Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What We Missed about Niira Radia

Since the outbreak of the 2G controversy and exposure of the Radia tapes, newspapers and TV channels are busy lambasting the journos, politicians and everybody else found involved in the controversy and heard in the tapes. But amidst this brouhaha, everyone seems to forget what made the scam possible bringing together people from diverse professions - media, politics and industries: Niira Radia's PR skills.

I heard some of the tapes on Youtube where Radia talks to cross sections of society – politicians, journalists and businessmen – and noticed that for each type of person she employs a distinct style of conversation. With media personalities, she is friendly and informal. She mainly speaks in English with occasional Hindi lines and phrases thrown in. She exchanges pleasantries but comes to point very quickly. Generally she is conversational and polite, but she knows when to change gear and be persuasive.

But while talking to Ratan Tata, her client, she follows a totally different style. Her style seems to be attuned to Tata’s personality, which is very reserved. Her tone is not friendly, but strictly formal. She doesn’t lapse into strings of Hindi sentences but sticks to English with polished accent. She explains her points very well and seems to have lot of grasp over the topic.

Any PR guy will tell you that Niira is a dream PR professional. Her networking skills (she seems to have journos at her beck and call), her strong sense of how to deal with whom, her understanding of her clients’ business (evident from her conversation with Tata) are assets for any PR person. No wonder she runs one of the most successful PR agencies in the country whose clientele isn’t just limited to Tata and Mukesh Ambani but includes state governments as well. It’s being said that when Tata was facing stiff resistance at Nandigram over the Nano factory, Radia put him in touch with Narendra Modi and Bengal’s loss became Gujrat’s gain with the factory being moved to the later.

Her network, which spans across multiple professions, would not have come easily and is not easy to maintain either. People with a flair for crudeness will attribute her success to exchange of unsavoury favors (you know what). And some will blame it on absence of integrity among the guys in her network. But painting the whole picture in a broad stroke will only help the essential escape – that there is considerable amount of professional skills involved in her success. Had the 2G scam not come into public glare, someday you would find an article hailing Radia’s success as PR personnel.

I am sure even as whole India heaps derision on Niira Radia, she is being talked about admiringly in the pantries of PR agencies over tea and coffee. No doubt Niira is a fixer but a skilled one. Both the government and media are reeling under her PR impact and I am sure there are many tapes we haven't heard. Sad but true!


ZEAL said...


You pointed out a very significant point about her personality. After reading your article. i have turned an admirer of her skillful communication.

I genuinely admire communication skills.



indrablog said...

Hi Zeal,
Thanks for agreeing with me - Radia is a competent PR but the scam she helped create was has hurt India's interest.

Thanks again for stopping by.

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