Karnataka 2018

PR in politics: Most aspirants hire agencies for maximum impact

Politicians cutting across party lines in Karnataka are hiring public relations (PR) agencies to conduct surveys, mobilise data specific to the constituency that they want to contest from, chalk out manifestos, and to boost their image ahead of the Assembly elections.

Having realised the impact of public relations and digital and social media campaigns in connecting, engaging, and advocating with their target audience, politicians are reaching out to professionals to help draw out strategies.

Firms handling PR said they are seeing an increasing number of political leaders adopt this approach, especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s PR strategy proved impactful in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

While individual politicians refused to divulge their strategy, PR firms that The Hindu spoke to explained the kind of professional help they are lending to politicians, without naming them.

According to most PR companies, a key aspect prior to formulating a campaign strategy is “data”. Data procured through surveys specific to constituencies are helping political candidates and parties develop insights that are critical in rolling out powerful manifestos and formulate development agenda based on it.

In the past, political campaigns used to consist of only conventional PR and media campaigns. Now, “strategy” has gained prime importance in the entire exercise.

“We have been seeing an increasing number of candidates and leaders approaching us from all parties for such surveys and in formulating a strategy for the election campaign. During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, we formulated and implemented the PR campaign and strategy for JD(S) candidate C.S. Puttaraju (Mandya constituency). We also coordinated campaigns of BJP leader Ananth Kumar, who is now the Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister. This time too, we have several campaigns on hand. However, we cannot reveal names, until the candidates’ list is announced,” said M.J. Srikant, strategist and founder CEO, MJSPR.

Dinesh Gundu Rao, KPCC working president, said an external PR firm is required to strategise as most politicians do not get time to think out-of-the-box ideas to boost their image. He has hired a private agency to communicate with the media on his behalf.

KPCC president G. Parameshwara has also hired a private PR agency, with whose help he disseminates information about his press conferences and statements. Sources said the agency is also involved in collecting data and strategising his election campaign. This is apart from the party media coordinators, who run a WhatsApp group to popularise the party’s activities. Agencies estimate average expenditure on PR ranges from ₹5 lakh to ₹20 lakh. “The greater the expectation of the candidate, the bigger will be the amount,” said a PR representative.


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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 12:06:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/karnataka-2018/pr-in-politics-most-aspirants-hire-agencies-for-maximum-impact/article22746279.ece

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