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‘The PR industry expects you to be a smart worker’

Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication alumna Samikhya Patra says it’s imperative to develop strategic thinking skills to succeed in the world of public relations

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Samikhya Patra completed her Post Graduation Diploma in Corporate Communication and Event Management from Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication (AIMC) in 2018. Subsequently, she received a placement opportunity with Edelman, an award-winning global public relations (PR) consultancy firm. The Apeejay alumna describes herself as a passionate storyteller, “I have overachieved on client deliverables and that is one of the key reasons that I have become a Manager within four years of my career. That isn’t something which is common in the PR world.” But when not strategising client campaigns, she loves to unwind herself in the lap of nature, enjoys gardening and spends weekends in her  ‘balcony garden’. In an interview, the Bengaluru-based PR professional shares about her college days and experiences from the PR world. Edited excerpts:

Why did you choose the PR field?

I am a passionate storyteller who finds the field of public relations very interesting. I did my Bachelor’s and Master’s in English. But then I felt that was not enough and so that’s when I decided not to take the usual route of getting into MPhil or pursuing PhD. Since my core interest was in English Literature and I was someone who loved writing and weaving stories out of words so that’s what led me to take up PR. 

How do you think AIMC prepared you for your professional journey?

I got placed in Edelman while I was in AIMC and it’s because of Pijush Sir, Pushpa Ma’am and Jaya Ma’am’s constant mentorship that I got this offer from one of the top global PR firms.  I would say Apeejay helped me land my dream job. It’s because of AIMC I found my true calling in writing. It was not only theoretical but also the practical exposure that I got at the institute which helped me in understanding how the industry functions. 

At Edelman, I have explored my capabilities across various clients. This is my first job. The way my career has shaped so far lies in how my teachers helped me groom in those 10 months of PR programme. The practical exposure that I got while working on brand case studies and during the mock interviews was really helpful. 

Any key learnings from Apeejay

Since the beginning, my teachers at Apeejay always instilled in me that the first initial years of a career should be focused on building strong media relations in the target beat that your client is a part of. That will not only help build relationships with the media but also bring forward your talent and expertise in front of the client as well build trust with them.

Another key learning Pijush Sir always emphasised on was to think out of the box. That has been instilled so firmly in me that any client campaign or a small quarter plan that I develop, I have wired myself in a way that I tend to brainstorm such plans. The client as well as my team members have praised me for the way I think. 

 What kind of assignments and projects did you like working on? 

One of the great accomplishments that I had when I was in Apeejay was driving the PR for the flagship events like Media Chaupal and We Care Film Festival 

And it fills me with immense pride that my teachers had that trust in me to give me such a responsibility. I have honed extraordinary skills that are reflected right now when I am working at Edelman while handling some of the critical clients.  

You specialise in Tech and Consumer PR – what interests you about the field?Any other domain you wish to have clients from?

Right now startups in the edtech space are ruling with platforms like BYJU’S and WhiteHat Jr among many others leading the space. I have a strong inclination to have clients from this sector as well.

Any key tips you wish to share for aspirants planning to pursue a career in PR

Do not get boggled by competing demands in the PR world. It’s because this space is very dynamic. It’s not just about glitz and glamour but chasing strict deadlines and staying updated on what your client does while staying abreast about the sectors your clients are functioning in. Work on nurturing people management skills. Moreover, in the PR world, it’s important to have a strategic bent of mind to stay ahead in the learning curve. So work on developing your strategic thinking skills. Deal with each task by taking one step at a time. Do not stress out yourself. The PR industry expects you to be a smart worker!

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.

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