Thursday, 1 December 2016

From C K Sardana: A P R Veteran

Using the opinion-formation/image-building bodies

PR function envisages information dissemination for opinion-formation/image-building. Apart from the oft-said and used tools of PR, I have experienced the use of bodies of media persons for bringing them nearer to the top brass and, also, in getting favourable stories carried in their media from time to time apart from knowing the Organization at first hand. 

I had spent life time in PR in BHEL  Units before moving to Corporate Office at New Delhi years ago as Head of Corporate PR. Function was not new but the place -- that too India's Capital - new. So, I looked to my colleagues in Corporate PR for an update on the media and its functioning. They were forthcoming and opened out frankly.

Dr. KS Jayaraman, Science Editor, PTI and  Balbir Punj, Special Correspondent, Financial Express -- to name just these two -- were very enthusiastic in laying hands on exclusive/in-depth stories about key aspects of the economy. My colleagues suggested 'why not take initiative and suggest to them to start a professional body of their fellow-journalists.' That is how Indian Science Writers Association and Forum of Financial Writers came into being in early 1990s with very humble initiative from PR. 

We, in and from BHEL, offered them help in the establishment of these bodies. They commended this. A session each was organized as a 'Meeting the journalists' with our CMD, Directors etc. It was not at all a press conference but an informal get-together with founder members of these bodies. Such meetings paid dividends in bringing media persons closer to BHEL and its Top Management and getting them have information from horses' mouth. We did not solicit stories in their agency/newspaper. But these came on their own and that trend continued. After all what is PR? A sustained programme of building relationships with stakeholders. Media, surely, is among the most important stakeholders for any Organization and its PR outfit.

Over the years, such bodies have come come up in New Delhi and Metro Cities. Nevertheless, PR professionals are well advised to take initiative and get Media persons set up such bodies for their own professional requirement and progress. This needs lot of ground work. More than this, this requires courage on the part of the Top Managements to keep channels of communication open with the Media for helping build Organization's image. PR Heads, themselves, have got to be very bold and candid in convincing their bosses that this is in Organization's interest.

Information dissemination through informal meetings with members of such professional bodies will be authentic and ready-for-use coming from the top bosses in an Organization. If in a year, PR persons can get one story, in a quarter, on some specific aspect, it will help image-building. All those sitting in positions of decision-making in Government and elsewhere do read such stories and form opinion about issues and organizations. This is PR job. Let our friends ponder over this suggestion and get going. Good luck.

C K Sardana
General Manager (Corporate PR) - Retd., BHEL
Settled at Bhopal. email id: M - 09893556483

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