Just before the start of the new financial year let’s assess who amongst the Indian businesses/institutions really needs PR to enhance their image and reputation amongst its stakeholders and general public and shed the negative baggage.
Here are a few industries/companies/institutions that I think desperately need a little make-over. Do you agree with my selections? Who do you think I missed? Please feel free to share
1) Kingfisher / Vijay Mallya: Once considered as Richard Branson of India, is today amidst deep PR crisis. According to experts a major problem for Kingfisher has been the airline’s close ties to Mallya. As a result, every move of Mallya in his life ‘outside’ of the airline was always under scrutiny during the ‘good times’ and continued to be amplified during the slide of the airline. The glaring disconnect between the state of the airline and its employees and his lifestyle was seen time and again. His unavailability to respond on many occasions to employees and the media was seen as elusive and even arrogant. Perhaps the critical lesson for any organization is that the reputation of a brand and its leader can no longer be neatly separated and also brand should not try to merge the reputation of its leader with its self in good times. It’s a very bad idea for a brand to be synonymous with its leader. For any agency or PR professional, accepting the challenge to turn around the current image of Kingfisher will be a tough task.
2) Sahara India: Global Post’s journalist Jason Overdorf in one his report says that Indian business reporters have long harboured cynicism about the Sahara group’s “chit fund” business model, as the company’s lavish spending has never quite seemed to gel with the revenue figures logged at its most visible units and group Chairman Subrata Roy Sahara remains an intriguing, and somewhat mysterious figure.
In another report filed by First Post, portrays Subrata Roy as the reclusive and eccentric chairman of the Sahara group. It points out to one of the Press Conference called by Sahara Group in Mumbai, Mr. Roy, yelled at a female journalist, refused to answer questions on the joint venture with Turner Construction – the event for which the press conference was called – and berated journalists for asking uncomfortable questions (about the various controversies surrounding the group) when he was embarking on a venture that was “for the good of the country”. More on the issue can be read on http://www.firstpost.com/business/saharas-subrata-roy-a-freshly-minted-media-controversy-208630.html
All these and the recent SEBI’s strong stand against the company calls for a very strategic crisis communications rollout. And the time is now.
3) UPA Government: In January 2013, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indirectly admitted that the UPA government and alliance leader Congress had not been successful in communicating the achievements of the Centre to the people. Marred with several scams in its term, the reputation of the government was constantly under attack. And on the other hand the leading opposition party was putting all things right as far as the PR machinery was concerned. It had also mastered the art of communicating using the new media technologies. However Congress is now seen to put its efforts together to bring in a fresh perspective to how PR should be practised headed by Rahul Gandhi, we will have to see how it brings a turnaround in its reputation.
4) Indian Ad industry: Scam advertisements row is a wake-up call for the industry. The recent Goa fest was not a normal one, winning entries were withdrawn, leading agencies such as JWT, Mudra, BBDO, Leo Burnett were under cloud. The lid of creativity and professionalism has blown off. The talk within the industry and outside nowadays is mostly on scam ads, breaching the trust of the client, created solely to win awards. Some of these are also sometimes run in obscure print publications to satisfy the nominal entry requirements. Though the industry never cared enough to build their public perception through PR given their natural flamboyant, glamorous and fancy image. But with so much of negative press around the industry it would be good idea to make use of PR talent readily available in the country to boost their reputation.
5) PR Fraternity: We work on reputation and image management of our clients, but our own image to the outside world is very vague. We are still hated by people on the other side of the table, clients don’t trust what we say and moreover outside our professional circle, no one really understands what exactly we do. Shouldn’t we atleast now wake up and start concentrated efforts to communicate our role and our intellectual capabilities to the outside world? Is it now a necessity to attract new talent and pitch for new business in the over competitive world.