Dr. Arnab Kumar Banerjee*
During the Pre-Industrial period, business and social relations were simple, straightforward and on a person to person basis. That was possible because business and society were much less complex in structure and character than they are today, and competitiveness was minimal. Following the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States, business and society underwent a total transformation. Business organizations mushroomed, competing with one another for attention and profit, and urban society became pluralistic, comprising as it did men and women from different classes and groups, of varying educational, religious, and social backgrounds. In such a complex capitalist society, advertising and public relations were necessary to fight the competition. The mass media came to serve this function for business and administration. Governments too found it necessary to use the media to publicize their policies and plans to the people. Public Relations emerged as the strongest weapon to do so. Of equal importance was bringing to the attention of the public the contributions of business to society and to the community. They sought thereby to raise the ‘image’ of business and government so as to win the understanding and acceptance of the public. Public Relations activities would be guided by truth and honesty in providing full information to the people.
The industry has now been ‘invaded’ by multinational players, forcing the major home-grown agencies to tie up or even sell out to them. Public Relations used to be one of the activities of the advertisement agencies until the 1990; today it is a highly specialized management and marketing function dedicated to building the reputation and public image of commercial, political, and cultural organizations. ‘Reputation Management’, ‘Image Management’ and ‘Crisis Management’ have come to be the primary functions of PR in the new millennium. Specialties within Public Relations profession include Healthcare PR, Food Service PR, Technology PR, Public Affairs PR, Labour Relations PR.
PR Agencies in India
Some of the renowned P.R agencies operating across India are:
- Genesis-Burson Marsteller
- Perfect Relations
- Adfactors PR Pvt Ltd
- Corporate Voice/Weber Shandwick
- 20:20 Media
- Good Relations
- Ogilvy PR Worldwide
- Synergy Public Relations
- Pressman Advertising and Marketing Ltd
- Vaishnavi Communications
- Sampark Public Relations
- Shabbanjali Communication Services
- Hanmer and Partners
In order to gain reputation, a business or individual must present themselves to the public in a way that makes them likeable1. A company can have a great product or an individual be full of talent, but without a public reputation they will struggle to produce an income. In some cases, as in politics, candidates must present themselves to the public in order to gain votes. Anything that helps relate the person or brand to the public is public relations2.
Public relations can be positive or negative. In some cases, it is a little bit of both. If a celebrity does something that the majority of people find offensive, they have negative public relations. It is up to the PR team to turn the negativity into something positive. In political campaigns PR teams sometimes work on creating negative PR called a smear campaign in order to change the public’s opinion about a certain candidate. During this time, two public relations teams are working round the clock to create new campaigns and work to counteract any negative PR that has been put out by the opponent.
From the management point of view, there are two aspects of PR-internal and external3. The management of a company has to enlist the participation and support of its workers to realize its objectives, and to win the confidence and trust of its shareholders, clients, suppliers, and the public at large, thereby fulfilling its social obligations. Employees are the internal public of both private and public sector. They are important as they take part in its operations, production and formulation of ideas4. External PR, as the name suggests, is concerned with people outside the organization since it is necessary to communicate with different groups of people in PR, the target population has to be defined. External publics are-customers, shareholders, opinion leaders, media relations, community at large5.
Social Media Role in PR
With a number of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook allowing users to follow companies or use certain tags to talk about a company, businesses are seeing growth from customers who are finding them on social media sites. Social networking also allows companies to create giveaways or provide coupons and promotions to customers, creating brand recognition and attracting people who might otherwise not have utilized the brand.
Other forms of social media include blogs and websites. Blogging has become a popular form of marketing for both small and large businesses. Some companies even hire a couple of bloggers to blog daily about the activities of the company or promote products or services. Article marketing is a type of marketing where short articles are written on a topic that relates to business. These articles show up when people conduct online searches, drawing them to the website or blog. Many businesses have learned how to use certain keywords for PR and marketing, insuring that their website or blog is easily found during a search.
Public relations professionals who need to manage a company’s reputation or block bad publicity can instantly reach customers through social media sites. In fact, many celebrities counter rumors by posting on Twitter, letting their fans know immediately their side of the story. A company can also post sales and deals on social media sites, letting their loyal customers know before it becomes mainstream news.
PR in New India
Just like anything else, public relations has evolved over time. With new technology and the advent of social media, public relations has seen huge changes in the past 13 years.
Here are 11 ways in which public relations has changed since 2000:
- Interactive News Releases. The company’s news releases include photos, videos and links. Without these, it’s just a boring old news release.
- No More Mailing. Today, public relations professionals can forget the postage stamp when distributing news releases. Instead of mailing them to individual reporters, they are sent via email or online distribution sites. After a reporter publishes the release, show them some gratitude by sharing the link on social media.
- Goodbye Scissors. Does business get media clips in the mail? Probably not. Today, clips are simply saved or scanned and sent directly to clients as PDFs.
- Blogging. No need to depend on reporters and publications to get your story out. You can do so by blogging. Over the years, corporate blogging has become more and more popular. Now, it is a necessity. Corporate blogging allows customers and potential customers to engage with your brand much more effectively than traditional public relations channels. Most importantly, having a blog is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. Be sure to track your blog with tools such as Google Analytics. With this tool, track site traffic, where referrals are coming from and which posts are doing best traffic-wise.
- Social Media. It is not just Facebook anymore. The company should also be on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and more. These sites provide additional ways to showcase a brand and its story. If your public relations strategy does not use them, you are behind the times.
- More Engagement. Without engaging content, your social media sites and traditional public relations content will not attract anyone. Create social media content that permits and encourages likes, comments, re-Tweets, etc. Make sure to also include traditional content to engage with reporters who may want to cover your story.
- Increased Credibility. A great public relations strategy creates credibility for your company by building your reputation. This third-party type of endorsement has not changed much over the years, but it is still critical to promote your company.
- Mobile Capabilities. Your phone is not just for texting, emailing and calling anymore. It is a source for looking up news, interfacing with social media, researching products and services. More people use their phones now than computers. With a good mobile site, consumers and reporters alike can find information about your company.
- News in Minutes. Have a news story you need to get out now? No need to wait for a story to come out in print. Within minutes, it can be in the online version of your favorite publication.
- More Affordable Than Ever. With less stamps and scissors to buy, public relations services are more affordable than ever. Really though, while traditional advertising can cost your company thousands and thousands of dollars (as in around $80,000 for a 30 second ad on prime time TV), public relations services can be made to fit your budget and needs.
- Easily Accessible. Marketing RELEVANCE can be reached on Facebook, Twitter and even here. With easy accessibility, you do not have to search hard for a good public relations team.
- Keval J. Kumar- Mass Communication in India – Jaico Publishing House, Page-410-412
- JM Kaul -Public Relations in India-Published by Naya Prokash, Page-01-02
- 2 ibid
- Dr. GC. Banik-PR & Media Relations-Jaico Publishing House, Page-18-20
- 1 ibid
- 2 ibid
- 3 ibid
- Vir Bala Aggarwal & V.S Gupta-Handbook of Journalism & Mass Communication-Concept Publishing Company, Page-269-271
- Keval J. Kumar- Mass Communication in India – Jaico Publishing House
- JM Kaul -Public Relations in India-Published by Naya Prokash
- Dr. GC. Banik-PR & Media Relations-Jaico Publishing House
- Vir Bala Aggarwal & V.S Gupta-Handbook of Journalism & Mass Communication-Concept Publishing Company
- Homai Pradhan & N.S Pradhan-Business Communication-Himalaya Publishing House
- D.S Mehta-Handbook of Public Relations in India-Allied Publishers Pvt Ltd
- B.N Ahuja-Theory and Practice of Journalism-Surjeet Publications
- C.S Rayudu & K.R Balan-Principles of Public Relatuions-Himalaya Publishing House
- Public Relations-Special Researched material -By Candid School of Communication.