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PR Pitfalls

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One may have the best of products, but without proper marketing it will not sell to the required level. This applies to politics as well. A leader or party may have put in good work, but people tend to forget unless properly and frequently reminded. Sometimes, good marketing can (for some time, at least) even overcome shortcomings in the service or product. Marketers also need to remember bad publicity spreads fast and has to be countered with even greater energy.

Trivendra Singh Rawat was sworn-in on 18 March, 2017. Just a few days short of the anniversary of that date, this year, he was ousted because of ‘unrest’ among the party MLAs. He had planned to celebrate four years of his government but the party has chosen to cancel the gig. Instead, his successor Tirath Singh Rawat plans a ‘do’ on the hundredth day of his taking over. While Trivendra Singh, despite some good work, failed to be publicity savvy during his stint and, as a result, did not garner much public sympathy on being removed, the new CM is already setting standards in sending out not so popular messages.

Following upon his equating PM Modi with Bhagwan Ram, Tirath Singh has set the cat among the pigeons by describing girls who wear ripped jeans as without ‘sanskars’. So, now, even those around the country and the world who did not know him as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, do so for the wrong reasons. RSS workers, who are used to maintaining a low profile, are quite obviously not trained to deal with high profile jobs. If PM Narendra Modi does a much better job, it is because he is from the business savvy state of Gujarat.

As any Gujarati worth his Kutchi salt would tell you, if one does not have a skill, there are hundreds in the market who can be hired to serve the required purpose. This is the day and age of backroom boys – the politicians are not experts in crunching data and extrapolating from statistics so they hire the Prashant Kishores. It is the same with image management – it helps to consult the professionals. Governments in India have what are known as ‘Information Departments’, but these are heavily bureaucratised and belong to the Socialist model where information dissemination was almost entirely the state’s monopoly. Times have changed and so must politicians – learn the skills or get somebody who can spread the good word for you.