Sony Max’s Bhharati Kabre outlines the challenges of creating PR around Pepsi IPL 2013

Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the most anticipated and the biggest spectacle that takes place in the country merging cricket and entertainment with a good dose of glamour, fun and pizazz! In its sixth edition it is better, bigger and bolder. However, ‘Pepsi IPL 2013’ also comes with its own unique set of challenges. In its 6th year, there is a constant need to raise the bar to keep the adrenalin and excitement alive and raise it a notch higher.

At SONY MAX, the PR team is a key part of the ideation and activation process as it is a crucial vertical that helps connect and create visibility. We are encouraged to not only take up the traditional route and tools of the same but also push the envelope and add more elements to connect with large masses.  Whether it is on ground, social media or events, it is all bound together by the PR campaign. Here are some of the aspects that we at SONY MAX focus on in PR to constantly innovate and create visibility for each year:

A kick-ass idea. The PR team is closely involved in identifying the relevant and right idea as every idea reaches its full potential only if a media multiplier effect can be applied to it. Without that it might as well just be a one off stadium event limited only to the number of people at the venue.

Adding the buzz. Taking the core idea we add more elements that can be leveraged via PR in the media and the masses.

What more other than cricket? Extraaa innings (EI) has become a huge property for the channel that constantly needs to be innovated and given a fresh look. The hosts by popular demand are not only present at the studio discussing serious cricket but also on the field via fresh young faces to connect with the audience and showcase the passion, fun and fans on ground! Each member of the EI team is chosen carefully and a media plan mapped out for him/her to balance credibility and glamour, experience and youth to create added relevant visibility. 

Don’t ignore the traditional route, but innovate! We do take up the traditional ideas as it is a tried and tested route albeit with a contemporary twist. For example, the ‘Announcement’ Press Conference has morphed into an evening event personifying the theme. The typical ‘head table’ and ‘moderator’ format has been dropped in favour of scripting to re-creating the theme and personifies the tournament frenzy so that it involves each and every one at the event to actually live it! We also added a high-tech aspect to our PR route this time by taking up video conferences and connecting with as many journalists in as many cities as possible.

The traditional route is also planned out carefully to effectively maximise potential within the budget. While for some cities we do media meets, others we plan out press releases and still others telephonic interactions with key members of the series. You need to be in touch with the media, identify trends, their expectations and make relevant changes accordingly to make your plan more impactful, without being afraid. In PR our time and effort is our most prized investments. We need to use it wisely. 

Brand building. If you get the pitch, story and the target media right there is no way that you will miss out on this important aspect. We also make a dedicated effort to reach out to the financials and do stories about the business of cricket + entertainment. However each story has to have a unique pitch.   This is one of the biggest properties in the country and it helps that there is a lot of media interest. We keep an ear on the ground and contribute actively to a lot of industry stories on the game, sponsors, ad rates to name a few. 

Pushing the boundaries. It does not stop there. We also ideate and think of additional elements that can be innovatively leveraged by PR. Eg., For season 4 there were innovatively placed clocks with an on-going countdown around key airports to personify the ‘Bharat Bandh’ concept, season 5 saw some amazing outdoor activation with the ‘Aisa Mauka Kaha Milega’, and for this year we have gone online with the ‘Jumpak Thumpak’ social media contest on Facebook keeping in line with the theme ‘sirf dekhne ka nahi’ for which entries are pouring in. Each of these are showcased to respective trade media adding another layer of visibility in the right circles.

Don’t stop yet. The on ground activation taken up is also a huge aspect of connecting with the audiences during the entire PR activation for the duration of the event and keeping the buzz alive. This time we will be activating this in 14 cities across the country via flash mobs, mall activation, canter activities and going one step further to make that connect we will be doing a lot of society activation too.

So summing it up, every year as the audience and the game evolves, the PR campaign also has to evolve accordingly. As PR professionals we have to keep up with the times and sometimes be one step ahead setting the trend. Every activity that reaches out and connects to the audience adds to the PR campaign and raises the bar higher every year. It challenges us to innovate and think creatively every time and set new trends.

Bhharati Kabre is Senior Manager of Communications with SONY MAX, the official broadcast partner of Pepsi IPL 2013

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