In the current media world, where greenwashing is as common a phenomenon as car washing, one needs to be increasingly careful on the messaging and not over abusing. There is an increased risk of a misinformed coverage by media when a celebrity is endorsing your cause. Doing good work for the cause should attract enough attention but ‘being human’ is a trait, which NGO’s often forget when they have a Dabang celebrity like Salman Khan vouching for the cause. Media perceives a credible NGO as one, which does not market itself. However, this perception is not understood by the best of best brands. Today some NGO’s are bigger brands in our country than few FMCG brands. Therefore, what becomes utmost important is how one uses the celebrity and to what extent. Being subtle is the key!
When brands go all out to find their ideal brand ambassador there are a few things that they need to keep in mind. Is the celebrity who is going to endorse the brand credible enough? Does that celebrity also go along with the brand perception? And does the brand run a risk of being overshadowed by the celebrity aura? Celebrity brand ambassadors attract media attention for sure, but are they really good from a PR point of view? These questions become further important especially when there is an NGO behind the efforts.
And NGO has greater responsibility towards the society and purely relies on building a reputable and credible image. They need to portray themselves as an organisation with substance. Their actions need to be communicated in a way that people do not fall for the glitz but understand the true impact of their work and actions. Hence the PR officers working for NGO should be very careful in finding the right fit for their brand image. But how does an NGO do good PR using celebrities and not be taken lightly? The answer lies in effective PR strategy. Many times an organisation might feel the urge to go ahead and try anything that seems reasonable as per the latest trends. The PR officers before embarking upon such ways should try to figure out that do these measures go along with the entire philosophy and vision of their organisation or is it that they are falling for popular antics? The question that PR officers must always try to answer is that is their PR initiative getting them their due recognition as an action oriented organisation or simply trivialising their status? It is tough to resist the temptation but uniqueness is necessary for brand image. What is an NGO if it fails to protect its image and thus fails to stand out of the crowd? There are many beautiful and heart warming instances where NGOs have built great reputation through thoughtful self PR like Goonj, Akanksha foundation and Tech for India. Even ‘loud’ or as I would like to call them the most ‘creative’ activist groups like Greenpeace and Peta have built up their global reputation through PR.
Few common ambush situations a PR guy faces when doing an event with a celebrity
- Questions to the celeb are about their latest movie release, last ton they hit or their new hair cut!
- Photo journalists come just to update their photo library and not take the branding.
Here are a few tips which can help you with PR in case of an NGO:
- Briefing the media – It is very important to brief the media of the nature and seriousness of the cause before you start your event. In any circumstance make the media prepared for the cause and not for the celebrity.
- Stick to the agenda – At all times, make sure that the discussion does not veer towards unrelated and irrelevant issues. The media might want to know your celebrity ambassador better and try to move the topic but remember the celebrity has come for the cause. Do remind the celebrity if he or she is going out of context under media scrutiny.
- Choose the right media – See which media suits the best for your campaign. Plan accordingly and refrain from inviting irrelevant and unrelated beats to your event. Also make sure where are you going to be written or talked about. Proper channel and media vehicle can give you the right kind of exposure.
- Stick to the sector the NGO operates – guide the media as well as prompt your celebrity to stay within the realm of the cause. Thwart attempts to deviate the house from core issues.
- Be present – Make sure your branding is everywhere. Flex banners, wallpapers, standee etc should be strategically placed behind the celeb. He/she should be accompanied with your spokesperson. No solo shots please!
Keep it simple – The look, feel and the environment of the event should be one that immediately draws attention to the cause. Create a sense of urgency for the matter in concern and avoid loud decor and glam setups.