This week in the Interview Series, we have Tabish Bhimani, a communications professional from Montreal, Canada who is currently working with the World Partnership Walk; Canada’s largest fundraising event against global poverty. In this Q&A, Tabish discusses his love for PR, career paths, time management and the importance of social media and blogging for job hunting.
When I took my first and only PR course, I learnt that PR is about creating win-win situations. It’s about creativity, its about people, and its about trust. This is in line with the way I think, and what better way to sustain that faith than to be a part of an industry that exists in that mindset? Every single person I have come across in PR or a similar field is about people. They are about helping people, about connecting with people, and about building relationships. And we’re about telling stories. These are the most natural human instincts. Getting paid to live life? Heaven yes!
Q2. At the moment you’re working as the Deputy Convener at the World Partnership Work, what type of career path led you to this current role?
Great question! My role as the Deputy Convener for Media Relations at the World Partnership Walk is a purely voluntary role. The Walk is run by volunteers, and a 100% of the funds raised go directly to development work, and not one cent is spent on administrative costs.
Since the spirit of volunteerism runs high in my community, what better an opportunity would present itself than working in Media Relations? I was suggested as the next DC for the Walk by my previous DC, Naila Jinnah (@NailaJ). I learnt a lot from her, and I continue to do so.
On a day to day basis, my involvement has been to write pitches, talk to journalists, scope opportunities to Talk the Walk, work on organic Social Media growth, and in general, get people involved in a wonderful, pragmatic cause. It was definitely the logical step for me to take in pursuing my career in PR. It was a great playground, we could try out new ideas, and at the same time, I could sharpen my skills working in a professional environment. It was kind of a year-long internship!
Q3. You’re also the owner of Konception, a development/design company, how’s that going?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur gene runs through the veins in all of my family members. So even when I was 14, I started conducting business in the creative world. I started Milestones Montreal recently, which is an ethnic wedding planning company. The way I conduct business is through personal references. While studying, my time was limited, so I focused on working only with clients I knew through a personal reference. I wanted to evolve and so I moved on to event planning from design. Each activity I’ve undertaken has subsumed the previous and so design becomes an integral part of Milestones Montreal. I don’t spend a lot of time on either companies, marketing myself. So, how’s it going? Great! Just the way I want it to!
Q4. Between working, running your own company and managing your own blog, how do you find the time?
If there is one thing I learnt at university, it was time management. Being in the family business, running my own personal ventures, and keeping a blog, its difficult. I haven’t updated my blog in over a month. But remember, great content and great relationships last a long time. Life, technologies, ideas, and people. We all continue to evolve, to grow. So I want to keep updating my blog and touch base with my colleagues and associates to keep the spark alive.
Even now, I read some blog posts on PR Daily, and things that some of my most esteemed colleagues like Lauren Gray (@laurenkgray) share, and they spark great ideas for me to write blog posts on. My professor, Scot Gardiner who passed away last week said that he writes arbitrary thoughts and ideas on a piece of paper and puts them in a shoe box. Several months later he opens the shoe box and finds that the ideas have been talking to themselves, conspiring to create something greater! That’s what I’m doing with my involvements. We all evolve together. See? Win-win!
Q5. In your opinion, do you think having a blog is essential for all PR students?
A blog is essential. Most definitely. Why? You get a chance to hone your writing skills: brevity, wit, timing. You develop these through a blog, and in turn, they develop you. In our industry, writing is crucial, but so is non-verbal communication. Choosing the right photograph or imagery is also essential. A blog is like a playground. You get to do all these things AND you can track your progress.
I also want to quickly mention why timing is important. Just over two years ago when my previous university’s teaching assistants went on strike, I happened to be right outside the ratification hall at 10 PM. I asked one of them who had come out about what was going on. She shared the results with me. I went home, and promptly blogged about it. I have never, to date, received the number of unique hits that day. I was the first person to break the news. A blog allows you to appreciate the importance of timing. It is about relevance.
Q6. What about social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook?
To an outsider, all these social networks are the same. But I’ve picked up certain nuances about the networks. I don’t use Twitter for the same reason I use Facebook. My use of LinkedIn is admittedly limited, but I find several commonalities between Twitter and LinkedIn, at least for the PR Industry. I meet new people more on Twitter than I do on LinkedIn, and I meet some very cool people now on Facebook. Facebook is more private though, and not everyone who follows you on Twitter may want to be your Facebook friend. You have to experience the dynamics and take note.
A word of caution though, and this comes from my own experience. Don’t get on too many social sites and networks. Don’t create Twitter accounts and Facebook pages for the companies that are your clients as an obvious tool in your arsenal. This could really fall flat on its face. Do you have the resources to continue to manage those pages and profiles? Let it all be organic. Remember, its just an extension of real life, although the dynamics are altered. But behind every technology there is a person. Think of it this way: I want to talk to the Air Canada representative at the airport. They have a booth. But is there a person behind it? You have an account. But is someone monitoring it? Talking back? Get back to the basics.
Q7. And lastly, what’s the most importance advice you can give to a PR student?
I have only two pieces of advice. Believe in yourself. You are only limited because you haven’t tried. Hold true to your purpose which makes up your faith, and in everything you do, live your purpose. And be specific okay? The other piece of advice? Don’t sell yourself short. Especially to yourself.