PRCI salute to media warriors

Monday, 13 April 2020 0 comments

Nagpur chapter coordinates sanitisation of journalists’’ workplace

NAGPUR: In a bid to salute media warriors, working round the clock in the larger interest of Nation to provide worldwide updates on various issues of interest, during tough times of COVID-19 pandemic, Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) Nagpur Chapter has undertaken a unique initiative to sanitize the workplace of journalists.

CVN - the perfect PR professional

Friday, 27 March 2020 0 comments

Dr C V Narasimha Reddi (87) , A lifetime PR man, reminisces Media Connect veteran SOMASEKHAR MULUGU.

CVN, lived, dreamt, talked & wrote PR. Many of us will miss him.
   It was sometime in 1982, in our Journalism class, a Public Relations Officer from the Municipal  Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH), gave a guest lecture on how the menace of street dogs was effectively managed in the twin cities of Hyderabad & Secunderabad through publicity campaign.
  Honestly, most of us heard with attention, but I felt it more funny than serious. Stray dog menace was indeed serious, rabies common and in Telugu it was commonly called ‘Pichai Kukkala’ problem and people dreaded walking in some areas.
  But, the class became unforgettable as a few months later, I was a Journalist with the Press Trust of India (PTI) and this officer was in our office meeting my manager Mr Sham Rao Harnur. Mr Harnur introduced me again and I reminded him of the class lecture. The Gentleman & PR professional was CV Narasimha Reddi.
   Soon, I realised that the stray dog exercise did have an affect, but the bigger campaign that the MCH began was with the slogan “ Ours is a beautiful city. Let’s keep it clean” was proving more popular. The common brain behind them was Mr CVN, as he is widely popular now.
   Narasimha Reddi garu had a huge respect for the PTI and The Hindu Group. He is not just a passionate PR professional, but a constant motivator. He and our Journalism School Prof S Bashiruddin, breathed life into PR. Most of us students dismissed it as too soft, organising events, ticketing for bosses and building up company image during those days.
  My relationship with Narasimha Reddi is indeed long, fruitful engaging and always learning. In the last decade, a call in the morning around 7 am, would often mean it was CVN, he would first enquire about my family and then seek my opinion on some economic or scientific issue of contemporary interest. The phone call was because he was ageing and travel was getting tough.
  For years, CVN would occasionally drop by at the Hindu office, meet several of us, discuss and then go back. It was after his retirement, towards the end of the 20th century. He would call up Journalists and pat them for a good story too, which often bosses did not do. His reach was across all language newspapers and extending to the country too.
  CVN scaled heights in his career from being a PRO of a few Govt depts to serving several Chief Ministers of United Andhra Pradesh. He has touched many Journalism schools across the country with his lectures, articles & books in  a career of atleast 6 decades.
   The last time, I met CVN garu was at the ASCI, when we organised the Prof Bashiruddin Memorial Lecture in September, 2019 delivered by Krishnaprasad, former Editor, Outlook. He was in a wheelchair, spent more than an hour for Bashiruddin, whom he considered his guru in PR. Thereafter, his health has been failing with him going in and out of CARE hospital, where he finally breathed his last on Ugadi day (Telugu New year), March 25.
   Right from my PTI days, CVN had tremendous trust in my reporting skills. Occasionally he would get me to do PR releases on conferences, where he though I could do justice after getting the nod from Mr Harnur and later Jamaluddin  Ali Khan. He also got me to talk at PRSI  meetings once making me deliver a keynote on economic challenges around 2010, when the world economy was slowing down. Further, he would often call me to judge at PRSI, though many times, I used to excuse stating my lack of expertise, though he would not agree.
  CVN was the most prominent, common and visible face of the PRSI. Though, at times, I used to tell him to hand over the baton to nextgen. He was a tireless voice, brining out PR Voice regularly, organising events and working closely with Universities to upgrade PR syllable. I too was involved in one exercise as board members of OU Journalism dept. During his 80’s he travelled to the US to deliver lectures on PR. He connected strongly with the Brahmakumaris and involved them in PR activity, though, I have no clue why & how?
  At the personal level too Narasimha Reddi garu became close, when I had to suddenly return from New Delhi in 2001 on transfer by the Hindu Group. I had to get admission for my son, whom we pulled out of APJ Public School at LKG level. When I called him, he asked me to meet the Principal of Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan, Jubilee Hills, Ms Rama Devi. After a discussion, a small test and assurance that we will be responsible parents to the child’s education admission was granted. Interestingly, as my better half, Jayanthi was into education and son was 5 yrs Rama Devi garu suggested admitting into Class 1. Thus Ujwal, gained 8 months, got good education in the school and turned engineer and is pursuing masters abroad. Incidentally, my daughter Krithika too was lucky to get admission in sibling quota and passed through BVB. CVN would always make it a point to enquire about their education and feedback about the School.
  Though, a teetotaller, CVN garu would be an active participant in friends circle. When RJ Rajendraprasad, RE, The Hindu and well known Journalist retired in 2002, he hosted a wonderful party at home. Friends like R Neelamegham, Subhas Patel, Rajeshwari Rao, PS Sundaram, K Srinivasa Reddy and many attended.
  Though, CVN was nearly 3 decades older to me, his attitude, spirit, curiosity and motivation were evergreen till the last. I will always cherish those great moments. Om Shanthi.

PR Beyond 2020....And we have miles to go...

Wednesday, 25 March 2020 0 comments

As a tribute to veteran communicator DR. C.V. NARASIMHA REDDI, who passed away at Hyderabad today, PRapport presents his last article written, literally from his bed, on the occasion of the 14th Global Communication Conclave held at Bengaluru on March 6 & 7, 2020. Dr Reddi was a recipient  of the Dr Anil Basu Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Relations instituted by PRCI. He was also honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by ABCI .

“If I were to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations” said Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. In fact, public relations (PR) has emerged as a key component of any business in this day of instant communication.
Before we enumerate the future of public relations in the 2020, it is most appropriate to take stock of the state of the art public relations in India. PR played a significant role in the two remarkable achievements of independent India – Emergence of India as the world’s largest vibrant democracy and that India has been transformed into global economic player, poised to become world’s third biggest economy.
With one lakh PR professionals, over 30 lakh extension communicators including nine lakh ASHAs on the one side and one lakh newspapers; 1000 TV channels; 500 radio stations; 36 lakh internet connections; and about 120 crore cell phones; 1.6 lakh post offices; on the other, constitute the world’s biggest communication network.
What is the state-of-the-art public relations in India? It is a mixed bag, containing a few sophisticated and competent PR professionals second to none in the world on the positive side, while a majority of non-professionals without any professional education reflecting the negative aspect of the profession. According to Adfactors, PR Agency that 90% of PR personnel have not read any book on PR. The distinguishing trait of the profession is “Quantity of PR Personnel”, rather than “Quality of the Profession”. The need of the hour is professional excellence.
I visualize seven trends of PR in 2020. They are as follows:
1.      Adaption of PR 2.0 New Model
            As a measure of revamping PR in the decade ahead, the need of the hour is a paradigm shift with PR 2.0 new model as coined by Brian Solis, it is otherwise called convergence of traditional PR with internet and social media.
            Dr. Doug Newsom, Professor Emerita, Texas Christian University, USA observed that “convergence of traditional PR with internet is a pragmatic approach to manage stakeholders relationship. However, understanding, how to use and manage social media channels is of great importance”.
2.      Artificial Intelligence (AI)
            In 2020, no organisation can escape from AI, to maintain effective relations with the public. Transcriptions, automated translation, speech to text services, printing of publications, relations with customers will be some of the AI driven technologies to reach largest section of masses. The machine driven human intelligence opens new frontiers and opportunities for PR professionals.
3.      PR Education and Training
            In the UK PR is offered as a major course both at UG and PG level such as BA (Hons), MA PR, MS PR. The University of Sterling offers MSc (PR), both in regular and distance mode. Four majors are offered in USA at UG level – Journalism, PR, Advertising and Mass Communication.
In contrast, Public Relations Education in the Indian universities is still a nascent stage. Notwithstanding the fact that PR is one of the growing professions, most of the conventional universities in India offer multi-cuisine, all-in-one communication and journalism courses in which, out of eight courses, public relations is one.

When Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University submitted proposal to the UGC for recognition of MA Mass Communication and Public Relations, it has rejected the proposal on the plea that this course is not in its approved list. It clearly means that the UGC has not recognised PR as an academic discipline.
The New Education Policy (NEP) Draft 2019 recommended the introduction of a four year bachelor degree especially in liberal arts. It is most appropriate and relevant that in tune with the NEP, the UGC must launch a four year Bachelor’s Degree with three majors as Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising. Such a policy, undoubtedly, will produce proficient PR personnel.
Training: In fact, PR is skills oriented profession. One can be successful in this profession when PR personnel are equipped with professional skills – Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, etc. A major lacuna in the practice of Indian PR is lack of any induction or in-service PR training. As opposed to developed countries, where the percentage of skilled workforce is between 60 to 90 per cent of the total work force, India has an abysmal 4.69 per cent of workforce with formal vocational skills. It is worse in the PR field. The Indian Institute of Mass Communication was established in New Delhi for imparting training and research. Unfortunately, this institute confined to the training of Indian Information Service officers and conducting Diploma courses in Journalism, Advertising and PR, which are nothing but replication of universities courses. Therefore, it is suggested that all State Governments should establish Mass Communication and PR Academy at the State level for the training of communication and PR professionals.
4.      PR Research and Innovation
Lack of research and innovation are the two major pitfalls of public relations practice in India. If the US has reached great heights in the fields of science and technology and emerged as the number one in the world’s economy, it is because of its priority for research and innovation. A National Research Foundation proposed by the draft NEP is a good step in the direction of research in India. The Government as well as corporates spend crores of rupees both  on image building advertising and public relations campaigns, but rarely their impact on the public mind is assessed.
An international PR firm, BBDO in its survey revealed that “PR industry may never be fully respected, unless it can provide measurement of its value of different programmes. Therefore, research is the rocky but sunlit pathway for PR professionals to climb once for all out of the quacks and spin doctors’ status, where our work is judged by instinct and intuition. Each PR department must have a research division on par with All India Radio’s Audience Research Unit with adequate budget.
Innovation is yet another field of activity to project new theories, new practices that enlighten the stakeholders. Innovation alone can take PR to greater heights.
5.      Consolidation of PR Departments
If the 2019 decade made presence of PR as management function, 2020 envisages consolidation of PR departments with specialised branches such as Media Relations, Internal Communication, External Stakeholders relationship, Advertising, Publications, Social Media, Feedback mechanism, etc.
6.      PR Reporting
Lack of measurement of PR programmes is the greatest lacuna of PR profession, like marketing, management demand results from PR in improving the image of the organisation. One of the short comings of Indian PR is lack of management recognition for PR on par with HRD or marketing.
Public relations reporting is a process of keeping the management informed about PR activities and accomplishments. The PR manager has to periodically report progress to the top management. It is a report card of the PR department. PR reporting is a challenge to PR professionals. However, if they do it systematically, management undoubtedly recognise their hard work in projecting the corporate affairs to both internal and external public.
CEO as Chief of PR Strategist at the board level
If PR is regarded as strategic top management function, the Director of PR must find a place in the Board which formulates policies for all management disciplines. Unfortunately, the PR by and large is at the middle level under HR or Marketing. Therefore, public relations must be placed at the top management level with a Director or Vice-President (PR) who should be made responsible to the CEO. And CEO, who is accountable to all disciplines, must assume the role of Chief of PR for designing PR strategy.
A Bright Future- Five Factors: 
If challenges are converted into opportunities and if all such opportunities are tackled with a vision, a bright future beckons Indian PR, because of five important factors. These factors include (i) India continues to sustain world’s largest democracy; (ii) India is poised to become world’s third biggest economy; (iii) India will become world’s largest English speaking nation; (iv) India will be the hub of world’s largest media network with over one lakh newspapers; and (v) India is likely to have 50 states instead of 29. (The author was Editor, Public Relations Voice & Former State Director, Information & PR Department, AP)

Dr. CVN Reddi (extreme left) receiving  Dr.Anil Basu Memorial Life Time Achievement Award for Public Relations  at the 11th  Global Communication conclave, Bengaluru, on March 03, 2017.

Newspaper agents care two hoots for Janata Curfew; dump papers on retail vendors

Sunday, 22 March 2020 0 comments

Newspaper agents care two hoots for Janata Curfew; dump papers on retail vendors

MUMBAI, March 22: Ignoring the Janata Curfew call by the PM, certain newspaper agents have dumped today's papers on retail vendors.
"We decided to give off to our delivery boys as most parents would not allow their children to go out today,' said a retail vendor who suppliers papers to a large number of homes at Kopar Khairane, Navi Mumbai.
He said the vendors informed the distributors not to send papers today, yet the bundles were dumped on the retailers.
"We brought these bundles home as the agents refused to take them back. 'Now we have to sell them in raddi as they are of no value tomorrow," he said.
This retailer alone is forced to suffer a loss of Rs 2,000 for the day.
Hope the newspaper managements will take a pragmatic view and not charge the vendors for the papers distributed on Janata Curfew Day.

Kill Corona! Let's support Janata Curfew on March 22

Thursday, 19 March 2020 0 comments

‘Janta Curfew’ to be observed on 22 March from 7 AM to 9 PM

Citizens to thank the selfless service providers of the nation at 5 PM on 22 March

‘COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force’ set-up to meet economic challenges of the pandemic

PM advises citizens to avoid ‘panic buying’; assures availability of essentials
Posted On: 19 MAR 2020 8:41PM by PIB Delhi
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the nation on combating the challenge of COVID-19. On the occasion of ‘Navratra’, Prime Minister made nine requests to the people.

Prime Minister said that patience and resolve of all Indians  is vital in fighting the global pandemic which has wreaked havoc all over the world. He requested citizens to follow certain measures to ensure the containment of the fast spreading virus. He emphasized on the importance of not taking the pandemic lightly and the need to be aware and proactive towards prevention of COVID-19.

Prime Minister urged citizens to follow the mantra of “when we are healthy, the world is healthy”. He stressed on the importance of following self imposed norms like ‘social distancing’. Requesting citizens to patiently abide by the norm, he urged the need to isolate oneself and come out of the house only if imperative, while trying to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel. He also urged that senior citizens above the age of 60 should not come out of their homes for the coming few weeks. Highlighting the stress on the hospitals, he urged everyone to avoid routine check ups during this time and to extend the date of surgeries scheduled, wherever feasible.

‘Janta Curfew’

Prime Minister urged citizens to follow the concept of  ‘Janta Curfew’ on 22 March, 2020 from 7 AM to 9 PM, wherein no one apart from those involved with essential services is supposed to venture out of home. He said that the success of such a people’s movement and the experiences gained from it will prepare us for the challenges ahead. He added that our efforts on March 22, would be a symbol of our self restraint and determination to perform duty in the national interest.

Urging the state governments to take the lead, Prime Minister asked all youth organizations including NCC and NSS, civil societies to generate awareness among people about the ‘Janta Curfew’. He urged everyone to try to inform at least ten other people over phone about this self imposed curfew.

Thanking the selfless service providers

Prime Minister said that there are many brave people who are in the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic like medical staff, police, government servants, airline staff, media persons, bus/train/auto operators and those involved in providing home delivery.

To pay respects to their huge service to the nation during such trying times, Prime Minister suggested that on March 22 at 5 PM, all citizens should acknowledge and salute their efforts by standing in the balconies and at the doors of their houses and clap or ring bells for five minutes as a show of appreciation .

He urged the local government across the country to indicate the timing through blaring out a siren at 5 PM.

Meeting the Economic Challenges

To deal with the economic challenges caused by the pandemic, Prime Minister announced the creation of ‘COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force’ under the Union Finance Minister. The Task Force will consult stakeholders, take feedback, on the basis of which decisions will be taken to meet the challenges. The Task Force will also ensure implementation of the decisions taken to meet these challenges.

Prime Minister also urged the business community and higher income groups to look after the economic needs of those from lower income groups, from whom they take various services, urging them not to cut their salary on the days they are unable to render the services due to inability to come to the workplace. He stressed on the importance of humanity during such times.

He also assured the countrymen that there would not be any shortage of essential items like food, milk, medicines etc. He urged people to not resort to panic buying.

Prime Minister exhorted everyone to work together and contribute fully to overcome the crisis of COVID-19. He urged the citizens not to fall prey to misinformation. Prime Minister said that  during the time of such a global pandemic, it is important to ensure that ‘humanity wins and India wins’.

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