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'Modified' PR wisdom: 5 Lessons in PR from the PM

'Modified' PR wisdom: 5 Lessons in PR from the PM

Author | Priyanka Mehra | Wednesday, Dec 24,2014 9:27 AM

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'Modified' PR wisdom:  5 Lessons in PR from the PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the man who is building Brand India; a leader who connects with the masses and classes alike with campaigns like Make in India, Clean India and an adept communicator who made everyone get up and take notice of Radio as a medium through Mann ki Baat.  

The 2014 election campaign which includes all the leg work and the build up towards it, changed the face of Indian political communication forever. The 360 degree approach of the Modi campaign has indeed changed the paradigm and perspective of political campaigns.

His digital groundwork began around the same time and picked up steam as his campaign progressed. Various initiatives on the ground – such as Vibrant Gujarat – kept him in the limelight. His early start meant his opponents had more ground to cover than they could manage, and competition seemed incidental.

Being at the right place at the right time got a new meaning from Prime Minister’s Modi’s well thought out strategies along with generous dollops of attention to detail in each minute move. Whether it was Chai Pe Charcha, or the more recent Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Modi has the nation hooked from newsprint to Twitter. His PR machinery can indeed teach us a few lessons. Recently when Bollywood Actor Priyanka Chopra participated in the Swachh Bharat campaign and tweeted about it, it was only a matter of time for her to get a response from PM Modi.

PM Modi is indeed a dream of any PR expert. Gurus of PR tell us the 5 PR lessons PM Modi has taught us this year.

Dilip Cherian, Image Guru, Perfect Relations.

The 5 lessons we learnt are all proof that Modi is the master of message.

1) Use every form of media -- from Instagram to All India Radio. Different strokes for different folks.

2) Make it simple and memorable. So Swachh Bharat sticks and so does Make In India. But oops. Watch out, so does Ghar Wapsi, though to be fair, Modi keeps his distance from it.

3) Your own imagery is key. So you need to look like a rock star when you are at Madison Square Garden and quite the statesman when you are in Japan.

4) Actions speak louder than words. Remember how getting on your knees at the stairs of Parliament worked its magic. And so did the drumming act in Kyoto.

5)Let the grapevine growl when you want to display disapproval. So mantris know they are being watched through whispered stories they need to deny. Meanwhile, you smile and look detached.

Paresh Chaudhary, CEO, Madison PR

Mr. Narendra Modi is every communication partner’s dream client. 

An ideal PR exercise needs focus on

1) Establishing, Managing and Sustaining -Brand Reputation

2) Having ‘Clarity of thought’ for ensuring key messaging

3) Prioritizing while setting goals

4) Ensuring a ‘Regulated spokesperson’ as a strict media policy

5) An ability to understand and define your TG well.

These are few challenges which make or break a PR exercise. One look at Mr. Modi’s communication over last decade and one can see that he has mostly been on the mark.

Apart from these key ingredients he has been able to do with “the ideation play”. Slogan driven activity such as  “Achhe Din”, “Ab Ki Bar”…., “Make In India” “Swachh Bharat”  have found clear connect with the masses and classes alike.

What Mr. Modi had clearly articulated /planned even before he came to power with his top team,    is to have an effective integrated marketing communication strategy.  He has been able to identify the weaknesses of his competitors, build on it and has laid out a specific road map for solving these issues.

Ameer Ismail, Executive Director, LinOpinion

1) Communicate well and do so on an ongoing basis

2) Use all mediums available and relevant, social media is incredibly important and cannot be ignored

3) Develop certain key policies and use/evangelize them to galvanize mass support

4) Nothing works better than high impact speaking opportunities

5) Walk the talk – package India wherever you go

These are early days for Modi but I believe he and his government have been taking some key steps to ensure that there is the right kind of image build in India and globally and positive perception is sustained.

Shashikant Someshwar, Former Vice President Operations, Perfect Relations

1) He has the ability to connect with one and all. No longer requires to wear head gears. He is a very good listener.

2) Thinks from his heart and speaks from there. Combines his knowledge with simple, easy to understand language. No jargons.

3) Has the ability to coin catchy phrases and use them at an appropriate time and right platforms.

4) Loves to network.

5) Has time and again shown us that he is a simple human being and experiences / has experienced life like any other person. Uses anecdotes and humour well to connect with people.

Ashraf Engineer, Vice-President – Content & Insights, MSLGROUP India

1) Get the messaging right; the audience has changed: More than 50% of India is under the age of 30, and the number of first-time voters was the largest ever. Jobs, infrastructure, real economic progress – these are the things that mattered to them, and that’s what Modi focused on. Endorsed by key people whose opinion mattered – Ratan Tata and Gautam Adani, among others – his claim to Delhi was significantly bolstered.

2) Be on the platforms your audience is on: The young – aided by mobile penetration that has crossed 800 million – are going digital with a vengeance. Modi’s masterful use of social media – in fact, all digital tools – made him the nucleus of the raging political debate. Whether you were for him or against him, it was Modi you were talking about. The opposition seemed almost incidental.

3) Talk to the brand: Few brands today can afford to adopt a one-way communication model. Unless you can foster conversations with your key audiences, you’re not even in the game. You simply can’t build trust the old way anymore. Modi used the digital platform to source ideas, talk directly to voters, made them feel part of the campaign. The ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ initiative played strongly on Modi’s background as a tea vendor and also made him seem accessible and earthy.

4) ‘I’ for ‘integration’: The messaging across all media and platforms – TV, print, radio, digital – was consistent. More importantly, there wasn’t a tool Modi didn’t use. And, they all worked like the moving and disparate, yet unified parts of a single machine.

5) Start early: Modi’s campaign didn’t start just a few months before the election. He began positioning himself as the only man who could lead India out of economic sluggishness a couple of years earlier. Modi worked hard to establish his credentials as a pro-reform and good-for-business politician and got the right endorsements.

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