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Guest Column: In PR, as in politics, sharpness matters: Parul Sharma

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Guest Column: In PR, as in politics, sharpness matters: Parul Sharma

American journalist Megyn Kelly was trolled on Twitter earlier this month by Indian social media users for a question she posed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi: ‘Are you on Twitter?’

While Kelly's faux pas was a textbook nightmare scenario from a Public Relations perspective, many missed a PR success story tied to the same meeting between Kelly and Prime Minister Modi.

The Umbrella Tweet

 When Mr. Modi along with Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Kelly in St. Petersberg, the Indian Prime Minister remarked: “I saw your tweet..with the umbrella”.

It was to this remark by Modi that Kelly retorted, asking the now infamous "are you on Twitter" question. To give her the benefit of doubt, she was probably surprised how Modi managed to keep himself so up-to-date with what was happening on Twitter even when he was busy in meetings with Putin that day. Reports suggest she had only posted the tweet a little while before her meeting with the leaders.

It’s not uncommon for the teams around global leaders to log in, post or manage their social media accounts. But what sets apart Modi’s team is how tuned in they are to his functioning and how they keep him abreast every step of the way.

While Modi came out looking smart and savvy from that meeting, Kelly came out - well, you know how it turned out. But, if there’s someone who's been getting trolled more than Kelly, it’s clearly US President Donald Trump.

The Covfefe Tweet

On the 132nd day into his presidency, Trump bewildered the entire nation and to a great extent global social media users when he tweeted this:

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe” Twitter post @realDonaldTrump

Needless to say people lapped up the opportunity to spawn a meme factory around the tweet. New York Times wrote about how social media users watched in delirium the tweet, which appeared at 12:06 am, stay on for minutes and then hours without a clarification from the White House before it was finally taken down at 6 am.

Do you see how Modi or his team are faring compared to Trump’s? Modi’s team is winning hands down. To be sure, Mr. Modi has had his share of PR disasters. Remember the bespoke suit he wore while hosting President Barack Obama? Those days his team took its time in charting a recovery course, which it eventually did when the suit was auctioned and the money channeled to social causes.

Trump may be the leader of the free world’s greatest country, still he has a lot to learn from the Indian leader, who’s had a more modest and humble upbringing than most of his peers. In PR, as in politics, it's the sharpness and presence of mind that matters, not how much resources one has.

(The author is a leading communication specialist and former Head of Corporate and Marketing Communication Star India)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of


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