Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What 2014 holds for PR professionals?

One of the biggest trend in the industry seems to be inevitable equation of PR with digital or social media.
Digital media seems to be predominant in the western PR world, where the digital media professionals are trying to dabble into PR strategies. This may be alright for the western world, though I do not completely agree with this emerging trend, especially when we look at Public Relations function holistically.
Even PR Newswire in one of their articles on PR trends for 2014, limits itself to  "engaging digital audience with engaging content" as a major element.  Somehow the focus on print, radio, electronic, and outdoor has been pushed to the back burner, and has come to be known as "traditional" with digital, mobile and social channels ruling the roost.

  • The major trend for me in the high-speed information exchange global network, imperative too, would remain the PEOPLE.  You may call them publics, stakeholders, targetted groups, and what not; it is the human element that would be the foundation of all communication.  The tools can differ to reach out to them. Yes, the technology is relegating today's reality into obsolence in a jiffy. It is time to go back to the basics of communication management, and review the fundamentals.  
  • For people living in under-developed and developing countries, the information needs to be interpreted to them and involve them for their own benefit and convenience.  Therefore understanding their needs and aspirations is the key to the success of any communication. 
  • Secondly, we are crying hoarse about "engaging" the recipients of our messages through lively content.  The "message" had always been the key element in a successful and effective communication process.  Yes, the PR practitioners need to upgrade their skills and expertise in understanding the technological strengths and weaknesses of various digital outlets and develop content according to the channel for communication being used for delivery of the message. The diversity of social media has made it imperative to develop content appropriate to the channel being used and understanding whether it is ultimately reaching the targetted audience or not. 
  • Thirdly, the outcome of a PR exercise or a communication campaign would be another emerging trend.  No longer the popular measurement tools would suffice. The corporate especially are looking at RoI on each spend on communication, and tangible impact, which is possible only if the PR fraternity moves beyond the myopic selection of media to spread their message.  A campaign needs to have holistic view of the communication issues at hand and how this is going to impact the thinking, and the lives of the people involved. 
  • Lastly, but not the least, it is time for the professional bodies to actively engage themselves in upgrading and standardising the academics, research, continued training, and accreditation.  The professional practitioners would have to come forward to
    demand for it in order to achieve excellence for the PR profession, and have a talent pool of practitioners.

As we move into 2014 in a few hours from now, let us contribute to the success of PR movement.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How does it matter to me?

"How does it matter to me?" or in chaste Panjabi it is often remarked, "Kee farak penda hai?" or even when some of the manufacturers, businesses or service providers are confronted with the short-cuts being deployed in their processes, they would quitely quip, "Sanoo kee" (What to me?).

We confront this issue in Indian businesses day in and day out, the reason it gets a beating in the international markets, and even now are facing the flak from the global MNCs operating within the country who continue to have an edge over local trade and business because of the quality and reliability that they offer.

It is time for the Indian businesses and trade to look beyond their own immediate benefits or profits and take care of the ultimate user of one's products and services by building trust for their brand.

More often than not, the PR agencies everywhere are asked to project a 'good image' of the organisation or its brand, and ensure editorial coverage in media.  And invariably, many of the agencies get into action of pursuing the media persons with their releases to get space, without double-checking the authenticity of the organisation's claims.

In order to meet the global competition, to scale up their own operations and capture newer markets, the mantra is standardisation.  And it is high time that the industry understands it in case it wishes to be a part of the positive change that everyone wishes to bring about of 'India Shining' or that of 'Incredible India'.

But why standardisation? The standards do not mean getting an ISI mark on a product.  It does not mean establishing norms of operations.  Standardisation is a process of self-discipline, a conscious attempt to understand the impact of the product/services on direct consumers and the public or the world at large.  Standardisation means being conscious of one's social responsibility and ensuring that your products or services are safe, reliable, and trust-worthy.  And that is the first step towards creating a great exciting brand.

When the world is engaged in combating environmental issues, energy efficiency, efficient management of resources, and portability of products and services anywhere around the globe, easing the lives of the people, in short, looking for overall positive change, the standardisation is the key, as the International Standards Organisation is focussing this year on the World Standards Day theme, "International Standards Ensure Positive Change".

This change, as Mahatama Gandhi said, begins with us: 'Be the Change that You Want to see in the world',  Because everything that we do matters to someone, somewhere.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

TiE Mentor is out

The latest issue of the quarterly newsletter of TiE Chandigarh-Punjab Chapter is out.  This is a part of the PR initiative to strengthen the internal communication by sharing activities report with TiE members.
Please click here if unable to view the newsletter.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

How can Incredible India's image refurbished?

A trip to Europe is a learning experience, provided you are totally open minded and free to move as a commoner.  A visit to any of the cities is a pleasure as the technology and well-oiled system makes your visit a sheer pleasure, and suddenly you realise, what a great amount of efforts that our country needs to put such systems in place.
Whether it is traffic, visits to the monuments, or simply travelling on European roads, makes one wonder the extent of systematic communication that has been put in place for hassle-free movements.
I often wonder what our delegations from various departments, be it sports, tourism, or even municipal councillors do when they visit abroad. I'm sure with all their baggage of VIP mindset, chaperoned visits to various places, and pampering meted out to them being the official guests, no learning can happen for them.  And it has not, of course.
Our monuments are not only least preserved but infrastructural support is missing.  Information for the visitors is scanty.  Signage and direction signs are scare.   And top it all, the people manning the information desks are either missing or simply not interested in helping out.
Private public partnership for manning tourist destinations, sight-seeing tourist buses, information counters, is perhaps the best answer that Europeans have found it the most successful model, especially when we as a country intend to present to the world, 'Incredible India', and when even many state governments are vying to have a pie of tourist inflow and foreign investment.
The key to success of any such campaign lies in integrating a completely sustainable system of communication, which involves :
a. What you see: How well maintained our tourist destinations, roads and other public places are.  How do they look in the day and at night. Have we taken care of lighting them up?  And what about the public behaviour of waiters in the restaurants whose personal hygiene is at its worst.
b. What you hear: People's experience matter the most. There are numerous travel advisor websites that carry people's impressions.  Are we doing something to follow and respond to negative imaging? When a visitor reaches India, what does he/she hears?  Are the people at every contact point ready to interact intelligently, empathetically, ethically and professionally?
c. What you smell: Many of our public places have those most-neglected corners in the buildings which are extensively used yet sparingly cared for...the toilets.  The smelly toilets right at many airports (thankfully Delhi is good), to various tourist places is a bane for the visitors.  And the same holds true for many of the hotels and restaurants.
d. What you taste:  Tasting has many connotations. Some experiences would leave an irreperable taste.  But most eating joints, the service in the offices and other public places, especially street food, requires strict hygiene norms.
e. What you touch:  Right from the railway compartments to bus shelters, transport buses, taxis, and railings make a traveller smirk at the years of sweaty soot that one hates to touch.

These may be small pointers yet the true Incredible India image is a distant dream, because of the lack of training, information, and the systems.  The PR practitioners in each of the cities need to look into those small little things that need to be transformed, and provide professional support to the government as well as private sector, to refurbish this image which can conform to the values 'Incredible India' intends to create in the world.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good opportunity to interact with some of the leading PR professionals in Hong Kong. 

If you cannot see this message properly, please click here.

June 27th 2013 • Harbour Grand Hotel Hong Kong
In two weeks, leaders of PR will come together at the inaugural PR360Asia conference to discuss the future of the industry and determine new strategies to navigate the changed landscape of communications in Asia.

Hosted by Campaign Asia-Pacific, and in association with PRWeek, this new invitation-only event will investigate and examine topics such as the new meaning of PR, brands as content creators, the need for an improved consideration of internal communications and what impact data and technology will have on the profession.

For full programme, speakers and detailed information on the conference, click here.

Ahmer Ashraf
Roma Balwani
Mahindra Group
Napolean Biggs
Gravitas Group
David Blecken
Campaign Asia-Pacific
David Brain
Ali Bullock
Dow Jones
Rachel Catanach
Fleishman Hillard
Rene Co
Procter & Gamble
Jim Erickson
Alibaba Group
Marion McDonald
Ogilvy Public Relations
Adam Najberg
The Wall Street Journal Asia
Andrew Pickup
Emma Richards
Waggener Edstrom
Ian Rumsby
Weber Shandwick
Christian Schubert
BASF Group
Atifa Silk
Campaign Asia-Pacific
Karen Tam
Harbour City
Georgette Tan
Josie Taylor
Wilde Asia

Click here for full speaker list

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to bring India and Pakistan together?

Is peace possible? Especially, when it comes to India and Pakistan? But is it possible to bring two countries together? There may be many sceptics but we do indeed, just as human beings, share many commonalities with people around the globe.  What disrupts peace is communication gap alone. Communication, which at times is distorted, convoluted, supressed, or simply misrepresented.
Coca Cola took the not-so-uncommon route of accentuating the commonalities, but a well-executed campaign.  Watch this video.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

3 Essentials to a Startup's Success

photo credit: gareth1953 Friends Please Read My Profile via photopin cc
The successful multiple entrepreneurs I have met from India who made a success of their ventures in Silicon Valley and moved elsewhere or returned to India to set up another successful start up, I believe that the factors that has led to their success are three. The entrerpreneurs trying to recreate this magic in different parts of the world, would have to do a little hard work to look at these three factors, change the mindset from secrecy to openness, and build further upon it to encourage new enterprises. 

a. Belief in themselves. They are passionate and even at a young age have the capacity to thing differently. People who have moved from India, from an environment, where questioning a system-largely- is not encouraged, suddenly find themselves into an environment, where to move up the ladder, you need to think differently, and have a firm belief in your idea, and in yourself. 

b. Trust.  The entrepreneurs who have shared their learning and experiences have found another most significant enabling factor in US is Trust.  People trust each other. Even if it is a kid who tells his parents that he is going to go independent and create something of his/her own, he is encouraged.  The freedom to carve your own niche, to build your own road, to make your own destiny, firmly motivates the people to go ahead and succeed. 

c. The Network: As Robert very rightly said, you have successful entrepreneurs, the investors and funding agencies, and professionals from entire support system that enable you to remain motivated and follow your goal.  There is a positive ecosystem that encourages you to network and benefit from the experiences of others. 

The successful entrepreneurs who have returned from US and setup their own enterprise in India, are endeavouring through organisations like TiE to build a system of mentorship for the budding youngsters who are full of ideas and looking for the right break.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to Raise Money for Your Cause

Fund raising for a social cause is one of the biggest challenge for any non-profit. And this is an essential component to make a success of any social enterprise.  For any non-government organisation, the major revenue stream is donation from its members or the community to sustain itself.

Many NGOs go in for regular fund-raising endeavours to remain operational while any major project requires massive financial support which calls for innovation.

One can list out numerous fund-raising ideas as growing number of NGOs try every possible way to raise funds, but largely, the NGOs continue to struggle for continuous stream of financial support.  Usual refrain that one gets to hear from them is that "there are not enough people who donate", or "no one gives", "people are callous", "the rich are least bothered", etc. etc.  However, if one goes by the performance of some of the successful NGOs like Rotary, HelpAge, Oxfam, CRY, etc, they continue to fund their major service projects with success.

To make a successful fund-raising effort it is essential that one realises that an NGO or not-for-profit is just like any other enterprise and requires professional management to manage its resources and projects.  All it requires is following the time-tested management principles and fund-raising strategies to make the not-for-profit succeed in making positive changes in the society.

Here are Five Principles of making a success of fund-raising efforts.

1. Design a communication campaign: It is essential to have a comprehensive communication plan to make your organisation or your project known to the world, especially to those segments of society who matter and can provide financial support.  Write down the project, the beneficiaries, the project cost, and how it is going to make an impact.  Once the project is ready, create informative brochure, flyer, website, content for social media like facebook, twitter, youtube, etc.

2. Create Your Story: The human interest is the one that moves the people.  The story of any one or two individuals who would get the benefit from the project would make a lot of sense in making the donors understand the enormity of the project, and how their participation would help these people in need. Make it gripping and real which becomes possible once you connect with the beneficiaries and check out their lives for the challenges they are facing.

2. Share it with larger audience: Once the project is ready announce it to the world through a media  briefing, sending out news releases to various channels, giving details of the project, and how it is going to make a difference in the society. The philanthropic organisations or individuals who step in should be a part of the media briefings with appropriate acknowledgement of their participation.

3. Reach Out to Philanthropists:  Everyone is a philanthropist but one can decide whether you need smaller contribution from large number of givers or large contribution from a small number of donors. For a larger project, one need to list out all those High Networth Individuals in the community, corporations and reach out to them with appropriate presentation containing project details, photographs/video presentations, in a complete docket with options and opportunities for giving.  Also list out how the donor would get the recognition for joining in the cause.

4. Your Members as Ambassadors:  The members of the not-for-profit have to be informed and prepared to be the brand ambassadors for the cause that the organisation intends to promote.  Each one can identify the potential donors and pitch them with the ideas, and opportunities to associate themselves with the cause. An internal newsletter and other means of communication need to be deployed for a regular update on the progress of the project.

5. Share the Stories of Success:  As the project proceeds or concludes, every beneficiary who gets touched through these efforts, has a story to tell.  Follow it up closely the case of each and every individual.  Find out how the project has transformed their lives.  Share these stories with the media, with members, the donors, and the community at large, and you can see how the people respond and support.

The key to the success of the fund-raising however remains is meticulous planning, identifying your prospects, reaching out to them with appropriate communication, and telling your story effectively.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guide for Entrepreneurs

For a country to grow, you need entrepreneurs, feels Mr. Chandra Mohan, a rare blend of an engineer-scientist, an inventor, a visionary entrepreneur, an educationist and, a top-class thought leader in total quality management. And when he speaks, everyone listens.  His second book, which is autobiographical guide for the entrepreneurs, was released in Chandigarh today, “Making Entrepreneurs: Lessons from a Lifetime”.

Mr. Chandra Mohan, who was conferred Padmashree in 1985 for his entrepreneurial acumen and innovative business strategies, believes that the difference between entrepreneurship and small business is significant and lies in innovation and high risk-taking ability, leading to far larger and faster wealth creation.

And risk, he points out, is at its highest when one is launching a drastic innovation in product or production technology in an intensely competitive field. This is just what he himself did with Punjab Tractors Ltd (PTL) and the 100% Indian ‘Swaraj’ tractor that his team designed and built from scratch in a national lab 47 years ago, then mass-produced and marketed it against the best of CKD-based global brand names.

Mr Chandra Mohan is passionate about upgrading technical skills of the young engineering graduates and insists on imparting entrepreneurial skills to them so that they can find solutions to teeming problems that face the country today, the reason that he founded and established the country's first school of excellence for TQM and entrepreneurship under Punjab Technical University.

Keshub Mahindra, founder and chairman emeritus of Mahindra & Mahindra, in his foreword to the book writes: “The true genius of Chandra Mohan is his inquisitive searching mind and his capacity to think out of the box.”

Looking back at the age of 80, Chandra Mohan has been entrepreneuring for the last 48 years of his professional innings of 57 years, with technology and innovation as the focus. That journey still continues, with a patent in photovoltaics filed as recently as 2008. Of course, he says, there have also been failures on the way – but they have not deterred him from sculpting new dreams. “Innovation is seemingly an organic component of my blood-stream,” he writes.

The book is what he himself describes as “a critical self-analysis in search of a process for identifying potential entrepreneurs out of students pursuing higher professional education and then grooming them for setting up their projects along with their professional courses... and mentoring them all the way through till they are ready to commence implementation as they graduate.”

With each of its chapters ending with highly useful tips encapsulated under “Learnings”, Chanbra Mohan sees entrepreneurship as a social responsibility, which he aptly concludes in the last chapter “Creating the Zen for Entrepreneurship?”:  “This self-analysis of lifetime journey began with the objective of drawing some lessons to help a society promote the cult of entrepreneurship for raising its living standards.”

(“Making Entrepreneurs: Lessons from a Lifetime”, Gyan Publishing House, pp.296. Price Rs.850)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Go Viral

Engaging your targeted audience on the social media is an essential component of online public relations efforts.  It is not about informing them but involving them in the campaign and make them act or respond to the communication. Though there are different tools available to measure the ultimate outcome of the efforts, to collate and integrate the analytics, Hubspot is a veritable to do the job.

This video provides interesting insight how one can integrate various online social media platforms to make the communication go viral.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What social media policy your company should have?

Social media is growing everyday giving access to every individual to use it with impunity.  And unknowingly, in a bigger corporate setup, employees use the platform sharing status or information unwittingly which they should not be sharing.
Many organisations restrict/block the access to the social media. But there are others who encourage their employees to use it but with utmost caution.
This video by Citrix provides an overview of the social media policy that the company has been following.  Of course it requires lot of work to customise the policy as per the organisation's needs and objectives.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Are You Passionate about Your Business?

As we enter 2013, many of us have lots of new year resolutions, and especially those in profession or business, do have a very clear plans in their minds what they want to achieve in the year ahead. 
(c) About.com

The year 2013 is most promising for all those "passionate" people who love what they do, and what they represent.  

In one of the facebook studies, I was surprised to know that almost 45% of the small businesses are on the social media.  It is though debatable that whether social media helps someone succeed too, yet the people who love their work and are passionate about it can be found there. They would write about their product, their services, the brand, and share photos with the community.  

For many of the companies in the FMCG sector, health, hospitality, and entertainment business have faired well through their active engagement with their audience through social media. 

Are you passionate about your work? Go ahead and make the best use of the exciting online tools. 

The best part is that 2013 promises to be an era of further integration of multiple platforms, with the entire world in your smart phone. 

Happy 2013. 

Indian wireline broadband pricing likely to fall by 50%; segment to generate Rs 80,000 crore over 5 years

Indian wireline broadband pricing likely to fall by 50%; segment to generate Rs 80,000 crore over 5 years