CJ: Dr. Reddi, how do you view the evolution of Public Relations practice in our country?
Dr CVNR: Public Relations in India was born out of propaganda in ancient India and it has passed through publicity in British India which has graduated as Public Relations in the independent India.
Due to several factors such as general elections, five-ar plans, nationalization of banks, emergence of public sectors, growth of industries, public relations developed as a discipline. However it has entered into an era of global public relations with the introduction of new industrial policy 1991 that envisages economic liberalization, privatization and globalization. Globalization not only created competitive marketing environment but also resulted in trade wars like car wars, cell phone wars, media wars, pricewars etc. This competitive environment resulted in an upswing of public relations activities. In fact public relations in India has grown quantitatively, it is yet to grow qualitatively to gain the management recognition. The need of the hour is professional excellence.
CJ: Compared to Europe and US, what bottlenecks nipped its growth in the country, and why it continues to remain, largely, a subset to other professions?
Dr CVNR: The bottlenecks or challenges being faced by Indian public relations are also applicable both to US and Europe. However public relations in the West has grown more professional than ours. The following are the key challenges that make our public relations a subset to other professions.
- The challenge of defining public relations or the challenge of identity crisis with several nomanclatures like corporate communication, public relations, public affairs, corporate affairs, public information, publicity etc.
- Lack of professional public relations education in the Indian Universities and also lack of induction and inservice training for PR professionals
- Lack of PR text books and case studies of international standards.
- The weakest link in the chain of public relations practice is lack of research and evaluation of PR programs to demonstrate its results to the management.
- Organizational and social ignorance of the value of public relations practice towards organizational excellence
- Lack of defined job profile are formally recognized managerial level function for public relations within the organizational structure.
- The overlap and / or encroachment of other managerial disciplines into PR from finance, HR, or marketing.
- The varied background of public relations practitioners drawn from different fields like journalism, marketing, advertising, business management, etc.
- Though public relations is a strategic management function, PR practitioners now function only as technicians, implementing the PR strategy designed by other management professionals; public relations is not placed at the top management level on par with HR or marketing. PR professionals must play both strategic and technical roles.
- The last and most important challenge that public relations mostly acts as one way communication without any importance to the feedback.
CJ: What are the five most important things that you feel must be done to further professionalise the PR practice in our country.
Dr CVNR: The following five golden rules can professionalize Indian PR as to enable our country to sustain as world's largest democracy and to become world's 3rd biggest economy.
- Introduction of management, business and public relations education for PR practitioners in the Indian Universities with emphasis on research
- Establishment of training institutes at organizational levels, state levels and national level for imparting induction and in-service training besides providing coninuing professional development training by PR professional bodies. Conversion of Indian Institute of Mass Communication New Delhi into National Communication Unversity.
- The need of a strong public relations national professional body PRSA [USA] and CIPR [UK] and adoption of code of professional ethics and introduction of accredidation of PR practitioners.
- Production of PR text books and case studies of International standards
- Every PR professional must endeavour to change himself / herself in tune with the changing communication technologies. They must acquire communication skills in speaking and listening, reading and writing. Most of the PR practioners, a British Librarian said have no reading habits.
CJ: What future holds for PR?
Dr CVNR: A bright future beckons Indian PR because of the following factors:
- India is the largest democracy in the world with over 75 crores voters
- India which was known as a country of snake charmers, starvation deaths and famines has now become a global economic player, poised to become worlds third biggest economy next only to China and US.
- India will emerge as worlds largest English speaking nation
- India will witness media explosion with over 1 lakh news papers, 50 crores copies of circulation, thoiusand TV channels, 500 Radio Stations, 100 crore mobile phones and 20 crore internet connections. Media explosion will provide greater opportunities for growth of public relations communication.
In conclusion I quote from the 1st Prime Minister of our country Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who said "Freedom from Information poverty is as important as freedom from hunger". This sums up the role and function of public relations in India.