The Art and Science of PR in India
S.Ganesh, INN/Chennai, @infodeaofficial
Public Relations has become indispensable in the modern world today we have now. And the reason is simple and straight forward. It is the concept of interdependence ie. we are not just dependent but we are interdependent like people are dependent on organizations and organizations are dependent on people.
This mutual interdependence has given room for public relations as Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India calls PR as a lubricant of democracy.
PR is a deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public. (Cutlip and Center 2009) Various activities are included in PR which include, promotion of image, doing good and talking about among others
Public relations in India has emerged from infancy and has acquired professional prominence over the years. During the 20th century Public relations has borrowed from the west, acquired Indian dimension and came to be practiced here in India well.
Professionalism has gained over the years, with technological edge getting its dimension and PR came to be recognized as a force which cannot be neglected easily.
With the advent of corporate communication, public relations came to be looked upon as a crisis tool in many organizations – in furthering image and repairing relationships and the like.
Many public sector organizations in India switched to corporate communication to include many PR activities as well as other activities. Corporate communication, to them means, communication activities of the entire corporation taken into account.
Many organizations in India employ Public Relations professionals now a days and there is a great demand for PR activities today incorporate sector than ever before.
Public Relations has been used by government and non profit sector also for promotion of image, carrying out good will and successful in execution of various commercial activities.
Need for PR today
As the population has increased drastically, there is need to lubricate and smoothen things effectively in Indian society, increasing need for PR is being felt (Ganesh 1998) .
The past two decades have seen PR gaining prominence in all forms and as new media have developed and as TV continue to attract viewers greatly, Public relations is gaining. The use of PR is growing in private, public sector as well as in joint sectors of India in great measure.
Not only the individual PR has gained, but also the corporate PR and various corporate PR activities including employee relationships and customer relations activities have gained momentum.
Today, labor problems have gained in great measure and PR person has to solve these labor disputes in and out of courts today.
New media have made old media of mass communication obsolete to some extent although TV is still there to a great measure. New media technologies have made interactivity to a great extent and this is not possible in the case of old media.
Apart from interactivity, new media could deliver color pictures and text to a great extent with clarity and accuracy and these made new media all the more great.
TV is continued to be there but cable TV has gained prominence and one could go to nook and corner of a city and would find cable TV there blaring and showing various pictures of yesterday and today.
PR gains momentum because increased population, increased complexities of society and increased interaction of various events and people. We live in today’s India in a true age of interdependence and to make less noise and more smoother functioning of this society, we need Public relations.
Public relations is also needed by governments and corporates to tell their side of stories as effectively as possible. Corporate communication might be there for communicating the entire gamut of corporation but PR is needed to tell human side of the stories well. (Fernandez 2002)
PR in Today’s Management scenario
Management of corporations from time immemorial have not been giving proper importance to PR functions and PR need to be given that role effectively. In today’s management scenario in India, this is continuing to some extent although improvements have been made to an extent.
Today’s managements look at PR more like a yet another activity in India although the struggles waged by PR professionals have improved their status to some extent. PR is both line and staff function in India but more importantly, it is a management function.
Today, finally PR has arrived at this stage of being a management function after looking down upon it as winning, dinning and what not.
The successful evolutions of PR code of ethics and Athens as well as professional training and education have made PR today a management function to an extent in modern companies and government organizations in India.
PR has been given management status in the sense that it is being consulted in all policy matters and decisions are taken after that.
Today, PR roles are many and numerous in many of the corporations, public sector undertakings and in government. It is not just the fire fighting role for which PR is called upon- there are other roles like promoting good will among share holders, customers, community and other corporate publics.
The image management and corporate social Responsibility (CSR) function of PR need special mentions. The CSR role is practiced by many organizations today like Tata’s Birla’s and others including new media organizations.
Companies launch many CSR and community relations activities to get approval for their policies and programs and these are being done with full enthusiasm today. Although CSR works are carried out by social work or community development people, there is a definite role for PR to play in it.
PR function and PR officer have to guide people in carrying out various PR activities effectively so that people get benefit from these activities.
The share holder program is also an effective PR activity which needs management support and for these activities PR persons and concerned others need to be deputed.
There is no saying which can go like – people can be ignored by business can be tolerated. On the other hand, it is that people need to be respected should be theme slogan of many organizations today.
When Ivy led better lee pioneered PR some decades ago, there existed a climate that people are needed. realizing the importance of people management, and people’s appreciation for various schemes, the new CSR activities began.
Today, no company can ignore people and people related causes easily.