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.


  1. Posted to

    Meenakshi, that's a very good piece, especially for all those who're still trying to put things in perspective, the various aspects and functions of public relations. Literally every professional I know uses strategy as a daily jargon, but very few really know what it entails or what it is supposed to achieve. A strategy and a plan are often confused with each other and used interchangeably. In a daily servicing scenario, it doesn't really harm anyone as clients are okay till they're getting results.

    But that's because most clients don't involve their PR agencies in core strategising works on an ongoing basis. Practically all business strategies -- marketing, sales, brand mgt., HR, M&As, etc -- require PR involvement. An agency, ideally, has to be more involved with strategising for each of these functions, as each can potentially affect the company's image or reputation. All the companies know this. Every time there's a crisis in any of these functions / aspects, agency's help is sought to diffuse the crisis. So, there's still a gap in when to involve the agency.

    But that is fast changing. Some of the clients have already learnt that it pays to involve the agency at the drawing board. And agencies are advising their clients to involve them early on so that many of the crisis can actually be avoided totally. This practice will keep picking up as more and more clients will realise the benefits of involving agencies early on.

    As this happens, more and more PR professionals at relatively junior levels will have to gear up for the strategist's role. That's going to be one hell of a step for the Indian PR industry.


    Aarif Malik
    Mumbai. INDIA.
    Cell: +91 9833934002

  2. Hi there,

    Posted to

    Quite interesting and informative. Some time back, even Govt. of India had hired a PR consultant for lobbying inus o get more visas for Indian IT professionals,as there ws a move there to curtail them.