Amith Prabhu: It’s not about doing the right things, it’s about doing everything right

25 Nov,2013

By Amith Prabhu

 

The headline is a quote I had heard during my internship ten years ago. This was stated by the President of the organization, then the opposition party, I was interning at. The crux of this statement focuses on reputation management. Today’s column helps understand that otherwise complex sentence better.

 

In the past week, Indian media – both social and mainstream was abuzz with two conversations on two men. It may be a bit blasphemous to mention both of them in the same sentence but for purely academic reasons that indeed will happen. While one always did everything right the other portrayed he was doing everything right until an incident that led to all hell breaking loose. The men in question are Sachin Tendulkar and Tarun Tejpal. Though ten years apart in age both have been in their chosen fields for roughly the same time given the former started at 16.

 

Sachin did everything right and almost had a nation mourning when he retired last week. On the other hand, Tarun tried to do the right things or so it seemed until the incident in question erupted leading to a forced retirement and a nation outraged. What sets these two men as cases studies is the fact that they have both been in the news for a long time, always tried to set different standards and younger cricketers and journalists in large parts have looked up to them as torchbearers of their profession.

 

While Tendulkar was and is referred to as God by his fans, Tejpal carefully created a demi God like persona by going after the establishment in his avatar as a media owner. It is important to look at these two individuals from the lens of a Public Relations professional. They both toiled hard in their initial years and were supported by those who admired them including the media. But despite the various scandals and controversies that surrounded the sport of cricket the Little Master was always unblemished. On the day he retired, the Government which had already nominated him a Member of Parliament went ahead and announced that he would be awarded the nation’s highest honour – the Bharat Ratna. Both are considered close to the ruling establishment. The similarities end there.

 

Tejpal had made many enemies on his rise to the top and the recent incident which was badly handled, both by him and his second in command shows that it is important to do everything right, because doing the right things is easy. One gets to pick and choose from various options. But doing everything right would have been in the first place to mind his business. There is an old adage – Take care of your character and your reputation will take care of yourself. If one cannot adhere to this trouble is bound to follow. The right thing to do for Tejpal would have been to surrender to the police instead of sending out the mail that became laughing stock. But that is a hard thing to do. The story will play out for a few more days. India is a nation of short memories. We have seen numerous individuals who have made it to the headlines for the wrong reasons and have been forgotten in order to make way for newcomers who are as notorious.

 

As PR professionals we help brands, organizations and individuals build a solid reputation. While it is easy to advise our clients on doing the right things it takes courage to advise our courage to do everything right. And there is a difference. Sonia Gandhi would not have been in power if she did not mean what she was saying 10 years ago when she was the leader of the opposition.

 

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