen of the year, best kid of the year, and the gazziliion Bollywood award shows. So now we may soon see best villain (rapist, murderer), best train mishap, best road, best bridge, best Municipal official, best NGO (and will they party) etc. These understandably will make for huge news, as the one’s already in the fray already do and we will want public relations accounts of say people like Pappu Yadav, who may make it as the longest-serving politician in jail of the decade and soon have company from Kalmadi, Raja, Kanimozhi et al. Quite a list, oh yes, in the autumn of his life, Sukh Ram may win it and that be another prime time news bulletin.

However, to be fair, we do understand that there may be merit of some kind in what dribble usually masquerades for news, but clearly some of us miss the point.

Recently, India TV alluded to heights of shame, of Aishwarya Rai Bachchans Bei B being Amitabh’s kid and they were that evening running an expose at 9 p.m. on their channel. Now who would have spoken; the maid who made the bed, or cleaned it after a night of revelry, err Jaya or Abhishek, or let’s say the watchman, in case they have someone inside the house who saw this nefarious activity take place, and saw one sneak into the room of the other, though their respective spouses would be sharing the rooms. So how is the expose coming to light? Maybe India TV spoke to the IVF doctors or for that matter the sperm who won the race, to tell us who it belongs to…but news it does make, as possibly many viewers were hooked on by the promos that promised such a juicy, breaking news item.

Oh yes, and possibly the poster boy of the millennium for Indian TV channels, Anna Hazare. Now where would the channels be without him, or even Ramdev, as then how do we have those long, dreary, and boring debates on the future of India, corruption, the PM, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi’s air tickets, possibly Anna Hazare’s laundry bills, Arvind Kejriwal’s mobile bill, IAC’s general bills, and the lack of transparency at IAC’s end etc.

By the way who cares whether the inauguration of Mayawati’s ode to herself, Kanshi Ram, and Mummy-Daddy cost the country 685 crores and the Supreme Court meets Rashtrapati Bhawan meets White House edifice is still standing tall and proud. Doubt if the Allahabad High Court will have the guts to order a razing to the ground of this wondrous building, like the Delhi High Court did a few years ago of the sealing of unauthorized buildings. That may actually make news… but weirdly enough haven’t seen too many stories about the same, other than the glitzy inaugural ceremony, where the lady with the ubiquitous handbag cut the ribbon. It may have displayed some backbone, strong will and courage if all channels had been brazen and bold enough to obliterate the same and mention it as an afterthought, if necessary.

So, dear editor do tell us hapless PR spin doctors, and also the hapless viewers, who’s actually spinning a yarn?

With warm regards and hopes to make it on your channel one day,

Aseem Bhargava

Senior Spin Doctor


To contact the writer, please email us at admin[at]imagemanagement.in

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