Time to Think PR Differently. Users Show The Way!
No doubt that the role of PR is changing in India. Before everyone started using this tool in India, PR metamorphosed into a different creature. No longer are the good old instruments, that worked effectively in the past, are working effectively. An interesting aspect of this change is that it is primarily caused by the users and not the so-called experts – the media and the PR consultants. The change is being brought about by the real gurus of communications – the politicians and the entrepreneurs. Though the politicians and the entrepreneurs had different compulsions to bring about this change. The politicians had to circumvent the regulators and also being heard over the media noise. The entrepreneur, specially the smaller in size but having a bigger idea, has one simple problem – he does not have enough money to afford PR consultants.
Ofcourse, technology has a big role in bringing this change.
Coming back to politicians and entrepreneurs, two recent instances come to mind. Suddenly, the dance of democracy is witnessing a surge in politicians changing parties. When, as a PR Agency, we approach the media for a story for our client, we are informed that the story cannot appear in a particular city’s edition as it has no relevance in this city. And here we are. Obscure politicians change parties in some other cities and we get to read a screaming seven column headline with a mention in the front page of the daily also. Guess, it is a good way to circumvent the Election Commission’s diktats and yet stay in news. Mind you, India is into the election season.
The entrepreneur does this because he has no money to go through formal channels. He/she relies on the strength of the story and technology to disseminate the news. I recently heard mesmerizing Venky, the entrepreneur behind Goli Vada Pav. Venky drives his communications himself and relies on his entrepreneurial journey, funding, alliance with world leaders from USA, Indian food-eating habits, etc. as PR content for free PR. With such content as gunpowder, he is shooting for the brand. Venky knows that the stories such as the nutritional value of Vada Pav, enhancing the appeal of Vada Pav as an upmarket food, poor man’s food, etc. were less relevant for the brand. Guess, he also knew that such stories have a limited appeal in the media. And he had no money also for paid media or fake media. He deftly used Social Media to connect with his customers and other stakeholders.
Seems that this is the trend and not a fad. With media focusing on eyeballs and TRPs, all news that entertain will have more takers. It is also true for Banks, Mutual Funds, IPOs, retail stores, fashion accessories, hotels, ecommerce, etc.
News as entertainment. I will not be surprised if Karan Johar launches a newspaper tomorrow.