Frenzied pitches, shuttling from TV studio to TV studio. Pushing for at least a quote from your client or organisation for the budget. A fevered race to get your PR pitch through!
Apart from the general elections, the annual ‘Union Budget’ is the biggest PR opportunity nationally as the media devotes maximum space to the budget proposals. And Budget 2018, on February 1st, is a especially important one as it’s the Modi Government’s last budget for a policy push before the general elections in 2019. The budget in 2019 will be a ‘vote on account’, which means it can only approve ongoing expenditure, not make new policy via the budget.
For this very important budget, PRmoment India spoke to some of our PR pros, about their media experiences, even as they are busy pitching budget stories.
Editor says no, client says yes!
Says Jayesh Shinde, head of corporate communications at Angel Broking, “Publications are very selective when it comes to exclusives on budget reactions. I was chasing (from one month before the budget) a senior journo from the largest read financial daily to get through my chairman's view. He had a stern, straight faced “NO” for me. He was very clear that he doesn't want the views of an Indian player.”
Adds Shinde, “But then, in PR we never give up, right? I called him exactly after one hour before the announcement of the budget. Luckily he picked up. He said “Dude, you have been chasing me for long so I would like to help you… let me know if you can send a pic and a note of 200 words in next 30 mins… and yes, it better be exclusive, we don't carry mass disseminations”. It was carried.”
But Shinde wryly adds, the reason he got through is, “After a few weeks, I got to know, someone who had committed participation had backed off and hence my note went through! The next budget was pretty smooth sailing for me as I had a confirmed slot without any effort. And by then he had already confessed the real situation.”
Naturally, Shinde is not complaining.
Out of such serendipity are great PR moments made!
Journo says yes, client says no!
For Kirtan Chauhan, director, EterPride, (http://eterpride.com/) , it was an embarrassment of riches, a journalist who wanted no less than 5 speakers! And yet…
Says Chauhan, “I had a conference this week in Gandhinagar, Gujarat for one of my clients. I was working on post conference work after all media left the venue, and suddenly I got a call from broadcast media and asked me to line up for 5 speakers from an industry body (present there at the venue, who were about to leave for hotel).”
Chauhan continues saying, “ I just finished all my work and the journalist asked me, “ Where are the speakers for budget story?” I said, “ Just wait, they are about to leave the venue.” I rushed to all the 6 people who were there and I requested them to give interviews for 2 mins each. One said yes, but he left as soon as his driver came. Second and third, said we have to take permission of our officials. Fourth and fifth said we can't as we are not responsible. And the last one said yes, but the journalist not agree to do the story with just one speaker!”
This too is PR life!
Expanding the budget story
Budgets are also great opportunities for some meaty stories. Shinde says this experience, “ I was handling an IPC (international property consultant). Third party views along with data and graphs gets a red carpet from publications. Real estate data wasn't available easily then ( This was 2012). We used to have specific interactions lined up for both pre and post budget stories. We got royal treatment with columns dedicated to us in mainlines and financials. Property supplements used it to carry more than 2-3 pieces in one edition and yes front pages too.”
Shinde elaborates, “In fact, I closely worked with a leading online business news portal to come up with a real estate section. Needless to say that my client occupied the maximum space and credit there as content and theme was suggested by us. This was purely editorial.”