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The art of storytelling in PR

Approach 1: “This is an organic acne removal product. Buy it.”

Approach 2: “My friend Mini used this product since it is safe for the skin, being natural and organic. She loved it and has been raving about its efficacy in reducing the acne on her face. I think you should give it a try too.”

Of the above, which one would you find more convincing? Approach two, right? In this piece of writing, let’s understand why that is so.

Storytelling is an art that has been in existence since time immemorial in the form of folklores, parables and myths. Over the years, the fine art of storytelling has found its application not just in the field of entertainment but also in the corporate world. In fact, one avenue where storytelling has made a strong hold is Public Relations.

In a PR Campaign, delivering a simple, straightforward sales pitch will do you no good. Instead you need to have a proper insight into your client’s brand as well as entrepreneurial story and deliver just the right message to their customers in a credible and authentic manner. While different brands may tell a different type of story, the basic structure of all stories remains the same.

• Structure of The Story – Every story is like an adventurous journey. It has a beginning, a middle section and an end. Now it is up to you as a PR Consultant whether you convert that journey into a boring one or a fun and inspirational one. The beginning and middle are undoubtedly important, but with a ‘bang’ ending you will leave the readers, aka the brand’s customer base, happily surprised and make them connect with the brand better.

• Plot of the Story – Public Relations can turn out to be quite a complicated maze, if one works without an objective. This objective is what storytellers term as the ‘plot’. The plot answers one of the most important questions of your PR story, i.e. Why? When your plot is clear, your story is able to clearly explain to a customer why he should be loyal to this brand rather than the numerous other options available in the market.

• Hero of Your Story – Establishing the hero of your story is a basic but vital step one needs to take right at the beginning while planning a PR Campaign Strategy. Thereafter, the campaign should focus on developing stories that highlight the virtues of the hero. In most cases, your brand itself is the hero of your story. Moreover, when one tells a brand story, the objective is not to increase sales or the share value of that brand but popularizing the identity (or the so-called hero) of the brand.

• Hitches & Glitches in Your Story – A gripping story is one that leaves the readers wondering about the turn of events that took place. Same is the case with the story that you write for your public relations campaign purposes. Letting the target audience know of the brand’s journey and the challenges it has overcome in order to reach its current position helps in building a bond with them. This bond is strengthened over a period of time with consistent yet diverse stories related to the brand. In most cases this bond is strong enough to stand the test of time and make a customer believe in the brand even during crisis situations.

Storytelling is an art that only a few have mastered but with the above fundamentals done right, you can do wonders for your brand equity and promotion by making use of this art. So, Happy Storytelling to you!

Blurred Lines: Bathtub Journalism v/s Responsible Reporting

On 25th of February 2018, India woke up to shock and disbelief at the unexpected news about the sudden demise of Sridevi, one of India’s most celebrated faces on the celluloid. While her untimely death in Dubai brought fans from across the world together to express their solidarity with her family, it also brought the world’s attention to sensationalism-craving practices of certain sections of the Indian media. Hours after the news of Sridevi’s death broke out, numerous journalists turned it into a grotesque circus of pathetic and insensitive reportage, which not only neglected important national issues but also overstepped its moral boundaries.

Journalism is a medium of collating, structuring and reporting information to the masses, so as to make them aware of the issues that directly or indirectly affect them. Unfortunately, the present state of Indian Journalism is heavily plagued with sensationalism and over-dramatization. Rather than making people analyze the larger issues, it focuses on an over-exaggerated, distorted and perverted version of the lesser issues.

Insensitive and irresponsible reporting
While the insensitive and exhaustive reporting on the demise of Sridevi has brought the content-hollowness in Indian media to the limelight, this deterioration has been happening since several years. A large number of journalists and media platforms seem to be interested in just grabbing TRPs, even if it is through distasteful and cringe-worthy headlines and coverage.

A glimpse at many Indian news channels would make you nostalgic about the days of crisp and concise reporting. Media nowadays often projects insignificant topics with sensational headlines as their main stories. Rather than highlighting issues that public must be informed about, like the farmer suicides, rapes, international crisis situations or economic upheavals, there are special hour-long episodes on national news channels about how ‘Simar’ efficiently reincarnated as a housefly!

Neglect of relevant issues
During the 72-hour nonstop reporting on Sridevi’s death, Indian media outlets reached an all-time low to what is popularly being termed in counter-opinions as ‘Bathtub Journalism’; all this, while several important issues were being utterly cornered. If you look at the timeline of Sridevi reportage, we were simultaneously witnessing the massive Syrian crisis, Indian GDP’s first major jump post demonetization, corruption allegations in a major competition exam of our country, allegations in INX Media scam, bombings in Tral (Jammu & Kashmir), etc, all of which were effectively sidelined by Indian media to the bottom-most panels of their screens or front pages. Some even neglected these affairs completely, giving the entire space to commemorating their beloved actress.

Summing it up
An increasingly large section of the Indian Media breathes, eats and feeds on sensationalism. The irresponsible reporting continues to give undue publicity to less-relevant issues. As a Public Relations agency, we sometimes find it hard to convince media professionals to consider relevant pieces of information. The very same slots are happily provided to paparazzi pictures of celebrity kids’ ‘cute smile’.

The Media is popularly termed as the ‘Fourth Pillar’ of Indian democracy. If it has been given such an honour, it must truly abide by the responsibilities that come with it. Perhaps, this is the time for us to get our priorities right.

PR Works: How Delhi was won and lost

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.

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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.”

Best PR Agency

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.

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