Shabnam Asthana: A PR Professional’s Pearls of Wisdom

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As SCMC’s first-years take our baby steps into the world of media, it is essential for us to seek guidance from the experts. Ms. Asthana is a PR expert, whose work in the industry spans many years. Her journey has led her to meet several eminent media personalities, travel the world, win several industrious awards, as well as pen her own book.

Ms. Asthana began the session with Malcolm X’s quote: “Media is the most powerful entity on Earth.” And it is! Media influences choices, lifestyle, and even which political party we support. Media has mass appeal – it delivers information everywhere at a fast pace, keeping the audience abreast of happenings locally and globally. Media, being an extremely competitive industry, welcomes new ideas and creative thinkers, while stale, tried-and-tested methods are shot down. There is pressure to be creative, meet tight deadlines, and crisis management. Although media professionals are faced with a mountain of work 24/7, it makes for an exciting career option, where individuals can explore a variety of roles. For us to do well in these roles, we must have qualities such as excellent communication skills, teamwork, adaptability, and more.

Ultimately, the message of a PR press release, advertising copy, or a newspaper article are all intended to reach an audience, present in millions. Different types of audiences include: heterogeneous, scattered, and personally unknown audiences. Therefore, media communication must be carefully presented and catered to different audiences in an unbiased manner. This communication must not have any “noise,” or irrelevant information distracting from the primary message.

According to Ms. Asthana, a career in PR, Ad, or Journalism are like topographical features. We climb the hill of success, by advancing along the corporate ladder and networking. Then, we reach a plateau, where we become complacent about our current positions. From this point it is important for us to reinvent and improve ourselves. However, you may feel like you have reached a pit and fallen down. It is important to dust yourself off and continue your journey. Or, you could feel like you are in a cave, where you feel lost and clueless. In this darkness, you must see the light at the end of the cave, and figure a way out.

Ms. Asthana has authored the book “Romancing your Career.” She strongly believes that you can be a good professional only if you are in love with your career. A career is a life partner, whom you must love until “death brings the both apart.” The book also covers the biggest challenges we face in the industry: maintaining work-life balance, creating fresh and meaningful content, wriggling out of monotony, taking responsibility for one’s own action, accepting criticism, deciding when to be a leader or a follower, and the importance of self-grooming and appearance.

No matter whether we pledge citizenship to a digital or print media platform, we are still consuming its information to further our knowledge or for our entertainment. It is media that connects, binds, and  entangles us in a continually developing web of information. Ms. Asthana made it very clear, in this interactive session, that as budding media professionals, we must realise the importance and power of media, and strive to make our impact in the industry.

 

Siya Ragade
(Batch 2023)