PR is extremely important for success; a good PR campaign can boost your profile, whereas a poor one can cause considerable loss for your venture. Having a good PR team can make a world of difference by effectively timing the campaign and sending across a strong message to the targeted audience. This has been amply demonstrated in differing fortunes of the recently concluded Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections.
Consider the situation last summer: BJP-led NDA had just stormed to a landmark victory in the Lok Sabha elections. The other parties were nowhere to be seen – AAP was licking its wounds, and Congress was in absolute tatters.Delhi had been under theGovernor’s rule ever since AAP’s infamous AK49 fiasco. Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation from the post of New Delhi’s Chief Minister was a very ill-timed, extremely negative PR move which not only dented his party’s prospects in the Lok Sabha elections, but also led to a major loss of goodwill amongst the masses. Any PR executive worth his salt would tell you the time was ripe for BJP to pounce in for the kill. So, as we analyse the aftermath of AAP’s resounding victory in the elections, where exactly did everything go wrong for BJP, and how did AAP manage to turn the tide around? The answer to both the questions would be the same – the PR campaign.
After their victory in Lok Sabha elections, BJP’s PR machine did not adequately capitalise on its resounding success and feel-good factor to establish itself as the frontrunner for Delhi. AAP, on the other hand, got the time to regroup and formulate an excellent PR campaign.Volunteers went from door to door connecting with the masses; conventions were organised, meetings were held to ask people of their opinion in public matters, of their expectations from the New Delhi government. As the BJP PR machine rested on its laurels, the AAP PR campaign steadily gained momentum; posters, flyers, hoardings all containing Arvind Kejriwal’s profile were asking the public who they would prefer as the CM, songs played all day long on the radio asking for PaanchsaalKejriwal, and the public itself seemed to be leaning in favour of the most visible face in Delhi.
The turnaround was remarkable given how down and out AAP had been just eight months back; all of a sudden, the BJP top-brass was worried. And so, in order to contain the AAP tide, they committed another major PR blunder – they announced their CM candidate.You never make a U-turn, not in PR. When KiranBedi, who had blasted BJP to high heavens during the IAC campaign, was brought in to replace JagdishMukhi, an established party veteran, the idea behind it was to utilise Bedi’s clean, honest cop image to counteract the growing resurgence of AAP. The plan backfired spectacularly; not only was Bedi considered opportunistic, but the move to waylay Mukhi in her favour also served to demoralise the party workers forming the core of the party.
The Delhi elections provided the perfect backdrop to study the effects of a good PR campaign against a bad PR campaign. AAP’s PR team was proactive in approach, targeted its audience efficiently, was working towards a definitive aim and executedits plan to perfection; BJP’s PR machine on the other hand was reactive, unable to formulate or implement any semblance of a plan, and failed to connect with its target audience with its negative, haphazard campaign which basically revolved around lynching the opponents. The result was there for all to see – AAP routed the opposition, garnering 67 seats out of a maximum 70, while BJP was restricted to a mere 3.The Delhi elections showcase a very valid point; if you don’t have good PR going for you, even a Modi on your side can only get you so far.