Over the years, Baird’s CMC associates have worked with people in some of the highest levels of State or Government, and in some instances even royalty! Take for instance our founding associate based in India, Aman Gupta.
One of the most memorable moments of Aman’s career took place in a lift, and involved a visiting member of Middle-Eastern royalty and a media guru. Aman was helping coordinate the visiting royalty’s trip to India – helping arrange top-level interviews with a select group of Indian journalists and briefing the member of royalty about what she should say to the media.
On the way to the first interview, Aman was in the lift with a famous Indian journalist, when the journalist turned to Aman and said, “I have no idea what to ask her! Any suggestions?” Aman, of course, was happy to offer his ideas, and the interview went off without a hitch.
The moment afforded Aman something of an epiphany about the importance of good communication and the importance of public relations. He believes that public relations is not about putting words in people’s mouths; rather, it’s about helping them articulate their thoughts. As he puts it, consider this parallel: if one has a song in one’s head but is tone-deaf, good public relations simply helps in staying true to the melody.
Mark Chataway, co-founder of Baird’s CMC, has also worked with some high-level individuals to help them stay true to “the melody”. He and his team at Hyderus (part of the Baird’s CMC network) were approached by the press office of a large Middle Eastern country to advise and assist the head of state and other top officials in a variety of communications related strategies, ranging from prepping the team for international visits to providing communications council on the various policies being implemented. The press office approached Chataway based on his past credentials in this field, which included advising an African head of state in positioning his country as a leader in the field of environmentalism.
Chataway and his team at Hyderus advised on any possible reputational risks that might arise as a result of the implementation, as well as evaluating various foreign and national issues to determine whether they were a priority fit for the head of state to get involved with.
Some of these issues included gender equality, livelihood, national security, national advantage, and regional political goals. Chataway’s team not only evaluated policy risks and reactions on a national level but broadened the communications scope and advised on the possible international reactions one might expect from a particular policy decision, even were it intended to be local or regional in nature.
Lastly, Chataway and his team at Hyderus helped brief and prepare the head of state for interviews and foreign policy trips. They leveraged their vast global network to better understand the media and political situation in the countries that the head-of-state was planning to visit. With a prior understanding of the local landscape, Chatway’s team prepped the head on questions that might be asked, how to handle them and how the press might react to any particular answer. “I was a bit unsure of myself, though,” Chataway admits. “The head of state who I was ‘training’ was already far better than I will ever be at handling every kind of media interaction. We turned the sessions into a discussion of “what if you said this” or “what if you said that?”
And how successful were Chataway and his team in helping their client stay true to the melody (to use associate Aman Gupta’s definition of good communications strategy)? That the client requested their services for over a period of five years shows the client’s faith in the communications advice provided!