Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Times of Strategizing

The recent Niira Radia case brings to attention the evolving role of public relations in India.Till now known only as media relations or more as a publicist function, lobbying has changed the face the face of this profession.Strategizing has now been pronounced as an important element of lobbying which in turn is a very important function of public relations.

Lobbying (also Lobby) is the intention of influencing decisions made by legislators and officials in the government by individuals, other legislators, constituents, or advocacy groups. A lobbyist is a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest or a member of a lobby.(source: Wikipedia)

So as we see it is now become necessary for a public relations practitioner to become 'worldly wise' .You are no longer handling just the media coverages of your client you will now place  your client strategically in the eyes of their stakeholders.So what does this mean?

Lets look at the word strategy.Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.(source: Wikipedia)

Johnson and Scholes (Exploring Corporate Strategy) define strategy as follows:

"Strategy is the direction and scope of an organisation over the long-term: which achieves advantage for the organisation through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfil stakeholder expectations".

In other words, strategy is about:

* Where is the business trying to get to in the long-term (direction)
* Which markets should a business compete in and what kind of activities are involved in such markets? (markets; scope)
* How can the business perform better than the competition in those markets? (advantage)?
* What resources (skills, assets, finance, relationships, technical competence, facilities) are required in order to be able to compete? (resources)?
* What external, environmental factors affect the businesses' ability to compete? (environment)?
* What are the values and expectations of those who have power in and around the business? (stakeholders) (source:

If this is going to be the new role of public relations then what will be the orientation necessary for one to think strategically?

Knowledge of public relations, politics, economics, finance, management studies,organisational behaviour, pschology etc could be some few subjects to begin with.So to be 'worldly-wise' these will help and yes ofcourse keeping your eyes and ears open to information.Being boundary spanners as we public relations academicians would like to call it.

To change the way public relations is looked at today in India, the practitioners need to update themselves with changing times.We still have a very long way to go.