Amith Prabhu: The case for Public Relations in governance

10 Jun,2013

By Amith Prabhu


The Indian Government’s Public Relations among its most important stakeholder – the citizen, is in doldrums. Public Relations is no more about plugging a story, dining with a journalist, preventing a negative article from being published or sending bland releases to media outlets expecting them to carry the news or information. All this used to be Public Relations in its early avatar. Today, Public Relations encompasses a variety of specialized tasks that include social responsibility, crisis communications, internal engagement, content creation and a lot more. Governments cannot ignore this important function and need to quickly embrace the modern digital offerings to connect, communicate and co-create. The Arab Spring is an example of how a new generation of digital enthusiasts deployed social media to bring about change in the regime.


What should the present or future governments do in order to be in sync with the times? How will future tax payers – the youth of today view the government’s that run the nation? And who will take the lead in bringing about this change? These are some questions that do not have concrete answers as of now but a few thoughts exist on what can be done and all of these in the realm of Public Relations.


Internal Communications – A government that does not communicate with citizens in an interactive manner will lose the right to govern.


Social Responsibility – The government at the centre along with the states needs to go all out to make the five basic amenities available easily to every individual and without making it look like a favour is being done – Clean Air,  Affordable Housing, Motorable Roads, Uninterrupted Water and Power Supply & Quality Education. With these in order, the rest will fall in place.


Crisis Management – The incumbent government has navigated crisis after crisis by being dwarfed because it not only did what was inappropriate but did not accept, admit and acknowledge wrongdoing with transparent communications. The imperative during a crisis, and every scam unearthed is a crisis, is to allow for a flow of information that is clear-cut.


Citizen Outreach – A multi million rupee advertisement a year before elections will fall through as trust levels dwindle. The government needs to ensure it does some are all of the following: A monthly address by the Prime Minister on the state of the nation, an annual town hall by members of the cabinet in various Indian cities to connect with the masses and a clean administration that touches people’s lives meaningfully.


Is this asking for too much? Do all of the above resonate in what we advise our clients or chief executives? Can businesses learn from governments and vice versa?


I someday hope the leader of the government hires a professional Public Relations manager with a dedicated team to drive all of the above and more. A journalist can never do justice to the role of communications advisor.


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 Chicago. He spent the first eight years of his 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 at @amithpr


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One response to “Amith Prabhu: The case for Public Relations in governance”

  1. Himanshu Agarwal says:

    Nice one…

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