For a moment imagine these five famous men – politician George Fernandes, banker KV Kamath, businessman VG Siddhartha, cardiologist Devi Shetty and author Aravind Adiga. All five of them got part of their education at the famous St Aloysius School/College in Mangalore. The same institution I went to, so technically they are my seniors. The interesting thing about them is that they all built formidable reputations in their chosen field and were leaders in their own right. All this took place through their ability to understand the power of public relations. If you take a look at their growth trajectory you can pick up 8-9 steps that become the basis of a simple public relations programme that anyone can imbibe and deploy for themselves or for the brand or organisation they are building. This is possible once you have your offering in place – be it a certain ideology or brand of politics, be it a chain of F&B outlets, a banking corporation, a high-quality literary work or a world-class hospital chain. I was fortunate to learn from them without having interacted with any of them and apply some of the things to the work I do.
Anyone can do the same by making these eight moves, which is basically a step-by-step guide to public relations. This also complements the two pieces I wrote previously on House of Public Relations and the Public Relations alphabet. However, like I always say the precursor to good public relations is a great offering in terms of the product or service and good behaviour from the leadership and the organisation. Once these are in place we move ahead.
Map your goals – The first step is to understand what you want to achieve. And then communicate in order to achieve those business and communication goals. Many businesses fail because they forget their purpose or lose direction after a point. Examining objectives from time to time is key.
Analyse the stakeholders – Communication is the foundation of Public Relations and it has to be directed to certain sections in order for it to be effective. It cannot be random. So, listing down the stakeholders becomes significant and then planning initiatives in a structured manner becomes paramount.
Navigate the maze – with the advent of social media the information landscape has become complex. It is important to gain clarity and navigate the maze that has emerged in the world of media and business. One has to learn the art of picking and choosing the medium one wants to engage with.
Get the connections – Use social media and the power of your offering to make connections. It takes time but with a variety of smart tactics and well thought out choices building a circle of advocates will go a long way in playing an important role in gaining credibility.
Allocate ample time – Ensure that adequate time is spent in reading, writing and meeting people. Reading enhances knowledge, writing helps build thought leadership. Write for twitter, write for publications, write for your own company website. Meet one new person every month. Choose those who wield influence.
Listen in intensely – Use these meetings and the time spent on social media to listen. Ideas come from everywhere. This social listening is helpful. Listening also endears you to people. Listening and ensuring confidentiality also brings with it many benefits including a certain amount of soft power.
Open up honestly – when you are done listening and when you are asked questions, share ideas, discuss opinions and do that genuinely so that the other person feels the warmth and the connect. This can happen when there is no faking. However, it is important not to spill out every secret in the process.
Reveal smart information – It is critical to know what constitutes smart information in a world that is filled with an information overload. Information that people can use for their benefit. Information journalists can use for a great story or an amazing headline is smart information.
Enjoy the results – If you do all the eight steps mentioned above in a logical manner and get the fundamentals right you can sit back and relax and enjoy the fruits of the labour. This does not happen overnight. It can take three months to three years. Patience pays. Repeat these steps again. They work.
Because the steps – Map, Analyse, Navigate, Get, Allocate, Listen, Open-up, Reveal and Enjoy – have worked for those who have tried them and the first letter of each of these words spells MANGALORE, which is my home town, I take the liberty of calling it the Mangalore way of doing Public Relations. They will work in any city in the world.