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Bringing Her A-Game

Oct/07/2023 / by Abhijit Masih

Anita Chatterjee is not just a publicist; she is an inspiration, particularly to women founders and leaders. She is the driving force behind A-Game Public Relations, a company known for representing a diverse array of high-profile clients across the United States and beyond. With a dynamic and innovative leadership style, Chatterjee has an extraordinary ability to transform clients into household names through top-tier media placements, strategic partnerships, and groundbreaking solutions. Her achievements caught the attention of Forbes in 2021, as she was featured on their prestigious Next 1000 list, recognizing entrepreneurs who are reshaping the American dream.

Her company and her personal dedication to her clients has empowered numerous iconic women to amplify their messages in the media, helping them reach new heights of success. Chatterjee’s passion and commitment extend beyond her professional endeavors, as many of her clients have transitioned from being mere clients to cherished friends. SEEMA spoke to her to delve into her remarkable journey and gain insights into the world of public relations through her eyes.

Captivated by public relations

The publicity field was something that I always naturally loved, but I never thought of it as a career. Many of us go into professions because we think we might like it or it is something that our parents encouraged us to do; but you really need to sit back and reflect on what you’re good at. I was always organically rooting for organizations and people to achieve their objectives and their dreams. And I was often a public relations officer within those organizations because I believed in increasing the visibility of the organizations and sharing their stories. 

When I went to college, I knew I wanted to study communications. I thought I was going to go into broadcast communications and I love public speaking. I learned about PR while I was in school, and I was attracted to it and wanted to be more involved in it. My first PR internship was at the WGN News network, and I realized it was something I was really good at and I could make a career out of. So that was kind of like the Aha moment, that this could be a field that I could really rise in.

Campaigns, connections, and Anjula Acharia

DesiHits was this game-changing platform that was the bridge between Hollywood and Bollywood. Anjula Acharia, who is one of my best friends and mentors, was CEO of the company. I was working in Media and one of my friends was working at Bad Boy Entertainment, he left to join Desi Hits. So he invited me for lunch one day at his office and while I was there I ran into Anjula who was the CEO at the time. We always joke that it was love at first sight. We had a real connection. We were both Indian women who were ambitious, and she could sense that there was something about me that would be good for her organization. So a few weeks later, she asked me to be the editor-in-chief of DesiHits. While I handled the editorial on that platform, I worked on many campaigns with her. We did Lady Gaga’s PR campaign in India, I worked with Rihanna and uplifted her profile. We worked with various American celebrities and got them to really see the value of the Indian entertainment industry and the power of Bollywood. 

Motivation behind the agency’s inception

Eventually DesiHits’ time came to an end like a lot of startups. I think it was just ahead of its time. I went back into Media, and eventually decided I wanted to go into public relations, because I really enjoyed doing PR for Lady Gaga and the celebrities we worked with at DesiHits. While working at those organizations, one of the companies wanted to partner with me. I was telling this to Anjula, and she said—forget about partnering with the company. Just do your own thing. You have a gift. When I was working with you, you were creative. You were coming up with ideas, and you are really kind of taking people and making them into household names in different markets. So she encouraged me to start my own business, and she introduced me to my very first client. Anjula champions a lot of women, and I was lucky that I was one of the women that she picked to champion.

Securing the first client

His name is Rohan Oza and he was under the radar. He wasn’t known when I got connected to him, but I met him and saw that he had this amazing track record of pioneering celebrity equity deals. I worked with him, and the Hollywood reporter tagged him as the Hollywood brand. Father Inc. has called him the Kingmaker, and he eventually became a recurring judge on Shark Tank. So he’s really gotten known, and is a well-known name in the country now. But he was my very first client at A-Game. 

The client checklist 

In order to engage with the firm, you have to have a track record. You already have to be somewhat known, at least in your industry. Our job is to increase the visibility of an organization or its leaders, or a celebrity in terms of what they’re doing. But they have to come to us with a track record that’s already there. When we meet with the client we do some homework on them. We see whether these people have reached a certain level where they’re ready for PR, are they high growth companies? Are they public companies? Have they really established themselves in their field? Are they known? Are they ready for their career? Sometimes people do amazing things, but they haven’t built themselves up enough to be ready to engage with the firm. I always tell people you need to work on your personal profile and promote yourself through social media, through your network. We see if they have done that homework. So that’s what we look at when we engage with different clients.

Art of care and commitment

We handle our clients with a lot of sensitivity. I tell all my clients I’m available to them 24 hours, because our clients are very busy people. Sometimes, they do need to call me later in the evening or at odd hours to help them build their stories. We’re always very open and flexible with them and very understanding. The mantra is we’re on your team. We’re rooting for you. So, we need to trust each other and be there for each other. And I tell my team, we need to be very sensitive to our clients, their feelings, their needs and their leadership style to get them to where they need to be.

Criteria for Client Termination

I have fired clients. One of the main reasons for that is if we feel they’re disrespectful, not just to us. If we’ve seen them be disrespectful to others publicly, or they’ve shown some sort of hatred or racism. I think for every organization, whether it’s PR or any industry, you never want to align yourself with people who are putting out hate or representing themselves in a wrongful fashion. So anybody who’s reading this, if you get a sense of that with anybody you’re going to collaborate with, I would highly suggest that you decline the partnership. 

Fueling Impact: Success stories

We work with several high growth companies, many in the food and beverage space. Caulipower—the brand that made the cauliflower crusted pizza famous. They’re in over 35,000 major retailers. We’ve really helped them raise their profile and build the profile of the female founder of the brand. Vital Proteins is also a major brand that got acquired by Nestle Health Science and it grew like wildfire. We shared the organization’s stories and really elevated their products. There’s a meal kit company called Gobble. We work with Sunbasket, which is a very popular healthy meal kit company. We’ve worked and continue to work with a lot of amazing tech companies, ClassPass being one of them. We were able to share the announcement when the company became a unicorn company. We also work in the venture space with CAVU. We also work with a lot of celebrities. We work with Priyanka Chopra Jonas on her initiatives. There’s also the multi-Grammy award winning singer NE-YO. We have done a lot of work introducing him to different tech organizations. That’s just a few examples of the many amazing clients that we’ve worked with and the list goes on. We work with a lot of private and public high-growth companies, Venture Capital firms and celebrities. 

Mastering Crisis Control

When we work with our clients, we’re putting out fires for them all the time. It’s just life. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s something that we have to deal with all of our clients. People are very opinionated about successful brands and individuals and stories will come out and we have to find a way to figure out how to share our client’s narrative to the public. We either put out statements or do additional press with them so they could share their side of the story. It’s circumstantial and depends on every situation. But yes, it’s a part of what we do. You always have to put out fires just as much as to build the profiles.

Empowering South Asian women in PR: Insights and advice

Be very humble. You have to pay your dues before you get up there, especially in the world of communications. When you’re doing PR at an agency, you really need to build your network and become a very strong writer and speaker. Understand what the media is looking for and be creative and that takes time. Do a lot of internships to get started, learn from people and identify the right mentors. Be very respectful to those who are established in the field and try your best to get to know them. Just work hard and stay consistent and you’ll eventually get there. 

Quantifying Success

As a publicist, there’s been so many wins in terms of bringing these organizations to the forefront and sharing their messages. But I think one of my biggest accomplishments is building a business. I have a whole team. I support them in their personal career journeys. I’m so proud that I’ve been able to build an organization, become a female founder and build a platform where I really can help people impact the world by sharing their expertise, their experiences and their innovations. It’s just been an honor. I would say my biggest accomplishment today is being the founder of A-Game public relations.

SIDEBAR – 1

Anjula Acharia on Anita

“When I met Anita, I immediately knew there was magic in her. We had an instant connection.  I had my colleague set up a meeting with her the very next day and I offered her the Editor-in-Chief position at DesiHits. While at DesiHits, Anita helped me launch some incredible artists in Asia including Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, 50 Cent, and Enrique Iglesias. She became my go-to person to create great content that we were able to monetize. After her time at DesiHits, it was clear to me that she should set up her own public relations firm. I have trusted her expertise for over a decade now. I connected Anita with my good friend Rohan Oza with confidence and convinced him to sign on with Anita as her first client. Rohan is still a client of A-Game Public Relations and is grateful for that initial introduction.  Anita is passionate and driven. She knows how to tell a compelling story to elevate both individuals’ and brands’ stories, making her the quintessence of an effective publicist.”

SIDEBAR – 2

Anita’s Favorite Few

Favorite movie – It’s forever changing. But I guess the Spiderman series. 

Favorite music – I really like Reggaeton music. 

Favorite travel destination – Singapore. My parents are originally from Myanmar, so I appreciate the Asian culture and the Indian representation in the country.

Favorite food – Oh, I love Indo Chinese food. Hakka noodles.

Favorite piece of clothing – Blazers. It just makes me feel powerful and confident. 

How do you unwind – Netflix. It’s the easy source to get an escape. Netflix and reading. I’m an avid reader.

Favorite celebrity – I really admire Priyanka. She’s just so intelligent and a big advocate for independent women. 

A person you would like to have dinner with – Mother Teresa is someone who’s always inspired me. I had the honor to meet Mother Teresa, but I was a child then. She was just such an amazing woman.

Favorite destination in India – I love to travel to India, it’s where our roots are. I will say Kolkata because that’s where my family is from. 

SIDEBAR – 3

A-Game clients (past and present)

  • Bai
  • Blavity
  • CAULIPOWER
  • ClassPass (acquired by Mindbody in October 2021)
  • Falguni Shane Peacock
  • Gobble
  • Holberton School
  • Hooked
  • Illumix
  • Mysterious
  • NE-YO
  • Ooshma Garg 
  • Payal Kadakia 
  • Peek
  • POPPI
  • Rohan Oza and his firm CAVU
  • Sunbasket
  • Suneera Madhani
  • Stax
  • VAHDAM® India
  • Venus ET Fleur
  • Vital Proteins (acquired by Nestle Health Science in 2020)
  • Yumi

PQ Suggestions:

“I was always organically rooting for organizations and people to achieve their objectives and their dreams.”

“I really enjoyed doing PR for Lady Gaga.”

“Anjula champions a lot of women, and I was lucky that I was one of the women that she picked to champion.”

“Our job is to increase the visibility of organization or its leaders, or a celebrity in terms of what they’re doing.”

“We handle our clients with a lot of sensitivity. I tell all my clients I’m available to them 24 hours.”

“I tell my team, we need to be very sensitive to our clients, their feelings, their needs and their leadership style to get them to where they need to be.”

“Yes, I have fired clients.”

“We work with a lot of private and public high-growth companies, Venture Capital firms and celebrities.”

“When we work with our clients, we’re putting out fires for them all the time. It’s just life. Everybody makes mistakes.”

“One of my biggest accomplishments is building a business.”

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