Media Management of Religious Organizations

Dr. Ramesh Kumar Rawat*

In the contemporary world of high-tech media every religious and spiritual organization and institution seeks and takes the help of media coverage to spread their thoughts and gain popularity. Media communication, media management and public relation are helpful in the publicity of their activities and thoughts. The Dharamgurus also use high tech media in their public programs.

In the time gone by there was no print or electronic media to be used for publicity. Today, all kinds of institutes and organizations use the traditional media for publicity. Religious institutes and organizations and their Dharamgurus spread spiritual and religious knowledge among people by extensive travelling and delivering speeches. Centauries later when the printing technology developed they used books, newspapers and magazines for publicity. Then came the radio, TV and the internet, all used as vehicles of publicity to gain popularity.

(1) Media use by Religious and Spiritual Organizations and Institutions

Just as a multinational company appoints Public Relation Officer or PR-Manager to sell their products and services through communication, media management and public relation, religious and spiritual organizations also appoint their media coordinators, Public Relation Officers, PR-Managers to send their spiritual message  and inform the public about their activities through the media.

(a) Publication

They have their own separate media departments which publish journals, spiritual magazines, arrange press conferences, releases press notes to the media for publication and publicity. Prekshadhyan, Yuva Drashty and Anuvrat magazine are regularly published by “Terapanth Jain Dharma Sangh”. Gyanamarit is published by Prajapita Brahamakumari Ishwaria Vishvavidhyalaya, Akhand Jyoti and Yug Nirman Yojana, published by Gayatri Parivar, and Rishi Prasad published by Yog Vedant Samiti.

These organizations use the traditional medium for publicity and popularity inside and outside the country. They open centers in various countries, appoint manager to manage all spiritual activities and publicity planning in the media.

Religious and spiritual organizations use hoardings, banners, wall paintings, organize folk drama and ply vans to show audio video films, organize audio-video satsangs, Ahimsa Yatra, organize conferences, seminars, workshops, exhibitions and distribute striker, brushers, pamphlets, T-shirts, badges among the public. They mail messages to people regularly to provide information about their spiritual activities.

The publication department of religious and spiritual organization and institutions publish their magazines, newspapers, books and also compile and publish the pravachans and speeches of the Dharmguru.

(b) Audio-Video

The audio-video channels of religious and spiritual organizations and institutions broadcast their spiritual programs; e.g. Gayatri Parivar and Praja Pita Brahamkumari Ishwaria Vishvavidhaliya broadcast their programs on Pragya channel and Om Shanty audio channel. We can watch a lot of programs of religious organizations and institutions on Sadhna, Sanskar, Astha and other religious channels.

Some channels are inspired by religious and spiritual organizations and institutions to broadcast religious programs for self inspiration, and some of these channels broadcast these programs at prime time as a package and on payment basis. TV Channels send their correspondents or reporters to cover the activities of these organizations.

Religious and spiritual organizations have their audio-video departments and have their websites that put out news and information on their history, books and magazines and downloadable video and audio bhajans and pravachanas (speeches).

(c) Websites

We can visit Gayatri Parivar website http://www.gayatri.info, Terapanth Jain Dharma Sangh website http://www.terapanthmedia.com and http://www.terapanth.net, Yog Vadant Samiti website http://www.ashram.org and Praja Pita Braham Kumari Ishwariya Vishvavidhyalaya website http://www.omshantimusic.com.

(d) Role of Media Coordinator

The religious and spiritual organizations and institutions appoint a media coordinator at each of their centers who arranges the media coverage by organizing press conferences and press meets etc. He also publishes and broadcasts their activities in the media. The audio-visual media is preferred because it reaches people immediately.

(e) Religious and Spiritual Eduction

Some religious and spiritual organizations and institutions have their own university and they run a lot of spiritual courses. They regularly organize spiritual activities and get media coverage. They invite celebrities, politicians, businessmen and industrialists to their programs and create hype for media coverage, distribute food, clothes, medicines and other things free of cost to the poor people, organize free health camps, provide free education and get these activities covered in the media.

(2)    Dharamgurus and Media

Some media houses owners, managing directors, CEO’s, managers, editors and other persons in senior posts are “disciples” (Shishyas) or followers of the Dharmgurus and they order their reporters and editors to cover the activities of religious and spiritual organizations, institutions and the Dharamgurus. If any subordinate editorial staff member does not follow their instructions, they are penalized by transfers, denial of increment and other facilities to them and sometimes termination of their services. So the editorial staff is always afraid of the Dharmagurus and gives media coverage to them without any objection. To cover such activities they remove, cut or edit important news.

The Dharmagurus of some religious and spiritual organizational and institutions are appointed at senior posts in media houses. So they have influence over the media persons.

(a) Give and Take

Some media houses are attached to Dharamgurus and religious and spiritual organizations and institutions as brands and they organize branding activities for them. They help with activities like organizing receptions and water arrangement etc. They also publish special supplements in their newspapers on these activities on various occasions. These organizations and institutions organize annual peace conferences for media persons. They give publicity contract to media persons (reporters, photographers, the editorial staff), recommend salary increments, promotions and other facilities for them to the media house owner. They give expensive gifts, Tabeez (amulet), rings, bangles, success mantra to the media persons. The media persons accept all these gifts and publish and broadcast the news and activities of these organizations and institutions.

Some organization, institutions and Dharamgurus organize high-profile religious activities which automatically ensure media coverage.

(b) Finincial Sources

Some businessmen, politicians and industrialists convert their black money to white money through donations to religious and spiritual organizations, Dharamgurus and also invest or spend money on the activities of these organizations, institutions and the Dharamgurus.

Studies reveal that the activities of the Dharamgurus and their religious and spiritual organizations and institutions have been totally converted into business activities. They sell their spiritual activities, Pravachana and get money in the form of donations and Guru Dakshana. Being the disciple or Shisya of any Dharamguru, the politician, industrialist, businessman spend a lot of money on their activities, so that they themselves may get publicity and popularity in the media.

(c) Media Relation

The religious and spiritual organizations and institutions are able to manage the media, particularly when the media publishes something about their unethical activities. Soon after this happens, not a single line or a single byte is published or broadcast by the media, because the media house concerned has been indirectly managed by these organizations and institutions.

(3) Impact

The impact of these organizations and institutions and the Dharamgurus and their activities on illiterate and semi-literate people, women, senior citizens and children is so much that people give money to them to build a store of their “Punya” (good deeds) and destroy “Pap” (evil). The print and the electronic media publish and broadcast the activities of these institutions and organizations and also publish and broadcast Jhanki, Poshbada, Sahastraghat by Dharamgurus. Such news and views is misuse of the space and time of the newspapers and TV and radio channels.

(4) Political Activities

A surprising fact is that the Dharamgurus participate in election campaigns with politicians and get media coverage both before and after the elections. The Dharamgurus also travel in the cars with the red beacon light without any permission.

Conclusion

Based on experience and learning after extensive interaction with various religious and spiritual organizations and institutions, the Dharamgurus and their media coordinators, also interviews with the editorial department of various media houses and eminent writers, it can be concluded that all religious and spiritual organizations and institutions and the Dharamgurus manage the media through communication and public relations.

Their activities are aimed at spreading their empire of thoughts and ideas on the one hand and on the other to get publicity and popularity so as to increase the number of their followers and collect more and more money and resources to establish their Ashramas etc.

Bibliography

(A)   Magazine

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  • Prakshadhayan- Monthly, Editor – Samani Mallipragya, Publisher – Tulshi Adhtyam Needam, Jain Vishv Bharti, Ladnoo.
  • Jain Bharti – Monthly, Editor – Shubu Patwa, Publisher – Jain Shawatambar Terapanthi Mahasabha – Kolkata.
  • Yuvadrashti – Monthly, Editor Kamlesh Chaturvedi, Publisher – Akhil Bhartiya terapanth youvak parishad, Ladnoo.
  • Gyanamarat – Monthly, Editor – Brahamkumar Atam Prakash, Publisher – Prajapita Brahamkumari Ishwaria Vishvavidhyalaya, Aburoad.
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