Here we discuss the basic ingredients of Public Relations: Topical Issues, The backdrop - economic and social, What makes PR tick, the pain points, the problems, the positives, the negatives... almost anything under the sun related to the communication industry!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

AAP: The Road ahead...

Now that Arvind Kejriwal and his party have bitten the bullet and finally agreed to form government in Delhi, the question in everybody’s mind is what next?

I had met Arvind for dinner at a friend's place almost 10 years ago and he was idealistic then too. But not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I was meeting the future Chief Minster of Delhi. 

I personally supported AAP and was also a contributor to the fund raising by his party. Many of my friends and colleagues wondered and asked me the reason for supporting AAP. Their question was very pertinent – What is it that you want in Delhi that AAP will do and the other parties have not done?

When I pondered over the question, my immediate, on the spur answer that would have been  "development", did not hold valid. Development in Delhi has happened irrespective of the party at the helm. We, sitting in Delhi, crib but just stepping out of Delhi will give one the idea of what a privileged lot we Delhiites are. We get almost uninterrupted power, most parts of Delhi - at least the authorised ones - get water, the roads are by far well maintained, we are close to having a robust public transport system in the next three years, there is proper sanitation and the list can go on and on... 

So why AAP and not the regular political dispensation?

Well, I did not have a proper answer but I still wanted AAP. It is like a whiff of fresh air, true they still seem too idealistic in  today’s time and people believe they have a magic wand, they speak a language which nobody else speaks. Their idealism strikes a chord with, I guess, every well meaning Indian.

The deciding factor is the feeling of empowerment that people in Delhi feel today. For the first time perhaps, they have a class of politicians who belong to the common class. The people of Delhi believe that the elected representatives of the AAP party will actually be their representatives and not their lords and masters. 

A true example that I heard today was when one young lady of 22 yrs was assaulted in Mukherjee Nagar Area and the police refused to file a FIR. The husband who resides in Pitampura area called up the MLA of Mukherjee Nagar (who was not known to him, but whose number was on the AAP website) and the MLA immediately went to the Police Station and forced the SHO there to file a FIR.

These are however lofty benchmarks for the AAP party and its supporters to uphold. Only time will tell whether these incidences where just a flash in the pan or it is something which will dictate the political discourse in the future.

The days ahead for AAP are going to be challenging, indeed daunting. The biggest being that there is only one  Arvind Kejriwal. The others faces are known yet unknown. Most of those who have supported AAP have done so because of Arvind. Would I have voted for say Manish Sisodia or say Prashant Bhushan were it not for Arvind? - Very unlikely. So the question before Arvind and AAP is how to build the next level of leadership and how to give the organisation a shape. The beauty of AAP lies in the chaos, the spontaneity and the unstructured form of politics. However if AAP has to increase its geographic footprint and go national, then these are the questions that have to be resolved.

Many AAP supporters believe that it is going to be a cakewalk in rest of the country. The belief has also led Arvind Kejriwal to announce that AAP will fight the Lok Sabha election in Gujarat against Modi. This could be very ambitious and a dangerous strategy. To fight against Modi is not going to be easy, more so because I believe that Gujarat will vote for him whole heartedly for the fact that they would want one of theirs to be the Prime Minister.

I think AAP is on the right path of going National because their ideas have universal appeal. Also unless they go national, they will fall in the trap that other regional parties have fallen – being confined to specific territories. However, they will have to have a more definitive approach to issues besides the Corruption plank if they want to fight the Lok Sabha poll. Unlike the local elections, National elections should be fought on a policy plank which covers larger National and International issues e.g. What is AAP’s stand over the ongoing India – US diplomatic row over strip search of an Indian diplomat.

They will also have to project other people who the public can trust as much as they trust Arvind Kejriwal. I am sure Arvind Kejriwal who is as astute as anyone else will already be weighing these in his mind. We wait to see what will come out of his fertile brain.

I must admit he is right in at least one aspect that people of India are looking for a credible alternative which can really empower them or at least leave them feeling empowered!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Is Modi’s Campaign headed for a PR disaster?

Recent events have cast a shadow on the Modi juggernaut. First, repeated wrong quoting of facts and figures and then, the invasion of privacy of a Girl have all put a question mark on Modi campaign managers and his PR team.

I am a Modi supporter but that does not make me deaf and blind. Obvious repeated mistakes on first data and then history: looks like the Modi campaign is not very well prepared. It is true that Modi has great oratory skills and is able to connect to the people and ignite their imagination, but that does not mean that we turn a blind eye.

A cross section of his supporters would say that the mistakes are due to the fact that he does not orate prepared speeches but speaks extempore. But a man whom we see as our future PM cannot have a seemingly casual attitude and accept such lame excuses.

Besides this, the recent controversy of keeping tabs on a Girl using government machinery makes one queasy. The reaction of the BJP  is along expected lines. They have blunted the allegation by showing that the tabs were at the behest of the Father.

However the whole episode when linked to others like Godhara, intolerance towards other senior leaders, over the top self propaganda, etc. leaves one feeling and asking whether we are right in our equivocal support to Modi. One is forced to think if we are sure that we are not making a mistake in electing a person whose personality shows signs of being Machiavellian and who sometimes appears to show the traits of being a Narcissist.

Herein lies the challenge for the Campaign managers and the PR team of Modi. 

It might be true that the communication team may be aware of these issues but Modi might not be listening, but then again if they do not tackle these challenges they might appear to be winning the battle but will risk loosing the War. 

It is time Modi looked at his team of professionals and sought and followed their advise.

The Campaign Mangers must make sure that every speech the Modi makes from hereon must be thoroughly vetted allowing for no more Faux pas.  Modi must be careful that in his zeal for going extempore, he does not lose sight of the ground reality.

The PR managers have so far done a great job in capturing the mind space, but this advantage can easily turn into a disadvantage. With increased mind space, they must realize that every action and word of Modi is open to the greatest scrutiny. They have almost created a Demi God with an image in people's mind that Modi is infallible and he has a cure for every ill that plagues India. This is a highly risky proposition. 

It would be better for Modi and his supporters if the PR machinery toned down the Modi image to a more human level. Because if they manage that, then mistakes will be overlooked and forgotten by the people. If they succeed in this then Modi will become truly unstoppable.  They should remember that “God’s are not expected to make mistakes whereas to make mistakes is being Human”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bad, Bad, Bad PR for Delhi...

PR is Public Relations and today, by any reckoning, the people's perception of what Delhi has become is BAD...

And why should it be so? The dastardly acts of violence against women that have been so highlighted by all and sundry have sullied our reputation beyond redemption...

And what is it that we are doing about it??? Creating a mess .... Making a bad thing worse...

The person angst that I suffer as an individual as well as that as a PR professional is possibly felt by numerous like me and we all sit on our backsides doing nothing!!!

And the question is What can we do??? As an individual as well as a community???

Okay, so I dont know but I desperately want to do something... We need to collectively get our act together and make a change and the Government - Central as well as Delhi, needs to start doing something too...

Ideas are welcome and lets make this not just another flash in the pan and forget all about it when the next controversy strikes but do something to make the city and society safe for women...

My colleague, Raakesh Kapoor, wrote a very interesting piece and here is the link: for his latest write-up...

What he is trying to bring out is that it is not just Delhi which is a villian but increasingly our society which is turning brutal, insensitivive and therefore bestial at times. 

I firmly believe that sullying a city while not over-looking the basic underlying issues of lack of sensitivity etc can be very short term - so Today it is Delhi, tomorrow it could be Jakarta, day after Winnipeg, etc. The whole world could be the losers in this naming game, if we dont do anything soon...