PR is all about democracy - What do despots know about two-way communication?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A thought provoking analysis of importance of two-way communication

By Geetha Shankar
(National Chairperson, Young Communicators Club)

An old theme indeed- strengthening Democracy through PR
It would be too rudimentary to define Democracy and PR. We all have gone beyond this.
Traditional power structures and Traditional hierarchies are disrupting, Control and power are moving from Institutions to Individuals. Every Individual has started recognizing his voice. We need not be a celebrity/ CEO/Politician to make others hear our voice. Anyone with an access to the social Media can become powerful and can be heard.
PR Professionals are still dubbed as “suited booted and pink shirt sporting party lovers,”  According to my friend B.N Kumar Governing Council Chairman PRCI.
PR Pros will need a Broad Skill set. We need to be good at writing, event planning and maintaining relationships to be successful in PR.
A strong PR –involves two-way communication – This is of paramount importance
Be a good listener: To be a good communicator, it is important to listen to others.
Act on suggestions: Mere listening is not good enough. We must act on suggestions and be seen as respecting others’ opinion.
Democracy goes by majority: Yes, we should always take into account the majority view. But if you are a good communicator and convinced that your view is correct, you can argue it out with adequate reasoning and win your way. The other side appreciates it.
Review: How many of us take criticism in the right spirit?
In fact, brushing aside criticism leaves a bad taste and the after effects are worse than that of a nuclear war!  They will lead to attrition, absence of team spirit and ultimately decaying of an organization, a party and of course our home lives.
Communicate authentically- spoken and written.
Build Trust, Lead with your Mind and Heart.
Take people along with you. You have to inspire your team  and not command.
Empower them to take decisions.
Practice Grammatical writing, Start writing in blogs. Lead a disciplined life.
Communication world is the most dynamic Industries in India .
Communication has become personalized and there is a steady drive towards greater “transparency, rationality and purposefulness with evidence based outcomes”.
We at PRCI firmly believe and adhere to democratic communication which why we are now growing not only as a national body, but a global platform. We just floated WCC – World Communicators’ Council.
PR Pros will need to Be Prepared for Real Time: We hardly have minutes, to prepare and respond. Instant responses are the order of the day and we have to live up to our clients expectations. There is too much of public  and Media gaze. Expectation level has sky rocketed. We as communication professionals have to be more strategic and . standards of corporate governance have to be followed.

Also need to be a whiz at social media, content marketing and content strategy. The once fine line between earned and owned media has blurred, so you should get better at combining these with paid media for the ultimate campaign.

All round praise for PRCI house journal CHANAKYA at PR event
The VUCA syndrome according to Dr Pragnya Ram, Group Exe President- Corp com and CSR– which is  Volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous in the Crisis era has to be tackled proactively. And it’s a great learning says she. Companies need to guard their reputations constantly. Viral videos can damage brands. So speed is the essence and communication has to be hyper transparent.

For PR PROFESSIONALS the challenge lies in dealing every day with data explosions and digital influencers.
The relationship between PR and Media in a democratic set up is still evolving and PR  Industry is still struggling to find identity for themselves with the     Media.
The Media Revolution in a democratic country like India to a great extent has brought integration and disintegration of norms in the Indian culture especially in the social structures, communication patterns, value systems and in thinking patterns too.
 India as a Democratic country is facing huge cultural shocks and our inability to cope up with the present so called ‘chaotic young generation’ has resulted in pointing fingers towards the Media found responsible for triggering the turmoil.
Most of us accept what the media tells us through the news, entertainment etc. and we also tend to believe the Medias code of depiction in terms of different aspects of culture like dress, festivals, behavior etc. 
The solution lies in being a Media Literate Consumer.
Which means… 
1. We must be knowledgeable about the influences that guide media organizations
2. Need to be sensitive to ways of seeing the media content as a means of learning about our culture.
3. Sensitive to ethical dimensions of media activities.
Media Literacy Tools have to be used by PR professionals to explore the messages sent across and ask questions. Only then can we be the watch dog of the Media and see that our culture is intact.  So we have to consider
a.       Authorship-–who created the message and why are they sending it. Don’t simply hear, read and accept. Explore and try to think why certain choices were made.
b.      Evaluating the audience- who are the target audience for the materials and how different people would understand the materials similarly and differently.
c.        And analyse the content-what are the values, life styles, represented or omitted
d.      Find out the creative techniques which are used to attract attention-like images, words, music, camera angles, shots etc.  This will enhance our involvement and appreciation or non-appreciation of factors which would make our interaction with the media more interesting.
We have a major role to play. Can we become more aware and responsible and understand the media’s role in our day to day lives by applying our critical thinking ability? We must constantly be reminded that culture is our savior. We have to be far more interested in our own cultural values and more interested in our roots.  We need to be proud of our heritage.
I quote Sheryl Sandberg who had written about her mentor who said

‘Our career is no more a ladder. It’s a Jungle gym. You stretch, climb, go up, down, go sideways’
Absolutely true.. We need to move away from Calf paths. This can help us to move from our comfort Zone. Life begins at the end of Comfort Zone. How do we do this?
One is Net working. I quote.  Get on a Rocket ship and if you are offered a seat.. Do not ask which seat, Just Board. So keep building your net work,   I am influenced to a great deal by these words: Don’t search for jobs. Search for Networking.
There is no trivial work or huge work.
Can we dear friends join together to strengthen Democracy through our PR? (Based on Geetha’s delivered this speech at a PR conference on Strengthening Democracy – Role of PR at Bhubaneshwar on April 21, 2018)
The media coverage


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