Indian politics has evolved quite a bit since the time of its inception. In fact, the scene has become quite dynamic and complex right now. While earlier the politicians would address the masses on one platform, for example, at a rally, where audiences would turn out in large numbers to listen to the speeches of the politicians, now there are multiple platforms.
With the advent of the digital age, the number of channels that politicians use to reach out to people is phenomenal. It feels like, politicians are running a permanent political campaign on the Internet through various outlets like Twitter, Facebook, websites, blogs and so on. More the channels of communication, more the room is for error. Due to conservative usage of communication earlier, our politicians then did not really require the help of Public Relations. Gandhiji never had a Twitter handle those days and neither did he have a PR, yet he was able to communicate well with the masses who understood his agenda clearly because there was just one channel of communication and it was uniform. But, now it is a smart move for the politicians to have a PR at the disposal because they have an image to protect and build upon.
Most politicians in western countries have their own in-house PR advisor whose responsibility lies in dealing with the press. They also help the politicians with image building, reputation management, crisis management and even easy and correct communication with people. Sometimes, when the problem is of a bigger dimension, they even hire an outside firm to deal with it. Rarely do we come across politicians from leading countries like the USA, UK and Germany making any political bloopers? But, our Indian politicians are yet to learn the trick!
Politicians till date end up making shocking statements for which they have to later apologize and compensate heavily. There have been many such examples in the past. There is one particular politician though who seems to have taken a cue from the West and has imbibed it in his own day-to-day functioning. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known to have a dedicated team that helps him. They keep him updated about the different going ons in the country and the world and even help him with different digital channels to keep in touch with his countrymen. If that is not enough, the team seems to even help him with his body language and attire. No wonder then the PM has ever made any statement out of line.
Public relations is a two-way process that in the first place helps make information available to public in an effective and efficient way, and secondly helps the politician get feedback from the public so that he or she can incorporate the same. Even though there are many digital channels today, it is very easy to get lost in the milieu. PR can bring visibility to a politician, especially in social media driven world like ours. A politician is has a busy schedule and as such it is not humanely possible to reach out to each and everyone, this is where a PR agency steps in and can come up with strategies and policies to communicate with the people in the best possible way.
PR can benefit politicians in the following ways:
- Party identification
- Image building
- Image management
- Communicating right messages on right platform
- Avoiding scattered or half understood media messaging
- Crisis management
Today among Indian politics there is a greater need to consider alternate mechanisms to reach out to the citizens and PR can play a vital role in dealing with the same. PR can go a long way in helping politicians not only during the elections to engage voters but also with their long term campaigns that seem to have become an ongoing process. It is very important for a particular leader to be identified with a party and PR can help that cause in a big way in the process also contributing to party engagement on a regular basis.
It is not only the public in general but also the internal marketing that matters for a politician. It is imperative that a politician is also well known within the party and holds a good rapport with his party members. PR works like an all encompassing blanket that covers all these areas and more.