Putting the Psychology back in PR

public relations

The first thing that I read about PR convinced me that this is I want to do. It had so much intelligence and story that I was wowed by it. I am talking about the case study of Torches of Freedom. If someone hasn’t read it yet then I will ask them to stop reading this blog first and to go and read the case-study.

For the moment I am not getting into the ethics of the case-study and whether its objectives were justified or not (can be another blog). What is fascinating about the case-study is the amount of psychological understanding that went into it. Edward Bernays really went deep into the target group’s psyche and identified symbols and actions that will motivate them to make a major life decision.

As a build up to my career and in the beginning of my career this is what I loved about PR. I imagined it and thought about it as a medium to change perceptions and habits. This was power to me.

However, things changed quickly in the real world as my seniors and clients started piling me up with things like press conferences, interviews, dossiers, press releases and the dreaded F word in PR – Follow-ups. I though that as I continue my growth there will be opportunities for using psychology but barring a few opportunities, it didn’t really go to that level.

There has to be a study of the stakeholders’ motivation, learning, perception, attitude and beliefs to really create campaigns that generate outcomes and behavioral changes. We can’t just reply on perception audits. That just shows one side of the story.

As I became an entrepreneur and started consulting clients more directly, we got an opportunity to delve deeper into client’s business and customers and what drove their preferences, which helped in creating some really relevant strategies. I remember a presentation where the client decided to award the contract to us even though we hadn’t even completed presenting. This showed the power of a good strategy, which is driven by psychology of TG.

Now with more than 17 years of experience in the PR industry working in other agencies as well as running my own company, my observation is that by and large the industry has forgotten its origins. Transactional PR is in vogue and the larger picture is something that a very few can see.

I will request my peers in the industry, my friends and colleagues to stop looking at PR from a micro view and unleash the real power.  While PR has been known as Public Relations and sometimes Personal Relations but I would like to recommend Psychological Relations.

– Anand Mahesh Talari

Anand Mahesh Talari is the Co-founder of Mavcomm group, with interests across PR Consulting and digital media. In his experience of over 17 years, he spent five years working with India’s top PR agencies before turning entrepreneur by establishing Mavcomm Consulting, a boutique PR Consulting firm and Mavcomm group’s flagship company.

He also teaches PR and takes guest lectures on entrepreneurship at various management colleges. He was also chosen in the Reputation Today 40 under Forty class of 2017. He can be reached on Twitter at @maheshanand 

 

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