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.