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Celebrities as Influencers for Brands: Questioning the Believability Factor

Take a look at this Instagram post. A smiling Priyanka Chopra is photographed in her home kitchen preparing a drink with a can of Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer. It's made very clear it's a paid partnership thanks to the social media platform allowing influencers to disclose they're publishing sponsored content.

With the actress's ginormous 54.2 million following, this particular post received 921k likes and 3.9k comments. That's a 1.69% engagement rate based on this commonly used formula >> Engagement Rate = (Likes + Comments) / Followers x 100. Now, that's not surprising for a celebrity with a huge following. There are many articles indicating that people with a mega following greater than a million can see engagement rates between 0.7% - 1.7%. 

But scroll through the comments (as far as your patience lets you browse through the thousands of comments), and you will notice that most of the comments (if not all) are random, with fans expressing their love fo…
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My Pandemic Poem

Are you regretting everything you took for granted?
All the hurtful things you said but never lamented...
And the those things you wanted but didn't need, and hoarded
Clothes, shoes and makeup, now left unattended

Are you regretting all the dreams you never pursued
No time for passion projects, as work ensued
And all the things you thought had your soul deeply bruised
Doesn't matter no more, everyone mentally doused

Are you regretting not visiting the places on your bucket list
With physical distancing, this sees like an endless tryst
Isolating, flattening the curve, sanitisation - you get the gist
Reminiscing, your mind wanders to people you miss

Are you regretting that time spent living in the past
Such wonderful moments, you know they never last
Learn to cherish even this difficult today, time's flying by fast
A Norweigian proverb goes 'Either it'll go well or it will pass'

Our Excessive Ways

Living in excess was one of the markers of our lifestyles pre-COVID. But when I meet you on the other side of this pandemic, which of these excesses are you going to ditch? 
Excessive pollution Excessive disruption Excessive procrastination Excessive depression
Excessive capitalism Excessive work Excessive consumerism Excessive hurt
Excessive buying Excessive drinking Excessive usage Excessive wastage
Excessive whining Excessive blame Excessive sighing Excessive shame
Excessive seriousness Excessive nonchalance Excessive carelessness Excessive imbalance
Excessive ignorance Excessive passiveness Excessive arrogance Excessive recklessness
Excessive self-doubt Excessive cynicism  Excessive fall-outs Excessive optimism
Excessive indulgence Excessive air miles Excessive absence Excessive stockpiles
Excessive apathy Excessive fallacy Excessive selfishness Excessive hopelessness

Hosting Webinars Remotely? Here are Secrets to Running them Smoothly

Between April 1 and May 20, I co-organized 11 webinars for Michael Page Middle East and Africa, as part of our engagement strategy with our key stakeholders during COVID-19. That's a handsome number considering the time-frame. I put together our first webinar within a two week period, and thereafter, I was churning out 1-2 webinars on an average per week. But until mid March, I was a complete webinar novice, not privy to the power of the medium and also clueless about the logistics involved in hosting one. But it was evident very early on that with companies switching to remote work, webinars were going to be a powerful marketing vehicle. So, I began my research and very quickly learnt the basics of curating webinars, including reaching out to my network for help. Hosting my first webinar was quite nerve-wracking: Can the audience here the speaker? Can they see the presenter's screen? Why are speakers facing dial-in issues? And so on. But there's no better teacher than ex…

Guidelines for Employees Posting on Social Media during COVID-19

Not just brands, but employees too should be mindful of how they communicate in times of a global crisis

The onus is on each of us, not just personally, but professionally too, to exercise sensitivity while posting on social media in a time when businesses and individuals globally are experiencing the wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not just brands, but employees’ own social media platforms are having increasing impact and reach. Now more than ever, consumers are closely watching how brands are communicating to their consumers, clients and vendors across various platforms. Thus, as employees and advocates of the brands we work for, the microscope is on us as well. After all, it does not take time for an inappropriate personal post to go, for the lack of a better word, viral.
How we engage with the community online and offline during this unprecedented situation will be extremely critical. Our social media behavior now will influence the decision-making of key stakeholders when the cris…

Touring Bahrain in 9 Hours

In February 2019, I visited Bahrain, a country that had never featured on my travel bucket list. And thank God I decided to, for it was a lovely quaint city, home to less than 200,000 local and expat residents. Bahrain was the region's recreational hotspot two-three decades ago before Dubai came along. Home to one of the world's oldest civilizations 'Dilmun' and a former British Protectorate, Bahrain became independent in 1971, and continues to be ruled by the Al Khalifa dynasty. Today, the Kingdom aims to be the leading FinTech hub in the region. I booked a full day guided tour by Visit Bahrain which included an airport pick up. Accompanied by an Indian female guide, a long time expat residing in Bahrain, and a fellow tourist, a Venezuelan-Polish graduate, the three of us spent a lovely day together exploring.

Stop 1: Al Fateh Mosque 
The only mosque opened to non-Muslim tourists is a sight to behold. The highlights of the mosque interiors included Italian marble, Ind…

Priyanka Chopra's Response to Ayesha Malik at Beautycon: A Communication Disaster

Miss World, award-winning Bollywood actress, breakthrough Hollywood star, a champion of women empowerment, UNICEF Goodwill Brand Ambassador. The list of Priyanka Chopra's achievements go on and on. Impressive, very impressive, and by no means were any of these milestones small feats to achieve - especially for a woman of color. She voiced her personal experiences and opinions on racism, diversity and gender quality at every relevant forum she was invited to speak on. But recently, at Beautycon in Los Angeles, Priyanka Chopra's response to Ayesha Malik, an audience member, was dangerously problematic, and displayed her lack of maturity in dealing with a confrontational situation. 
But before you proceed, please read this CNN article for a recap of the entire exchange between Malik and Chopra, and more importantly, for context on Malik's statement regarding the actress' alleged hypocritical stance on peace and humanity. 
My issue is with the way global icon Priyanka Chopr…

World Refugee Day - 5 Things You Can Personally Do To Help

My grandmother was a refugee. A teenage girl all of 16 years of age, one night in mid 1947, she and her family faced a situation where they had to abandon their ancestral home in the Sindh province (now in Pakistan) and flee overnight to the Indian side a month before Partition of India was officially announced by the British. Layered with as many clothes she possibly could wear, with some jewelry in tow, she and her family members fled at night, avoiding the consequential brutality and rioting that ensued as a result of Partition in the months that followed. Property, wealth, friends and businesses, all had to be left behind. She recounted her time spent at a refugee camp where she learnt how to read and write in Hindi. Remember, this was a language foreign and unknown to Sindhis. Amidst everything else that they had to adapt to in their new environment, they also had to learn a new language where even the script was different and written from right to left. Sindhi families had to re…

Touring Armenia during The Velvet Revolution

I had the opportunity to visit Armenia in April 2018 (long overdue blog post, I know). But it's not a country I knew much about. Think Armenia and chances are, you've read about the Armenian Genocide where 3/4th of its population perished - the controversy behind countries and world leaders acknowledging this as a 'genocide' ensues. One of the fascinating things I learnt was that today in Armenia, the population stands at just under 3 million (to put this in perspective, Mumbai city in India has a population of 18 million). But check out this stat; around 11 million Armenians live outside the country as migrants (most of them in the U.S.)! Right from the late 19th century, there have been three waves of massive migration from Armenia. But barring its troubled history, surely there's more to this landlocked tiny country? I was in for a surprise. In the very days we visited Armenia, the country made global waves with its Velvet Revolution, a watershed moment in its h…