Monday, May 11, 2009

Follow your heart


ASHOK K SHARMA, ENTREPRENEUR, AUTHOR AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR (INFORMATION), U.P. GOVERNMENT: What made you choose the PR line?
DALE: I was first attracted to the glamour and glitz, so I ventured into entertainment journalism. Then, after eight years as a journalist, I realised I was getting stagnated. I started looking for an alternate profession, when I realised PR is one that is very close to journalism, as I would be practically dealing with the same media people who were my colleagues as a journalist. But to be honest, it was the monies that PR offered that attracted me more and more towards it. I felt, while journalism was a profession, PR was a business. I wasn’t wrong.

ASHOK K SHARMA: So how did you kickstart your career in PR?
DALE: In 1997, there was this big Naval awards event on the decommissioned ship; the historical INS Vikrant. This event was to have participation from a lot of film celebrities. But the event management agency handling it, were not able to take care of the PR side of it. There were just 3-4 days left, when they asked me if I could take over and offered me good monies. I told them, I was a journalist and knew all the people of my fraternity in mainstream media; so I could try to get my friends to attend. They agreed and I slogged for the next three days and did my best. The event finally received a huge media turnout and front page coverage in most of the top line papers the next day. That’s the time I realised I could do PR too and quite effectively. Same week, I decided to shift gears from journalism to public relations and started the process. I have a particular style of working which only works for me. And that gives a niche.

ASHOK K SHARMA: What is your average day like?
DALE: Actually, there is no rule. It completely depends on my schedule, which varies from day to day, mostly depending on the assignments I’m working on. 

ASHOK K SHARMA: You look smart, fit, pleasant and happy. Do you gym? Or are you into yoga? What is your fitness mantra?
DALE: Thanks for the compliment. But I rarely exercise, unless I’m with a girlfriend (wink). Though, I’m a lot into right eating habits… greens, naturopathy and stuff. I live in a colony at Madh Island, a little away from the regular hustle-bustle and pollution (and that includes smoke and noise) of Mumbai. The fresh sea breeze and lots of raw veggies, fruits and dry fruits keeps me going at my maddening pace. And I love to take on more and more work all the time. But at the sam,e time I’m a big foodie. I love Biryani, Dum Aloo Amritsari and vegetables like Dill and Spinach. At times, I indulge myself with gourmet pizzas, pastas, rolls and cheesy dips. Basically, I love good food. 

ASHOK K SHARMA: Can you briefly explain the way you spend your time every day?
DALE: When I’m not on my comp, I’m out doing appointments or watching movies at trial shows or on DVD. And if I get time in between, I hang out at Indian or Italian eateries with my friends. Most of my friends have crazier are busier schedules than mine, so many a times, I just land up at their offices and pull them out with me. They hate me for doing that, but by the end of the evening they thank me for the same. I am pretty unstoppable if I really want to do something madly. My best friends have always known me like that so they don’t mind much.

 ASHOK K SHARMA: Have you thought about doing PR for politicians? Has anybody approached you so far? What would be your prescription, if any infamous politician wants you to handle or guide his PR operations?
DALE: Nowadays most politicians are infamous for something or the other. But I’d like to handle Narendra Modi because I feel I can do wonders for him to increase his popularity with the youth. He is immensely popular in Gujarat, but the time has come when he has to go national. The wave of passion (the kind that people of his state show for him) has to spread all over the country, if he has to outdo his competitors at a national level. I also feel Raj Thackeray has achieved what he wanted to achieve with the entire hullabaloo we saw last year. He got free media mileage worth crores of rupees but failed to translate it into something constructive. I really feel, he desperately needs a media manipulator like me. Yes, you heard it right! I AM a manipulator and I have no qualms in admitting that. Because manipulating, creating and moulding perceptions, is my JOB.
ASHOK K SHARMA: Has any PR expert inspired you?
DALE: Yes, I do keep a track of international entertainment PRs like the notorious Max Clifford, Madonna’s gossip-churning publicist Liz Rosenberg, subtle self-branding maestro Glenn Selig, Jackie Cooper of JCPR, Lee Solters, Matthew Freud, Roland Rudd, the flamboyant Lizzie Grubman, the sharp and smart Marcus Brewster, the fearful iron-lady Pat Kingsley, the ‘News of the World’ editor-turned-PR Andy Coulson and ‘media futurist’ Gerd Leonhard. 


ASHOK K SHARMA: Any message for the youngsters aspiring to follow your footsteps?
DALE: Certainly, I’d like to tell them all, not to follow me but to follow their hearts. This little quality could take them places; even ahead of me.

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