Mediaah! Remembering Charu & PR disaster for Tatas

05 Jul,2013

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

I always had admiration for Charu (as Charudatta Deshpande was known to friends). This was because he had made the perfect switch from a being a senior journalist (and who wasn’t really floundering as one) to corporate communications.

 

Having failed at doing so twice over, I asked him how he managed the transition, and how it was dealing with journalists who one wouldn’t care much about had he been on this side of the fence. Or dealing with corporate bosses who don’t care much about the news media and think everyone’s ‘buyable’.

 

Save a few occasions, our paths didn’t cross professionally over the last decade or so, but our relations were always cordial. Since he possibly had another view from being part of the corporate sector, I would ask him for his perspective on Maharashtra politics and the state government. At heart he was a journalist, and one with a very sharp mind.

 

Even though the Tatas instituted an enquiry committee with top speed, I am not sure if it will yield any result. If the allegations made against Tata Steel are true, then surely there’s someone right at the top who is behind all that happened. If the PR agency went about on a disinformation drive, then one can be certain it was asked to do so by a top functionary with their client (Tata Steel).

 

While the group’s Chief Ethics Officer Mukund Rajan is reportedly no-nonsense and one can expect fairplay from Ishaat Hussain, will they publicly indict a Tata Steel biggie if the need arises?

 

**

 

For the Tatas, it’s a huge PR disaster, and if I were with the PR agency handling the group and the Tata Steel business, I would be worried about being delivered the sack.

 

The Tatas have carefully built an image which could see no wrong in employee care and welfare. This has taken a huge beating.

 

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A severe cold held me back from being at the Press Club Mumbai condolence meet for Charu on Wednesday. You don’t find too many senior journalists and corporate execs writing letters to big business captains. And even if they do, these don’t find their way to the media. While the Tatas may not be in the same bracket, corporates are not known to take very kindly to their reputation being questioned in public. It’s also nice to see an ICICI executive director and an L&T corp comm manager sticking their neck out for Charu, albeit in their personal capacities. My salute to all of them.

 

Pradyuman Maheshwari is Editor-in-Chief, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own

 

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One response to “Mediaah! Remembering Charu & PR disaster for Tatas”

  1. Sumana says:

    Mr Maheshwari, internally all ICICI employees are surprised to see the kindness of Mr Ram Kumar who did not even bother to organise a condolence meeting to mourn Charu’s sudden demise, there was not even a single email internally in ICICI to condole the incident and last but not the least he made public announcement of being benevolent to offer Charu’s son – an engineer a job with bank (internally they don’t allow ex-employees to rejoin!). Ram Kumar need not have announced this job offer! ICICI employees are disgruntled with him. All he said to press or that letter was a whitewash!

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