How I Constructed The Satyam Model

A model guru mentioned that it takes years of onerous work to construct a model however only one second of insanity to kill it. The Satyam case is a stay instance of this adage.

Late July 1996 I bought a name on a Saturday morning from one of many largest head looking corporations within the nation asking me whether or not I needed a change of job. Their Hyderabad supervisor wouldn’t inform me the identify of the shopper firm as he was afraid I’d refuse the prospect on the telephone itself as the corporate was small and comparatively unknown in comparison with the one I used to be working in.

Nevertheless, I did go to satisfy him and I used to be somewhat disillusioned when he instructed me the corporate’s identify although the corporate was Hyderabad primarily based and I used to be in the identical metropolis, too. He persuaded me to a minimum of meet the corporate administration. The identical afternoon I met Ramalinga Raju, Chairman, Satyam Pc Providers. I had no clue what the corporate did as IT was not even in my radar being extra from the engineering and automotive trade. In actual fact, I even had a stray thought that they assembled gray market PCs.

The assembly with Raju lasted greater than an hour and was very nice. He got here throughout as a delicate individual and really well mannered. Very quickly I bought a proposal of appointment from Satyam. My spouse referred to a couple individuals in Bangalore within the IT subject earlier than I accepted it. After all, the monetary provide was very enticing,too

I joined Satyam as head of company communications on August 16.The following day I bought a name from Financial Instances asking me for a touch upon a narrative that they have been operating a few test bouncing case towards Satyam. This troubled me as I had by no means skilled something like that previously. I simply mumbled that there was no fact in that story.

About ten days later we needed to print some invitation playing cards for inaugurating our spanking new expertise centre. It shocked me when the printer requested me for 100% advance. He was the identical printer who used to present my earlier firm thirty days credit score with out questions. I started to fret whether or not I had made a significant error of judgment in becoming a member of Satyam. I now remembered that a few of my pals in Hyderabad expressed shock after I instructed them that I used to be leaving a number one multi-national firm to hitch Satyam.

Anyway, it was too late to do something about it. And in 1996 driving a model new Maruti Suzuki Esteem round Hyderabad was a balm on a harm ego. I put all unfavorable ideas apart and determined I’d carve a optimistic function for myself and do what was proper for the corporate.

The Firm Negatives:

1) No person knew who ran the corporate, together with buyers. This was stunning as Raju was within the workplace commonly from 9am to 9pm.

2) The general public and buyers nonetheless related the identify Satyam with development and textile spinning and never IT.

3) The promoters, primarily based on the flavour of the season had entered all types of companies previously and failed, together with such various fields as aquaculture and shoe uppers.

4) Satyam was nonetheless perceived as a small Hyderabad primarily based firm.

5) Within the Dataquest rating of Indian IT corporations, Satyam stood a lowly 13.

6) Publications have been reluctant to interview Raju as he was probably not forthcoming with feedback or along with his plans for the corporate. Additional, his talking type at the moment was not very fluent. The face of the corporate at the moment was the top of gross sales & advertising.

7) Folks perceived Satyam extra as a physique buying firm than a critical IT participant (this was really an unfair cost as at the moment most Indian IT corporations have been really simply that).

The Firm Positives:

1. The corporate made income

2. The shopper checklist was fairly spectacular

3. Working atmosphere was pleasant

4. The urge to develop was there

5. Raju gave plenty of freedom to the senior workers (although this itself created fiefdoms)

My Negatives:

1. In my profession until then I had by no means dealt with the editorial or information media. I used to be all the time in to promoting, advertising and gross sales promotion.

2. PR was one thing completely new to me. In a method I had joined Satyam below false pretences, as a result of when Raju requested me at my interview whether or not I knew anybody within the media the one identify I might inform him was that of a superb pal who dealt with the promoting operate for the most important media group in AP.

3. After I joined Satyam I had by no means despatched an electronic mail in my life nor knew something about one thing known as the web. IT was an alien topic to me. I used to be mainly a Mechanical Engineer.

The Starting

I discovered that the Bangalore primarily based promoting and PR company dealing with the Satyam account was probably not contributing a lot although they charged a excessive price. We sacked them and thru an expert choice course of appointed one of many high promoting companies within the nation to deal with our paid communication enterprise. The primary collaboration effort was to carry out the company id handbook, known as the Satyam Covenant.This was to be sure that all company branding effort internationally could be cohesive.

Understanding that an promoting company is mostly not clued in to public relations, I made a decision to deal with the media myself as an alternative of incurring additional expenditure in hiring a PR company. My first effort was a catastrophe. I ready a press launch for our annual consequence and not using a headline. The following day every publication interpreted the leads to its personal method. It was somewhat embarrassing seeing among the headlines early the subsequent morning.

It was time to begin incomes my wage. I wrote out a fairly respectable model technique plan. On high of the checklist was one thing I titled “Model constructing the CEO”. I made a slide presentation to Raju defining varied model positioning attributes for his picture constructing.

1. Entrepreneur

2. Innovator

3. Technocrat

4. Chief

We debated all of the positioning factors and I defined to him why every one was not proper for him. His earlier enterprises have been probably not profitable so the primary one was out. As he was not technically certified, the second and third factors could be troublesome to push via. The fourth one too would have been a far cry from actuality. Fortunately, Raju was not an egoist so he accepted my function as a Satan’s advocate with some quantity of amusement.

Lastly, I confirmed him the essential slide. By the months of interplay with Raju one thought that hit me was that he hardly ever bought in to the small print of the operating of an enterprise. All his statements have been a bit philosophical and holistic. He additionally tended to go off on a tangent generally. To provide him a branding that he could be comfy donning I really helpful that he be positioned as a Visionary.

“Raju is a visionary who has a worldwide view of the trade and the place Satyam would head sooner or later. To make his imaginative and prescient a actuality he hires the proper individuals and empowers them to seek out methods to take the enterprise ahead.”

Raju instantly accepted this speculation. Subsequently, in all inside and exterior communication, I’d create statements on his behalf that may match the brand new model positioning. For any media interviews he would converse holistically and one of many different senior managers would get in to the detailing.

I travelled to all of the workplaces after that to satisfy the Enterprise Heads and get ‘masala’ from them for any newsworthy story that could possibly be highlighted within the media. I visited varied media workplaces throughout the metros and bought to know the enterprise correspondents. I discovered all of them fairly skilled and educated in regards to the dawn trade. A lot of them nonetheless stay my private pals after so a few years.

Each Monday I’d launch a narrative to the media highlighting some facet of our enterprise. The third paragraph of all of them would have a quote from Raju. I took a giant danger with my job as I wrote and launched these statements with out getting his prior approval. Nevertheless, I knew his thought course of effectively and likewise the form of phrases he used commonly so there was nothing controversial about any assertion.

In actual fact as soon as Raju and I have been touring collectively in his automobile to a operate when a senior correspondent of a weekly information journal rang me and requested me which enterprise chief was Raju’s function mannequin. I lined the mouth piece of my telephone and requested Raju. He mentioned Jack Welch. He was a bit greatly surprised when in entrance of him I gave an in depth assertion on why he admired Jack Welch of GE. The journal quoted Raju verbatim within the subsequent problem.

The turning level got here when in late 1997 or early 1998 BusinessWorld journal known as me and needed to interview Raju for a narrative on IT in India. The unique idea was to have Narayanmurthy of Infosys, Premji of Wipro, Nadar of HCL and Raju on the duvet. I picked up the correspondent and photographer of BusinessWorld from Hyderabad airport and was driving them to the Satyam Expertise Heart, a few 45 minutes drive. The photographer requested me whether or not there was one thing attention-grabbing about Raju which he might shoot. I instructed him that Raju was comparatively an understated individual however not too long ago he had obtained a Mercedes- Benz automobile as a birthday reward from the household. However I used to be undecided whether or not he would conform to pose with it.

After the interview the photographer requested Raju whether or not he might {photograph} him together with the automobile. Surprisingly, Raju agreed. The following problem of BusinessWorld had solely Raju on the duvet with a laptop computer on the bonnet of his Benz.

Raju and Satyam had arrived!

The Development Years

By the second half of 1997, Satyam’s media protection had elevated manifold. We made loads of press releases and media would additionally name us for a quote for together with in any IT associated article.

Communications professionals are likely to work out elaborate methods on the right way to deal with press releases. They often work out a twelve-month calendar of releases and attempt to house of tales on the price of 1 launch a month. For instance, October will see the discharge of an article on High quality. December, on HR practices. And so forth. At first, to work on a schedule like that. The reason given to me was that the media will get tired of receiving too many tales from the identical firm. All garbage.

Newspapers launch on daily basis. Magazines – weekly, fortnightly or month-to-month. Their very existence relies on information protection. I made a decision that no matter I believed was worthy of a press launch I’d go forward and ship it off. In any case, if publications don’t see it match then they would not publish it any method. Even when sixty-five p.c of my releases noticed the sunshine of day it might greater than suffice.

On the danger of injuring a few of my media pals, I ranked the publications the place I needed to see Satyam featured commonly: Financial Instances, Enterprise Customary, Enterprise Line, Instances of India, Hindustan Instances and The Hindu. Owing to native sentiments, the Hyderabad publications have been a significant cog in our media exercise. Information lined by all different publications was a bonus.

We made releases on virtually any exercise of the corporate. New shopper wins, workplace inaugurations, expertise innovation, senior administration recruits, visits by VIPs. Tales and photos of the animals in our menagerie in our expertise middle.In actual fact; we made a track and dance in regards to the enhance within the deer inhabitants at our middle. Implying that they have been effectively fed and blissful. All good human curiosity tales that added to our model picture.

Then, in fact have been the information releases in regards to the awards. The 1999 E&Y award which was in fact a prestigious one. The opposite one was the World Financial Discussion board award (the most important humbug of all of them, in my opinion!). However all worthy information tales that needed to be exploited. What did all this price my firm. Zilch. You deal with journalists with respect and honesty; they may belief you, too. Unhealthy eggs could possibly be ignored.

However all this didn’t imply that every one press protection was optimistic. There have been two events when explanations needed to be given.

1. When a subsidiary, Satyam Enterprise Options merged with the mother or father firm the share swap ratio of 1:1 got here in to plenty of criticism and there have been rumors of some underhand deal. The media was after me for a clarification, which clearly was past my scope to answer and I needed to talk about the topic with Raju and the CFO. Sadly,the administration determined to journey out the storm.

Unusually sufficient, at a later stage after the Y2K enterprise thinned out, it was the competencies constructed up by Satyam Enterprise Options that really took the corporate ahead, together with the cash spinning SAP enterprise.

2. After we began to make use of the net extensively one benchmark we had set was on how shortly the outcomes could possibly be posted on our web site. The finance division would give us dummy figures which my division’s desktop publishing operator would put in a template and add it on a check web site. As soon as the official consequence was cleared by the Board, the official figures could be given to the operator for importing on the corporate web site. By a comedy of errors that specific yr somebody within the finance division gave the official figures which the operator by mistake uploaded on the stay web site. He instantly realized his mistake and blocked that web page. However the harm was achieved. A number of the wire providers have been monitoring the location and instantly known as me. I used to be clueless at first however bought the total story later.

This turned a giant media story with all types of motives attributed to the administration. It took months to beat the unfavorable affect. In actual fact when Raju and I had gone to Singapore and Sydney among the TV information channels there would ask him a query about that controversy throughout stay interviews. He used to get upset and later ask me why I couldn’t cease the interviewer from asking such questions. Sadly, he didn’t notice that skilled journalists don’t all the time ask what you need them to ask.

Other than editorial releases when it got here to paid promoting, I felt that the time was not proper for any basic media company marketing campaign. Nevertheless, we put extra creativity in our recruitment adverts and used them for company brand-building, too.

Inner Communication

Facet by aspect with exterior communications it was crucial that the corporate paid consideration to inside communication through the progress years.

The aim:

1. Be sure that all workers are stored knowledgeable in regards to the actions of the corporate.

2. Reassure the present workers that they haven’t taken a nasty determination by becoming a member of the mistaken group

3. Use the present workers to encourage their pals and family to hitch Satyam.

In the future in early 1997, I used to be strolling alongside the aisle close to the CFO’s cabin. On his secretary’s desk I noticed a replica of the Memorandum of Affiliation that confirmed that Satyam started operations on June 24, 1987. One thing about that date stored whirring in my head over the subsequent a number of days. Whereas driving to work one morning it hit me that we have been within the tenth yr of our existence. I mentioned it with a couple of colleagues. Thus was born an intensive inside communications program below the banner of “A Decade of Excellence”.

We printed posters and stickers. The most important actions have been the inter-office competitions like Quiz and Dumb Charade, culminating in a gala leisure program in Hyderabad. At the moment the corporate power was nonetheless solely round 5000.

One exercise left me embarrassed. We made T-shirts for the winners of competitions. In my eagerness to get issues made on the lowest price I positioned an order with an unknown entity. Cellphone calls and emails have been a lot after that – one wash and the T-shirts had shrunk to an embarrassingly brief size.

By 1998, I had a superb group working with me. I made it a degree to recruit younger enterprise graduates with a western orientation as I used to be clear that the long run could be in constructing a model for abroad markets. Fortunately, IT is a people-centric trade and so nobody questioned me on why I wanted extra workers for a assist division like company communications. I added copy writers and graphic artists, too.

By now, it was clear that web-related communication was the way in which ahead. An web company web site was a given. Raju instructed me that it was crucial that as a worldwide group data dissemination throughout workplaces was very crucial. Each worker of Satyam, wherever on this planet she or he was situated ought to have entry to the identical data in realtime as in comparison with somebody in Hyderabad.

A few departments have been engaged on a company Intranet at the moment. I managed to hijack it from them and assigned a group in my division to deal with it. We branded it SatyamWorld and made it the worldwide inside communication platform for the corporate. SatyamWorld later received the distinguished CIO journal award for being one of many high intranet websites on this planet.

I instructed my group members to suppose out of the field and that they need to provide you with a brand new thought on daily basis, nonetheless loopy it could sound. Most instances, all my concepts would come out early within the morning or whereas driving to work. Someway, I all the time felt that techies have been a humorless lot and in Satyam individuals could be a bit too critical. In the future whereas having breakfast I instantly considered having a Smile Day. I briefed my group about my thought. Inside a day they got here out with a marketing campaign. Every week later, each worker getting into any of the campuses was given a small packet that contained objects with a smile brand to be used on their desktops, together with a small thingee that could possibly be positioned in your thumb and be wagged at colleagues. We made a press launch and The Hindu carried a giant field merchandise on the exercise and the way it helped workers morale.

After that was the “Energy of One” marketing campaign and the way we found a younger music director duo that composed our anthem and as we speak are names reckoned with in Bollywood.

However that is one other story…

Going World

Due to the early exploitation of the Y2K enterprise alternative, Satyam grew sooner than lots of its friends. This instantly led to the expansion in individuals numbers, that too throughout geographies. The mandate to my division was to be sure that Satyamites internationally felt one with the group.

My group had a method session with our advert company, R Ok Swamy /BBDO. They quickly got here out with a marketing campaign proposal that I introduced to our senior administration group at a method convention. The theme of the marketing campaign was “The Energy of One” with a tagline: One World. One Crew. One Aim. I applied the idea throughout varied goodies that could possibly be utilized by the workers at house and within the workplace.I designed a big pouch to carry the objects. The masterpiece was a music cassette that contained well-liked Hindi and English songs. Interspersed after each 4 songs was the Satyam Anthem. My division distributed the goody bag internationally to each worker.

I had requested the company to work out an anthem for the corporate. The temporary was that the track ought to sound younger, vibrant and modern. A number of weeks later the company requested me to come back to Mumbai to approve the tune. I met two brothers who have been of their early twenties and had composed the track. I had by no means heard of them. However every of the three tunes they introduced was excellent. The company and I lastly chosen one of many tunes, a duet with a female and male singer offering the vocals. An instrumental model was additionally produced that may be used as the decision maintain music on all Satyam’s phone switchboard.

At this time, the duo are extraordinarily well-known in Bollywood having supplied background scores to varied hits and likewise being the music administrators to such movies as Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Chak de India, Krrish and Vogue. Their identify: Salim and Sulaiman.

Primarily based on this marketing campaign I obtained invites to a number of promoting and advertising conferences to talk on the effectiveness of inside communication packages. In actual fact, when the marketing campaign broke Raju instructed me that he by no means anticipated that there have been so many issues attainable in communications.

World Problem

It was all effectively to really feel blissful in regards to the information protection in India, however the actual problem was in model constructing abroad, particularly the US,which was our greatest market. Paid media over there was very costly.

Round this time I found the advantages of stories dissemination via world wire providers. I commonly stored in contact with senior individuals in Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones Newswires. The problem was that these organizations rent hard-nosed professionals who weren’t excited about irrelevant discuss. Plus, they needed to be the primary with the information, counted in seconds! I tailored press releases particularly catering to a worldwide viewers. Our visibility elevated significantly after that in worldwide media. We additionally distributed our information releases via PRNewswire within the USA.

However world visibility additionally occurs via surprising quarters. Mid 1999, the top of our subsidiary, Satyam Infoway requested me to deal with the PR for his or her ADS itemizing on NASDAQ. This gave me a significant alternative to work at a worldwide stage and likewise to cope with the massive weapons within the monetary sector-Merrill Lynch, Citibank, Deutsche Financial institution, and KPMG and, in fact, the highest administration at NASDAQ.

We did every little thing in type. All of us stayed on the Trump resort close to Central Park and on October 18, 1999 we have been in a fleet of black Lincoln limos heading in the direction of NASDAQ. The night time earlier than, I tweaked the model positioning a bit. As an alternative of the information showing that we have been the second Indian firm after Infosys being listed on NASDAQ, I modified it to the FIRST Indian web firm itemizing on that bourse. The ceremony itself was comparatively business-like. The image SIFY went lively at a premium on itemizing. After that we had a stay press convention from there with journalists ready in India. I then accompanied the CEO of Satyam Infoway for stay interviews at CNBC and CNN studios.

A fall out of this was a bit of name cannibalization. Even on the mother or father firm press interviews plenty of query would ask about Sify, significantly because it was now a worldwide entity. This was significantly galling as all complaints about Sify’s web service had a unfavorable affect on the mother or father firm’s model picture.

The following main media occasion was additionally linked with Sify. On November 28, 1999 the CEO of Satyam Infoway requested me to come back to Mumbai to deal with an necessary announcement. He wouldn’t give me the small print over the telephone. The following morning I went instantly from the Mumbai airport to the workplace of DSP Merrill Lynch. There the funding financial institution gave a quick in regards to the Indiaworld deal. Merrill had alerted the media a few press meet that night with out revealing the topic. I quickly began getting calls from reporters eager to know the small print. I couldn’t reveal something to them although I felt a bit responsible not being straight ahead with among the reporters who had turn out to be good private pals by then.

It was an amazing feeling going via the method of an acquisition throughout that day. E&Y had achieved the valuation and have been explaining the small print.DSP Merrill Lynch was understanding all of the finer factors of the M&A.I’m not too positive what number of communications professionals have gone via this sort of expertise. The press convention was scheduled for six.00 pm on the Oberoi Lodge. I went to the venue early. The convention corridor was bursting on the seams with the media.

The continuing was getting delayed for a quite simple procedural bottleneck. The copies of the contract needed to be signed by all events involved and since the paperwork have been voluminous the deal was taking time. The house owners of Indiaworld have been getting emotional as they felt they have been giving freely their child for adoption. Lastly, the press meet began about an hour late. Boy, did it create a sensation. $115 million for a couple of internet portals! The following morning on the Mumbai airport I purchased copies of all of the dailies and reveled in seeing the massive banner headlines in regards to the deal.

By now my division was on auto pilot. I had an amazing group that knew precisely what wanted to be achieved. In actual fact, I discovered they labored extra effectively after I was away on tour.

Our entrance finish gross sales group normally took our assist for any shopper pitches. After the Y2K increase was over, we had to take a look at extra worth added enterprise and the challenges in pitching for enterprise. My group developed a novel type of shopper presentation. We determined that each shopper pitch could be tailored to the shopper. We pitched for a medical insurance shopper from Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. My group studied every little thing required in regards to the metropolis and the state. When the shopper walked in to the convention room we welcomed him with Rely Basie’s jazz music; the partitions had posters that includes vacationer spots in Kansas Metropolis; the flower vase had a Blue Iris protruding; and, most apparently there have been posters of well-known gamers from Kansas Metropolis Chiefs soccer group.

We did an analogous association for a shopper in Dallas, the place we performed “Yellow Rose of Texas” as he walked in. Our hit price with shopper acquisition went up after that.I’m not saying it was due to company communications alone, however as a result of the shopper felt that we have been an organization that may stroll that additional mile for them.

My group began pondering extra artistic concepts for shows. I had some superb graphic artists who have been specialists in Macromedia Flash. We really began creating motion pictures for shopper shows. We’d shoot some inventory photographs in sections highlighting company data, high quality requirements, HR initiatives, Infrastructure. Relying on the shopper’s trade we had a section on how Satyam and so they “have been made for one another”. If the shopper was in Manufacturing we’d get considered one of our enterprise unit guys to speak about Satyam’s competency in Manufacturing and match it in to the film at an appropriate place. And so forth for Banking and Monetary Providers, Insurance coverage, Telecom and so forth.

These sorts of flicks price so much within the US so when the shoppers noticed our stuff they thought we had put in plenty of effort only for their pitch. At a Bear Stearns presentation in New York, one of many shopper’s senior officers jocularly commented that they knew whom to come back to in the event that they wanted a film produced!

One of many risks of going world and incomes in {dollars} however pondering in rupees is within the expenditure incurred on publicity materials. Within the early days our advertising workplace within the US would suggest shopping for some ball pens for distribution at a commerce present. They instructed us that it might ‘simply’ price a greenback a bit. Sitting in Hyderabad we’d convert it in to rupees and exclaim, “What, Rs 40 for an strange ball pen! Neglect it, we are going to ship it from India the place it prices solely Rs 3”. Sadly, our ball pens have been no match to the Chinese language ones obtainable there in a pleasant packing and qualitatively superior to ours. It was the identical factor with T-shirts, stickers, leaflets and exhibition panels. Quickly, higher sense prevailed and we purchased materials within the native markets abroad.

The following main occasion that catapulted us to the massive league was Satyam’s ADR itemizing on the New York Inventory Trade. Process clever this was extra elaborate than what we had achieved for Sify’s NASDAQ itemizing. Our finance division requested me to think about an appropriate image for the ticker. Of the cuff I recommended SAY and likewise coined the slogan “Say Satyam” as a part of the model promotion. This was authorised by everybody involved.

The morning of Could 15, 2001 began with a ceremonial breakfast within the NYSE eating corridor. Following this was a bunch {photograph} of the senior administration and the bell ringing and cap throwing ceremony. As a result of one other firm was itemizing on the identical time we have been in a distinct room. The inventory listed effectively at $11.16. We had organized for enterprise correspondents in Mumbai to assemble at a resort convention room. Quickly after the itemizing we had a stay video convention with Raju addressing the media. After that we did the rounds of TV studios in New York for stay interviews. After this itemizing one journalist instructed me that I held a novel world document of being the one communications individual to have dealt with public points for 2 group corporations in each NYSE and NASDAQ

By early 2002 I had turn out to be uninterested in my function in company communications and moved on to a different function.

Supply by Samaga Narayan

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