18 Jul 2021 20:49 IST

Character, ability and purpose are the essence of a good public image

LV Navaneeth, CEO, THG Publishing, The Hindu group

Talking at an ICFAI webinar, LV Navaneeth, CEO, The Hindu group, offers insights to communicate a public image effectively

Communicating a public image relies on three basic principles: clarity of purpose and core values, building credibility with the right skills and attitude, and delivering on that promise through consistent action. These are the insights that LV Navaneeth, CEO, THG Publishing, The Hindu group, had to offer while speaking at a webinar organised by ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education, a deemed-to-be university. The theme of the talk was ‘Building and communicating a public image: Strategies for working professionals,’ conducted for the benefit of working professionals, research scholars, and students across the country.

 

 

 

 

With over 20 years in the media industry, across radio, broadcasting and publishing, Navaneeth, a graduate of MICA Ahmedabad, is an industry veteran with a deep understanding of creating brand identities and shaping perceptions. Drawing on both personal experiences and research, Navaneeth elaborated on strategies for building and communicating a brand image for working professionals.

Character, ability, purpose

A good public image is needed to translate efforts into better impact. Impact is nothing but a mix of vision and influence. To illustrate this with an example, Navaneeth spoke of the Kurukshetra war in the epic mythology Mahabharata.

In Vyasa’s Mahabharata, Sanjaya narrates the goings-on of the battlefield to Dhritarashtra using the power of visualising. He predicts the outcomes of the war sitting far away in the Hastinapura palace. But, Sanjaya was a charioteer at the bottom of the pecking order of society then. What Sanjaya had was infinite vision but zero influence. On the other hand, the leader of the empire. Dhritarashtra, had infinite influence but zero vision. He was blind metaphorically, too — blinded by the love for his children when it came to right and wrong.

This analogy clearly elucidates that one needs character, ability, and purpose, to create impact. “Everything starts with purpose as it drives vision. Ability creates influence, and ultimately character lands purpose,” says Navaneeth.

‘My thatha’s deep pockets’

Navaneeth used the example of his grandfather to explain how one can apply these strategies to their everyday. His story:

One of my purposes in life is to be a grandson worthy of my grandfather. This is an incident from 1985. I was in Class 7, and thatha was nearing his '80s. I used to visit him in V Kota, Andhra Pradesh, and he was a doctor by profession.

While assisting him at the clinic, I noticed that there was something peculiar about the way he ran his practice. He wore a long, white coat, with two pockets on the right and left. When his patients asked him about consultation fees at the end, he would simply say drop how much ever you can in my left pocket and take the change from my right pocket. This used to amaze me and I really needed to know why he did that.

He said: This is a small village surrounded by smaller villages and my patients are usually farmers. I’m no doubt a good doctor but people come to me because I’m the only doctor available to them in a 60 km radius. Farmers grow produce for us and the country. Their lives are full of ups and downs. Some of them just put their empty hands in my pocket with no money. My inability to know that they don’t have the means to pay the fees protects their dignity. As long as that happens, they will continue to visit me. If I ask them for money, and they lack it, they’ll postpone coming to me and their health will suffer. If their health suffers, the health of the produce suffers, and eventually, the country suffers.

My grandfather’s purpose was the nation’s welfare, his ability was farmer’s well-being, and his character was to respect others' dignity. Even if he was a lawyer or an engineer, he would have found a way to serve his purpose.

Identifying purpose

Navaneeth talked about the acronym C.O.M.F.O.R.T that must be followed to find one’s purpose.

C: Care for others, in terms of time, effort, or money

O: Open to feedback. This helps bridge the gap between self-image and public image.

M: Mingle with optimistic people.

F: Find new people to converse with. We all tend to live on islands, meet the same people, and talk about the same things.

O: Optimise time and energy to pursue interests.

R: Recognise larger issues worth sharing and injustices worth correcting.

T: Think about and discover what one loves doing.

Credibility

From my own experience, I started my career in publishing in 1998, with marketing and sales as my specialisation. I moved to radio from there where I ran the business, and it required me to have a broad understanding of a range of subjects from HR management to finances. Then, I transitioned into television and managed content for TV channels which necessitated that I understand how content works. After which, I took a sabbatical to upskill myself and learn digital marketing, and travel, and meet new people. I came back to work in a media agency which taught me how money works in a supply-demand environment. Over time, I have evolved from being a specialist in a single field to becoming reasonably good at many things with broad general knowledge.

Here are some simple ways to build credibility, according to Navaneeth.

  • Start by telling the truth
  • Ask for help
  • Go outside your comfort zone
  • Admit mistakes and apologise
  • Engage others in your self-improvement journey

Communicating your personal brand

Building a brand is a leadership responsibility, not a self-promotion campaign. Be simple, value people’s time and communicate effectively. Also, openly declare your values and have clarity of thought.

Leverage associations as members of a company or a community. Examine your role in communities, interact with teams you’re not a part of, take up projects that push you out of your comfort zone, and collaborate more. As working pros, one can use social media to build their personal image but ensure consistency in the values you project on social media. By genuinely being concerned for the people around you, one can touch lives, have an impact, and earn endorsement.

Post Navaneeth's talk, Sudhakar Rao, Director, Branding, ICFAI group, and Prof R Prasad, Director, Academic Wing, ICFAI, were involved in a deep Q&A, which also involved questions from the audience listening in.