This mornings’ front page interview with the Hindustan Times, was a rare attempt by Dr. Manmohan Singh to make his voice heard. But even as one read Dr. Singh’s thoughts on a range of topics – from the economy to corruption to his own legacy as PM – one could not help but be reminded of how few and far between such insights from the PM are. Over the course of his tenure, Dr. Singh has crossed a dangerous line from being an understated thought leader to being a silent PM. His media engagement levels might have remained consistent, but the perception of his visibility – and availability to the people – has certainly shifted.
Below are 5 quick PR tips for the Prime Minister.
1) Be vocal:
There is no PR without communication – and Manmohan Singh receives more attention for his lack of coverage than any occasional interview. Even if he does choose to avoid the controversial allegations of corruption, he can use the media more often to elaborate the various programs and policies of the government
2) Use social media the way it should be used
One cannot be the people’s Prime Minister without being social, knowing, and responding to the pulse of India, both online and offline. The PM should use Twitter for conversations, instead of simply serving an extension of his traditional media strategy. Even his tone on Twitter uses the third person. It’s fair for his account to be managed by advisors, but the tone needs to be conversational and some direct tweets from the PM (perhaps signed –MS) need to be part of his stream.
3) Addressing India through newspaper columns – Manmohan Singh’s relevance and status as an intelligent, well-read statesman and an economist of repute is slowly losing credibility. In addition to interviews, he needs to write his own opinion pieces to re-establish himself as a thought leader. Sometimes, communication needs to come straight from the horse’s mouth. Especially if that horse is an economist of great repute who’s legacy seems to be slowly dissolving.
4) Addressing Controversy
His perception as a silent leader was fueled, in part, by his non-responsiveness to the Anna Hazare led Lokpal protests. He needs to change this perception by being more proactive on issues of national importance. By responding quickly, he not only demonstrates his assertiveness, but also proactively demonstrate that he is in sync with the nation’s sentiments.
5) Stick to One Message at a time
In the age of 24-hour, fast moving media environment, it is essential that the PM is on message to get the best results. The problem with infrequent media addresses is that they tend to cover such a wide range of topics that the core messaging gets lost. Even today’s interview in the HT touched on almost every possible aspect of his Prime Ministership – from his legacy to his views on the economy to his thoughts on Pakistan. More frequent, quicker, and one-message addresses might be the key to better controlling his image.
Do you have any suggestions on who should advice the PM on his PR strategy?