My lecture for media students
My lecture for media students
The political bosses in India, now altering and ‘selling’ the distorted images of their opponents, thanks to the PR Cold Wars. The unsuspecting voters don’t even realize this image engineering and the new warfare of the customized ideological battles
Definition: The PR Cold War is a state of conflict between two different interest groups that does not involve direct propaganda but it’s pursued primarily through indirect publicity measures and the dark propaganda. In this type of a Cold War instead of weapons, PR twists and altered content is used against the targeted party or people. You may call it Dark PR or PR Voodoo!
Scope: Once Rahul Gandhi alleged that an army of the publicists work day and night to target his image. And everybody laughed. Even the Congress didn’t took it as a PR challenge. Factually PR Cold War is a PR mission in which a political party targets its opponents, using all sorts of verbal and non verbal publicity resources. Many of the leaders have not even heard about it. A PR Cold War basically aims at tarnishing the image of competitor in a s subtle way without being noticed by others.
Mechanism: Everyone wants to get benefited from the relations, particularly the politics is developing, maintaining and using relationships only. The politicians keep trying non stop to build their credibility and the best thing, naturally their opponents want to do naturally is downsizing them. The whole exercise now becoming popular all over the world among the politicians. Due to various reasons the professionals don’t do it openly and they neither bill it this way. The PR industry uses many strategies such as maligning image (s), stripping personalities socially to make them unacceptable and creating a horrible image of the targeted person using all sorts of engineered content. that mask the truth and uncover the massive shit around.
Not Irreparable: The Dark PR is the best loved strategic PR tool. It hardly gives the targeted opponent any chances of gathering the courage to stand up early and admit, “Yes, this much fault is mine, and now I want to set things right. I promise you that haven’t disguised the truth in any manner.” Professionally the Dark PR fallout is not deadly, it may never ruin anyone’s image and reputation forever. Handled carefully the bounce back is better than ever.
Principles : Make opponents’ life miserable, in whatever manner. Like CIA’s Chief J. Edgar Hoover instructed his agents, ” If you don’t have much to do, just keep urinating on the enemy camp. At least it will smell foul from both the sides and make their life miserable.” This is the commonest principles the PR Cold War is based upon. Smart publicists keep ‘urinating’ on their opponents to make them appear smell foul socially without any logic. This is actually a process of destroying someone’s reputation and identity to the extent it is irreparable. It’s paying attention on harming your opponents’ image instead of maintaining your clients’ positive reputation.
A PR Cold War is a war without any reason. It’s full of professional smear strategies, political espionage, propaganda and information mining because the data is invariably crucial for every PR Cold War Mission.
Reputation Bleeding: The PR Cold War is virtually like any surprise terrorist attack but it never is a suicidal mission, to save the professionals operating it. Its full scale good PR with bad intentions. It’s not like stabbing someone. It’s not like bombing or shooting someone. It’s just giving someone a sharp and minor blade cut and left him bleeding. By the time he tries to recover, give another cut. So, it’s death by reputation bleeding. The PR Cold Wars require a lot of research. This method initially evaluates the PR Security of the target and evolve a set up. It also assess the possible PR threats, vulnerabilities and attack strategies.
Example: Just think. Is it merely by chance that all the Chief Ministers in India who could emerge as third front leaders are being constantly & systematically targeted socially, publicly and personally. On the other hand the ruling party admitting and accepting the controversial leaders without giving a reason, why its ignoring their earlier outbursts and mistakes, they were enjoying & exploiting? The political parties are huge ideological groups but they also have many irresponsible members and officeholders, that serve as the fuel for the disinformation operations. Any mistake they commit is engineered and blown intelligently to bombard the targeted political party.
Strategies: The PR Cold Wars are of several types. Being the indirect types they usually depends on the enemies, mistakes and circumstances that may fuel the disinformation team. Like the Judo, the PR Cold Wars also use the power of the enemy to harm him. Since recently the Telangana Chief Minister KCR has started the discussion on the third front hence he is the primary target these days. I will brief you about the types of PR Cold Wars just by giving the examples of attacks KCR suffered these days.
(i) Tunnel Attack: The tunnel attacks are unilateral attacks in which the propaganda bases on a real fact and distorts it suitably. The defender doesn’t have any chance to say anything first hand, if the PR team is not very proactive. Recently the Telangana Chief Minister KCR just missed a step and fell to the ground while coming out of his chopper. Someone promptly recorded it and posted on the web and instantly it becomes a viral video getting millions of hits and thousands of shares. If you see this video you will realise that after KCR missed a step, he almost instantly bounced up again. If he was not fully in senses, it could haven’t been near possible. In other smaer campaigns the targets are also shown smoking cigarette, dancing in a party, smiling for a selfie with a fan, who actually a planted person with suspected background, handshaking with college girls or wives of some officers and even getting a massage. Some huge bungalow is shown and declared its build using only black money. Such images help create their bad brand image and spoil their reputation.
(ii) PR Landmine: This strategy basically uses such vulnerable circumstances that can easily be mastered the other way. Like when Pakistan’s First Lady Begum Sehba Musharraf with her husband General Parvez Musharraf met at the state dinner in the President house at New Delhi, the ISI deliberately used a particular photograph to malign Indian Prime Minister, after the Agra Summit failed without any outcome. The photograph in question showed PM Bajpai looking at Mrs Sehba in an unusual way while Sehba seems disinterested and not even looking at the unmarried Prime Minister. This matter didn’t flare up as expected because un that photo Mrs Muhrraf seen extending her hand, unusual and unexpected courtesy, while Mr Bajpai not. The looks in his eyes were equated with this gesture. So, this landmine could not blast.
(iii) Content Disinformation : This is the most easy and a favorite Propaganda Method in which the target is either video recorded or photographed very clearly while doing something. Later this content is mastered or doctored to suit the intention. The best example is the way Rahul Gandhi is made a joke using the same trick.
This method is supposed to be very versatile and extremely powerful. The PR machinery usually exploit even scripted opportunities like this one, in which an unsuspected target is harmed beyond easy repair. See video.
The target sometimes recorded using TV or any other media stream and the content is doctored later. A huge team analyzing the procured, edited and doctored content frame by frame. After a day or two this content is edited, filled and touched up with effects and released on unsuspected yet popular handles with purchased following of millions of people all over the world. See this video showing Telangana Chief Minister KCR actually speaking in the assembly and the video showing him fully drunk, by just using slow motion technique, creating a doubt that they spoke in a drunk state.
This content went viral in no time but eventually failed to confuse the Telangana people who have seen KCR speaking in his typical lightening style. See his original style here.
The PR Trojans? : Borrowed from the story of the wooden horse used to trick the defenders of Troy into sneaking soldiers into their city. The PR Trojan Horse is a PR Mercenary that hides inside the enemy system easily.
In the political PR the most easy PR Trojans are the near retirement officers, the money shark media person and the clerks of the various Secretariats. The needy security personals also serve the same purpose to leak sensitive inputs. There are a wide variety of PR Trojan mercenaries and that’s a complicated discussion. The Trojans are divided into various sub categories and they perform an array of complicated tasks. Sometimes a lower set of Trojans also used to infiltrate, steal the secret data and hire similar Trojans unsuspectingly. For the first time in the history of this country such operations are being carried out on a large scale and practically all the big political parties have multiple sets of Trojans
Yes we are experiencing a state of full fledged PR Cold War in India. KCR is the first casualty and before 2019 many more such timed explosions are ticking. The KCR is one of the apex chief ministers who are trying to evolve a third front before 2019. The other leaders under attack are Niteesh Kumar, Arvind Kejriwal, Naveen Patnaik and Akhilesh Yadav.
Conclusion: The PR Cold War has to be swift and fast. It’s more successful if it works before getting noticed. One example of such a failed attack is the full page advertisement released in all the major newspapers by the ruling political party. The theme was a tree (India) with many branches, with an Owl (representing the Chief Ministers of different states of India)sitting on each branch with this line “Har Shakh Par Ullu Baitha Hai, Anjame Gulistaan Kya Hoga?” Reflecting that most of the chief ministers of that political party are Owls -ruining their respective state. This so harsh usage of phrase caught the attention of every opponent party. And that advertisement boomeranged. Soon another advertisement appeared in every big news paper and channel showing, a tree (India) with many branches, with ONLY one Owl sitting in the middle of the tree (representing the Prime Minister of India), with the following slogan: “Bas Ek Hee Ullu Kaafi Hai Barbad Gulistan Karne Ko.” This counter PR attack nullified the initial immense impact of that campaign much before it could progress ahead..
The present PR Cold War is aimed only at propagating ideologically doctored content to the targeted audiences. Its mechanism is still the most unexplored and rarely studied area of public relations. Its scope is massive, not well understood and far reaching. The opposition is also desperately trying to propagate some twisted facts but has failed to gather any ground despite a few thousand likes. See this video,
No doubts such contents are well produced and interesting but they may serve only as entertainment without transforming anything on ground. There are various important PR lessons that can be learned just by looking at how public relations influenced opinion can affect the mood of the targeted public.This is not a coincidence. India is experiencing it’s existence’s first full fledged PR Cold War. The targets unprepared while their reputation being slaughtered ruthlessly.
The academic world all over the globe has started exploiting newer PR strategies to harvest incredibly astonishing dividends.
Earlier academicians used old press release based communication models which are rapidly being obsolete. Even established academic institutions have started creating very different management-PR synergies that suit their immediate admissions, placements and the other requirements.
I was sitting at my huge Kumbh Mela Public Relations Office Camp after midnight of an icy cold January winter of 2010, the crowd was still coming to the Ganges city of Haridwar. It was a tent made up of a canvass cloth incapable of stopping chilly winter air pouring through it and although the sand below my feet was covered by one layer of some grass & husk and another layer of a mattress yet oozing out cold radiation. Suddenly lifting up the thick entrance curtain of my camp a group of five people stepped inside my office, two of them having massive cameras hanging from their shoulders. “I am Miguel, from Spain. He is Dmitri, She Yelena both from Russia, this is Mark, Australia and he is Gustavo from the US.” One of them introduced the accompanying team.
They all sat and showed me their documents. Since none of them were having a J-Visa or any clearance from the PIB, Government of India, hence it was clear that they would not get any permission to stay at the Media Center accommodations. As soon as I made it clear, the group started leaving my room, expressing their feelings to unnecessarily disturbing me. Minutes after they left my tent, someone again lifted up the door entrance. It was one of them, Miguel from Spain. “Sorry to bother you again Sir, but may I see you little later in the morning? He asked. “Why not. Pleasure!” I replied. He noted down my mobile number and left again.
Next morning he called me and visited me again around 11 am. Seemed he bathed recently, with water droplets still around his forehead, “Hi, Miguel again, from Spain!” and burst into laughter, “Wow, I made a rhyming introduction.”
I was wondering why this man is hanging around, when I am not going to support because of him not carrying the authorization papers. But he was very clear. “Sir, you are a public relations person, I wish I could ask you a few questions about the PR because in our country hardly any professional attends anyone without charging him fees. I am just starting my career as an Architect but I have a lot of interest in the PR. So I wish to know, what do you think of a possibility of pursuing such a combination like PR and the Architecture?
If you don’t know much about the Indians then it would definitely surprise you that invariably most of our countrymen are highly sentimental. We value relations and try to reciprocate the love we get. Hence, I almost instantly decided to talk to that young man. But explaining about the role of PR in Architecture was not an easy topic. I myself never heard much about it. So I adopted a standard trick we often use delivering extempore & impromptu speeches. Step by step thinking and delivering our points. I am sharing my views on this great subject for the benefit of other such people who might be wondering if they could make a career in the Public Relations elsewhere.
Basically, Architect is a very costly and standard profession in which the experts combine various elements like Engineering, Arts and Aesthetics. They use their designing capabilities to evolve a great building. If you look at a great and unusually attractive building or structural marvel you may even call a lively and permanent advertisement. Isn’t it? You need not to spend much on hoardings, bill boards and media advertising to make propaganda about yourselves but is it sufficient? What if someone hasn’t seen your building? And how you are going to be benefited if people just see a building and pass by it? Will they stop and ask the neighbors, where is the house owner? I wish to ask him about this design and the architect.
I continued that developing new buildings, improving landscapes and re-designing community living may be of a huge interest, but until publicized properly, they never ever return you any favors, like in the case of a successful lawyer, who wins a sensational trial yet fail to get the mileage, until he or she don’t manage a media coverage of his success.
Handling the PR for architects is a sort of unexplored area. It’s an ocean of unfathomed opportunities. Just imagine how much money this field might be having, having you knowing already how much money today the world of infrastructure development has. On the other hand, it’s a bitter fact that the architects rarely get the credit they deserve for their outstanding contribution which fetch hundreds of crores of rupees. Have you have read any headlines that another great township designed by the great architect Mr or Ms XYZ is coming up with these specifications? Almost every new building gets some media attention as news and hence it should be used as an opportunity for the architect to attain specific recognition and positive profile. Yet, what happens? Everyone, even if they hardly contributed in the project, get the exposure except the architect, they get the newspaper mentions and and a strong share of their voice in the media. Considering this scenario, the public relations for the architect becomes more important.
I saw him clapping and having a glitter in his eyes. In between he was taking notes also. Noticing it I asked him to answer a simple question : tell me Miguel, how many PR and Publicity Opportunities, the Architect might create for themselves? Almost instantly he replied innocently, “Well, I don’t know so far.” Even I didn’t have the idea. I actually wanted to gain some more time to think about. Yes, these opportunities are many like: breaking news about an upcoming project that will change the landscape of the area forever.
The media people are always hungry for such items which no one has. Since all the projects that come up, already have the authorizations and clearances so there is no harm in publicizing them. The developer also gets happy when something positive comes in media. After such breaking news, the other media person may be approached exclusively that this project will affect their viewers in these many ways. They might be interested to know about the various stages of the development. Even the occasion of getting the approval of the project is a media opportunity. Starting the construction is also news.
Due to technological advances all the developers are taking some or the other specific measures to remain exclusive or to ensure quality, which may also be transformed into news again. When your site approaches completion and when it’s finally launched, you must ensure that you harvest your own share of publicity, reputation and image. Alternatively an architect may get other opportunities as well like obtaining a space in the sector specific publications and news media. He or she may send request letters with a brief resume to the print, broadcast and internet media houses, volunteering availability, if ever they require any expert on any project related discussion or quote.
On the other hand you may try approaching various other organizations, who recognize innovations and experts, provided you have introduced some unique feature such as earthquake resistance, lonely senior citizens’ protection, burglar alarms, protection for the toddlers & kids, energy and environmental efficiency. Like all other professions you must also exploit the potential social media platforms have.
You should never fail to participate in the community meetings organized by your area authorities, because such meetings easily get published in the media and they mention the names of the participating experts. It’s like hammering the society and blowing your own trumpet that you are there. Such PR gimmicks maintain you in demands and get you good flow of clients. The architects should also make use of their own websites to showcase their talents. You may express your views on various social issues on your Facebook and Twitter.
And why not write a blog about some of your projects? There are plenty of free blog sites. Remember your blog must add value, rather than merely being blowing your owntrumpet. It should provide the potential clients and fraternity some fresh and authoritative ideas, separating you from the ordinary practitioners. Do log-in something on a regular basis, which will significantly boost your own search engine rankings as well as demonstrating thought leadership in the field, acting as a powerful tool for real-time discussions and can be influential in building long-term relationships with customers.
No architect should forget that his routine behavior also gets him ample opportunities of publicity and public relations. Even if you reject some client due to fee related constraints or because of any other reason, you must give them some free advice on who they should approach, what they should do, how they may cut their expenses and lastly you may refer them to some of your colleagues who charge less fee. Please never ever mention that they are more competent or even equally competent, compared to you. Just say that these architects are also good and charge less. And please never forget to mention that you are not endorsing their ethics, style and other traits; still better if some of your assistant may handover a list of other fellow architects without endorsing anything. The architects must not forget that their staff and dependents also are their image, reputation & brand value careers. So apart from planning and delivering great projects, do find some quality time for them as well.