Public Relations education today is in dire need of academicians who understand the craft of communications. In India, there are few institutes that offer Public Relations as an elective or a specialisation. However, only the School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe) is dedicated to training aspiring professionals in this field which is both, an art and a science.
Public Relations firms have great expectations from freshers who are starting out in the profession. They look for a variety of attributes in the youngsters they hire. Here is a list of a dozen qualities one looks for. The more characteristics on display the better it is.
At the tenth World Public Relations Forum – probably the most diverse and reputed Public Relations gathering in the world the theme is: Value! Communication’s impact in a digital and ever-changing world. And delegates will explore these changes from three main perspectives: truth, profit and intelligence. These are simple yet powerful terms that fully comprise public relations.
Journalists are fearless. Growing up I had always perceived journalist as fearless and strong people. I was not wrong. In the field of Public Relations I came across many journalists and my perception still stands strong.
Consumer industries have started relying a lot on emotional branding off late, which indicates that it is most probably accelerating revenue profitability. Emotional metric is being adopted as a growth strategy to translate the emotional connection factor to drive customer value. Brands are building an emotional connection across the customer experience to develop more valuable customer relationships. Tapping into specific emotions can motivate your customers to buy, remain loyal and grow share-of-wallet with you.
Let me take you through few ads, which I felt, banked a lot on emotional connect.
- Ariel India — #ShareTheLoad
Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad questions, “are we passing on gender roles that haven’t evolved with the times?’ Maybe it’s time to #ShareTheLoad”. Okay so here is the deal. The ad appeals to the women, who are the decision makers when it comes to grocery. Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad appeals its target audience directly. It talks to an audience that is changing with time and is progressive in a society that takes them for granted. So, Ariel here is banking on the sympathy as well as giving a fitting reply to Surf Excel’s – “Daag Acche Hai”—Dirt is good campaign, its close competitor.
- Swach Bharat Abhiyan — #DontLetHerGo
Simplicity as its best – describes this ad campaign. We all have learnt – Cleanliness is next to godliness. The ad targets the most sensitive thing in India – Fear of God – Religion. It wakes up the conscience of people and hits the target. How can you let go of your Devi? And who could have been a better ambassador than the legend himself.
- Nike — Da Da Ding
To summarise this ad in few words – Women empowerment done right
The ad campaign went viral, with the release coinciding with Rio Olympics with such a theme. This one was indeed a masterstroke by Nike – staying true to its logo, doing it right. The ad struck the right chord with an absolutely vocal and receptive audience online. This was also a breather from the stereotyping and regressive fairness cream ad, Nike celebrates the raw spirit of women, encouraging them to take up sports. The best part was their brand ambassador sharing equal screen space with other faces. This definitely appealed to their target audience but Nike’s masterstroke was taking the ad a step ahead by creating a mashup, which featured the women who are not Nike users, but are the barefoot superwomen.
- Google Maps — #LookBeforeYouLeave
Okay! So the first question I had was – what’s the need for Google to advertise, that too for google maps? That’s like my chai! But then I realised Google ads are more about consumer education than advertising. It’s just a soft reminder from Google that it is always with you.
Google Maps have become integral to people’s lives. It has made people more independent. It is the reason why the top valued companies in the world like Ola and Uber are able to function smoothly. There is no doubt that Google Maps is a stellar product and there is dire need of more education around it.
- Coca Cola – Small world machines
Coca Cola banks a lot on experimental marketing managing to pull it off most of the times. One such case was the “Small World Machines” campaign which was planned and executed in India and Pakistan simultaneously. A vending machine was placed in two well-known malls in Delhi and Lahore. Each vending machine featured a webcam and a large touch screen monitor.
Shoppers could grant each other free coca cola – but only if both parties participated in a series of simple activities like making hand gestures, dancing identical steps and so on. This campaign got an awesome response and even won a couple of awards in the best campaign category. As consumers involved in the campaign were happy, you could say that the “Open Happiness” campaign fared extremely well! The biggest challenge in executing this was logistics. As two agencies were involved to give this campaign shape, it was even more challenging. Coke gave out 10,000 cans of soda during the campaign, as a part of the brand’s larger mission to associate its product with happiness. Coca Cola has not yet revealed the outcome of this campaign, on whether it has boosted sales in both the countries.
The winning stroke in this ad for me was that unlike other ads there was no glorifying of Indians who most of the time come to the rescue of their most celebrated enemy.
Gone are the days when we were fixated on brand awareness, recall, share of voice. All marketing campaigns need to aim at changing consumer behavior, induce action, change buying pattern in the long or short term. A good ad, at times stems from simply knowing the best features of your product from a consumer’s lens. A brand needs to look beyond functional benefits after a point to influence its TG.
This article originally appeared on the author’s blog site.
Julia is a part of Class of 2018 of the Post Graduate Programme in Public Relations at SCoRe. She is a Master’s Degree in English Literature, and has worked with The Promise Foundation of PR prior to joining SCoRe. She can be reached at @TheJuliaJoseph on Twitter and as here on LinkedIn.
How does it feel when someone forgets your name? Or rather when someone calls out a wrong name for you? Or even worse, someone pretends to remember you but can’t recall your name? Well maybe disgusting, annoying or insulting? But do you know that these feelings shouldn’t be coming to your mind. Rather you should think that why didn’t your presence leave an unforgettable mark in their minds. Like why didn’t you do something that extraordinary and unforgettable?
So, like I mentioned in my second last blog, I recently completed my two months of internship at a reputed Public Relations firm. And thanks to my jovial nature I ended up making some great friends. I mean, I can seek their help in future and they won’t turn me down. I know I will not be avoided by them. Question here is, what difference does this make? Why is it so important to leave good imprint on someone’s mind? Why is important to be acceptable and loved?
Answer is simple. So that you get your work done easily. Or rather to put it in a more professional way, to get importance. I’ll share my internship experiences here to make my point valid. So, during these two months, I used to abide by deadlines, do my research well, ask questions till I got clarity. I used to stay back till 8.30pm and work even when the office hours got over at 6pm. I used to help others with their work load when I didn’t have much on my plate. There were days when I had to scan papers and look for coverage for a particular client. During those times, I not only looked for my client’ coverage, I also looked for my colleague’s client’s coverage. And the moment I found any, I used to take a picture and WhatsApp it to my colleague. The response to that WhatsApp was not only a Thank You but a sense of gratitude which I could sense. That was immense for me.
I remember one of my colleague who told me that she appreciated my constant questioning till I got clarity. I recall my manager who praised my extra effort and dedication to make work (coverage) happen. I remember her appreciating my 60 mails a day to numerous journalists, when I thought that she will be irritated with so many mails (I used to mark her in CC).
For me, the net result was, being loved and appreciated to the point when the India Practice Chair asks you to join back. Also, I would love to share her note here but then that would give away the name of my Public Relations firm and for some personal reasons, I want to keep it under wrap. I know that I have left my mark there and they will always remember me, no matter what.
So, next time if someone can’t recall your name, don’t let those dreadful thoughts cross your mind. Rather ask yourself, these three simple questions.
This blog originally appeared on the author’s blog site.
Riya is a student of the Class of 2018 of the Post Graduate Programme in Public Relations at SCoRe. She has completed her Masters in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. She can be reached at Riya Sarkar on LinkedIn and @sarkarriya_92 on Twitter.
It is often said “you learn best while on-the-job”. Sure, working does give you exposure and experience. However, as it is essential to any part of a job in Public Relations, it’s always better to be prepared. Imagine joining a PR firm and being able to comfortably grasp most tasks you’re given for the first time! That’s how you should feel from the moment you enter the PR world, and the institute you choose to study at should cover as much as they can during your PR course.
Here are four major pointers for PR schools to help students begin their PR journey –
1. Up-to-Date Curriculum
The PR course and its modules should be in line with and relevant to what’s happening in the PR and communication business.
Workshops during a PR course can make up for any gaps in the course structure, as they are independent and can be conducted based on what’s happening in the PR world in real-time.
Breaking down case studies is one of the best ways to show students how PR can be used for different things in different ways. It helps when the examples of familiar brands are used.
2. The Right Faculty
The faculty should comprise of PR and corporate communications professionals, as well as others who are connected to the profession in different ways. Practical knowledge is the key. For students, going from being part of the target audience to eventually joining the business – it only makes sense to learn from these professionals.
Students need to be encouraged to ask questions in whatever they do. Teachers must also facilitate experimentation with the way students approach projects and assignments.
3. Choose a Place that Offers Practical Exposure
It is not enough to give students notes to which they may or may not refer. Students doing a PR course need to be able to apply that knowledge and perform tasks on a regular basis using that knowledge.
- Writing: Practice makes perfect. The focus should not just be on the theory of the perfect way to write, but instead, a weekly practice of writing in different styles, via different mediums and for different sectors etc.
Most people who manage to make their way into a PR course can write, covering the general basics. But once you’re there, even the basics must be reiterated, and extra guidelines added on. This should also include how to write emails and draft different kinds of documents such as a pitch note and a press release (they are not the same).
- Computer skills: There should be a strong emphasis on the importance of PowerPoint presentations, and the use of Microsoft Excel. Mastering these should be a major part of the computer skills curriculum. The basics of digital design and editing are also essential.
- Social media: Students must get used to being active on Twitter. It’s best to start them off from the first week of their course. Since Tweeting is one of the fastest ways to break news, it may be a major part of their lives in PR. Starting off early will help once they begin working. They also need to be reintroduced to social media – when to use different platforms – and how to build brand audience or strengthen existing ones with engagement.
- Public speaking and presenting: Assignments on how to conduct themselves – body language, tone, speech etc, is a must. This should also include soft skills, dressing and etiquette. These are usually taken for granted, but when introduced as part of a course, it serves as a reference point in the future.
- Mock interviews and scenarios: Mock interviews should be conducted in class as presentations. These should include job interviews and media/client interviews. Along with this, team building assignments and exercises are a must. This helps in training students on how to think and deal with different people and situations.
- Event planning and management in PR: Students should be introduced to how events are organised, especially in the PR world. Making a real event or two a part of the course is the best way to apply that knowledge.
- Visits to corporate offices: Meeting and learning from people in corporate communication helps students see how they work to maintain and build almost every brand there is.
- An internship as part of the course: A well-planned internship shows students what life will be like when they start working in PR. They may not be involved at every level, but they get to observe and sometimes even be part of the kind of work their teams, seniors and bosses do. This is also their first chance to apply what they’ve learnt during their PR course in a real setting. Monitoring this internship makes sure students get the most out of it.
Through this exposure to corporate offices and PR firms, students also get to see how PR and corporate communications teams work together.
4. Build Skills for Research, Clients and Media Relations
- How to read news: Help students get into the habit of reading the news every day. This includes studying the way news is reported across the media, along with the proper way of scanning newspapers and mapping opportunities.
- Research: The students must have an idea of what to expect when interacting with the media. They need to get used to researching before they reach out to anyone. This will help them be prepared with some background information on a brand or person. Students should also be encouraged to begin noting the kind of stories a journalist writes. This helps create a database, which will be part of any PR job.
- Rapport-building and smart pitches: Help students understand that client servicing is a two-way street. Students need to be introduced to the nuances of client-firm relationships. The next bit of learning is how to get the media to care enough about a story. This should include practical activities and assignments, including things like mock pitch calls and how to build and maintain a rapport with the person you’re pitching to.
There is so much more to how the world of PR and Communications functions, but covering these points in a PR course gives both students and institutes a good start.
For students reading this – If the institute/course you’re considering covers these essentials (and hopefully more), you’re good to go. Above all, as they say, “It’s what you make of it!”
A version of this article originally appeared on Shiksha.com
– Amani Kerr
Amani is currently a Digital Communications Associate. She studied History at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC), Mumbai. Amani loves to sing and has lent her voice to several musical projects. She is currently writing and composing original music for her first EP. She can be reached at @amani_kerr on Twitter and here on LinkedIn.
A brief history of PR
PR has gone through a transformation phase since the early 19th century. The field has witnessed two of the greatest professionals ever produced: Edward Louis Bernays and Ivy Ledbetter Lee. The former is referred to as the Father of PR, whereas the latter is remembered as the founder of modern PR.
Both contributed massively to what we know as PR today. Ivy Lee is best known for his work with the Rockefeller family; he advised them to start their own foundation and invested in philanthropic work. Edward Bernays is popularly known for propaganda, his first campaign ‘torch of freedom’ is one of the best publicity stunts in history.
PR is a management function which has the power to change people’s perception and influence public opinion in favour or against the situation. The various facets of Public Relations are Behavioural change, Crisis management, Image building, Reputation management and Public policy. Individuals or large corporates use these to enhance their trust.
You might wonder what any of this has to do with the title of the blog. I believe one has to be aware of the kind of work done in the past to develop the necessary skills for PR.
Below I have highlighted the 5 most important skills I think one needs to work in PR:
- Communication skills – This is one of the important skills, if you’re considering a career in PR. You have to be a good communicator and also learn to inculcate the habit of listening and understanding the other person’s point of view. It is also important to interact with different stakeholders for your client. To master this skill you have to be street smart and observe subtle nuances and culture because you will be interacting with wide a range of individuals through various platforms like social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), Traditional medium ( Press Release, Authored article blog post) among others.
With growing emphasis on Digital media, it is important to be proactive and reach out to your audience because now customers want to interact with brands directly.
- Research skills – A PR person should be proficient and carry out lots of research. It plays a significant role in pitching a story to the journalist, drafting speech and other reports in your career. It gives you an added advantage while communicating with other stakeholders. You have to have accurate information on different subjects; you should be up to date with the current affairs. A strong command of Marketing, Sociology, Psychology and Branding will take you ahead in your career, trust me, if you’re inquisitive, you’ll enjoy this aspect of your job.
- International Perspective – An international and multicultural cultural mindset will help you in adapting to different culture and people. When you attune to people you will realize that there are a lot of cross-cultural differences, every country is different in their own way. A message that will work in India might not work in a western country; a good PR person appreciates and anticipates these differences. Fluency in multiple languages is a plus because it will help you interact with many different people on a personal level.
- Creative Thinking – We have arrived at a point in PR and marketing communication where products or service offering are becoming obsolete within a quarter or a year. In order for you to give the best advice to your client, you will have to think out-of-the-box so that you can capture your customer’s attention in a fragmented market. It also means gauging when to take a risk and thinking creatively in such a way that no one has ever thought before. Having a creative bent of mind will bring success in your professional life.
- Social Media Skills – PR professionals must be aware of all the various forms of social media; they should keep themselves updated with various tools search marketing (pay per click and search engine optimisation), internet marketing and digital marketing. At times the same kind of messaging won’t work for every platform; some platforms need different messaging. Google Analytics and Google AdWords certificate programme will help you to boost your profile; a good PR person not only knows which platform to use in various situations, but also how to use each platform to its fullest potential.
Hassan is working as an Associate Account Executive at Adfactors PR based out of Mumbai. He holds a degree in Business Administration from Utkal University and has a Post-graduation diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC), Mumbai. He is a voracious reader and loves to cook and travel. He can be reached at @hassanmujtaba93 on Twitter and here on LinkedIn.
The entertainment industry in India has an enormous number of eyeballs glued to it always, day-in and day-out. A million dreams in the hearts, young or old are woven by it. The ocean of fans outside the homes of our superstars speaks volumes of the super-influence that the entertainment industry has on Indians. The glitz and glamour of the showbiz world, without a doubt, looks like a cakewalk on the screen.
This popular industry has a prodigious follower base across the globe and it is only growing with time. With the proliferation of reality shows, advent of social media and unique content, the rat race of being in the eye of the audience has become a serious business.
When we see these celebrities coming to a show to promote their upcoming shows or movies, it appears as if they have just come there to watch it like the other audience in the studio. However, that is not the case. An immense amount of effort and research is put behind the way they behave and what they speak. A celebrity has to go for an interview fully prepared. It is no cakewalk for them. These promotions are hectic. Running around from one place to another on a tight schedule is not a smooth sail.
I am not stating the facts post an extensive Google search. I am able to do this for I have had the chance to manage the interview line-ups of a few television artists recently. It has taught me the three very crucial things:
1) Make sure everything starts on time: Start dropping reminders to the celebrities at least 2 hours prior to the interview. Start coordinating with their drivers and provide them with all the required details. I know celebrities have a reputation of reaching for interviews really late. However, I am of the opinion that a celebrity’s punctuality will always be a trait that the media will remember. Make them realize the fact that it will garner a positive reputation for them
2) Be pro-active. Think ahead: Prepare a list of everything that you will need to know. This is just like doing your homework beforehand. Every minuscule detail has to be taken into consideration. Look after the routes, make sure you have every concerned person’s contact details with an alternate number, check after the artist’s food arrangements, their requirements etc. You have to know EVERYTHING
3) Never reach late for a live event: When I say a live event here, I press more emphasis on the live event especially on a digital platform (Facebook live, Instagram live, YouTube live etc.). The advancement of digital media has allowed the fans to watch their celebrities interact with them real time. That means it leaves no chance for any kind of an editing. It is not the celebrity but the media outlet which will be on the receiving end of the negative response by the fans. Fans that are eagerly waiting for the celebrity to come online and interact with them. You don’t want the artist to lose credibility with the media, because such things spread in the media universe like fire. This might end up putting the artist’s reputation at stake.
I am sure these tips will definitely come into handy if you are about to start the job!
This article originally appeared on the author’s blog site.
Shreya Dubey is a student of the PG Programme in Public Relations at SCoRe. She has completed her Bachelors in Mass Media from S.K. Somaiya College of Arts, Science and Commerce.