DIPR’s assistant director KM Vijayanada is on deputation to BBMP to handle day-to-day media relations for Gaurav Gupta
Gupta was ‘miffed’ by in-house PR team’s laxness in keeping him abreast of media queries
Good PR with Bengaluru’s various stakeholders seems to be top priority for new BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta. Towards that end, he has sidestepped his own in-house PR department and outsourced the work to assistant director KM Vijayanada from the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR).
Sources said Vijayanada will be working as special media coordinator for the Chief Commissioner, with the brief of maintaining good relations with media professionals mainly covering BBMP.
Gupta was reportedly confident enough of being appointed Chief Commissioner by the state government to ask DIPR Commissioner PS Harsha a week in advance for an information officer to assist him with BBMP’s media relations, sources said
In the dark on WhatsApp
The Chief Commissioner’s move follows his unhappiness with the in-house PR team for not updating him on WhatsApp messages by media persons. Reportedly, some vernacular media reporters, who had created a WhatsApp group and had added Gupta to the group when he was Administrator, were unhappy over the perceived ‘no response’ from him.
In fact, the current BBMP PRO and some other staffers said to be close to Gupta were also part of the WhatsApp group but even they had failed to inform him of reporters’ queries on Covid-19 cases.
Sources said that Gupta had not himself seen the WhatsApp messages as he was busy with meetings of the Commerce and Industries department (where he holds concurrent charge). After this incident, Gupta is said to have taken his staff to task for not updating him on media queries via WhatsApp. His dissatisfaction with his staff was bolstered by the fact that even former BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad had made a negative noting on the current PRO team. In fact, Prasad had sidelined the current PRO and had hired a Kannada journalist working in the mainstream media to provide positive stories of the civic agency.
The DIPR’s Vijayanada has reportedly been working with Gupta for over a week and has been given the task of building a good rapport with reporters and media houses as Gupta has his sights on a long innings in BBMP.
Prasad’s exemplary PR
“Gupta should follow at least a few measures adopted by his predecessor Manjunatha Prasad, who used to respond to every media person even late at night and would even call back if he had missed a call. Prasad was very active on WhatsApp and used to respond to every message after obtaining relevant information from his team,” said an officer who has observed how PR is handled in the civic agency in the last four years.
Reportedly, IAS officer Nalin Atul, during his short stint in BBMP’s administration section, had recommended in a note sheet to source an information officer from DIPR as the civic agency’s own PR team was ‘inefficient’.
TheBengaluruLive tried to get a reaction from Vijayanada but he refused to comment. Vijayanada also holds post of Member Secretary of Dr. Rajkumar Foundation, Dr. Vishnuvardhan Foundation and Dr. Ambareesh Foundation.