Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Rise in Regional Public Relations

I had recently presented a paper at AMIC 2011: Taking Stock of Media and Communication Studies, ( an international conference held at Hyderabad, between June 24th-27th on the following topic.The Rise in Regional Public Relations: A study of the public relations scenario with rapidly growing regional journalism in India.


Public Relations in India advanced only in the 1980s and 1990s when businesses felt the need to compete and address their audiences. Public relations agencies started growing in this environment the late 1980s.These agencies would work in association with the in-house public relations departments in companies which is still the norm even today. Some even mushroomed into larger firms with associations internationally.During the same time advertising agencies also added public relations divisions in their businesses.Since then public relations agencies in India have only grown and have been known to conduct media relations with the print and the broadcasting media personnel. With the regional press showing rapid growth in terms of readership and circulation, and at the same time the English language press in India showing a decline, it has been observed that investors are keen on investing in the regional language publication houses.With a rapidly growing neo-literate population, most of it in the vernacular medium, the number of people who would be reading vernacular language newspapers will only rise. Robin Jeffery states that vernacular medium newspaper readers not only become better informed, but also tend to actively participate in the political and democratic process. The researcher intended to study:-

Ø R1. Will the rise in regional journalism lead to rise in regional public relations?
Ø R2. What kind of communication skills and personality traits will have to be acquired by future practitioners keen on joining regional public relations?

Synopsis of Conclusion: Regional Public Relations in India is growing so mastery over regional language, reading, writing and speaking it fluently.Adaptation to culture of each region including rituals, habits, lifestyle or anything symbiotic of a culture of a place will be crucial.The above points are most important when dealing with regional audience and regional media.Regional public relations and global public relations are similar as both have to adjust to regional differences before executing a programme.

It has become necessary for a PR practitioner working for an agency or company to know as many languages as possible, as one doesn't know when there would be a requirement to communicate with external audiences. One should not be dependent only on a person specifically knowing the language and culture of a region.A combination of knowledge of the subject of public relations and proficiency in regional languages can become an important tool in the hands of a PR practitioner practicing regional public relations in India.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Do we know our publics?

Public Relations practitioners are constantly looking for different media to publish their press releases, articles, interviews, features, analysis etc.It is done so that as much as coverage is obtained.It is also done hoping that as many people to whom the news is related to are reading or watching it.

But what are these different types of publics to whom our news concerns? Does it matter to all in a similar manner or are there 'situational' publics?

James Grunig proposed the 'Situational Theory' (Grunig & Hunt, 1984). He explained that publics can be identified and classified according to how much they are aware of a problem and to what extent they could do something about it. The theory studies the formation of publics and how organisations should keep a watch and segment them accordingly so that communication is done to that specificity.The theory identifies the following four categories: 

  • Non-publicNo problem is identified or exists
  • Latent publicProblem exists, but public does not see it
  • Aware publicGroup identifies that a problem exists
  • Active publicGroup is aware of the problem and co-ordinates to take an action    
If we notice the different kinds of campaigns that have happened in our country, whether it was the Jessica lal case, fight for the Bhopal gas victims, the latest anti-corruption campaigns etc, you will see that there will always be some who will sit up and notice and act upon it.It all depends on how much it affects them and what they feel they can do about it.The rest of us will only discuss it casually over tea or on social media sites etc.

Knowledge of our publics is necessary so that behavioral change can be expected, to change people from being latent to aware to active publics as explained above. So what motivates us to react uniformly on an issue? Is some other motivation needed? Or can we act uniformly on an issue?

Do let me know your views.