The need for PR

A friend of mine once commented that PR business is a dog’s work – you get blasted by your clients, kicked by your bosses, hassled by your colleagues and turned down by the journalists; in the PR industry the good that you do is only fleeting, but your failures haunt you forever. When queried upon why he continued with the profession despite all the problems, he dragged on a cigarette butt with all the concentration of a meditating sage before responding with, “If I don’t do it, someone else will.”

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His remark had a ring of truth to it; Delhi alone has so many PR agencies and freelance PR executives within its bordersthat their combined population might outnumberthe Grand Duchy of Luxembourgthree times over.His comment, however, made me wonder about a few things;why would someone be willing to go through so much trouble for a pay-check or a payment from the client, and why were so many people willing to do it? Moreover, as a naturally reticent individual, I wondered if it was really required. After all, why would you need to scream over the rooftopsabout your work if you’re giving first-rate, superior service? Any prospective consumer would look for quality, and as long as you keep providing high-quality end-product spending extra does not come into the picture.

Or so I thought. However, with the proliferation of service providers across the entire market and ultra-competitive economic scenario, there are bound to be a number of contenders offering the same services of comparable quality and rates. The consumer usually picks the service which has the most visible or credible value. And how is the visibility and credibility of any brand established? Public Relations, of course; the fortunes of any brand can overturn almost overnight because of PR, whether good or bad. Case in point beingnews report from a few years ago, according to which a routine quality testing of major soft-drink brands revealed pesticide traces in their samples. Though the charges were never proven, the market for soft-drinks tumbled almost overnight; calls were made for closure of these soft-drink manufacturers. Similarly, rumours of insects being found in chocolate barsof a well-known brand of chocolate led to a significant decrease in sales and loss of revenue; bad press made a substantial dent in the reputation and profit sheetsin both the cases.

For the impact of PR, let us also consider the contrasting political fortunes of two leaders from diverse backgrounds –one was a lowly chai-wallah belonging to a poor family in Gujarat, the other was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, scion of the most powerful political family in India, the Nehru-Gand his. The PR campaign of one hailed his humble beginnings as his biggest strength, while the other’s PR failed miserably to establish him as anext-gen leader to usher India into the role of a world superpower. The result is there for all to see; while today the chai-wallah, Narendra Modi, is the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world, Rahul Gandhi’s political career has taken a major downturnbefore it even began. The stark contrast highlights the difference good PR can make.

With so much saturation in the economic sphere, PR becomes extremely vital not just for success, but also for survival;amongst so many options to choose from, an effort has to be made to establish what sets your services apart from the rest.This realisation dawned on me when I was busy moping about my stalled novel-writing project to a friend of mine. I was down about not getting a publisher to stake in my project, and was worried that the story would never be told.

“What you need is to publicise yourself.” She commented. “Interact with more people; take interest in people so that they would take an interest in your story. Build a fan base for yourself before approaching a publisher.”

 “That’s rubbish.” I countered. “I have talent, and ultimately talent shines through, with or without publicity.”

 “Yes, buthaving a healthy number of followers makes it so much easier for you to achieve that fame and publicity to attract a publisher. Just look at,” she named a mutual acquaintance, “her write-ups garner more attention than yours. Is it because she is a better writer than you? No, it is merely because she publicises herself better than you do. The days of the reclusive author are long gone – you need to come out all guns blazing for hogging the public’s interest.”

 Quality alone can no longer assure success – thetruth of this statement cannot be denied;in today’s world, wherethe internet had successfully invaded every individual’s pocket in form of smart-phones, there is an overload of data and information.The attention spans have decreased dramatically; what was breaking news in the morning would already be yesterday’s gossip by the afternoon.Not only would you need to catch the public’s eyeball, you also need to hold on to their attention by constantly bringing something new to the table.

Effective forward planning is needed to ensure that you are in the limelight for all the good reasons, that any occasional bad press is inundated by a deluge of reports highlighting you in a positive light. And who does that? Your PR team; they ensure that you always put the best foot forward, arranging your PR schedule ahead of time and handling any bumps and glitches that might arise with utmost dedication.Ultimately, in today’s cut-throat economy where a dozen new start-ups begin everyday and a hundred others are consumed by the market, you would not only have to create a good PR, but also ensure you keep generating good, newsworthy press on a regular basis if you need your business to survive. It does not matter if you do it in-house, or outsource it to an organisation with the experience and the capability to do so – generating a constant stream of PR for your business is a must, for you lose out on businessif you don’t. As a song rightly points out, “tera PR PRPR, hukkah bar” – find a good PR team, and the world seems like a party.

After multiple taunts, threats and cajoling, I’ve finally followed my friend’s advice and setup aFacebook page to bring my blog to limelight – needless to say, she’s in charge of the promotions.The page has garnered 55 likes in a single day – that’s 55 people who were not subscribed to my posts earlier; the jump in the margins was quite significant. While my talent and ability were there for everyone to see before as well, it finally took an exercise in public relations to increase my audience base and outreach, thereby increasing my chances of landing a prestigious publishing house; when I finally get published as an author, you know it will be because of a PR initiative.That’s the difference good PR can make to your venture; so what are you still waiting for?


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