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)