Interesting People in My Life VIII; Mr Prriya Raj, Management Cartoonist and Branding Consultant

Q1: Tell us about your journey into management cartoons.
I began with social cartoons for magazines and then drew a daily political cartoon for a newspaper from Allahabad during my MBA days. I once again started a daily news cartoon during mid-nineteen for ‘The Daily’, a newspaper in Mumbai.
When The Pioneer launched its Mumbai edition, I started India’s first management cartoon column ‘Under The Pyramid’. This was later picked-up by Hong Kong Standard. When The Pioneer closed its Mumbai edition, I continued with the column for sometime for its Delhi edition, but then moved the column to The Financial Express.
I also contributed a weekly column ‘Out of the Box’ for The Hindu, which ran till 2003. Later on when DNA was launched from Mumbai, I started a daily management cartoon in color ‘Funny Business’. I stopped doing this column as I was planning to combine my work in the area of cartooning and management in a way that is more satisfying. I started a column in The Chartered Accountant and this column continued till 2009 when I joined a B-school as a professor in the area of marketing. Now let’s go back to ‘Under The Pyramid’.
‘Under The Pyramid’ cartoons were also put on the internet on dhan.com by Rajesh Jain at his very successful portalindiaworld.com which was later acquired by sify.
‘Under The Pyramid’ also appeared as a book, published by India Book House in 1998 with a foreword written by Dr. PradeepKhandwalla of IIM, Ahmedabad. The book was designed by PreetiVyasGianetti of VyasGianetti Design and was planned, developed and promoted by PadminiMirchandani of IBH. The book appeared in the best-selling chart within a month of its launch in Crossword Mumbai and New Delhi.
‘Under The Pyramid’ cartoons were exhibited at Nehru Centre, Mumbai in 1999 as a solo exhibition with very good response. (The management cartoon exhibition in the subsequent year was held in association with British Council Library during their annual management week from 2000 to 2005).

Q2: What about your association with Dr. Edward de Bono, the lateral thinking guru?
As a matter of fact, Dr. Edward de Bono was the person who made me realize the importance of humor in creative thinking during his first visit to India when I met him during a three-day program on lateral thinking. Therefore, I naturally contacted him, nearly after a decade, when my first book was ready to appear. He sent a nice endorsement blurb that IBH published on the cover of my book ‘Under The Pyramid’.
He subsequently inaugurated my cartoon channel on 123india.com, one of the top three horizontal portals in the country, at a function held at The Taj in Mumbai during 2000.
He also wrote foreword for my books ‘Business Cartoons’ and ‘Corporate Cartoons’ (both published by Vision Books).
I greatly value my association with Dr. De Bono and all the help and encouragement that he has given to me.

Q3:You have been associated with several well-known brands for a long time. What advice will you give to professionals interested in their personal branding?
The myth is that personal brands get created by chance or by accident. The reality is far from it.
In fact, personal branding is not very different than the branding of a product or service. It involves the same kind of strategic thinking, needs the same kind of resources and requires tools and techniques to be deployed. A personal brand needs equally careful planning and professional execution.
The most important aspect in personal branding, according to me, is an absolutely detached point of view and a good set of advisers who can help the person take a call on the overall plan as well as on new tactical issues emerging out of a carefully designed monitoring system.
In a nutshell, what it needs is an executive coach specialized in branding or a personal branding expert.(This could be an individual or a company as the case may be.)
What is important to understand is that at different stages of an executive’s career the personal branding requirements may be different as in the case of a product-brand during its product life cycle (PLC). As the stakes are high for high profile executives, they need to manage their personal reputation and make the most of it through a powerful personal brand.

Q4: I understand that you did some very innovative things with the launch of ‘Business Cartoons’ and ‘Corporate Cartoons’.
While planning the publication of my new book, Kapil Malhotra of Vision Books suggested that we publish a set of two books, keep the name more generic and keep the price that will attract all-levels of executives to make an impulse purchase decision at an airport book-stall.
This resulted in two books to be released simultaneously with a series of launched in Mumbai. The first event was a panel discussion with CEOs with Madhukar Kamath (Mudra), Neeraj Roy (Hungama) and Prahlad Kakkar (Genesis) at Crossword.
While planning for a different event at Oxford Bookshop, we planned for an exhibition of management cartoons inaugurated by V. Gopalakrishnan of World Trade Centre. At Planet M, Om Katare of Yatri Group created and performed a play ‘Excuse Me, Boss!’ based on the cartoons in the two books. This was subsequently also staged at Fun Republic and Prithvi Theatre.
Shoppers Stop created an all-India humor festival with cartoons from the two books exhibited at all their retail outlets. I went to inaugurate the event at Kolkatta and Mario Miranda was invited to inaugurate it in Mumbai. At other cities, they invited well-known celebrities to inaugurate the festival.
A recent Rajshree movies was also inspired by these books. The director of the movie ‘Love U … Mr. Kalakaar!’ told me during its launch function that when he was developing the idea, Sooraj Barjatyaa gave him my books and he got a lot of material to develop the movie-script.

Q5: Tell us about your latest – the Management Diary 2012 'Organize & Smile' published by Nightingale.
This diary is a complete time management system designed for busy executives as a great productivity tool. In addition to its functionality, it also has a delightful management cartoon on every page to make the manager smile.
Aptly titled ‘Organize & Smile’, this management diary published and marketed by Nightingale is now ready for corporate requirements (both for in-house distribution and as a nice corporate gift). The management diary ‘Organize & Smile’ for 2012 will be available at premier stationery stores all-over India during November when the diary season starts at the retail level for individual buyers.
The details are available on Nightingale website for all those who are interested. This is the only diary on their range that has a signature and a face attached to it. Nightingale is planning to make this association stronger and will offer it to corporates as added value.
Companies can get their custom-made Management Diary launched in a special function, getting corporate mileage. They can arrange special events where these diaries can be signed by me. They can arrange an exhibition of my management cartoons inaugurated by a well-known person in their field and Prriya Raj could be there at the occasion to interact, sign copies of diaries and to deliver a key-note address. There could be many other ideas that can be explored.

Q6: What is the current status and future of Integrated Marketing Communications in India?
The truth is good brands were employing all the tools and techniques of communication even a few decades ago. All this was done primarily through advertising and the rest through support activities. Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) has now recognized the importance of various communication activities and the need to make it work synergistically. I think it is a good development. It has brought other important specialist activities to the forefront, both in terms of recognition and rewards.
The unfortunate part is that majority of the companies are not able to co-ordinate all the activities in a synergistic manner, thanks to so many specialist service providers. Many a times the person handling the IMC function does not have enough authority to make IMC work to deliver substantial results. There is a great deal of wasteful effort.
What companies need to do is to have a very experienced hand with good authority and tremendous amount of freedom. This will vary from company to company depending upon their communication requirements.
And why not integrate the two major communication functions - Marketing Communication and Corporate Communication?

Q7: How is creativity useful to a manager?
The most important capability for a manager today is creativity. A creative manager will be able to find new and unique solutions even for the most difficult problems. A creative manager will be able to think of ideas that are valuable for the company. Ideas could be in terms of improvement in product, service or in process. It could be a solution to a big problem faced by the company or the industry.
Today is the era of innovation. Business puts a premium on innovation. Innovative companies are able to continuously grow and profit from strategic innovation using both types of innovation – incremental innovation and radical innovation.
As creativity is at the beginning of any innovation, it is of great significance for all in business. Companies who want to become more innovative have clearly chalked-out plans to enable their managers think creatively, make their organizations a place where creativity is nurtured and take initiatives for strategic innovation.

Thank you Mr Prriya Raj for sharing your thoughts and knowledge with us.
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Brief Profile
Prriya Raj is an internationally acclaimed management cartoonist, columnist, speaker and an expert in the areas of brand management, integrated marketing communication, creativity & innovation. He has been invited to deliver keynote address, special lectures and executive development programs. He has published 4 books, held exhibitions of his management cartoons and has done many more innovative things. You can reach him at prriyaraj@google.com


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