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How to seek publicity (or not!)

Some seek publicity, others are born with it and then there are those who have it thrust upon them. Dipankar Gupta writes.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2012 23:46 IST

Some seek publicity, others are born with it and then there are those who have it thrust upon them. Except for some who are in the limelight by virtue of birth, others who want to be in the public eye need publicity. Even those born with silver mikes in their mouths must do something publicity-worthy. They have a head start but must not sit idle.

Then there are those who do all they can for attention. They usually have talent, but not much. One needs skills but because there are others with near-equal abilities, they need publicity to stay afloat. Rarely is a person made purely of media fluff; some talent is needed or else it's tough to crank up the publicity machine.

Then there are those who work hard, have great gifts and are luckily recognised for their unusual attributes. Publicity thrusts itself on such people, though it is unfortunately also the case that some extraordinary individuals do not somehow get noticed; tough luck!

Today, a truly gifted person needs agents and publicity experts to get to the top. As this happens without the individual strutting on the proscenium, it doesn't look so gross. On the other hand, one might say that good agents work only for those who are talented in a rather unusual way. But we all need publicists of some kind if we want to be noticed. There are various levels at which this happens and the talent required is greater if you want publicists to chase you. A person with slightly-above-mediocre status usually comes across as a vain self-publicist. For such people, there is no publicity that is negative publicity.

There are some fields where if an individual gets too much publicity, something is wrong. If a scholar, soldier or a priest is in the news regularly, suspect him. He may turn out to be fine, but attracting so much lay attention is cause for red flags.

A true intellectual is appreciated by a small band of relevant "others", a true soldier by his men and a true religious person by those whose souls he has saved.

The writer is a sociologist who taught at JNU's School of Social Science