Rahul Gandhi’s TV interview performance wins Good and Bad PR

Both Good and Bad PR

Rahul Gandhi doesn’t perform too well in his first one on one TV interview

As all political engagement in India, this is a complex issue to slot in good or bad PR. I would give Rahul Gandhi full marks for at least attempting an interview and that too with a highly aggressive reporter-anchor – though one with the best TRPs.

In a modern democracy, Rahul Gandhi has an unusual engagement style as he almost never gives one to one interviews; the last one was ten years ago, that too for print. His public utterances are usually confined to speeches at Congress functions. Perhaps a rare appearance at a trade body and an even rarer appearance at a press conference to protest against his own government’s ordinance to allow convicted politicians to contest elections  and a recent one on the Lokpal Bill. But of late he has been communicating more, according to the Hindustan Times, he has spent 45 days through December and January meeting beat reporters, editors and senior journalists behind the scenes.

The content of the interview however leaves a lot to be desired, inspite of being given a relatively easy ride by Arnab Goswami. He gave few direct answers and repeated his pet themes of women empowerment, youth, strengthening the democratic processes and opening the system in India. He stopped short of apologising for the anti-Sikh riots inspite of his mother having done so already. Though he was clearly sincere, he appeared a little naïve and as a reluctant politician.

While it was good to see #RaGa face some direct questions on the anti-Sikh riots, admitting that some Congressmen were  involved in the 1984 riots, corruption, 2002 Gujarat riots, whether he wants to be a politician at all and whether he intends to be the PM candidate, the answers sounded over rehearsed, evasive and under confident.

Naturally the interview set the news agenda for the next day and was the leading story in most papers, including rival papers of the Times Group, with the exception of Mail Today which didn’t mention the story at all. Hindustan Times even spoke to a psychologist to describe Rahul Gandhi’s performance.

The social media wasn’t too impressed with his performance:






The person to gain the maximum mileage from this exercise is Arnab with the hashtag #RahulSpeaksToArnab, trending right at the top on Twitter for a full day. This interview firmly establishes Arnab as the leading reporter in India.

As for #RaGa, on balance I would say good effort, but could do better! Now it’s Modi’s turn to face the press away from his set of controlled reporters.

Great PR

Star Vijay seeks twitter evangelists for ‘The Super Singer Season 4 Grand Finale’

Twitter is where the action is and Star Vijay, a Tamil language channel is catching on fast. They have devised an ingenious way to create a buzz for their big ticket show, ‘The Super Singer Season 4 Grand Finale’ via Twitter, turning recruitment drive into a smart PR exercise as well.

So if you have over 1000 followers on Twitter and a Klout score in excess of 40, Star Vijay might just hire you to be a “Twitter Jockey” for their singing reality show.

The contest even prompted a tweet from Twitter India:

Of late TV channels have been aggressively turning to Twitter with interesting campaigns. Zee Cafe, the English language entertainment channel is currently running a campaign where viewers can vote for the movie they want to see via #TweetUrFlick:

British Airways uses WeChat for Chinese New Year giveaway and gains followers

This is a very interesting campaign as it represents the use of instant messaging app, ‘WeChat’ in a brand promotion social media exercise. I have always wondered whether I would like to interact with brands on an IM app, which is really a private space.

Seems that if there is a good enough reason to do so, consumers could follow a brand on an IM. Here is what British Airways agency Social@Ogilvy Beijing did. To encourage followers to switch from IM biggie Sina Weibo to the airlines presence on WeChat, British Airways BA “delivered 2014 custom-made red envelopes (monetary gifts given during Chinese holidays and special occasions) to the doorsteps of the first 2014 followers of its official WeChat account @英国航空(BritishAirwaysChina)."

According to Campaign Brief Asia: “Inside each red envelope was a new year greeting from BA regional CEO Tracy Dedman and a promotional coupon worth 300 RMB (50 USD). Three randomly selected followers also won roundtrip BA tickets for travel between China and London in their gold-coloured red envelopes. The red envelopes are emblazoned with a gold BA coat of arms that features its motto, "To Fly. To Serve." and a vintage Pegasus icon to celebrate the Year of the Horse's arrival”.

Loved the campaign for using IM smartly and the great use of local culture.

I can totally see a similar campaign working for India with its rich wealth of festivals like Diwali and Dhanteras as well as the New Year festivals all over the country. Indians too, as we all know, use coloured envelopes with a one rupee coin stuck inside it, to give’ Shagan’

WeChat has recently run an aggressive campaign in India, almost akin to a campaign for a Pepsi or Coke, to gain followers in India. It appears to have paid off as a recent report by Waggener Edstrom Communications showed that it’s among the top 5, high recall, and social networks in India ahead of the ubiquitous WhatsApp.

Have you seen any great or even bad PR?

Write to Paarul Chand at paarul@prmoment.in or tweet @PaarulC or @PRmomentIndia throughout the week and we’ll happily credit you for your trouble.

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