Public Relations

Public Relations & Northeast: A Sneak Peek

March 5, 2020

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some hire Public Relations Officers

Daniel J Boorstin, Historian, Professor, Attorney, and Writer

What do we understand from the above statement? Can you sense the importance of Public Relations Professionals- I am talking about the professionals specifically.

And what makes me do this?

Well, being in the Public Relations domain in Northeast, one thing I have realized is that people think there is nothing called as Public Relations!

Moreover, according to some, you are a born Public Relations Professional individually!

See, I accept the fact too but there is a curriculum laid out there for students to take it up as a career option!

Why is that for?

Because we need seasoned professionals to handle the image of brands, organizations, politicians, government bodies, celebrities, companies etc.

No doubt we all have some relationship building quality since the moment we are out of our mother’s womb but hey! Why did the Universities and colleges frame a whole dam course curriculum on Public Relations as a SUBJECT then?

They must have had something in their mind that gave birth to this absolute new-era and not-so-common field of education which is attracting so many youngsters to pursue it.

My name is Papia Nath and I am graduate in Journalism and Mass Communication and did my Post Graduation specializing in Advertising and Public Relation from Pune.

I did my internship with LinOp-the PR vertical of Lintas in Mumbai. Before my internship could get over, I fetched my first job into the Private charter aviation industry and the jumped into the Timeshare Industry.

I came back to Northeast with high hopes to be explored in the PR sector, but to my dismay, I hardly could find anything.

With two months of sitting idle and doing some tit-bit freelance job, I got into the Sanitary and Hardware industry as the first-ever Public Relations professional in the entire Northeast dealing with all the esteemed architects, interior designers, builders etc. in the region.

Currently, I am working a Senior Manager -Public Relations and Marketing of a reputed firm in Guwahati dealing in exclusive imported marbles and Granites. Overall in Northeast alone, I have worked for over 5 years now as a Public Relations Professional.

What makes me introduce myself so briefly? This is because I wanted to highlight the fact that Public Relations Professionals are required in every sector.

We are not confined to just one industry. With the rising knowledge and demand of PR professionals, we can easily fit into any field.

If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on Public Relations”! Woah …the richest man on the planet saying this definitely does mean what is the importance of Public Relations in today’s world.

Bill Gates

Public Relations Is Not Sales

The major difference between sales and public relations is financial. Sales involve the exchange of money whereas PR does not.

What they have in common are relationships. A sales transaction will not occur without some type of relationship between a buyer and your business as the seller.

Public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public.

Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.

This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications.

Public relations is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than marketing or advertising.

An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article.

ALSO READ: PR Investments Require Professional Evaluation

The aim of public relations is to inform the target audience and ultimately persuade them to maintain a positive or favourable view about the organization, its leadership, products, or political decisions.

Public relations professionals typically work for PR and marketing firms, businesses and companies, government, and public officials as PIOs and nongovernmental organizations, and non-profit organizations.

Public relations specialists establish and maintain relationships with an organisation's target audience, the media, relevant trade media, and other opinion leaders.

Common responsibilities include designing communications campaigns, writing news releases and other content for news.

Working with the press, arranging interviews for company spokespeople, writing speeches for company leaders are some other responsibilities.

Acting as an organisation's spokesperson, preparing clients for press conferences, media interviews and speeches, writing website and social media content, managing company reputation (crisis management), managing internal communications, and marketing activities like brand awareness and event management are also the responsibilities of a PR professional.

The public image makes up 63% of the value of most companies today.

When there’s a mishap or when the company’s reputation breaks down, it affects the company’s entire corporate existence and its associates.

It takes around 4 to 7 years to overcome a negative reputation. Hence it has become important for a company to invest in good public relations strategies to maintain a beneficial relationship with the public.

Public Relations in Northeast

Back in 2005 when I wanted to take up media studies post my senior secondary schooling, I didn’t come across many options and was bound to travel to Maharastra to dive into the field.

Even when I came back to North-East after a decade to get a lucrative job as Public Relations Professional, I could hardly see any organization favouring the concept of having a Public Relations Professionals for their image building.

Even if some of them had, the salary paid out was absolute peanuts!  Or even if they had any, the PR person had to also perform the task of a salesperson!

Please understand that a PR professional and a Sales professional is absolutely poles apart.

  • A sales professional talks in terms of money, a PR professional talks in terms of image building and relationship management.
  • A sales professional approach is direct as he needs to bring business on the table whereas a PR professional approach is indirect and suttle because the main focus is to be in the good books of the client.
  • A sales professional runs behind the client for business generation whereas the, on the contrary, the same client may look for a PR professional in times of Crisis Management/image building.
  • Not every sales person can be a PR Professional but if need be, then a PR professional can be a sales person too.

Public Relations in the Northeast has risen up just since a decade. PR had a late beginning and it is only in recent years that we see a rise in the number of PR departments and officers in the state governments, PSUs, hospitals, hotels, banks, telecom companies, and educational institutions.

Many of the PR departments in the Northeastern States unfortunately are minister-driven and don’t fulfil the objectives of PR in real terms which is quite a sad scenario to witness.

The state governments need to look into this and promote their PR directorates into people-friendly departments rather than just minister-promoting and advertisement-doling outfits.

Promoting PR in Northeast

  • The schools and colleges should come out with a special syllabus catering to Public Relations so that the students have a fair idea of the growing subject since the very beginning.
  • There should be regular seminars in Colleges so keep the students abreast about the subject.
  • Open-end discussions should be held at college fest to clear the doubts pertaining to the careers related to the subject.
  • There should be strict criteria fixed before appointing any Public Relations teacher/Professor in Colleges.
  • Once in a while, there should also be an exchange of teachers from outside cities and conducting a seminar with them.
  • Reputed PR professionals from (in and out of the city) should be invited to give in-depth knowledge to the students in Colleges.
  • Edu Fair can be conducted by the Government giving special highlight to the subject.

In today’s world, as a CEO or a manager of a company, you’ve got a lot of information to share. And sharing this information is vital for your success and development, because every customer’s objective is to choose a reliable company to collaborate with.

The fierce competition obliges us to use every bit of resource we have. So, if previously the ultimate weapon to gaining consumer’s trust was marketing, now PR became as much as important.

Of course, the primary focus of public relations is beneficial, but, above all, the best perk of PR is creating a positive public image and building friendly relationships with the media.

Creating and maintaining connections is a number one priority for a PR specialist, as connections have the potential to turn into opportunities.

And having such relationships, is directly connected to rise in sales!

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