Public Relations agency MHPR deals with the Public Relations of clients exclusively, unlike any other Marketing-cum-PR agency in Bangladesh. The dynamic and diverse team makes sure the client gets the best value for money when it comes to managing PR and beyond. The team is young, multinational, and top-of-the-class backed by a seasoned group of experienced professionals of the industry. Headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh, MHPR has become one of the largest client services organizations in Bangladesh within a short span of time. It has experience working with prestigious clientele like BRAC Bank, Banglalink, Nokia, EuropCar, British American Tobacco, Nestle, and so on. It began operations around the middle of 2007 with its first client, the multinational telecom company, Banglalink (an Orascom Telecom Company). MHPR consists of the well-educated, dedicated, skilled, and enterprising workforce that is the outcome of the progress and development of service-oriented companies like public relations agencies. MHPR currently has 28 employees.
Read more: Top 5 PR Agencies in Bangladesh
MHPR is different from other public relations firms in its approach to staffing. They are an associates-based public relations agency that draws on the strengths of senior practitioners. Clients benefit from this approach in many ways, especially in the contribution seasoned pros can quickly make to their business. MHPR likes to think of their approach as providing big agency thinking with a small agency attitude.
The role of public relations varies widely from organization to organization, depending upon the type and size of the organization, the understanding top management has of the proper uses of public relations, and the experience and training of the public relations staff. As a new company, with an experienced team from diverse backgrounds, MHPR intend to take their clients into uncharted territories, using innovation and creativity to touch on every aspect of PR and managing the business environment with a one-stop comprehensive solution including,
- Media Management & Execution
- Corporate Brand Management & Execution
- Public / Government Sector Management & Execution
- Corporate Social Responsibility Management & Execution
- Stakeholders Management & Execution
- Crisis Management
1.2 Background of the study
Public Relation (PR) is a management function that classically focuses on long-term patterns of interaction between an organization and all of its various publics, but supportive and non-supportive. Public relation seeks to enhance these relationships thus generating mutual understanding goodwill and support. PR is also known by the name of media relations. It evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. Like advertising, Public relations– often referred to as PR is a way of reaching people with a message.
In Bangladesh, Government instructed the various departments and ministries to launch PR programs by utilizing the existing media and resource support. The different kinds of PR programs in Bangladesh are designed keeping in view the socio-economic situation in the country. Most people, even in the urban areas did not have adequate access to all TV channels, newspapers, periodicals, booklets, and other printed matters. Still, in Bangladesh, PR can serve a wide variety of institutions in society such as business houses, trade unions, government agencies, voluntary associations, foundations, hospitals, schools, colleges, and religious institutions. To achieve their goals, these institutions must develop effective relationships with many different audiences or publics such as employees, members, customers, local communities, shareholders, and other institutions, and with society at large. This may include opinion leaders, business leaders, policymakers, local advocates, and the general public. To fulfill the emerging need of public relations and educate proper understanding of public relations this study will focus public relations process followed by MHPR.
1.2.1 Literature Review:
126.96.36.199 Definition of Public Relation (PR): Public relations involve the cultivation of favorable relations for organizations and products with its key public through the use of a variety of communications channels and tools. The purpose of PR is the managing of external communication of an organization or business to create and maintain a positive image. Public relations involve popularizing successes, downplaying failures, announcing changes, and many other activities. PR is often considered a highly credible form of promotion. PR’s key points of power rest with helping to establish credibility for a product, company, or person (e.g., CEO) in the minds of targeted customer groups by capitalizing on the influence of the media.
188.8.131.52 Historical Development of Public Relations: Edward Louis Bernays who is considered as the founding father of modern public relations along with Ivy Lee, in the early 1900s defined public relations as a management function that evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an organization with the public interest and executes a program of action (and communication) to earn public understanding and acceptance. The Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education defines as “Public relations is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communications, understanding, acceptance, and cooperation between an organization and its publics; involves the management of problems or issues; helps management keep informed on and responsive to public opinion; defines and emphasizes the responsibility of management to serve the public interest; helps management keep abreast of and effectively utilize change, serves as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and sound and ethical communication techniques as its principal tools”.
The maturity of practice in PR is determined by the maturity of the definition accepted. The available definitions reflect a range of sophistication in the duty owed by the function to the society at large. Grunig and Hunt wrote: “Public relations are the management of communication between an organization and its publics.” Their definition captures several key components of effective PR. First, it establishes that PR is managed or planned communication. It is not haphazard or random. Second, PR represents an organization or client, and it should always be used to address the client’s problems or opportunities. And third, PR needs to be targeted to specific “public”. They introduced four models to explain how PR has developed through history. These models also reflect the different ways in which PR is still practiced today. The first two models portray public relations as a one-way flow of communication between an organization and its publics. The third and fourth models portray PR as a two-way flow of communication between an organization and its publics and highlight the importance of research.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) claimed: “Public relations help an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” According to the PRSA, the essential functions of public relations include research, planning, communications dialogue, and evaluation. Today, “Public Relations is a set of management, supervisory, and technical functions that foster an organization’s ability to strategically listen to, appreciate, and respond to those persons whose mutually beneficial relationships with the organization are necessary if it is to achieve its missions and values”.
184.108.40.206 Historical Development of Public Relations in Bangladesh: The British government in India constituted the Central Publicity Board during the early 1940s for carrying out public relations work. Organizations already having PR programs by that time were the Tata Iron and Steel in the private sector and the Indian Railway, in the public sector. The first one had it to satisfy the workers and the objective of the latter to introduce PR was to conduct a sales promotion campaign. The Central Publicity Board of the government of India was renamed the Central Board of Information in 1921 and as the Directorate of Public Instruction in 1923. In 1931, it became the Directorate of Information and Broadcasting. During World War II, the organization launched nationwide public relations programs to create public opinion in favor of the British monarchy. The British government also created the War Purposes Exhibition Unit and the Central Bureau of Public Information and made information films on India. After the Partition of Bengal in 1947, the government of Pakistan consolidated its effort to gear up PR programs through radio, field publicity, and film division and press information offices under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Later, the government constituted the Central Information Service (CIS) under the framework of the central superior services and staffed by cadre officers and professional PR-men to run the PR jobs in the ministries and organizations under the central government.
The Bangladesh Civil Service (Information) Cadre was created with the members of Pakistani CIS officers and those who were working in the departments under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Fresh Information cadre officials are being recruited regularly through combined civil service examinations. After a three-month-long professional course, they are given PR responsibilities in government organizations while the sector corporations and private organizations appoint professional PR practitioners. Among the government organizations, the East Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority was the first to set up a separate PR directorate in 1958. At present, more than three hundred semi-government, autonomous, and private organizations and almost all government organizations in Bangladesh have PR setups.
The code of ethics for public relations was formulated by the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) in its general meeting in Athens in May 1965. The Code of Athens was updated and amended in the IPRA council meeting in Tehran in 1968 and was later adopted by most national PR associations of the world. The Bangladesh Public Relations Association (BPRA) adopted it in it first national convention in 1979.
In its early years after independence, the government of Bangladesh instructed the various departments and ministries to launch PR programs by utilizing the existing media and resource support. The different kinds of PR programs in Bangladesh are designed keeping in view the socio-economic situation in the country. They communicate to the people the plans, programs, activities, and policies of the government and the successes and failures to ensure support and participation in the governance. Electronic media and interpersonal communication as well as traditional media were put in use for conducting PR programs. Most people, even in the urban areas did not have adequate access to newspapers, periodicals, booklets, and other printed matters.
220.127.116.11 Public Relations Tools: A company planning to build a new brand needs to create a buzz, and the buzz is created through PR tools. The PR campaign will cost much less and hopefully create a more lasting story. Building a new brand through PR takes much more time and creativity, but it ultimately can do a better job than “big bang” advertising. PR consists of a whole bag of tools for grabbing attention and creating “talk value”. The tools and techniques of PR are equally diverse. In the kit of the practitioners are such elements as community activities, company publications, films, display and exhibits, special events, publicity, and institutional advertising.
PR professional may use the following tools:
- 01. Publications: Companies rely extensively on published materials to reach and influence target markets, including annual reports, brochures, articles, printed and online newsletters and magazines, and audiovisual materials.
- Events: Companies can draw attention to new products or other company activities by arranging special events like news conferences, online chats, seminars, exhibits, contests and competitions, and sport and cultural sponsorships that will reach the target publics.
- News: One of the major tasks of PR professionals is to find or create favorable news about the company, its products, and its people. The next step—getting the media to accept press releases and attend press conferences—calls for marketing and interpersonal skills.
- Speeches: Speeches are another tool for creating product and company publicity and building the company’s image.
- Public-Service Activities: Companies can build goodwill by contributing money and time to good causes.
- Identity Media: To attract attention and spark recognition, the firm’s visual identity is carried by its logos, stationery, brochures, signs, business forms, business cards, Web site, buildings, uniforms, and dress codes.
- Lobbying: dealing with legislators and government officials to promote or defeat legislation and regulation; and
- Counseling: Advising management about public issues and company positions and image—and advising in the event of a mishap.
Even the other things that can help organizations become better-known and more effective by using consumer education, research & development, internet websites/innovative web design, issue sponsorship, media relations/media training/ media monitoring message development.
18.104.22.168 Functions of Public Relations: The business world of today is extremely competitive. Companies need to have an edge that makes them stand out from the crowd, something that makes them more appealing and interesting to both the public and the media. The public is the buyer of the product and the media are responsible for selling it. PR is used to evaluates public attitudes, identifies issues of public concern executes programs to gain public acceptance. PR provides a service for the company by helping to give the public and the media a better understanding of how the company works. Within a company, PR can also come under the title of public information or customer relations. These departments assist customers if they have any problems with the company. They are usually the most helpful departments, as they exist to show the company at their best. PR also helps the company to achieve its full potential. They provide feedback to the company from the public. As the book by Rieses clearly indicates for many companies, the PR function is moving more and more toward a “new role,” which is much closer to a marketing function than a traditional one. The new role of PR envisions both strong marketing and strong PR departments. Rather than each department operating independently, the two work closely together, blending their talents to provide the best overall image of the firm and its product or service offerings.
William N. Curry notes that organizations must use caution in establishing this relationship because PR and marketing are not the same things, and when one becomes dominant, the balance required to operate at maximum efficiency is lost. He says losing sight of the objective and functions of PR in an attempt to achieve marketing goals may detrimental in the long run. In fact, as noted by Cutlip, marketing and public relations are complementary functions, “with each making unique but complementary contributions to building and maintaining the many relationships essential for organizational survival and growth. To ignore one is to risk failure in the other.”
This usually takes the form of research regarding what areas the public is most happy and unhappy with PR departments. PR departments typically perform five functions:
- i) Press relations: Presenting news and information about the organization in the most positive light;
- ii) Product publicity: Publicizing specific products;
iii) Corporate communication: Promoting understanding of the organization through internal and external communications;
- iv) Lobbying: Dealing with legislators and government officials to promote or defeat legislation and regulation; and
- v) Counseling: Advising management about public issues and company positions and image—and advising in the event of a mishap.
As the power of mass advertising weakens, marketing managers can more functional PR to cost-effectively build awareness and brand knowledge and to reach local communities and specific audiences. The company does not pay for space or time obtained in the media; it pays only for staff to develop and circulate the stories and manage certain events. A story picked up by the news media could be worth millions of dollars in equivalent advertising—and would be more credible than advertising.
In general, PR complements the company’s counter- advertising program and other efforts by: reaching your target audience with in-depth messages that elaborate on the key points in ways that ads can’t, helping to create positive views of the campaign and the organization among the news media, stakeholders, policymakers, and opinion leaders, helping to influence policy change through long-term relationships, partnership, and coalition building, and consistent efforts to expand the support base. An integrated counter-marketing program will use PR to serve all of these functions.
PR takes on a much broader (and more marketing–oriented) perspective, designed to promote the organization as well as its products and/or services.
1.3 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is limited to the overall description of MHPR, its services, the process of PR implementation. MHPR is still in its growth stage in Bangladesh and still has to go a long way to achieve its destination. The study as explained above will mainly focus on how MHPR is coping with the different types of client management, its progression, planning, and course of action on the basis of my working experience on MHPR.
1.4 Objective of the Study
The major objective of the present study is to know the building block of the public relation, find the problems regarding the public relation process, and make some recommendations to the problems.
- Broad Objective
- To have a broad idea about the public relation process practiced in Bangladesh
- Specific Objectives
- To present the public relation process of MHPR;
- To describe the working system within the organization;
- To outline typical public relation activities and illustrate the public relation activities with case studies;
- To identify the problems regarding public relation process application at MHPR and to make some recommendations in order to solve the problems.
Nature of research:
This research is exploratory research, as it is initial research conducted to clarify and define the nature of a problem. It is qualitative research as the results of this research focus on words and observations, instead of numbers and mathematical analysis.
This study on MHPR requires an exploratory type of research because any problem has not clearly defined here. Exploratory research is a useful preliminary step that helps to understand the nature of the management problems. Exploratory research has two interrelated purposes, to diagnose a situation and discover new ideas.
Sources of data:
This study was conducted on the basis of the analysis of primary and secondary data. This study is based on primary data, as no such preview research has conducted in the context of MHPR, and information about the PR industry of Bangladesh is inadequate. Some sections of the study have been derived from secondary data.
Primary Data: To collect primary data the qualitative research approaches have used here such as informal discussions with management and employees. Data were also composed through personal observation and work experience.
Target Population: Employees of the MHPR
Sample size: 8
Sampling method: Non-random sampling
Secondary Data: To collect secondary data, secondary research approaches have used here such as reviewing available literature and/or data. Secondary data have collected from different sources like MHPR’s internal documents & official websites, textbooks, journals, newspapers, and various websites.
Methods of data collection:
To collect primary data at first target population is set. In this study, the target population is all the employees of MHPR. The sample size is eight employees of MHPR. The age limit of the sample size is between 22 to 50 years old. The sample size is selected by using a nonrandom sampling technique. After the selection process data is collected through conversation and observation techniques.
1.6 Limitations of the study
- As per the company’s compliance, it was not possible to obtain indispensable experience in different departments.
- Details of many aspects of the services of MHPR have skipped in this study due to various constraints.
- One of the main barriers in writing this study was the confidentiality of data. However, I had access to a lot of information regarding the performance of the company but I am unable to use that information due to legal restrictions.
- Inadequate information about the PR industry of Bangladesh.
- This study only describes the PR process for business organizations/companies; the PR process for government organizations and NGOs has not been discussed here.
- This study only focuses on the PR process followed by MHPR. PR process can be different from organization to organization and country to country.
2.0 Public Relation (PR) Practices in Bangladesh
2.1 Media Management/Relations & Execution:
Media management/relation involves working with various media for the purpose of informing the public of an organization’s mission, policies, and practices in a positive, consistent, and credible manner. Typically, this means coordinating directly with the people responsible for producing the news and features in the mass media. The goal of media relations is to maximize positive coverage in the mass media without paying for it directly through advertising.
Media relations refer to the relationship that a company or organization develops with journalists, while public relations extend that relationship beyond the media to the general public.
Dealing with the media presents unique challenges in that the news media cannot be controlled — they have ultimate control over whether stories pitched to them are of interest to their audiences. Because of this, ongoing relationships between an organization and the news media are vital. One way to ensure a positive working relationship with media personnel is to become deeply familiar with their “beats” and areas of interest.
Working with the media on the behalf of an organization allows for awareness of the entity to be raised as well as the ability to create an impact with a chosen audience. It allows access to both large and small target audiences and helps build public support and mobilizing public opinion for an organization. This is all done through a wide range of media and can be used to encourage two-way communication.
MHPR keeps abreast of information about clients and media in order to bridge information gaps and open up necessary avenues for any kind of media solutions to MHPR clients.
Case-1: Nokia, Building Relationships with Top tier Media people
Background: Create a bridge between Nokia and media; news editors, senior reporters, page editors, and other such top media players through an appropriately organized event. Make it subtle and something they would enjoy while still being individual.
Objective: Facilitate long-lasting ties between Nokia and Media
MHPR’s Solution: Give media and Nokia a complete day-out. Let people laugh and enjoy, business will come along.
MHPR plan to make a night to remember…
- A weekend getaway, a serene boat trip on a traditional boat
- More than just a meal, a magical experience to remember
Result: Target people attended & enjoyed the event leaving with a lasting good impression of Nokia.
2.2 Corporate Brand Management & Execution:
Corporate branding is the practice of using a company’s name as a product brand name. It is an attempt to use corporate brand equity to create product brand recognition. MHPR manages the client’s brand through public relations. Its research writes, plan, edit, design, and implement everything from strategic communications plans to employee newsletters, to gala dinners. MHPR creates communications strategies that influence opinions and tell our client’s stories to the media. MHPR builds affinity for its clients and its initiatives in support of business goals. They create a network of advocates who support their clients’ vision of the future of its industry, its position on critical issues and ultimately help establish their viability as a thought leader setting industry agenda.
Case-1: Banglalink Q3 result
Background: Announcement of business results for the stakeholders to have further confidence in Banglalink.
Objective: To get coverage inappropriate pages
MHPR’s Solution: Get maximum coverage of the event.
Case-2: BFF, Football back in action:
Background: The good old days of the country’s once popular game of football seemed to have returned in the final of the Citycell Super Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in the city. After so many years, a huge crowd of about 45,000 viewers gathered at the stadium to watch the final match between the two football giants – Dhaka Mohammedan Sporting Club and Dhaka Abahani Limited on March 27, 2009. The spirit and excitement of the thousands of viewers in the Citycell Super Cup made new history. It was the highest attendance in a domestic match since the mid-90s and many started hoping that this might be the rise of a new beginning for Bangladesh Football. Football was losing image and BFF wanted to bring it back to people
- Through the Citycell super cup, BFF wanted to generate enthusiasm
- To re-build the image of Football in Bangladesh through PR
MHPR’s Solution: To create hype and maximize the coverage Generate enthusiasm.
2.3 Public / Government Sector Management & Execution: Government and Public sector lobbying:
MHPR works as a lobbyist for its clients. It supports clients at various public and government levels, all access. MHPR does Government and Public sector lobbying and allows their clients to interact with them on a personal level and maintain good relations.
Case 1: Public Sector Management for Augere
Background: Launch of Augere WIMAX (Qubee), business directly related to IT, TELCO, information, finance, and media. Augere’s vision is to be a big part of Digital Bangladesh. The business need was to share their intentions and commitment with the government. The launch was a good occasion for rapport building with the government level.
Objective: To bring relevant stakeholders to have an insight on Augere’s business, vision, and commitment towards the vision
MHPR’s Solution and Achievement: Target people like Finance Minister, Telecommunication Minister, and Information Minister attended the program along with other Govt. high officials and policymakers.
Result: Everyone got to know each other and enjoyed the evening leaving with a lasting good impression of Augere.
Case 2: MHPR as the lobbyist
Issue: Banglalink’s application for permission to install fiber optic cable through Jamuna Bridge was denied while Grameenphone became the first operator to obtain the permission.
Objective: Open-up discussions and let Banglalink voice be heard
- Identify the key persons in the decision-making process
- To arrange and mediate one-on-one appointments with the concerned advisor and the Banglalink CEO
Result: The application to the ministry and the approval was given.
2.4 Corporate Social Responsibility Management & Execution:
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms. The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for the company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders, and all other members of the public sphere who may also be considered as stakeholders.
When it comes to media amplification CSRs are generally overlooked, MHPR makes it a point to amplify every act that will help clients win favorability.
Case-1: Banglalink, International Coastal Cleanup Day Observation
Background: International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day is celebrated annually throughout the world in over 90 countries with a variety of initiatives. People are encouraged to remove trash and debris from different beaches and waterways of the world and also to generate awareness to change the general behaviors that cause pollution. In Bangladesh, it is celebrated in Cox’s Bazaar where it has become a major annual event. It has been observed for the last six years, sponsored by Banglalink. It is a part of Banglalink’s yearlong sea beach cleaning project, which has been appreciated by all social segments and government bodies.
- PR mileage
- Generate emotional attachment on the cause
- To communicate the importance of the well-being of our environment
- Pre-event media coverage created the buzz and made everyone come & enjoy the event.
- Became a National news
Picture: newspaper coverage on ICC day
2.5. Other Stakeholder Management:
Case-1: Roundtable “Changing face of business mobility and role of mobile email”
- Nokia was ready to launch their premier executive/business device which has a niche audience while also talking about business mobility and messaging.
- Create a discussion and bring participants which fit both the exclusivity of the event and the concept of business mobility
- Leverage influential business personalities to give the right balance to the discussion/roundtable.
Picture: Roundtable on “Changing face of business mobility and role of mobile email”
Discussants/stakeholders – Waliur Rahman Bhuiyan, Chairman, BOC Bangladesh Ltd., and President FICCI and Gary Lye, CEO, Asia Energy Corporation (Bangladesh) Ptv Ltd.
2.6 Crisis Management:
One cannot plan a crisis and everyone is different and needs a new approach. This is why the best way to talk about a crisis is to look at how one dealt with it in the past. Crisis can strike any organization at any time. They can be bad, & they are usually visible & a focus of everyone’s attention. In all crises generally, a lot is at stake. They are mostly inexplicable & because of external factors- like rumors & negative competitive propaganda. The way to handle this kind of crisis is to establish direct contact with your publics & explain the facts.
Case-1: Crisis Management of “VoIP issue of Telecom Operators” Client: Banglalink
Background: Law enforcing agencies and BTRC launched a crackdown on illegal VoIP operators after the new interim government took office in January. During raids and investigations against illegal calls were ascertained. Banglalink was asked to give compensation along with other operators to the government. Bad word of mouth and damage to the brand and company image to its stakeholders if the news spread widely
- Tone down the BTRC drive against VoIP operation makes it ‘less loud for Banglalink.
- Minimizing the issue in Media
- Push the news to less important segments of media
- Blackout the news entirely, wherever possible
- Major dailies pushed the news to a less important page. It was made sure that all dailies placed Banglalink’s statement with similar importance
- Some dailies blacked out the news entirely, TV Channels were also convinced to blackout the news (E.g. Channel I newscaster “forgot” to read the news even after it was in the script)
2.7 Public Relation (PR) Process:
The public relations process describes the steps of doing public relations and the tools needed to do public relations. Public Relation (PR) Process outline in relation to responsibility list,
PR plans and calendar
- Passive PR
- Active PR
Relate business to PR
- Account Management Team
- Communications materials development and translation
- Media Communication
- Event Management
- Nonevent PR campaign
- Event-based PR campaign
2.7.4 Monitoring & Reporting:
Here, the following PR process is described in relation to the responsibility list,
Planning helps to clarify objectives of PR, focus efforts, to run a successful PR campaign, improve effectiveness, minimizing mishap, reconciles conflicts, etc. To build a positive image of a brand company needs a long-term PR plans. A PR plan includes background studies about the client and its PR Campaign, PR Objective, PR Strategy, Mediums for PR, PR Phases, etc. PR plans may set by the clients or the agency.
- PR plans: When the Client’s PR & Communication team decides on a PR campaign, they brief the plans to MHPR or MHPR brief the plans to the client. The plans outlined in the following details. PR plans may vary from company to company and campaign to campaign.
- The overview of the PR campaign: The overview of the PR campaign is the short description and the background studies about the client and its PR Campaign. It describes the summary of the client’s PR campaign & PR Specialization.
The objective of the PR – Define Priority: For developing a sound PR campaign, clear well-defined PR objectives need to be established. These objectives should be very specific and measurable. An objective defines the target audience of the PR campaign that means which group of the audience the company i.e. client wants to communicate or create awareness about the campaign. For example, the company wants to target the youth generation or the people who have an interest in IT. The target audience definition helps MHPR to select the placement of the media where the press release of the PR campaign is going to be published for example IT page of a print media or IT news section or an IT-related TV show of a broadcast media.
- The type of PR coverage expectation (pre/during/post/total): The type of PR expected by client describes the type of PR coverage of a PR campaign they want such as event base PR campaign (pre, during, and post-event PR coverage that means the whole event PR coverage) or non-event PR campaign (only post-event coverage i.e. press release distribution in case of Product PR, Corporate PR, Financial PR).
Detailed content, related document & other materials: Here client send the event details, place of the event, invitation letter for the journalist, list of journalist, press release & other materials. The content details, related documents & other materials depend on the type of PR campaign. For example, for a non-event PR campaign only a press release is needed.
Quantifying the expectation: Here clients quantify the expectation that is- the number of target audiences they want to communicate and the number of media they want to cover for the PR campaign. The number of target audience and the media list helps MHPR to plans the strategy to get the coverage of the PR campaign.
Priority of PR campaign & timeline: Clients set the priority of a PR campaign and set the number of days the campaign will run.
Contact & any other details about all stakeholders: Contact & other details about all stakeholders are provided by the clients if needed.
Financial Issues: Financial plans come when MHPR needs to organize an event for event base PR campaign or an Adhoc PR campaign that needs to launch for new clients. It may vary considering the agreement type between MHPR and clients i.e. retainer client or Adhoc client and the type of event.
The Clients may have some negative impact on society which results in negative PR or competitors may do some negative PR for clients which is something that MHPR needs to minimize. So MHPR needs to take some plans to minimize negative PR. This can only be dealt with through two methods, media intelligence (getting the news before it’s printed) i.e. Passive PR and active stakeholder management which builds the ties for a lasting relationship, i.e. Active PR. The client’s PR campaign is studied by MHPR to select between the two-pronged PR plans type for Clients which are,
Passive PR: Passive PR is collecting industry-relevant information and set-up plans to take advantage of the PR opportunities and managing threats proactively. Media intelligence in such cases is very sensitive. However, MHPR understands this from the sensitivity of work with British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB). For example, BATB is an industry that constantly comes under fire despite their strong contribution to the government in terms of taxes it is a cautionary measure MHPR understands and manages for them.
Active PR: Active PR is active stakeholder management that builds the ties for lasting relationships. MHPR’s prime focus for clients is getting pro-actively involved with the media stakeholders. The secondary focus is to start engagements with the opinion leaders, influencers of the segment to create a positive image of clients holistically thereby having PR coverage of the issues in context. Active PR includes,
- Engagement Segments:
- Engagement Modalities
- Rapport building strategy (group-wise)
- Suggestion to build media rapport with houses
- Strengthen relationship with media
|Group 1||Power Players / Media Heads
Sophisticated, established power brokers, with refined tastes, global media players, particular of who they are “seen” with, they also have strong international network • Set the policy agenda of the country
• Heavy influence on the decision-makers
• Strong capability to influence public opinion
|Group 2||Top Level Editors/ Media Heads
Enjoy high status, aspires to be strong power brokers, strengthening national base, highly conscious of who they are “seen” with, have some international network • Have some influence on the policy agenda
• Have ability to partially influence public opinion
• Can disrupt perceptions
|Group 3||Promising Media Leaders
Being groomed to take over the power player role in the future. Highly educated with global orientation, network and aspirations
• Future “Power Players”
• Have some influence on the agenda of the current “power players”
|Group 4||News Editors
• Filters news up to the top
• Influence in content and presentation of news
|Group 5||Chief Reporters
• Sets agendas on issues to explore and report
• Major influence in news content and presentation of viewpoints
|Group 6||Chief Photographers/ Cameraman
• Influence in news content and presentation
Other Important Influencers
Rapport building strategy (group-wise)
|1||• Wishing them on their birthdays or anniversaries with a cake and a greeting card
• Supporting them participating in an international or regional conferences or events
|2||• Congratulating with a note complementing an editorial written by them or a TV appearance
• Book complementary passes to the events of their choice (National or International)
|3||• Making the guest list with them to forums or seminars on national issues
• Mailing them books/journals that may spike their interests
|4||• Branded round table discussion with them
• Sending souvenirs in different occasion (eg: Jamdani saree for the wives in Pohela Boishakh)
|5||• Creating a platform in electronic media where they can come and talk about their opinion
• Greeting them with new year’s card, sending them calendars or stationeries
|6||• Drive or sponsor photo journalists exhibition
• Invite photojournalists from abroad to do workshop or meeting
|7||• Enable their access to privileged social events
• Concert tickets or pass to theme parks
To build media rapport with media houses:
- Wishing media houses on their anniversaries by sending flower bouquets and cakes
- Sending complimentary Iftar during Ramadan to media houses rotationally
- Updating media contact list and routine phone calls to keep up the good relationship
- Managing Eid / Christmas / New Year greetings on behalf of clients
- One-to-One meetings with media heads and clients team leaders to strengthen rapport
- Strengthen relationship with media: MHPR possesses the skill and extensive network of contacts in all static and dynamic media and has worked with leading newspapers and TV channels to ensure maximum exposure while doing so creatively. This includes (but is not exclusive to):
- Media rapport building
- Round table
- Media loaner program
- Overseas trip
- Meet and greet, one-on-one
- Gathering market intelligence: Gathering market intelligence through personal relations with the media.
Relate business to PR: Planning also involves relating the business to PR by selecting the experienced human resources to the planning team. The selected person must have a positive critical mind, willingness to approach the planning process dispassionately and objectively, they must be familiar with the client’s goals, missions, objectives, and aspirations. There needs a person who will be responsible for pointing out the negative sides of every PR plan, and decision with sincerity and ultimate good intentions.
Example of PR plans: World Marketing Summit 2012:
Background studies: Understanding of WMS: World Marketing is a unique platform in terms of ideation; bringing solutions to top MDG priorities for a ‘Better World’ through Marketing with the core goal of ‘Improving lives’ globally.
The Bangladesh Context: Bangladesh’s Top of Mind reference, whenever thought off, is usually as a country that is poor, illiterate, collapsed by natural calamities, and is among the top corrupted country’s list. However past years Bangladesh is appearing on the global map rather positively. Be it the hosting of the Cricket World Cup, Arrival of Messy, eAsia hosting country or the celebrated performance of Bryan Adams to the visit of Professor Philip Kotler himself. This event yet again comes to Bangladesh as another feather in the cap and this time on an intellectual platform. This is an opportunity that will help Bangladesh showcase itself on the global platform in all the positive ways while managing all the negativities surrounding it, denoting ‘The Energy of Its people’.
How WMS is going to achieve its Vision and Missions: Through resolving the world’s most pressing issues through marketing-driven approaches by fostering partnerships, providing strategic consultations, and ensuring the optimal use of resources by directing them towards the most effective ideas on a global platform.
- Understanding of WMS, to make target groups understand the following to generate their interest which in turn will bring partnership ideas from their end also:
- How WMS is going to positively impact the vision of MDG
- Understanding of the WMS agendas; Food Security and Balanced use, Appropriate Education, Access to Health, Environmental Waste Reduction
- Understanding of key terms: Incubator, Food Security and Balanced use, Appropriate Education, Access to Health, Environmental Waste Reduction and how Future of Marketing is connected to the aforesaid, what value addition or strategic approach is envisioned by WMS to find solutions to the selected agendas
- Young learners
- Corporate people
- Social workers
- Policy Makers
The PR Story: “Creating a Better World through Marketing”.
The PR Angle: The Background, Relevance, Importance, and Impact of WMS.
PR Strategy: To use and optimize key media voices as the focal tool to make the target groups aware of the Relevance, Importance, and Impact of WMS.
PR Phases: The PR phases are
Phase I: Announcement of WMS with a thorough understanding of its Background, Relevance, Importance, and Impact of WMS
Phase II: WMS people’s thought sharing through group discussions, one to one sessions, skype/video conferencing
Phase III: Positioning Bangladesh (Enthusiastic, Beautiful Bangladesh and Energy of its people)
During the Event:
Phase IV: Coverage of the Entire WMS event.
Phase V: Conclusive sharing of the decisions, discussions, and way forward of WMS.
PR Activities: To create hype and maximize the coverage PR related work going into the event and coverage of it therein is broadly being categorized under three headings –
Pre-event: Media and other Stakeholder Engagements: Complete awareness and Understanding of WMS while Bangladesh in context. Starting discussions with key media people (Journalists, Opinion Leaders, and Trail Blazers of the fraternity), Key Bloggers, and Key Online Medias (We shall be Global wires that have a presence in Bangladesh)on WMS through the following:
–Close Group Sessions (For global wires, Skype discussions, Video Conferencing will be seen as the initial communication tools for discussions)
–One to One Sessions
–Sending glossary of ‘Key Terms’ for better understanding
Online (Global Wires, Social networking and Blogging):
- Opening Facebook page & keep updating members
- Uploading news/program clipping on YouTube
- Assigning selective bloggers to write on WMS in blog sitesPrint and Electronic Media
- Media engagement
- Arranging interview of BBF high officials in magazine
- Arranging talk-show/interview on TV/Radio channels
- Publishing article on global awareness; such as on beautiful Bangladesh/areas to develop/uniqueness/progress/top marketers/corporate leaders/speaker profiling
- Providing airport protocol to Professor Philip Kotler & another official on a need basisDuring-event: What all is being discussed, who all are here to attend, What Contributions and Commitments are made by WMS, and what is the Govt Participation and Role.
- News on Professor Philip Kotler arrival in Dhaka
- Ensuring media presence along with media coverage on WMS
- Media management on the ground
- Arranging interview Professor Philip Kotler in DS/PA
- Arranging interview of top speaker’s in dailies/weeklies/radio
- Arranging customize (WMS branded) 3 days talk-show
- Arranging WMS news update on radio channel
- Taking comment of corporate/policymakers/ media/ national icons instant comment and uploading the video to YouTube
- Findings, Conclusions and Way Forward of WMS 2011
- Uploading news/program clipping on YouTube
- Bloggers to write their experience on WMS in blog sites
- Post articles (a success journey)
- Publishing post article on WMS
- Providing airport protocol to Professor Philip Kotler & another official on a need basis
- White paper preparing
- Compiling news coverage report
- December 2011 – Feb 2012
- March 1, 2-3, 2012
- March 4, 2012 – December 2012
Financial Issues: Cost-sharing for all PR-related expenses.
3.7.2 Processing: Processing may vary based on event-based PR campaigns and non-event PR campaigns. It also may vary considering the agreement type between MHPR and clients i.e. retainer client or Adhoc client. After receiving the go-ahead from the Client’s PR & Communication team, MHPR differentiates all events considering their merit. These are the type of the event, The possibilities & PR prospect (merit) of the event, value, credibility & mileage, The different stages of PR execution, execution deadlines & responsible Team, estimated expense or financial support, etc. PR processing includes the following steps,
Account Management Team Setup: PR processing starts with setting up an Account Management Team- the people who are responsible to manage a client’s account and who define the direction of communication between a client and the Account Management Team. In MHPR, the two-person account management team becomes an entire wealth of experience of a company and 3 different departments behind the scenes. Account management team responsible for the entire event (if any) or PR processing and implementation.
Chart-2: PR Implementation (Account Management Team)
Content Development: Following are the items that fall under the content of PR,
- Campaign/Event brief (from client Activation Team): A PR campaign or event brief is provided by the client’s activation team. For non-event PR campaign clients only sends a press release. And for an event-based PR campaign client sends the details of the event.
- Official Letter informing media about the upcoming event (if any): An official letter has been prepared and sent to target journalists about the event.
- Invitation Letter: To invite the target journalists to the event an invitation letter with the details of the event (in case of an event-based PR campaign) has been prepared and sent to clients for approval. The client edits the invitation letter if needed and sent the approved invitation letter back to MHPR.
- Attendance sheet: In case of an event-based PR campaign, an attendance sheet is prepared to keep the records of the list of the attended journalists at the event.
- Speech of Spokesperson: In the case of an event-based PR campaign, sometimes MHPR has to write a speech for the spokesperson. Firstly a draft of the speech has written. Then the write-up has sent to the client for approval and the client sent back the approved write-up.
- Press Release (Bangla/English): The press release is the most common material provided to media outlets. These documents provide a brief, yet thorough, description of an upcoming activity, whether it is a rush or a service project. In case the client did not provide the press release with the pr campaign/event brief then a draft press release has been prepared according to the client’s event brief and sent to the client for approval. The client edits the press release if needed and sent back the approved press release. The workflow of the press release is following,
Chart-3: Press Release Flow with Timeline
- Photo: Some selective photo of the event (if any) is scrutinized for dispatching along with the press release.
- Video/Audio: A selective sequence of video/audio footage of the event (if any) is scrutinized for dispatching along with the press release for the electronic media (TV, Radio & Web).
- Enough Material to develop feature/article is also prepared for dispatching to media.
- Contact numbers of relevant people are provided in case any information is needed by the writer/journalist.
- Facilitating Interviews: MHPR arranges interviews with client’s spokespersons in case of writers/journalists’ requirements.
Chart-4: Content Development Flow
- Media Communication: Before communicating with Media, MHPR distinguish the type of the event and based on that tap the appropriate segment of the media. The segment of the media has sent to the client for approval if the client did not provide any preference list. Below are the segments as per MHPR:
- Top Editorial Board (VVIP Events)
- Commercial Section Heads (Top-Priority Events)
- Section Heads/Sub-editor (Item Specific News, National News)
- Business Editor (Corporate News)
- Entertainment Editor (Entertainment/events related news)
- IT/Mobile Tech Editor (Technical News)
- Lifestyle/Fashion Editor (Experience-based news)
- Sports Editor (sports news)
- Supplements/Magazine (Feature/Article/Round Table)
Event Management: As per the event brief, in the case of an event-based PR campaign, sometimes MHPR arranges the event venue (hotel/restaurant/seminar hall/ conference center, etc) and the foods & beverages for the invited journalists. For an event outside of Dhaka, MHPR arranges transportation, food, accommodation other benefits for the invited journalists. For an event outside of Bangladesh, MHPR arranges visas, air tickets, food, accommodation, and other benefits for the invited journalists.
3.7.3 Implementing: Implementing a PR plan may vary based on the types of PR campaigns.
- Nonevent PR campaign: For nonevent PR campaigns such as agreement signing campaigns, financial reporting campaigns, and organizational change campaigns, etc, most of the time client only issues a press release. So, in these case client only send a press release to MHPR and MHPR dispatch the press release in following ways,
- Soft copy of the press release is sent to the related news editors/sub-editors /journalist of the newspaper/radio/TV channel via email.
- Also, the press release is printed and photos are written on CDs and the package is hand-delivered by a team of 4 messengers.
- Then the designated account executive follows up the press release for receipt assurance over the phone.
- Phone follow-up also continues for coverage assurance.
- In the case of videos, multiple copies of Beta/Mini DV cassettes are hand delivered
- For cases where item-specific news is sent to editors/sub-editors a copy of the same is sent to the commercial department to ensure coverage as a backup.
- Event-based PR campaign: According to the event brief, MHPR invites the segment of the media which is approved by the client in the following process,
- First, the letter is faxed to the person
- Later on, the invitation is followed up over the phone for the receipt assurance
- Further if needed a signed hard copy is sent to the person for showing importance. Which is again followed up for receipt assurance?
On the event day, the press release and related documents are hand-delivered to journalists as assistance to their write-up. Also, the journalists’ presence is kept in an attendance sheet for further usage. After the event completed, the following steps are taken to ensure the coverage in the media outlet.
- Soft copy of the press release is sent to the news editors/sub-editors /journalist of the newspaper/radio/TV channel who did not attend the event along with the attended journalists via email.
- Then the designated account executive follows up the press release for receipt assurance over the phone.
- Phone follow-up also continues for coverage assurance.
- In the case of videos, multiple copies of Beta/Mini DV cassettes are hand delivered
- For cases where item-specific news is sent to editors/sub-editors a copy of the same is sent to the commercial department to ensure coverage as a backup.
Beyond Event management & Logistics of an event is never just the sum total of organizing various parts. It is more knowing what the audience is like and tuning the event to suit it. MHPR have a host of experience in organizing press conferences to complicated media engagement events for top tier journalist. There are two types of event processing. The following chart describes the process.
Chart-5: Event Process 2:
3.7.4 Monitoring & Reporting: Monitoring and Reporting is the final step, this is where public relations professionals make a final analysis of the success of their campaign or communication. The monitoring and Reporting department of MHPR provides clients with documentation, analysis, or copies of media content of interest to clients. Monitoring and reporting services tend to specialize by industry, media type, size, geography, publication, journalist, editions, or content type. The monitoring and Reporting department of MHPR not only captures the PR campaign of their client but also it is captures advertising content. Monitoring and Reporting cover all media types including print, online, TV, and radio to keep track of what is being said about clients, their field of operations, their competitors, or other specified topics of interest. MHPR’s monitoring and reporting department will analyze and provide feedback to their client in the form of press clippings, monitoring reports, and media analysis. Service delivery happens on 3 fronts. Clients may get their original hard copy clips through traditional means (mail/overnight delivery) or may opt for digital delivery. Digital delivery allows the end-user to receive via email all the relevant news of the company, competition, and industry daily, with updates as they break. The same news may also be indexed (as allowed by copyright laws) in a searchable database to be accessed by subscribers. Another option of this service is auto-analysis, wherein the data can be viewed & compared in different formats.
A) Activities of Monitoring and Reporting Department:
- PR Monitoring and Reporting
- Ad Monitoring and Reporting
- Synopsis of specified news items with links
- CMS based customized self-access solution
- Tailor-made service based on client’s specific needs
- Maintaining an organized archive of Client and competitors’ coverage
B) Steps in Monitoring and Reporting: Monitoring and reporting start with the news (campaign or communication) search and advertisement (campaign or communication) search of client’s on different media. The monitored news and AD of the Clients are being noted in a pre-formatted sheet. The second step of media monitoring is to scrutinize the news and AD into different categories (by company or industry). The process of Tracking and preparing the reports will follow a foolproof method to minimize the possibility of error. It includes news tracking, categorization, and summarizing following IFC guidelines.
Chart 6: Steps in Monitoring and Reporting
- Collecting data, archiving, and management:
Online blog/media monitoring: Using specialized software, online coverages are tracked.
Newspaper hawkers: Collection of Newspapers from the hawkers.
TV and Radio Monitoring: Real-time recording of TV and Radio footage recording.
Collating all the data: Compiling data systematically.
Manual sorting & broad segmenting: Manually sorting and thereby segmenting the compiled data.
Cut and scan hard copies, save links for online: Collecting the URLs of the Media coverage (online versions of the print media) and scan the physical versions if the newspapers.
Data entry: Entering the data in a digital archive.
Archiving and data backup: Keep the data ensuring proper backup to use for preparing the monthly report.
- Research and analysis:
Analyzing and find categorizing of data: Analyze the coverage data according to the client categorization.
News final segmentation by reports and synopsis writing: Writing the summaries of the segmented news items.
Advisors: Advisers review for correct categorization.
Research & analysis consultants: Review by the consultants.
Collating synopsis and news for formatting with links: Using the client specified template, preparing the report.
- Editing & checking:
Checking, proofing, and editing: Checking thoroughly for errors.
External content editors and translators: Review by the editors for clarity and error.
Fine-tuning content and segmenting: Final fine-tuning of the report.
Finalize the Report and send through email: Dispatching the report to the client through given email addresses.
- The client sometimes delays briefing about an event or campaign to MHPR which affects the PR process. For this reason, sometimes MHPR could not accomplish the PR objectives of the client.
- The client sometimes provides a very short time to execute a PR plan which hinders the PR process and results in poor performance.
- The client’s project manager’s extraordinary expectation from MHPR’s account management teams creates conflicts between the client and MHPR.
- The miscommunication between the account management team of MHPR and the Client sometimes leads a poor PR coverage and dissatisfaction of the client.
- Miscommunication among the personnel results in poor service delivery.
- PR coverage sometimes depends on the client’s ad expenditure to a particular media outlet. If the ad expenditure is low then this may result in poor and negative PR coverage. In this case, MHPR has very little liability.
- Inadequate follow-up by media communication executives sometimes results in poor PR coverage.
- Sometimes PR coverage affected by not maintaining the timeline of the press release flow.
- Sometimes client’s expectations of PR coverage in leading (top tier) media outlets like Prothom Alo, Daily Star, Channel I, NTV, ATN Bangla, ABC Radio could not be achieved because MHPR has very little influence on these media outlets.
- Sometimes PR agency of competitor’s companies of the client may facilitate negative PR coverage of the MHPR’s client which could not be stopped by MHPR because of lack of strong media relation.
- Some negative news of the client could not be stopped from being published because of the wrongdoing of the client.
- MHPR practices manual work processes that sometimes result from bad performance.
- Most of the employees of MHPR are inexperienced and not trained.
- MHPR is not up-to-date with the recent technology practiced by different international PR agencies.
- MHPR should increase negotiation power about the PR expectations and other issues. MHPR should handle clients strongly and be prepared for contingency situations.
- MHPR should train the account management team about disaster management subject to client handling, workforce management, and contingency service delivery.
- MHPR should thoroughly check-up and make sure clients checklist before going to execute the pr plans.
- MHPR should introduce work process automation through software used by international PR agencies. For example, press release automation, PO automation, media monitoring automation, etc automation software or system should be introduced.
- MHPR should strengthen its media relation with leading media outlets like Prothom Alo, Daily Star, etc. A yearly tour to a foreign country or an international certificate course on media & journalism in a renowned media institute can be arranged for the editor of the leading media outlets.
- MHPR should recruit experienced personnel for better service delivery. Or they should educate the existing personnel.
- MHPR should maintain a better HR policy to manage the personnel.
- MHPR should take affiliation and consultancy service from the world’s leading PR firms.
Public relation is a complex process as it vastly depends on the journalists and media outlets. And it is very tough to handle journalists and media for its nature of the working environment. Strong media relation is the only key to the solution. Rapport building with the media and media people is a very important tool to strengthen media relations. Group expertise of the PR agency is also a key need for doing better as a PR agency. The present study focuses on the PR process practiced by MHPR. The learning part of this study is to the understanding of a to z of PR i.e. the work process, how to do PR, why it is important, and the problems that need to face to do PR, etc. The most important fact revealed by this study is the building blocks of a successful public relations process.
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