Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Rise in the Use of New Media as a tool of communication in Public Relations

A study of public relations agencies and organisations
with public relations departments based in Mumbai

This paper was presented at the

National Seminar, November 18, 19, 2010

Journalism in India: From Mission to Profession - 1947 to 2010

Organised by
Department of Communication and Journalism
University of Mumbai

Meenakshi Upadhyay
Lecturer, Department of Communication and Journalism,
University of Mumbai

It discusses the use of New media as another alternative tool used by PR practitioners by various companies and PR agencies.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Disconnect between academics and the PR industry in India

Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to thank some few of you for all the help you have always given to me and my students in research conducted by us.

But it has been my experience that majorly the PR industry is not as helpful as it appears when it comes to contributing to academics. I have been teaching Public Relations for more than 5 years now and I have observed that they do not readily co-operate in research related queries from students.Sometimes we academicians also face the same problem.Barring a few professionals who help others keep postponing to even give an appointment. The students have shared with me their experience the problems they have faced when trying to conduct surveys in Public Relations.They are often told to contact later and emails are usually left un-answered.It has also been seen that you have to have a friend or a relative working in the institution to get an appointment with the required personnel.

The students feel disheartened because they are keen to learn and such a lukewarm response leaves them with a bad impression of the place where they will be starting their professional careers.I can understand that certain students do not have very good communication skills so they may get rejected out right for the fact that they cannot even speak properly, though care is also taken from our end to train them as far as possible in interviewing skills. But can the industry be a little patient with these budding professionals of the future?

In foreign countries the researches done by academics are funded by the industry and the results are used by the industry in furthering their prospects, so here can we atleast answer queries so that our profession is understood better? We are also growing in our understanding of the profession and a little help in the form of answers goes a long way in helping both of us.We must understand research is a very important element in helping a profession grow otherwise companies would not have R&D departments.

My question to all PR industry professionals is why do you shy away from questions? Is it so difficult to spare atleast five minutes to answer queries which might even help you back in return? I wonder if this post will be read or simply ignored as questions are.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Ever Evolving Social Media Bubble

Public Relations are today an important component of any campaign.Whether it was Microsoft launching its Xbox video game player or Windows Xp. Lakme the well known fashion and cosmetics brand has heavily depended on PR for making its presence felt amongst their target audience.Even in crisis Johnson & Johnson  relied a lot on Public Relations to emerge from their Tylenol crisis.

What if social media was there and also used when the above events had come into being, how would it have helped the companies in their campaigns? Well for that, one has to understand this channel. Social media is like that bubble in water that keeps bursting and evolving into more new bubbles.It is not stagnant for a long time in one form.

If we observe in other countries where social media is  heavily used in marketing campaigns, social networking sites like twitter are not really playing a role in promoting brands, look at this article Marketing: Study Says Most Brands Still Irrelevant on Twitter - Advertising Age - Digital

Another issue with social networking sites is the fact that it changes fast.Something new emerges the moment you had just got used to the previous (read old) one.A site which everyone wants to be on today such as Facebook can might as well be a passing fad! People initially were on Orkut. The same have now shifted base to Facebook. Tomorrow there might be another 'networking' site.Read more on this on Can Social Media Be Trusted? These articles come from a world where social networking sites are intesively used by marketeers and people.what is the Indian scene?

We are still learning the tricks of these new channels.In our country celebrities hog twitter more than the common man.Facebook is more of a stress buster and a place where you can openly vent out your feelings about issues.Promotions are still to a large extent ignored, even if some of your friends send you 'invitations' to join 'events' right? Though we do hear of social media being used by consumers as grievance platforms. Blogs are still read but comments are sent on your personal ids and not as comments on the blog, though the follower list may rise.You are told on phone or in person that your blog was well written but not on your blog.Image sites are still used for uploading personal photos as we still use the good old cd or email to send official photos.We are still learning the use of these new channels and  still don't really trust it.So if countries where these media has been used for campaign purposes and it is thought that have a long way to go, imagine how far we are!

So at this stage how much of social media should be recommended to clients? After a small research conducted in a total of more than 100 companies and PR agencies put together I found that this media is highly recommended to clients to promote themselves.More than 50% of respondents use online press release sites to publish their press releases.

The reasons cited for using social media were ease of use, reach was very good, it was obviously a cheaper mode, and audio-video could be used most effectively on these channels (here YouTube).

Though there was one answer which was quite an opposite to what the agencies and the corporate communication departments of the companies thought on.Only 23% of PR practitioners in agencies thought that

giving out information via internet channels will reduce dependence on the print and broadcasting media whereas 49% of the respondents in the corporate communications thought differently!

The audience will be take some more time before they adapt themselves to new media is what more than 15% of the respondents feel when they say it will take more than 10 years, this  appears quite true considering what other countries are going through. 

One thing all of them agree which is a whopping more than 57% ; the fact that social media/new media training is essential to PR practitioners in both agencies and corporates.

The data above only confirms the fact that we need to give some more time to this new medium to catch up both in the minds of audiences as well as to practitioners using this tool for promotion before we either discard or totally adapt to it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Public Relations Is Truth Well Told!

I read the title somewhere and immediately liked it.Isnt that true? Can an organisation reveal everything to the publics (media) because being transparent is important as said in many definitions of Public Relations?

Rawlins (2008) advocated “transparency through every aspect of corporate communications” (p. 2) that embraces open, authentic communication of organizational successes and failures; facilitates ongoing discussion; and relinquishes a seemingly incessant institutional drive to maintain the image of perfection.

But how important it is in being totally transparent? I m not saying we should go all out in giving information but say that, that will be appropriate for the organsiation in that particular situation.The paper Is Full Transparency Always the Best Approach?exaclty argues the same point, says that infact it is ethically correct for both the organisation and its stakeholders.

Lets say there is a crisis in an organisation will you give all details of the crisis that ocurred or will you be careful only in revealing those facts that are necessary? Or will you simply ignore the situation and pretend as if it never existed? How will you handle a journalist who is screaming into your ears demanding explainations or the community who is upset as it is direclty affected by the crisis?

As a public realtions practitioner will you be transparent or transluscent?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are creating controversies on TV becoming yet another frequenlty used tool of Public Relations?

Controversy is defined as a disagreement or argument about something important.This element of difference of opinion creates an interest in the issue or the people concerened in it interesting.(Berneys, 1955) defined the function of public relations as using information, persuasion and adjustment to engineer public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution.

So if one of the roles is using all kinds of information to simply gather support and influence the publics then creating news to 'create' controversy cannot be ruled out.If this brings attention to the object of interest!

Are public relations practitioners taking advantage of controversies or 'creating' controversies is debatable. (This subject is analysed keeping in mind the medium of televison) But whatever the case the client gets all the publicity.How interested are the viewers in really analysing the news? Do they really have the time or interest to find out the real issue.Guess not as researchers have pointed out.Berneys (1923) and Dahl (1963) argue that public is guided not only by thought but by emotion and sentiments; this is in case of television as there is more drama, emotions and sentiments portrayed. He also says that people are occupied with families, hobbies and social commitments that they have less time left to inform themselves with issues, so only issues which affect their daliy decsions catches attention.Others simply pass by.So why not show something in these serials and news capsules that which the viewer really needs?

So is it that controversies merely then become short term attention seekers and later the audience forgets about them? Can we then say that controversies may catch attention for a short time but if it is not directly affecting a viewer in any manner he will surely forget it?

This article 'A good controversy leads to good news' says Neeraj Sanan, Vice President, Marketing, Star News surely made me think that should public relations use this tool to catch attention of the viewers in this case televsion serials and news or should the focus be shifted to more content based programmes and news capsules which will anyways draw the attention of the viewer.

How much are controveries needed to 'sell ' programmes and news capsules? This is taking us to a very important area why dont we frequenlty ask the viewers what do they really to like to watch on TV? A need of the hour is an audience survey...are we ready for it?

What is are your views?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Role of Agenda Building in Public Relations

The term Agenda Building as explained by Cobb & Elder, 1971, 1972,1983,Cobb, Ross & Ross, 1976) is that it examines public participation in such a way that various kinds of publics in a population become aware and participate in political conflicts.(Cobb et al., 1976, pg 126) further add that it is a process by which voice of many in the population can catch attention of the public officials. This may be done to accomplish some serious policy change.
The term agenda can be explained as “ a general set of political controversies that will be views as falling within the range of political concerns meriting concerns of the polity.” (Cobb & Elder, 1971, pg 905).There are two types of agenda clearly specified: public and formal. The public agenda consists of “a) subjects of widespread attention and awareness b) perceived of requiring action and c) appropriate concern of some governmental unit.”
The formal agenda refers to the set of issues that decision makers have already formally considered for serious consideration. So any issue that is raised from a governmental body will be a part of the formal agenda.
Johnson et al., 1996 give an interesting insight where budding public relations professionals can take a cue from. They say “it is a collective and reciprocal process where the press, public and public officials influence one another and are at the same time influenced by one another.” They came up with a four-stage model for agenda building "1) real-world conditions starts off the agenda building process; 2) news media increases coverage of the issue; 3) the public picks up signs from real-world conditions and media coverage; and finally 4) the opinion leader reacts upon public concern". Take all examples that we have seen in the recent past such as the emergence of the swine flu, bird flu etc. If you look at these issues they have all had a similar pattern. The way they started and were later on ‘treated’ by all the parties concerned .It explains how any issue  that which is of public concern is usually handled. Here we have to keep in mind that events though begin with being news events may turn out to be pseudo news events as explained in my earlier blogs.
Would you like to contribute to the above?
Handbook of public relations
 By Robert Lawrence Heath, Gabriel M. Vasquez
Public relations theory II
 By Carl H. Botan, Vincent Hazleton
Research paper “International Agenda-Building and Agenda-Setting: Exploring the Influence of Public Relations Counsel on News Media and Public Perceptions of Foreign Nations” A Manuscript submitted to the Public Relations Division for the annual International
Communication Association conference in New York, NY, to be held on May 26-30, 2005

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What Makes News?: A Public Relations Perspective

We in our department are in this good habit of discussing and probing on issues which bother us in our profession of journalism and public relations. One such issue which came up again in the discussion was the one on Pseudo Events.Is the definition of Pseudo Events as described by Daniel Boorstein as that which "exists for the sole purpose of the media publicity and serves little to no other function in real life. Without the media, nothing meaningful actually occurs at the event, so pseudo-events are considered “real” only after they are viewed through news, advertisement, television  or other types of media." hold true to defining all news emerging from press conferences as pseudo events as press conferences are called as pseudo events?

Mr.Sanjay Ranade, Reader at our department had opined that  Daniel Boorstein has defined this concept from a historian's point of view.All news cannot be pseudo events, as all news cannot be 'created' for the media.There will always be news which needs to be given to the media as there is no other way the media could get the news.So this brought us to yet another hypothesis that "all press conferences are not pseudo events." Supporting this view is W. Lance Bennett who categorizes news like this:

1)Fully Controlled (released news, pseudo-event)
2)Partially Controlled (press conference, etc.)
3) Uncontrolled (ex. Watergate, Daniel Ellsberg, Iraq prisoner abuse photos)

If you notice Bennett does not classify all news as pseudo events.Nor does he say that all press conferences are pseudo events, and he puts it under the category of being partially controlled.

So If you connect this with agenda building in public relations I will say that agenda building of public relations stems from this very thought that only when information is scarce will journalists turn to public relations for information as they are confirmed sources of official information about the company. As rightly put by Carl Botan and Vincent Hazleton in their Book Public Relations Theory II "The greater the information scarcity the better the chances that sources that control the information can influence the media agenda." So this may not always be 'created' information but genuine information to be given for dissemination. The entire process of agenda building if you closely watch is a a very dynamic process of making news.The news here may not be always 'created'  here even though it is being made.

More on Agenda building in the next note...

Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Post Postivism and Research approach in Public Relations

This topic got me thinking when somebody said that research does not always work.There is a theoretical approach to the whole thinking process of choosing the right way to do research.

Generally research is confused with being statistical and every answer asked in a research question can only exist if proven scientifically based on a certain perspective."Positivism is an epistemological perspective and philosophy of science which holds that the only authentic knowledge is that which is based on sense experience and positive verification." source: Wikipedia

Post-Positivism begs to differ."In philosophy and models of scientific inquiry, post-positivism (also called postempiricism) is a metatheoretical stance following positivism. Post-positivists believe that human knowledge is based not on unchallengeable, rock-solid foundations, but rather upon human conjectures."source: Wikipedia

 When we look up both the definitions we understand that  Post positivism approach if applied to research in areas like Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising will probably give more space to understand people and their issues than simply looking at them as statistical samples.

Solutions in such cases in research can be obtained far better than other otherwise, other than simply discarding research as a subject that does not deliver.

Also read more on this on and material written on the same by Zina O'leary.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pseudo events and Truth Events

We have our department group online where discussions regarding our subjects are often done.Recently a discussion started on what are pseudo events and those events which are not  pseudo events, what should  they be termed? We all know that pseudo events are those events that are created with the exclusive intention of getting media coverage, or rather that events are staged in such a way that lends itself to media coverage; this is as explained by Boorstin (1961).

So what are the events which are not pseudo events? An explanation on the same is given by Alain Badiou. He calls them truth events.He says "Truth is first of all something new. What transmits, what repeats, we shall call knowledge. Distinguishing truth from knowledge is essential… For the process of truth to begin, something must happen. Knowledge as such only gives us repetition, it is concerned only with what already is. For truth to affirm its newness, there must be a supplement. This supplement is committed to chance—it is unpredictable, incalculable, it is beyond what it is. I call it an event. A truth appears in its newness because an eventful supplement interrupts repetition. Examples: The appearance, with Aeschylus, of theatrical tragedy. The eruption, with Galileo, of mathematical physics. An amorous encounter which changes a whole life. Or the French revolution of 1792. An event is linked to the notion of the undecidable. Take the sentence 'This event belongs to the situation.' If you can, using the rules of established knowledge, decide that this sentence is true or false, the event will not be an event. It will be calculable within the situation. Nothing permits us to say 'Here begins the truth.' A wager will have to be made."

"What the Truth-Event renders visible is the one excessive element which is a part of the situation being submitted to the Truth-Process, but not counted within the positive structure of Being. By rendering this excessive element visible (whatever it may be), the preceding positive ontological order must radically change. And it is this formal relation between the Event and the Truth of the situation it articulates/renders visible, which allows us to distinguish between a genuine Event and its mere semblance. To elaborate by example, Zizek explains: “Nazism was a pseudo-Event and the October Revolution was an authentic Event, because only the latter related to the very foundations of the Situation of capitalist order, effectively undermining those foundations, in contrast to Nazism, which staged a pseudo-Event precisely in order to save the capitalist order.” This is as explained by Slavoj Zizek.

This could be an insight to all public relations practitioners, students and teachers.Any further insight?

Alain Badiou, “On The Truth-Process”, Open Lecture at the European Graduate School, August 2002.
Slavoj Zizek, The Ticklish Subject, Verso, London and New York, 1999, p. 138.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The voice of the internet: Are Indian Environmental NGOs exploiting their websites as a Public Relations tool?

I had recently conducted a study of websites of environmental NGOs based in India to see how they are being  used as a Public Relations tool.

This paper was presented at the:- 

XXXIII Indian Social Science Congress, March 10-14, 2010 at Hyderabad.

The media generally determine which issues will be discussed by people, by placing those issues in a specific manner, the process being called agenda setting. On the contrary media becomes the audience when agenda building is done by public relations. Here public relations practitioners provide editors with newsworthy materials or ideas through many media, one of them being the internet. The websites of organisations become conduits of information to communicate these ideas, thoughts and objectives of these organisations. This study examines websites belonging to environmental non-profit organisations based in India and seeks to find out if this medium, which is a public relations tool, is being aptly used by these non-governmental organisations. The method to analyse the study would be quantitative content analysis.

Synopsis of the conclusion:-
It was found that the public relations practitioner of the NGOs has to use the website more effectively to the benefit of the organisation and spell out its agenda clearly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The gender debate in public relations

A discussion on one of the subjects in public relations, was thrown open on a PR forum I m attached to, that "Despite the abundance of women in the PR profession why dont we see them in positions higher up?"As an academician I can give a preview on some researched data from all over the world as put forth by Larissa Grunig, Mary Ann Fergusan, Linda Childers Hon, Elizabeth L. Toth,K.Sriramesh in their work on this subject.
They have commented using the work of many other researchers in this subject. Lauzen (1990a)explains that there many variables such as gender of the practitioner, years of experience, practitioner competencies, and role that would be a deciding factor for non-public relations professional to manage the public relations function.She terms it "professional encroachment". Lauzen who based her studies on Broom's findings proposes that though women may want to advance in management positions, they may encounter roadblocks by organisations who fill these positions with others who seem more suitable for these posts. Thus they hit the very notorious glass ceiling!
Levine (1990) says that though men may have higher levels of aggressiveness that does not make them more suitable for management and leadership positions. Male traits are more congruent with high-level posts because most organizations have been and continue to be ruled by men ( "A Double Edge,"1990).
Further research shows that both women and men desire to reach top positions in public relations ( Creedon, 1989; DeRosa & Wilcox, 1989) but biological differences like differences in levels of aggressiveness sometimes are coupled with differential socialization for women and men can become impediments. It has been found that women display lower levels of job involvement, or the degree to which one's work is considered an important part of one's life ( Lodahl & Kejner, 1965; Reitz & Jewell, 1979; Ruh, White, & Wood, 1975).
Another point here is risk taking. Some women may avoid jeopardizing their security (Slovik, 1966). The precursor to this risk avoidance is an "ambivalence many women feel regarding their careers" ( Cline et al., 1986, pp. 1-7). Some women do not view themselves as primary wage earners but see work as a "temporary haven before marriage" ( Simpson & Simpson, 1969, pp. 196-197). They thus stay clear of the inherently risky task-oriented rewards of "challenge" and "responsibility". This does not go without being crticised. For example, Ryan (quoted in Lukovitz, 1989) argued: "Contending that women aspire to be technicians is horrendously akin to blaming the victim. All the women I know perceive themselves as far transcending the roles they are obliged to occupy" (p. 20 ). For her, women's lower status in public relations is not of their own doing. Instead, women's subjugation is a result of the "corporate, male-dominated world that continues not to pay or promote women as it does men" (p. 20 ).
Broom and Dozier ( 1986) provided evidence, however, that women face more difficulty advancing from the technician role than men with similar years of experience. A technician is somebody who --writes, edits, designs visual messages, and works with the media. Emphasis is on communication and journalistic skills whereas an expert prescriber is viewed by top management of the client or organization for which she or he works as an authority on public relations problems and their solutions. Such a practitioner defines and researches problems, develops programs, and takes major responsibility for implementation.
It is a strange irony. The tendencies of some women are stereotyped as attributes of all women. This, in turn, results in many women being sent the role expectations of technicians. Their routine tasks reinforce any such propensities of low involvement. This is reinforced further by the clearly perceived lower status and pay of technicians.
Another obstacle faced by women has to do with greater difficulty in creating a persona, or public image, that is congruent with that of high power positions ( Conrad, 1985). Because this persona was defined by men and continues to be enacted for the most part by men, it reflects male values -- values that often differ from women's. And, if others in the organization perceive women to be lacking in the traditional characteristics that suggest power, then they are. On this point, Kasten ( 1986) noted: "Power is a funny thing -- it's primarily a matter of perception. If you have power but I don't think so, then you don't really have it. If you don't really have power but I think you do, then you do" (p. 132 ). As Moore ( 1986) reported, women perceive a more progressive climate in organizations that already employ a reasonable number of women.
Women's lack of organizational power also may have its roots from the fact; shortage of support from home and society in general. Family concerns may hinder some women because women continue to do more than their share of home maintenance activities in addition to pursuing careers ( Heins, Smock, Jacobs, & Stein, 1976; Hochschild, 1989). And, as Kahn-Hut, Daniels, and Coward ( 1982) pointed out, "Professional ideologies depict work as 'a calling' that requires round-the-clock devotion to work. This devotion is a primary allegiance that conflicts with the cultural mandate of women's primary responsibility to family" (p. 38 ).
Sriramesh (1992) said that initially women worked in the service sector such as the travel and tourism because of the glamour stereotype. Infact in books written then by male practitioners, the PRO is referred to as the PR man! But now things have changed and more women are entering this profession many are slowly moving to management positions.
We have come a long way from the data that is cited here, but the glass ceiling still exists for women even today.So what according to you has not changed?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Building Trust through Social Media Communication

It has been quite a challenge preparing for social media communication for my public relations lectures with my students.The reason being that these are some channels the students are already using it as they perceive, learn from others using it and experiment with it as they go along.So essentially there is no formal training in the use of the same.But there is a science behind why we use social media the way we do and how we can better the use.The trust that we form so easily on a basis of texts being transmitted is something to be understood so that use of social media will improve.

Greg Ferenstein in his post on, the site on social media on the web elaborately explains the science behind building trust in social media communication.He takes the studies by Professor Judy Olson into account on how people perceive, her findings based on a pillar of psychological research, she says that people often pass judgement with or without any good information.When we make a mistake the blame is on everything but ourselves, but when somebody else goes wrong the person is to be blamed.

The above lead to an important finding that responsiveness is the key for digital communication.On the digital arena, there is only text available to establish credibility as body language and voice intonation are absent.Speed is also an important factor.The faster you reply to a text message the better it is as it might be considered unhelpful on your part if you don't do so, and some other adjectives might be added to your personality! So in the words of the author "Psychologically speaking, responsiveness makes it easier for others to attribute our misdeeds to the situation, rather than our personality".The details can always be plugged in later but immediate response is always appreciated.

Another vital point made here is that no communication is better than video, audio and then chat, in that order.Simply exemplifies the fact that face to face conversation is the best! Thus the hierarchy will always remain as will always be to say.Thus where it is possible use video instead of text or audio where video is not possible and text where both are not possible.As when we converse face to face we read a person in totality.

Like all forms of communication this is also a form of communication which will improve if looked at scientifically and not only as a medium to have fun on. Social media is growing as a tool for professional and promotional communication and things may soon change.With mobile phones with the internet on our fingertips in days ahead, we better master the art of this medium as it is growing much faster than we realise.

More on the way....till then happy digital communication!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Fear Factor

Aristotle defined pathos as arguments that are based on emotions-on arousing feelings such as fear, guilt, anger, humour or compassion.Public Relations practitioners can use these appeals to induce buying a product, support a cause or take important decisions pertaining to health.

Lately we saw public service announcements like the one on creating awareness on cervical cancer and the latest one on the TB-HIV connection, on television. They are using the appeal of fear, especially the one on HIV-TB. It persuades to get oneself checked for HIV in case suffering from TB.

It is said that fear is a vital appeal to evoke the desired response, here getting yourself tested for any abnormality in health at a local government health centre.

Health promotion campaigns are typically designed to elicit fear, yet the use of fear is often ineffective in achieving the desired behavior change says R F Soames of Job Psychology Department, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.In the abstract of his paper 'Effective and ineffective use of fear in health promotion campaigns' he adds "Campaigns which attempt to use fear as part of a punishment procedure are unlikely to succeed. Consistent with established principles of learning, fear is most likely to be effective if the campaign allows for the desired behavior to be reinforced by a reduction in the level of fear. This entails five requirements: 1) fear onset should occur before the desired behavior is offered; 2) the event upon which the fear is based should appear to be likely; 3) a specific desired behavior should be offered as part of the campaign; 4) the level of fear elicited should only be such that the desired behavior offered is sufficient to substantially reduce the fear; 5) fear offset should occur as a reinforcer for the desired behavior, confirming its effectiveness. Under some circumstances it may be difficult to ensure that these requirements are met. In general, a positive reinforcement approach may prove to be more effective than the use of fear."

Information, knowledge and Fear can be three ways to structure campaigns.In our country fear works best when it comes to doing health campaigns.The results are that people straight run to the nearest health centre for tests. What is your opinion?

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Time Of Multiple Media

Henry Jenkins, Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California says something very interesting.He says that both the old and the new media are there to stay.In his words "students clearly need both and more importantly, they need to understand the relationship between the two. They need to understand the different structures through which traditional encyclopedias and Wikipedia produce and evaluate information, for example. They need to be able to read charts, maps, and graphs, but also to be able to produce and interpret information through simulations. They need to be able to express themselves orally, with pens and paper, and with video cameras and digital editing equipment."

So this debate whether new media will kill the old media takes a different dimension.It is true media evolves and new mediums are formed but the older media doesn't die. For e.g. newspapers change the way they are packaged to suit the new trends in emerging new media but may not be dying.

For public relations students this is a learning that the number of media through which they communicate is increasing and they will have to manage yet another set of emerging media.

I m currently researching whether this dependence on the old media decrease with the rising new media? Will the rate at which media relations is conducted in India take a backseat considering the fact we are now having alternative medium such as the the internet? Of course all this keeping in mind infrastructural development in our country.

what do you think?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Public Relations and Corporate Websites: A Study of the top 30 Bombay Stock Exchange Companies

I recently did a study on the top 30 BSE companies listed to find out how public relations is being practiced on their websites.The paper was presented to

Emerging Trends in Media :
The Rise of Digital Culture and its impact on Information Society
Organised by the Centre for Electronic Media, Pondicherry University,
Puducherry 605014, India (Jan 21-22, 2010)

James Grunig has explained that the two-way symmetrical model of organizational public relations which depends on an honest and open two-way communication and a give-and-take is usually reciprocal, rather than a one-way persuasion, which should be the driving force, for all public relations practices. Cooley and others highlight the strength of the internet’s interactive capabilities to transform public relations practice by enabling symmetric relations with publics. Kent and Taylor highlighted the importance of this concept in their five criteria for a dialogic web site. This study examines these parameters and their applicability in the top BSE 30 Indian corporation websites. The personal influence model of public relations is one where public relations practitioners try to establish personal relationships, friendships, if possible with key individuals in the media, government or political and activist groups. This model is essentially an asymmetrical model and it holds true for the way public relations is practiced in India as further explained by Krishnamurthy Sriramesh. This paper argues that the websites of Indian corporations do not follow a similar trend for practicing public relations through the web but are slowly shifting to the two-way symmetrical model which is being reflected in the way they communicate through their websites.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What is USP in Public Relations?

I must say my students keep me on my toes, and it is one of them again who has prompted me to write about this subject of USP or Unique Selling Proposition.

The term "USP" originated in the 1950s and was initially referred to in advertising, namely what the advertising proposition to the customer should be: "When you buy this, you'll receive a specified benefit." The proposition must be unique, something that competitors don't offer or promote, and so intriguing that it encourages individuals to act. But now this word "USP" has been modified and one can find its use in areas other than advertising.

How Do You Find Your USP?

There are three important questions that will help you get the answers:-
1. What benefit is unique to what you offer?

2. Who is the target market that is most interested in this benefit?

3. What USP is already used by major competitors for this target market?


I guess the above questions help one dig more deeper into the study of any project to be undertaken and can help us find more on the issues to be promoted for.E.g. this could be applied to an NGO, a political party or even an invidual who you plan to prepare a media, or non-media plan for.

So for example if your client is an NGO, you will have to find out how your NGO stands out amongst the many NGOs who are crusading for similar issues.The most important part is ofcourse your target publics, this has to be amply clear in your mind before you write a plan or chalk out a budget for the communication plan.

Last but not the least the competitors, one must never forget them, you need to be constantly reading about what other organisations in your field are doing, as you never work in isolation.

Once this is clear you can use the innumerable tools of public relations to create a communication plan which will implement the objectives keeping in mind the USP.Oh yes lets not ever forget the social media tools on our web.