NaMo vs. RaGa – What are their communication imperatives in the run up to Elections 2014?

There is no dearth of plans and plots or twists and turns in the run up to the next Great Indian Election story. It’s being covered from all angles and reams more will be sacrificed to the cause as we get there. There will be new promises, political manoeuvres, shaking heads and shouting mobs.

What is fascinating for a public relations/ communications professional like me is following the pattern or the lack of one that you can identify working in the shadows as a silent but continuous machinery delivering messages, exploring new media and building the narrative. Just like alchemy it’s a cold fusion of communication – a nuclear reaction taking place at room temperature that is slowly hardening into modern day’s gold i.e. perception that will determine which way the ballots will swing.

Whether it’s NaMo’s carefully orchestrated and symbolic forays to appeal to a wide spectrum of society or it’s RaGa’s tune in various tonal and melodic variations, here are five interesting areas at play within this cold fusion, each capable of being explosive or enchanting depending upon the degree and manner of usage:

1. Connection: 'The relationship'

At the core of it will be the relationships that have been formed– emotional bonds evoked through properties and platforms that have been created and are seen to be owned by the person that allows each to connect with his multiple suit of audiences. This isn’t about pre-election rallies it’s about creative assets that allow a story to unfold over time with very specific influencers and audiences whose perceptions are going to matter more and more as the time finally arrives.

2. Conversation: 'The dialogue'

Social media will not only matter, it will make the difference. Traditionally elections have always brought our nets out on the streets to interact with the masses but with a dynamic & vibrant social media scenario, a continuous and active dialogue with the young urban is going to strike a chord some way or the other.  

3. Content: 'The vocabulary'

The Language of engagement therefore becomes an important consideration. Is it the angry young man with the from-the-heart sound bites or the non-apologetic address of the older man that will leave the lasting impression? The vocabulary used to create and unfold the story will be a key factor influencing people’s perceptions whether it’s in words, pictures or moving visuals.

4. Currency: 'The knowledge'

Intellectual depth and ability to hold one’s mind to navigate the complexities of international relations and government policies, will be the knowledge imperative in the equation. It will be the currency of credibility that will give comfort to people that they have a leader who has a deep understanding of foreign affairs and the ability to fix India’s economy.

5. Conduct: /Culture: 'The behaviour'

Finally, what will drive or destroy the charge will be not just be conduct but in the medium term the culture it gives rise to. Is it a culture to think of solutions and quickly implement them? Or is it a paralysis of the system given political agendas? Demonstration of good intent will not be enough, conduct and culture both have to shout out loud to complete the fusion.

Papri Dev, Managing Director, Zeno Group India