Amith Prabhu: Bring back the Credible into Incredible India!

02 Sep,2013

By Amith Prabhu

 

Whoever coined the tagline Incredible India was indeed a visionary. While that was part of a tourism promotion campaign, India has begun to lose its credibility in the eyes of Indians. Credibility follows a cyclical pattern but just as in a cycle getting uphill is no easy feat, the downward spiral can be quick as we have seen in the past few days and it is not just the Rupee tumbling that I am referring to.

 

One of the major roles of Public Relations is to help restore credibility by using a strategy which leads to undertaking a set of tactics that bring a certain amount of confidence among stakeholders and the leadership in India needs to act now or pay a heavy price in time to come. The only strategy that the Indian government needs to use is – Talk with one voice regularly, loudly and clearly.

 

There are number of aspects to this loss of credibility and I will touch upon a few.

 

Couple of years back the speed at which members of Parliament and state legislatures were getting into jails made me think as to how these men and women are elected to frame policy and lead constituencies in the first place. There have been instances of wrongdoing involving elected officials but the pace at which these are coming out in the open leading to arrests across party lines is astonishing. This is bound to affect India’s claim to being the next superpower. Though a cleansing maybe taking place, the country’s image is taking a beating with global press, covering different aspects of corrupt deeds being carried out by top level elected representatives and their associates. The latest skeleton that is tumbling out is that of inflated travel bills that elected officials have been submitting to loot the exchequer.

 

Selling Incredible India globally won’t do, as tourists will be put off from visiting a beautiful country for fear of being succumbed to an act of crime or corruption during the visit. Despite India being better off than nations ruled by dictators a lot needs to be done to communicate to various sections that India is indeed a superpower in the making. The rate at which rapes are taking place will put a family of rabbits to shame. At nearly three rapes an hour, many of which are not reported and many that are reported don’t end up getting the public attention that some do India is being referred to as the world’s rape capital and this is not pleasing. What India needs a sustained efforts led by the government that instills confidence in its citizens and its partners who come from outside for tourism, trade, healthcare and education.

 

In the short term, India needs to run a campaign that can bring back people’s belief in governance – a Credible India can alone welcome people to an Incredible India. This needs to be driven with alacrity to send a message that the government means business and is serious about the cleaning up act. The government has seen the power of a citizen’s campaign recently. It can use the same people to be brand ambassadors of the country by fulfilling basic promises it made during the time of elections. Read the manifesto here – http://bit.ly/oanBZk . In a world filled with bad memories a good act at regular intervals is all that is required to build confidence.

 

Getting more communicative using all the new media available at one’s disposal including radio, television, texting and the internet will restore people’s faith. Create a theme that strikes a chord. In my previous column I wrote about how one of India’s most controversial regional leaders is using all digital resources available to drive an outstanding online PR campaign. There is a lot one can learn from what is being done already.

 

The least the Prime Minister’s communications advisor could do is to advise him to address the nation on a pre-decided day every month with a report card of good work done and plans for the month ahead and it would be a Public Relations exercise like no other.  A monthly 15 minute speech maybe too much to ask from a man who is not known for his oratory but that is the least that can be done and costs nothing.

 

Alternatively, use the next generation of leaders to connect with the youth by putting them up for Town Halls. While a bunch of young politicians made it big because their fathers had untimely deaths or retired early, the four I’m referring to – Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasada, Milind Deora  – have fairly important roles in the government and should be assigned significant Public Relations duties. They will definitely put their good education and previous professional experience to good use.

 

Summing up all it takes is three things. Get the Prime Minister to talk, not just use technology but use it smartly and get the young turks to come out and communicate. Unless the credibility is brought back through simple Public Relations measures the talk of being a future superpower will only remain talk.

 

Amith Prabhu is the founder of The PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS – the annual summit for PR & Corp Comm professionals in India. During the day he is a full-time employee at a leading Public Relations firm in its Chicago office. He spent the first eight years of his post graduation career in India and is in the US for two years of which he has completed 18 months. Views expressed here are the author’s own and don’t represent those of his past, present or future employer. You can connect with him on Twitter @amithpr

 

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