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BN Kumar - A journalist aspirants look up to!

It's not easy to be the pioneer of an industry and be the No. 1 in the same field while decades pass by. Let's learn about this man who saw the birth of PR industry in India and stays atop in it till date...
“You have the power to do anything you want. All that’s needed is to connect your passion with purpose,” says veteran media professional BNK.

Growing up listening to All India Radio news on the village Panchayat radio, BN Kumar found his interest in news and current affairs. Then in July 1975, when Indira Gandhi declared Emergency, he walked into journalism classes at Osmania University.

BNK began his career with Free Press Journal, the then leading English daily published from Mumbai, and later moved over to United News of India, the news agency with the largest news network.

Primarily interested in political, social and science related subjects, BN Kumar happened to cover almost every subject in his journey as a trainee with the Indian Express and later worked as a sub-editor/reporter with Free Press Journal and UNI. “I had the opportunity to cover politics, science, law, crime – and sky was not the limit as I wrote on space as well,” he smiles.

Alongside being titled as “Fastest Reporter” from UNI, he also brags the title of “Man Friday”- a reputation that he carries of being available for work at anytime and anywhere, his bosses and friends always refer to him as BNK 24x7! It was once seen that while on pilgrimage to Somnath and Tirupati and during his elder daughter’s wedding, he was attending office calls. “My Chairman Vivek Suchanti calls me as a ten-headed Ravan for my multi-tasking!” he laughs. He has also worked with Business India and The Week magazine and contributed content to The Times of India, The Economic Times, Indian Express, Mid-Day, Newstime and a host of other publications.
Mr. BN Kumar
Having worked with his whole heart for ten years in journalism, he opened doors to work in PR field with the legendary Dhirubhai Ambani. “We were part of the team that set up the national PR network for Reliance way back in 1985,” says BNK. Gaining all these opportunities were a result of the challenging and exciting career he has marked while breaking several stories, one of which he narrates as, “When Morarji Desai announced in Parliament that Jayaprakash Narayan was dead and the Houses were adjourned after passing “condolence” resolutions, I, as a young UNI reporter contradicted the news and reported from Jaslok Hospital that JP was hale and hearty and that he was responding to treatment. The Janata Party government was exposed to nation’s ridicule. I was the first to break news of corruption in Employment Guarantee Scheme in Dhule district,” narrates BNK. He also won the ‘Reporter of the Month’ several times. He feels fortunate enough to be part of the team that set up India’s first PR arm of an advertising agency at Ogilvy & Mather where they won the APAC regional award.

Presently, he is the Executive Director at Concept PR, India’s largest independent PR Company. Concept PR has achieved great success in extremely less period of time. Recently, Concept PR won the Agency Excellence Award at Global Communication Association (GCA) 9th Conference held at Bengaluru. According to BN Kumar, the team’s servicing capability, innovative thinking, and availability to clients during rain and shine (and even fire) all contribute to its success. They enjoy the freedom to perform at Concept PR. “While making promises, we also stress a lot on our deliverables, exceeding expectations – always!” he précised.

He describes one of the challenges faced in his profession as, “We try to make the corporates understand on the changing media and PR trends while understanding their needs. Everybody wants their news to appear in The Economic Times and The Times of India. Hence when we sign a PR contract we need to conduct a discussion on Media functioning. This helps us a lot in designing the client strategies once they understand what makes news and what doesn’t.”

Crisis communication has always been part of BNK’s life. As a journalist, he covered several crises and as a PR professional he has worked with clients handling their crisis. To this fact, he recalls, “PRCI which gave us awards for our crisis case studies nicknamed Concept PR as the Red Adair of PR!”

Today, on looking back at those years of hard work, service and passion for his work , BNK feels fully satisfied. “I have been lucky to have worked with great organisations. But the process of learning continues as trends change and PR evolves. A journalist never retires. I will never retire till am able to type my last word,” he confides.

The love of writing is still alive in his heart which urges him to do quite a bit of writing for their clients. He also keeps in touch with Navi Mumbai – my Karma Bhoomi – with his column –Adivashi (being one of the early settlers of Vashi Township) - in Free Press Journal. He just did his 100th column. He is also working on a couple of books now.

G. G. Mirchandani, late GM of UNI, always inspired BNK to be upright and courageous. The role to inspire to keep reading and learning was played by the great journalist Kuldip Nayar. Dhirubhai Ambani advised, “Think Fast, Think Ahead as Ideas are nobody’s monopoly.” And today, Concept CMD Vivek Suchanti tells him, "Communication is a potent weapon. Learn to use it with the utmost caution." “I will never forget the tremendous support of my parents, my wife and my lovely daughters. They stood by me during my thick and thin,” says Mr. BN Kumar.
In these 30 years of experience in mass communication as well as a PR professional, he has acquired varied skill sets like Strategy Planning, Media Relations, Media Training, Event Handling, Corporate Events, Networking, Crisis Communications and Corporate Communications and developed wide contacts in corporate and media circles.

Keep asking because unless you ask you will not learn. But you must ask relevant questions. For instance, you don’t ask a baker for mutton and a butcher for bread; do you? Don’t go with superficial knowledge. Go deep and go well prepared. Understand the subject of your client or the person you are going to interview. “It is very embarrassing to ask a Union Home Minister for his name after recording his responses to your queries!”BN KUMAR.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 6th May 2015.
IJ Anita Tejwani
IJ Anita Tejwani is a contributing writer at Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine.

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