Saturday, 31 December 2011

Let's welcome 2012 with a 'spring of hope'

Looking back at the events of 2011, the following lines by Charles Dickens spring to mind:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the   epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,....”-  A Tale of Two Cities.

Dickens wrote these words in1859, but personally, I feel that they hold a great relevance in our present times. The year 2011 wasn’t a great year for most of us: there was hardly any good news, and we all suffered in one way or the other either because of the ongoing recession, or a revolution or a natural calamity. Sadly, there was nothing really to cheer about this year.

Clearly, from the perspective of the era that we live in, “it was a best of times.” Globalisation, new technology, social media, freedom of speech, democracy all made it look like a world full of possibilities – sky seemed to be the limit. But, in reality we are in the ‘worst of times'. Graduates are increasingly finding it  difficult to get jobs, unemployment figures have been worst in a generation, economies around the world have become stagnant, the promises of a ‘flat world’ are vanishing, ambitions of young people are being thwarted- in short there is a prevalent mood of frustration and anger. This was a fact in 2011.

The unsurpassed ‘age of wisdom’ is failing to live up to the expectations. We have benefited enormously from the internet and never in the history of mankind the exchange of ideas and access to information and knowledge have been so profound; yet on the other hand, big international summits like G20 or a conference on climate change end in nothing but a deadlock. What did we see at G20 in Cannes – surely a Greek play? Where is the wisdom to create an age of consensus? Isn’t the Euro zone crisis a shame? This was another reality of 2011.

In many ways, we are living in an ‘age of foolishness’ refusing to learn from history or are too complacent. We love mass movements directed at state but not willing to do our bit to change the world (look at the mass protests in India against corruption). We are as individuals more corrupt, irresponsible towards our loved ones, unsocial and more selfish. The London riots this year was shocking – ringing the alarm bells of a society and a system drastically gone wrong.  It had a lesson for the affluent in the emerging economies as much as it did for ‘broken Britain’.

The revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa was the ‘epoch of belief and incredulity’ – no doubt about it. It was great to see  youth wielding the power of technology and education for freedom and change, but I hope the sweeping changes we saw in the region is long sustained and is not replaced by regimes that are intolerant to progressive ideas, religious freedom and human rights.

Politically, there was a ‘season of light’ in Myanmar with junta showing some signs of political reform, but in the rest of world  stretching from Afghanistan to the US, from Norway to Japan it was all gloomy and bloody.

However, 2012, will hopefully bring lots of promises paving the way for the ‘winter of despair' to the ‘spring of hope’ Four major nations of the world: China, US,  France and Russia are going to choose new leaders. The London Olympics will usher new optimism and hope.We hope the Arab spring will enjoy a fruitful summer, and the BRIC economies along with Columbia and Venezuela (another country to go to poll) will continue to show some economic miracles. We also hope the rich and developed nations will continue to inspire more dynamism and less protectionism and a solution to the Euro crisis will soon be found.

After the three years of economic depression, it is the time to collectively rebuilt and bring prosperity, peace and hope to the citizens of the world. It is the time for us, the youth in particular to come forward and do utmost in our individual sphere. Together we can create a secure world full of promises based on the universal values of freedom, love and dialogue. Let’s march to 2012 with a spirit of hope, let’s not make it an era where “we had everything before us, but we had nothing before us”

Let me end with this quote by a renowned Buddhist scholar and philosopher Daisaku Ikeda:

“Youth means to cherish hope ; it is a time of development. Youth means to challenge oneself; it is a time of construction. Youth means to fight for justice; it is a time of action”


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Speaking all the way..

The purpose of public speaking can range from simply transmitting information, to motivating people to act, to simply telling a story. Good orators should be able to change the emotions of their listeners, not just inform them.

Public speaking can also be considered a discourse with a community. Interpersonal communication and public speaking have several components that embrace such things as motivational speaking, leadership development, business, customer service, large group communication, and mass communication.

Public speaking can also be a powerful tool to use for purposes such as motivation, influence, persuasion, informing, translation, or simply entertaining. A confident speaker is more likely to use this as excitement and create effective speech thus increasing their overall ethos.

In public relations, we have to incorporate to a great deal the above mentioned features while dealing with all stakeholders. Our job involves persuading the public on behalf of our clients either through oral presentation or through some great writings. Like a good orator, our writings have to be clear, concise, and coherent and have the right selection of words so that the audience can easily absorb the message.

PR also involves making presentation while pitching for a new business. It involves explaining strategic communication issues, and many a times the audience may not be familiar with certain aspects like digital PR. Good oratory skills are handy in explaining complex issues with simple words and wining the trust, confidence and finally the business!  

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Business lessons from the Indian Grand Prix

Major sporting events are no longer just about who won the match or who won the medals. Who hosted the event — “Formula 1 in India? You must be joking!” — can have a major impact on that nation’s image worldwide.

And when India did host Formula 1, on October 30 this year, that nation’s status was instantly ratcheted up several notches — globally.

This is yet another example of how emerging economies are increasingly bidding for major, prestigious global events.

Since the great success of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, mega sporting events have been travelling to new destinations, particularly to the world’s fastest growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).(See table below)

From a public relations perspective, the lure of large and spectacular sporting events is often seen as an opportunity to also attract tourism and new investment. The sporting event becomes a platform on which to showcase the culture of the host nation. But the whole event becomes even more than that: it highlights the country’s arrival on the world stage.

The Formula 1 race in New Delhi generated huge international media attention, not just because of the global popularity of the sport, but because the arrival in India of the most expensive sport in the world also signalled that India had now come of age.

For global brands this was a wake-up call: India (and China too) has a growing middle-class with disposable income and they want to buy your goods, so tell them what you have to offer.

The success of the F1 race (against the background of shoddy preparations for the Commonwealth Games) offers instant PR and marketing lessons for foreign firms who want to break into India. Unlike the public sector — that handled the Commonwealth Games —private ventures in that country can indeed deliver world class standards. This flare of the private sector is further underlined by the active involvement of various Indian conglomerates in mergers and acquisitions overseas.

In terms of market demography the young Indian middle-class consumer is trendy, well-informed (due to a free media), cosmopolitan, and exceptionally open to global ideas and cultures (the first F1 race had around 120,000 spectators). It is a country where aligning brand with any truly global event really works.

It could be just a matter of time before there is massive hysteria and a major fan following for the Formula 1 teams, as already exists for the Indian Premier League cricket teams. India might even become the world’s largest market for F1 merchandise.

Marketing gurus should look behind all those depressing figures for literacy, poverty and poor infrastructure: India with its vast young population offers enormous opportunities. The nation of 1.2billion is likely to become the world’s third largest economy by 2030, if not before. However, to get a good slice of that pie, it’s important to get into the market right now — not the day after tomorrow. 

Mega sporting events in emerging nations
2008 Olympics
2010 FiFa World Cup
South Africa
2010 Commonwealth Games
New Delhi
2014 Fifa World Cup
2018 Fifa World Cup

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Why companies should blog?

Blogs are one of the exciting ways of communicating to your audience. The concept of blog is not new. It is a digital adoption of the old tradition of writing a diary, but the difference lies in the author’s ability to publish his thoughts online.

In business, blogs are great way of communicating informally with the wider audience both externally and internally. Blogs can be used to tell a story or express an opinion about something. Ideally, for business communications, blogs are an effective tool to build a relationship with the consumers or the targeted audience.  It provides a widow for consumers or other stakeholders to communicate directly with someone at the top position  of a company. By engaging with the audience, and by responding to their comments, the company can win over consumer confidence and loyalty.

Blogs fill a strategic vacuum in a brand's communication process with the wider audience. It sits between advertisements and   customer service by creating a relationship with consumes where they don’t feel simply feel bombarded with messages but also get a chance to air their views on the products and services they consume. 

From company’s perspective blogs help to build what can be termed as ‘emotional quotient’with the consumers. Since blogs can be on anything, it can open up a forum and can be widely used to discuss ideas from the consumers themselves about their next product launch or their opinions about a new product. In many ways by engaging with the consumers, it can help to find out what exactly people think about the company or the brand.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Audience Factor

Five centuries ago, William Shakespeare declared that the ‘all the world’s a stage.’  Over the centuries the stage has become bigger, wider, sophisticated so much so that it is not about an individual playing his individual role, but it is about corporate, brands and governments enacting their roles in front of a global audience.
In literal terms, an audience is described as a group of people who participate in an event of any kind. The classification of audience can be based on a number of factors like gender, age, race, religion and so on.  The data about audience is broadly used for understanding the consumer patterns of a given population; it also provides valuable insight about the preferences, attitudes and behaviour of a given culture. For example, an audience for a football match is much higher in Europe than in Asia, which indicates that most people in Asia prefer other sports over football.
For media, PR and communication, audience form the very basis of marketing.  Whilst audience can be more specific where it comes to a concert, television show or a theatre; the universality of the internet and social media communication tools has meant that the audience for a particular message or advertisement can be potentially global. Moreover, audiences today are not just receptors of a message; they in fact influence or even participate in the creation of messages. In other words, brands and businesses increasing use communication tools to talk about things that they perceive that their audience want to hear about.


Monday, 10 October 2011

Let's be quiet

Silence, they say sometimes can be golden. In the world of PR, communication is the core of all that we do. It involves disseminating news about our clients through various channels of communications. PR also involves doing crisis management for the clients, especially when the information sent out is misconstrued by the receiving parties. With the advent of social media, communication has become a two way process. Whilst social media is a great tool to maximise the reach of your messages, brands and companies have to shore up contingency plans to bear the knock on effect should there be negative comments about them.  

For consumer brands, using social media is an absolute necessary.  It provides a great platform to directly engage with the consumers, learn about what they think of their product and so on. However not all responses on social media sites can be positive. Sometimes consumers load embarrassing photographs of a minor flaw in service or can sometimes post a disproportionate response to something unpleasant they experienced with the product or a service. Whilst it is a good idea to engage with your customers, it is also necessary to understand the type  messages they you are going to respond to, and more importantly what information should you put up on public forum.

You cannot surely please all the people at all time, and  this applies to business too. Therefore it is good to be quiet and let the minor storm pass without any damage. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Engage with Social Media

To be a good communicator, it is essential to engage well with your stakeholders. Engagement in PR and media is about constantly keeping your clients updated about what being done in terms of promotional activities. It essentially involves having a clear and coherent dialogue to understand the aspirations and needs of the clients.

 In PR it is also imperative to have an important relationship with the press. Engagement with the press is important to let people know about the upcoming events, internal management changes and to disclose other news worthy stories that might be relevant to some sections of the media.

In recent years, the avenues for putting a story in the media has widened due to the emergence of social media. While the traditional media is still the preferred choice for announcing important press releases, it has to however, be  complemented with the a strategic use of social media.

Social media ensures a strong online presence. It allows instant engagement with people who are in the ambit of the digital circle. For the event industry in particular, the use of social media is a two step process. At one level, it is used for promotion and for broadcasting interesting bit and pieces of news on a daily basis. At another level, it is used for following up news once it has been released in the main stream media. In fact, the use social of social media revolves around people, objective, stories and technology. We need to understand who the type of people we are targeting at, what is the objective- is it engagement or marketing or both, what strategies we want to adopt, and finally what technology we are going to use: it is a blog, tweet or any other relevant social media tool.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Power of Dialogue

As the United States solemnly commemorated ten years of the horrific attacks on 9/11, the rest of the world stood by its side showing solidarity and reflecting how the events on that fateful day had an impact on our daily lives.  Much has changed since then: the airport security all over the world got tighter, going for any big public events anywhere came with a tag of having to go through security checks; psychologically, the symbols of defence and security represented by armed police man in London’s Piccadilly Circus or almost fortified airport in New Delhi constantly remind us of the threat and the vulnerability from terror strikes.

On geo-political front, new allies were formed, old allies went to war. As I write this, reports of a major gun battle around the US embassy is pouring in from Kabul.  The war against terror has run into trillions of dollars; during the process some controversial strategic mistakes may have been made particularly with Iraq, the US succeeded in eliminating Osama bin Laden but the actual threat to global peace and security hasn’t subsided.

One of the major unfortunate fall out of the war on terror has been is the stereotyping and prejudiced shown against an identifiable religious community. This has not only created divisions within multicultural societies but lead to the rise of radical and right wing groups that tend to undermine the very ideals of freedom and democracy.

What is the solution to all these problems? On September 11 this year, I had a privilege to take part in a global peace meeting at a very local level. The meeting was organised in a picturesque village near Gloucester in south west England. As we deliberated about the cost of the war and the number of British and other lives lost, we discussed at length how individually we can contribute to the global peace.

Global peace can sound a lofty term but it begins with us at the very local level by forging strong relationship with people of races and religions in our neighbourhood. It is about shaping a public opinion first at the local level and then at national level for peace and dialogue. Together by forming a strong public opinion, we can put pressure on our governments to adopt policies which are based on dialogue and peace rather than war and devastation. This includes forcing governments across the world to come to consensus to get rid of nuclear arms by 2015. I am not saying that we should disband the military; they should exist for our defence and for operations that can alleviate humanity from oppression and undue suffering.

In the meeting titled Humanity at a Crossroads the following was read out:
More than half a century ago, Gandhi spoke out against the unremitting violence that wracked him times. What distinguishes us from brute beasts, he said, is our continuous striving for moral improvement. He declared that humanity was at crossroads and had to choose between violence, the law of jungle, or non violence, the law of humanity. The world in fact now has an unprecedented opportunity. We have a change to open a new page in the human history.

Dr Daisku Ideka , the president of SGI, a global  Buddhist peace organisation said this after the attacks on 09/11:
“We regard the recent terrorist attacks in the United States as a challenge to the law of humanity. As a result, we refuse to follow the law of the jungle upon which the attacks were based . We declare our determination to find a solution not by military means but through initiation of extensive dialogue with the Arab world. Instead of pouring oil on the flames of hatred, we choose to douse those flames with a great flood of dialogue that will enrich and benefit all humanity.

This terrible tragedy took place in the first year of the 21st century; we will mark that event by making 2001 the first year of a new era of dialogue with the Arab world. This is the best and only choice to assure that the horrors are never repeated , and we believe it is the most fitting way to honour the memory of all those who lost their lives in the attacks.”

Such a declaration, put into action, would certainly be met with the unstinting praise of future historians. When great evil occurs, great good follows. But great good doesn’t come about on its own. Courage is always required to accomplish to great good. Now it is the time for us to demonstrate the courage of non-violence, the courage to engage in dialogue, the courage to listen to what we don’t want to hear, the courage to control our desire for revenge and follow reason.

(The above excerpt is from the essay by Dr Daisaku Ikeda on his encounter with Mrs Veena Sikri, former director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations)   


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Reflection: 28 August - a day where I have always been a winner

St. Augustine' School, Kalimpong, India

Good days always comes unannounced, but while in school there was one day that I always knew was going to be a great day for me and my friends. The day, 28th August, was my school day: the feast of St. Augustine. The week leading up to the day was full of celebrations, concerts and other activities. It meant fewer classes and more time to engage in a range of extra –curricular activities. The school building and the hostels got freshly painted; the gardens and the lawns were immaculately mowed and tendered, the school chapel  was relentlessly polished and decorated by the sisters(nuns), there were surprises in every meal ( which was always better than the food served during  the rest of the year).

Many students got an opportunity to show their talent in music, drama, dance and singing during the week. It was a culmination of weeks of rehearsals where teachers, staff and students worked very hard to put up the best show. It was also on this day our much loved and celebrated girls from our neighbouring sister institution St. Joseph’s convent marched eloquently in pair to our grand auditorium to watch the annual concert. It was a major anticipated moment for most boys!

school concert
Personally for me, it was day of glory. The inter- house swimming competition was held on this day. I was a good swimmer and every year on this day I filled my kitty with gold and silver medals. It felt great to be cheered by friends and receive those medals in front of the entire school. Weeks later the inter-school swimming tournament, the Burn’s Shield took place, but it was not always in front of your school crowd.

Winning the medals was a joy: it made you popular, your friends and teachers congratulated you. You wanted to write everything to your parents and wished they were there to see it. But above all what was great was that the spirit of camaraderie that existed. It made you feel that everyone is a winner. I celebrated my victory with the very friends I competed against. No one envied you; and you stood by your friends when they took part in something.

Later in life, the day continued to be great for me. I got my first job in London on this day last year. I certainly miss those great school days, but that day was just not about convent girls and celebrations alone. It taught us some great values of healthy competition, love, team work and loyalty that helps me in my day to day life. Possibly I might have forgotten about this day, but thanks to Facebook, boys of St. Augustine’s or Sasonians as they are called, have been pouring wishes from Kathmandu to the US. I wish all my friends good luck wherever they are.

Friday, 22 July 2011

The British phone-hacking scandal shows that social media is here to stay

The phone hacking scandal involving the News of the World that rocked Britain couldn’t have been at a more interesting time. It happened at a time when the future of newspaper industry in the UK already looked shaky due to factors ranging from declining readership, loss of advertisement revenue and of course the availability of alternate and more engaging platforms offered by the internet.   

The scandal not only highlighted the reeking state of journalism, but alarmingly exposed the nexus between the press, politicians and the police. The dramatic events that followed after the exposure is well known:  Rupert Murdoch not only announced the closure of the News of the World and withdrew his bid for complete takeover of BSkyB ; the politicians acted swiftly to save their skin and ordered a full judicial enquiry to clean up British journalism.

The press reforms that looms large following the scandal needed attention long time back- not so much for the need to have a tighter control over media, but to ensure that adequate checks and balances are in place to uphold the credibility of journalism. But, what the fall out of the scandal might trigger is a serious consideration by the media bosses to review the business model of  newspapers which has been mercilessly threatened by the internet. 

There is no doubt that the public confidence in the media is seriously undermined, but what has been apparent over the years is people’s preference to consume news over social media and multimedia websites. The death of the News of the World pops up the reality that transformation of the media landscape might be sooner than expected. This, however, does not mean that journalism as a career is coming to end, but what is shows is that media is going through an exciting phase where the engagement with newsmakers, providers and consumers will be intense both at a local and global level.

The recent events in the Middle East have powerfully demonstrated the role of social media in the modern day journalism. It was quite evident how social media or citizen journalism worked together to draw attention to the Arab Spring. It played a pivotal role in gathering, filtering and distributing news by conveniently circumventing the repressive press censorship in countries where protestors took to the street. In many ways, social media acted as an additional tool for journalists. Clearly, news organisations have been swift to embrace social media more seriously. Recently staff at Al Jajeera had to go through intense social media training. CNN iReport, which brings together citizens and reporters on one platform played a great role during the Japanese earthquake .

In terms of business models newspapers have to find a clear balance between old and new, professional and amateur journalism as illustrated by The Huffington Post. The newspaper industry is growing steadily in Asia, particularly in India, where the readership has soared in the last few years with the increased level of literacy.  Many Western newspapers will do well to enter the growing markets to ensure steady stream of revenues.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Opinion:let the internet be free

How to regulate the media in the rapidly changing digital environment is a big concern among the media regulators and governments across the world. There are growing worries about the impact of internet and social media on copyright, privacy and piracy issues. In the recent e- G8 summit in France, the leaders of the world’s wealthy nations discussed internet for the first time. It was also attended by Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Google's Eric Schmidt. During the opening speech France’s president Nichloas Sarkozy claimed that countries could not remain neutral and allow completely unchecked internet use. While the French President called for tougher laws, the participants such as John Perry Barlow, Yochai Benkler, Zuckerberg, and Schmidt spoke out during the event against tight regulatory control of the Internet.

There is a huge difference between developed and developing nations in terms of accessibility and usage of the internet.  While the penetration level of the internet is quite high in the developed world, in the developing countries the access is limited to the affluent and the middle classes.  On a global scale, the internet is still in the evolutionary phase. There should be a wider focus by the governments to optimise the potential of the internet to improve the living standards of people. Emphasis should be more on e-education, e- commerce,and e- health. In this regard, any attempt to regulate the internet could only be self defeating as it would inevitably lead to unintended consequences that could only hamper creativity, innovation and press freedom.

While concerns on piracy, copyright and privacy are genuine, solutions to such problems lay on new technologies (iTunes of example).  There is also a need to review the relationship between the mainstream media and social networking sites. We need to ask can social media be a source of news or should it be a catalyst in driving the news. National press and media laws should be reviewed to reflect the changes in their respective media environment. In overall scheme of things, internet should be kept free form any sort of regulation

Monday, 23 May 2011

India has never been and will never be an existential threat to Pakistan

In his interview with BBC’s Andrew Marr before his European tour, President Obama categorically pronounced that Pakistani army’s obsession with India arising from its belief that India poses an existential threat to Pakistan is a ‘mistake’ and that attitude needs to change. He referred to the enormous economic and trade benefits that Pakistan can reap by normalising ties with India.

It is a little secret that the rivalry between nuclear- armed India and Pakistan is potentially the most dangerous in the world. The fall out of a war between the two nations can not only have catastrophic consequences in the sub-continent, but will gravely endanger global security and economy.

It is, however, worth looking at things from the Indian perspective to explain why the Pakistani army’s claim of an existential threat from India is highly exaggerated. 

The conflict with Pakistan is centred on the Kashmir issue. It has had a serious impact on ordinary Kashmirs, but for the vast majority of Indians the issue has become a thorn in the path of their rapid economic development. For India, the conflict is about defending the borders from potential invasion from Pakistan and its strategic partner China. It has never been an aggressor in the three wars that it fought with Pakistan and one with China. Other than the Indian states, that share their borders with Pakistan, the rest of the country has little historical or cultural connection with Pakistan; so unless the national sentiments are provoked with acts of terror like the Mumbai attack in 2008, the thought of going to war doesn’t even cross public imagination.

India also has a massive and a chaotic democracy to manage with a host of internal security problems to tackle. Unlike the Pakistani intelligence and military, that often tries to give a jihadist angle to the issue; India on the other hand, with its secular credentials and a Muslim population bigger than that of Pakistan, sees the problem as a territorial issue. It has nothing to achieve by invading a neighbouring country that in economical and conventional military terms is no match to India.

It is also true that moderate Pakistanis harbour no antagonism against India. But in a country that is deeply rooted in an orthodox religious conservatism, it serves the Pakistani army well by projecting India as an enemy of Islam; or by poisoning the minds of the population by blaming India for their woes. The jihadist groups aided by the Pakistani army have systematically carried out a propaganda that blames India for the shortage of water in Pakistan. This is a dangerous trend. It is no wonder that when Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif found himself embroiled in spot fixing scandal in England in 2010, many in his village suspected an Indian hand in it!

The problem with Pakistan is that it is the army that calls the shots in regard to its strategic foreign policy. The Pakistani army is not just a military organisation but it also controls many lucrative businesses in Pakistan. The survival and dominance of the army largely depends in its ability to sustain its rivalry with India.  The Economist in an article ‘A rivalry that threatens the world’ quoted  M.J. Akbar, an eloquent Indian journalist and author of a new book on Pakistan. He blames the army, mostly, for ever more desperate decisions to preserve its dominance. “Pakistan is slipping into a set of contradictions that increasingly make rational behaviour hostage to the need for institutions to survive,” he says. (

Friday, 20 May 2011

Lessons on peace and democracy from Ireland and West Bengal

There have been three historic developments last week, which are distinctly unrelated, but provide strong lessons on democracy and peace.

The three events: the election result in India’s state of West Bengal- where the communists were ousted from power after 34 years of rule, the British Queen’s visit to Ireland, and a cautiously received speech by President Obama on Arab spring and Palestine –Israel issue; indicate how the societies in the world have evolved to become tolerant, politically conscious with growing desire for lasting peace and reconciliation. In fact, the first two events can provide valuable lessons to President Obama on how he intends to go about supporting and steering reforms in the Middle East.

The first lesson to be learnt is about democracy. President Obama in his speech yesterday acknowledged that the Iraq misadventure has showed that democracy cannot be imposed from outside. He is right. Democracy by very definition is a people’s movement. However, its long term sustainability and success as a form of governance depend on a number of factors. It is a gradual evolution of a system that is subjected to the maturity of the institutions that serve as the key pillars in upholding the values and ideals of the system. Fundamentally, it is also a system of trial and error. It thrives on political consciousness of the population that elects its leaders. The wisdom to exercise the franchise responsibly comes from the empowerment of masses through education and a change of outlook.

This is where West Bengal serves as a classic example. The defeat of the communists indicate that no matter how institutionally deeply rooted a party might be, in a democracy it can never conquer the minds of people, especially, if it is tainted by poor performance and has consistently failed to deliver on the basic needs of the population. Political enlightenment of masses comes with time. So when we preach democracy to the world, we need to be patient. President Obama’s pledge that America will promote and support movements for reform is commendable, but that support must be carried forward by successive American presidents. The idea should be to help these states build the institutions that will ensure a prosperous future for them, and allow them do it in their own cultural context.

The second is peace. This is where Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinians can take a leaf out of the British Queen’s visit to Ireland. The Queen’s visit to Ireland has a symbolic relevance to peace and more importantly a desire of the majority of the great Irish people to reconcile and put the history behind them.  Irish President Mary McAleese should be highly applauded for showing an exceptional courage by inviting the British monarch to Ireland. This shows that people are longer willing to be defined by the problems and issues of the 20th century or before that. We cannot be living in history, and the great people’s movement across the Middle East reinforce the same theme. People want change, freedom and peace. For the first time there is great opportunity for bringing around peace in one of the most disturbed areas in the world. This opportunity must not be squandered. The above events show that peace in this century will depend on the decisions we make today. Good luck to President Obama.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Events and media pitch

It is imperative for an event venue to have a good relationship with the press. Such relations are necessary to let people know about the upcoming events, internal management changes and to disclose other newsworthy stories that might be relevant to some sections of the media.

In recent years, the avenues for putting a story in the media has widened due to the emergence of social media. While traditional media is still the preferred choice for many stories, it has to be complemented with strategic use of social media.

Social media ensures a strong online presence. It allows instant engagement with the people who are present in the digital circle. However, for the event industry, the use of social media is a two step process. At one level, it is used for the promotion and broadcasting of interesting bits and pieces of news on a daily basis. At another level, it is used for following up news once it has been released in the main stream media. In fact, the use the word “social” in social media revolves around people, objective, strategies and technology. We need to understand the type of audience we are targeting. Do we want to use social media for wider engagement or marketing or both?  What strategies we want to adopt: do we want customers to help carry messages to others in the market or do you want them to be more engaged with the company?   Finally what technology we are going to use: it is a blog, tweet or any other relevant social media tool..

For the main stream media, the first step involves identifying the appropriate media outlet.  It is also very important to understand what event and trade journalists are looking for.

When pitching a story, it is important to consider the relevance and the timing of the story. A good journalist looks for stories that are unique and forward thinking so we must be clever. Most journalists rely on good relations to get the best stories. More often than not a journalist is likely to include a story from sources they personally know. For a journalist a known source is much more reliable as it helps them to get the information they need without having to wait. It is therefore imperative to have an excellent rapport with the journalists to be able to get your stories in the right place.