As part of the communication industry, all professionals admit the need to stay connected all the time, literally. Image Management finds out from top communications professionals which gadgets they can’t live without. While they share the gadgets indispensable to them, they reveal their apprehension when not plugged on flights, anticipation of withdrawal symptoms, and candid confessions for the need to take a break, stop and reflect.
Even though it might be declining in popularity globally, Blackberry– with its handy messenger and keyboard — emerges as extremely popular among communications professionals.
Yusuf Hatia, Senior Vice President, Fleishman Hillard : Blackberry and my laptop. I’ve not switched off my laptop the last 5 or 6 days. It is constantly plugged for battery. I can’t remember exactly the last time when I physically logged off unless the battery was low or while getting on a flight. I keep it running nowadays and the phenomenon is quite new.
I started out couple of years ago with a desktop, where at 6’o clock it was switched and the work didn’t follow one home, because one didn’t have Blackberry and mobile phones were very limited. The day ended where you switched off your desktop, laptops were rare those days. Then came laptops, where one is still physically shutting it down and conserving the battery, but now it’s always on.
If the laptop is not on then the blackberry is on, and if the blackberry is not on, then the mobile is on. I don’t think it ever really switches off. I wake up and there are emails coming in from Hong Kong, Singapore and they would carry on till late into the night. My last conference call usually ends up by 10 -11’o clock, because we have clients in San Francisco and it is morning for them. Then, early in the morning, one checks in their blackberry what they have missed. I think that’s the difficult part of our work, it is literally 24/7.
All Omnicom agencies use HP laptops, which are fine to do the job and Blackberry phone for their keyboard. The keyboard allows for faster typing than the touch. I don’t like using iPhone or touch phones for other than messages. I carry a mobile phone and a blackberry separately because I think when I first came here the number port wasn’t around. And the benefit of having two gadgets is that an individual is not relying on one. I think the panic moment is when on a flight and the knowledge that I can’t be contacted and I can’t contact anyone.
I used to work with British Airways where we were legally bound to be always in contact, in case of an emergency or flight landing, so we were always in that mindset. Their team called us once in a month about 2-3’o clock in the morning just to check for response. Once or twice a year we were physically required to get out of your bed, open up the manual and read out the statement to have that in mind. So we are never allowed to sleep, we live in a constant fear.
Roma Balwani, Chief Group Communications Officer, Mahindra Group : Being in a profession that requires communication all the time , I leverage technology very effectively. Right from an iPhone to iPad to Mac, all these really help me. I’ve been all over the world, on top of the job on any crisis because of all the gadgets that I have and I’m completely connected. Sometimes I take it a little too far. I need to work on taking step back and have my own personal time. We are always plugged in, and Mr. Mahindra told us recently that we must stop and reflect.
I have 36 years of experience. There is both motivation and celebration within this organization. This company allows one to unleash their potential and it has the softer aspects, it is caring. The way they do CSR, the way they do volunteering, they don’t force one to do anything but they create an atmosphere to do that. They are very particular about their carbon footprints, every small thing, they will say switch off the light, a very small thing but it is a kind of culture. If an organization sets the culture right I think nothing stops a professional. I, for myself, just need to pause and reflect a little bit and not be too wired.
Yuvraj Mehta, Vice President & Group Head – Corporate Communications at Reliance Infrastructure Limited : I need myBlackberry and my tab. These are the two things I’m always with. Because as a communication professional I have to be connected 24/7, and I still find many of the PR agencies are not connected 24/7.
My last PR agency didn’t even have Blackberry and they didn’t work on weekends and one can’t expect a crisis to not happen on Sundays, especially when working with a company as big as Reliance. I have told them several times to get a Blackberry and activate the messenger but they say “We’re not that rich”. Because of such behavior, I indefinitely had to work on weekends on my own, because my company believes in many of the Sunday press conferences. There are stories which come out on Mondays on which we work on Saturdays and Sundays. The PR agency professionals would switch off their phones, and I’m talking about all the big names. I finally let go of them.
Dilnaz Anklesaria, Associate Vice President – Corporate Communications at Castrol India Limited : I rely on my iPad. Even though iPod is vital since I love music, but I can’t manage without my iPad.
Lisa Ashworth, CEO, PR Newswire Europe: For work, I depend on my Blackberry, the latest touch screen model. I can type on this quicker than anyone, I’ve yet to find anyone to type quicker than me.
Jaideep Shergill, CEO, MSLGROUP India : Given digital media In today’s world, all services are on 24/7. All our gadgets are important whether it’s iPhone, or iPads, or Blackberry. If we have to live without our gadgets for a few days as PR professionals, I think we will have withdrawal symptoms like people get when they stop drinking or smoking. That’s what happening now with gadgets.
Written by Chaahat Madaan for Image Management