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Ask the Doctor

20-March-2018
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Ask the Doctor

Dear Sir, 
I'm pursuing my final year of Bachelors in Visual Communication. I will be completing my degree in the next month and hence it's crucial for me to make career decisions now.

I'm interested in branding, media management and public relations. I also want to establish my career in broadcasting in the near future. I have already done an internship in PR for a period of 45 days.

I wanted to ask you if it's possible to get started in PR and branding at the same time. Because PR and branding are two different streams. I know it may be challenging or difficult to establish a career in both the fields at the same time, but these are my passions and I want to take these up as professions.

Should I take either of these first and later jump on to the other or start working on both of them in the beginning itself? Also from a salary package perspective, which field is more rewarding and demanding?

If possible, can you also throw light on entrepreneurial opportunities in both?

Please help me in this regard.

Shashank B.


Dear Shashank,

You seem like a nice and ambitious boy to me who wants to achieve a lot in the shortest possible time. Ambition is certainly good to have. But it is important to channelize your ambitions and calibrate your expectations.

Marketing, branding, PR; are all interconnected. But unless you get to be top management, you cannot do all of them in a day’s work. For now, you have to decide which one to join and stick to that field. PR is a good starting point, more so since you have done your internship in that domain. But be clear that you should not look to make a switch in six months or a year. If you join PR, plan to stay there for at least three to five years so that you learn the business and hopefully excel at it.

Moving from PR to branding (which I think you mean advertising) will not be easy. All domains are getting to be specialist functions and switching from one to the other is not very doable. With a visual arts background, you should be actually in art direction. Or is it that the course is called visual arts but they broadly teach advertising and communication?

Your future plans to move to broadcasting are even more confusing. Career planning is not like partaking in a buffet where you can have a little of everything as per your taste and move on. Career choices have to be taken with some thought and then stuck to. If you eventually want to be in broadcasting, then do not waste time in PR or advertising. Look for a job at a TV channel or a production house.

Just make up your mind.

I think the last part of your question is on entrepreneurial choices in the future. The answer to that is simply that going into business on your own is always an option. But it is better to gain experience at someone else’s cost before you get started on your own. Also what size of business you will end up building will depend on capital employed, your outreach in the trade and the amount of hard work you put in.

My advice to you is to focus on the choices at hand. Take a piece of paper and write down the plusses and minuses of all the options. Choose what seems like your most preferred option. Apply for and get a good opening. Then endeavour to do your best on the job. That way you will learn and grow.

All the best!

Dear Sir,

I have debated with myself on whether to ask you this question as it will get published and noticed. Finally, I decided I must get the matter off my chest. 

I have a colleague who works with me in the media department. For the last few months, I have noticed that he has started freelancing. He stays late and then uses all the media databases in the agency. Most of them cannot be accessed remotely because of firewall protections and he has no choice but to work surreptitiously within the office. I think what he is doing is completely unethical. In fact, he left a trail on the machines last week and I figured that he is actually doing planning and analysis on a brand that directly competes with a brand we handle. He therefore literally stole all the analysis done on the category almost table by table.

I have wanted to report him to our media head but I know that he has family issues and needs more money. But I think stealing company data is very wrong.

I can warn him on a personal basis but that may lead to unpleasantness.

Please advise.

Tanmay J.


Dear Tanmay,

You are being wise and conscientious in surfacing this problem.

Your colleague is doing something that is not ethical. It needs to be reported to your seniors. But before doing that it is only fair that you have a chat with the erring colleague. If you do it right, there will be no unpleasantness. Just tell the guy that you have been noticing what he has been doing. You know that his freelance is actually nothing short of stealing from the company. And that he needs to stop forthwith. If he stops right away, you shall treat the matter as closed. If he persists, you will have no choice but to report the matter to the agency management. I think your colleague will get the message. If he doesn’t, I think it would only be right to report the matter. Stealing data is serious stuff.

The problem that you are witnessing is nothing new. This is a malice frequently faced by many organizations without being actually detected. It is bold and ethical of you to decide to confront the issue. Data theft in India is becoming a menace. Most organizations do not have enough security protocols to prevent unethical employees from thieving.

Before you finally report the matter, that is if you have to, just make sure you have enough evidence to nail your stealing colleague. If you take the matter head-on, be fully armed with evidence. And do it before you confront your colleague lest he tries to cover his tracks and make you look foolish.

Dear Sir,

Annual increments and promotions will be announced in early April. In our agency, no proper appraisal system is followed. Most of the increments and promotions are based on the assessment of the superior manager.

I have been with this agency for three years. My increase every year has been average. On the other hand, I believe I am a good performer and my only misfortune has been that my bosses have been changing very frequently and that has worked to my disadvantage.

Will it look improper if I tell my boss that I need to be formally appraised and that I should be adequately rewarded with a good increment and a promotion this year?

Anupam J.

Dear Anupam,
There is nothing improper in asking your boss for an appraisal. It is a matter of right within any organization to be given an annual appraisal. Unfortunately, in most organizations, HR practices are either not strong enough or rigorous enough to allow an employee a fair chance at self-appraisal followed by a meticulous rating by the boss.

Before you ask for the appraisal, get yourself fully prepared with what you are going to say in your support and favour. Identify achievements, focus on successes, point out occasions where you have gone beyond the call of duty and of course, highlight any positive client feedback and awards.

My only word of caution is not to expect too much from this appraisal. If the organization does not have a robust HR culture, then such appraisals end up most times being cosmetic and superficial. So don’t be disappointed if after the appraisal too, nothing much comes out of it. Nevertheless, no harm going through the motions. You have nothing to lose really.

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