The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Friday, 3 July 2009

MANAGING COMMUNICATION: THE LEADERS, THE LAGGARDS

Like any other industry, the global financial meltdown has affected Communications industry too. The PR industry or to say more aptly the Communication Management industry, in the country should be a natural victim of this. But, its repercussions are yet to be felt. Though the pressure is more on PR related activities and financial considerations of financial organizations and PR agencies with significant number of financial organizations as clients, chances of lay-offs are still not being assessed.

Certainly expansion will be slowed down owing to across the spectrum downturn particularly with downward trend in financial sector and real estate organization, contributing significantly to the revenue sheets. Agencies are places where one can expect lay-offs in the prevailing situation unlike other employment harbours in corporate sector, PSUs, NGOs and other government organizations. If agencies are more or less out of realm of laying-off, it is a vital sign that PR industry is consolidating and maturing. It is moving to become one of more organized industries. It is evolving and making strides with its other industrial counterparts. It has come out of the gestation period and now in the growth phase. The industry size in monetary terms may be a debatable issue; it seems the growth is going to stay here.

It obviously leads us to look beyond this basic reference point of growth to a stabilizing and sustainable growth. It leads us to probe more into the constituents of this growth or the desired sustainable growth. The divide of advertising and non-advertising communications is getting blurred and the emphasis point is shifting to focus on customization of the communication involving every possible tool. Packaging is more in fashion than ever. This trend has brought a paradigm shift in manpower map of the industry. We are moving more and more towards specialized hands. So, who is leading this pack?

Cleary the leaders are private sector organizations and PR agencies while the government organizations lag behind. We will see, how?

The whole gamut of PR activities has changed. The tools have become more sophisticated and customized with advancement in Information and Communication Technologies. It is not only about external communication, internal communication is equally important in the days of trans-national and multi-national organizations, high attrition rates and short supply of desired manpower. It’s more of a separate management vertical than just a media dependent publicity tool. Corporate Communications has become much more relevant that its parent, the Public Relations. Corporate Affairs is a step ahead customization of establishing the communication functions of an organization which incorporates traditional and shrewd ways of PR with sophistication of Corporate Communications where lobbying becomes an essential part of day to day business activity. Outcome of such work related activities need a team with a mixed experience background, of good media relations as well as communication and management practices. Presence of experiences journalists mostly from business and technology background in important positions falls in line with this requirement. Corporate Communications teams and PR agencies have this combination of experienced media persons or experienced PR persons and specialist communication professionals.

Publicity and media relations are just two functions among the whole lot of Communication Management functions which include tech specific functions like intranet management, RSS syndication, organizational blogging; traditional internal communication tools; external communications including government and industry lobbying; event and channel partners management; and an inherent function of working as a soft marketing tool to aid the marketing communications of the organization. Corporate Communications function being part of Marketing Communications establishments, especially of technology firms, is a growing trend.

Indeed, Communication has evolved as a complex discipline and excellence requires a holistic approach and consistent effort to overall activity portfolio of Communication Management. To carry out these functions ‘efficiently’ and ‘effectively’, two basic tenets of Management terminology, there is no doubt both specialized and groomed skill sets are required. It is here that government organizations lag behind. They have not been able change with time. Off-late they have started looking for specialized communication professionals, but they have not been able to change the mindset from being a publicity and media interaction (not relation) function to full fledged Communication Management function. It is more about media interaction and not media relation as still PSUs and many government sector organizations have non-communication and non-media persons heading their PR functions. An engineer, a doctor or an academician can easily be found out to carry out PR activities, many times, in addition to his or her basic work responsibilities. It leads to another problem in such organizations that may become a grave issue in the days to come.

This mix of experience set of non-communication and non-media persons in senior positions and specialized communications professionals in middle and junior management positions may lead to conflicts. The range may be wide, from conflicts in work ethos to conflict in identifying a communication problem, to conflicts in devising a solution to the crisis, or even in normal day to day activities. I have many of my co-age friends working in PSUs and other government sector organizations and a sense of frustration can be seen when they speak about their professional life. When a team cannot gel its members, it first obstructs flow of ideas and then completely stops the flow. It is no surprise therefore the brightest of minds tend to ignore these outfits as lauchpad for their career.

Therefore we have an industry here where one part is growing while the other part is still trying to start the process of growing. As already mentioned, industry may be of Rs 200 crore or Rs 3500 crore as assessed by different PR pundits, the growth is not uniform and this certainly is a worrying factor. Growth is just not in absolute terms. Growth should leave behind a fraternity of ignited minds and a tradition of competence. Communications Management in India requires an across the spectrum competence skill sets performing and excelling with across the spectrum organizations. The growth has to be holistic.

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