Brightlite : Shaping Effective Communication

6 Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Planning an ethical and result oriented PR campaign for the social sector.

Posted on: March 3, 2011

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –The White Queen: Alice in Wonderland

Launching a media campaign can sometimes feel may you feel like Alice in a confusing wonderland, where the results are not under your control. Unlike, say for example, you are producing 100 cars a day. You can say with large doses of certainty how much it will take to produce those cars, how long it will take to roll them out and the processes you need to follow for that.

While starting media advocacy, however the first thing to accept is that the results are not entirely under your control, the results react strongly to a swift changing news environment. If Dhirubhai Ambani famously said that the Government of India is the most important operative environment for any business organisation; then the news agenda or news environment is the most impactful operative environment for a media advocacy plan.

That’s the challenging news. The good news is that if you do your processes right and are prepared to develop the inner bandwidth to see the media engagement plan through, you will be able to achieve consistent and good results without resorting to any unethical practices. This requires a partnership approach between the clients and the PR professionals and a learning curve on both sides.

Some of the key processes can be defined as :

1) It’s the editorial stupid!

Every good media campaign starts off with a key question, what’s my story, where’s my newsy editorial. Simply put what is News or what is New and every media expert should be able to arrive at this key component. It does mean more hard work for the PR professional, to keep yourself updated with both the new developments in your field and keep abreast of what the news environment is reporting. A simple Who, What When, Where, Which ,What question grid should help you arrive at the story. Once you have the answers to this grid, link it to what the environment is saying . If the annual Union Budget is coming up is there an angle I can push? Is the ministry overseeing my field working on a relevant policy or does that policy needs to change. Do I have a white paper to talk about civil society recommendations? Am I having a conversation with reporters without expectations of a story and giving and receiving relevant feedback on my sector. There is no substitute for relevant editorial.

2) What’s my Plan ? Avoid Carpet Bombing PR
Once there is clarity on the core editorial, one can then take a call on whether it needs a press conference, a press release, an information note , a conference call or one to one interviews or a combination of all of these. Planned and sustained media engagement is smarter than carpet bombing PR. This means engaging in a strategic fashion riding the crest of good editorial rather than rushing out pell mell with confused editorial or stories that are not spaced properly.

3) Thompson with a P

The last but certainly not the least is the availability of a PR person or person who can develop the bandwidth to focus on media at the client end. Any organisation without this Thompson with a P is bound to get ad-hoc results .The PR Professional and the media advocacy in-charge at the client end ride the tandem bike together for great results, one can’t manage without the other.

Would love to receive feedback on key challenges while planning media engagement.

Next week: Building a world class vision from the Home Office

Paarul Chand, is the founder of Bright Lite Communications (www.brightlitecommunications.com) — a media advocacy firm in Gurgaon, India, with special focus on development issues. A film maker and writer, Paarul has worked as a television journalist for shows on CNBC India, BBC World, Economic Times Television and Asia Business News-Dow Jones. She can be contacted at paarulchand9@gmail.com.

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  • brightlitecommunications: Thank you for your feedbacck laura. YOu are right, discussions from the point of view of the editorial/news context of new developments on issues the
  • Laura: I'm new to India, but I get the impression that it's pretty rare for NGOs to hold editorial board meetings to discuss developments or new evidence rel
  • Sohini: So great to see this blog! I'm a communications professional in the US where the industry changes at blinding speed, as I imagine it does pretty much
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