PRmoment 3030 winner Malvika Mudgal shares case studies on blending advocacy with PR

Communications call for the right blend of art and science. By 'Art', I mean the process of developing an inspiring campaign that strikes an emotional connect with the audience.  And by 'Science', I mean the use of these campaigns to serve a business purpose, defined objectives and perhaps, even impact the bottom-line of the business.

Of late, the marketing teams in a firm can now ask the communication teams for campaigns that go beyond PR support for a new launch, a business tie-up, or the conventional 'thought leadership' profiles. 

But as the requirement from the science of PR evolves, so must the art. Communications functions need to upskill and get in some fresh thinking so that they can meet the demand for showing business impact.

One great example of how this can happen is combining advocacy with communication.

 I share 2 such case studies below for PRmoment readers. Here each case study meets an underlying business need( the Science) and reflects the outstanding use of innovation and creativity ( the Art).

The case study on Whatsapp sheds light on a campaign catering to a highly critical business requirement, addressing an issue crucial for the messaging platform’s future in India’s sensitive socio-political environment. Mahindra’s case study is aligned to their ‘Rise’ philosophy, supporting their CSR activities in education.

Both use a combination of communications and advocacy as their mainstay and most importantly, the campaigns attempt to create a meaningful impact by picking up a social issue. At the same the its alligned to a business and brand goal.

Fighting fake News through advocacy and product decisions: WhatsApp

WhatsApp, the world’s largest messaging platform, has an estimated 200 million users in India alone. In 2018, the Indian Government served Whatsapp two notices after allegedly 20 people were killed in the aftermath of mob attacks provoked by ‘fake news’. The government also issued them a warning to immediately take action to curb rumours and spread of malicious, violence-inducing messages. It is important to point out that this was a sensitive political period, ahead of 2019 general elections.

In response, Whatsapp launched their campaign “Share Joy, Not Rumors”, made up of three 60-second TVCs (TV Commercials). Each ad followed a storyline where people interact with their family or friends, teaching them to avoid spreading fake news.

WhatsApp complemented this campaign with additional measures to fight fake news – labelling forwarded messages, limiting forwarding limit to 5 and strengthening its antispam detection capabilities.

Therefore the campaign ended up with strong coverage in the media, with its 'Checkpoint Tip Line', receiving special attention from the press. The Checkpoint Tip Line, allowed users to forward suspicious bits of news and get it verified as true, false, misleading or disputed.

The backbone of the PR activity, the “Share Joy, Not Rumors”, campaign was also spread across print advertising, TV ads and radio spots. It was reported that the Facebook-owned instant messaging platform spent upwards of Rs. 120 crores on this campaign's advertising. To give a perspective on the scale of this campaign, Coca-Cola spent about Rs. 100 crores for advertising during last year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament.

Using digital-only content to fight gender stereotypes: Mahindra Group 

Last year Mahindra Group, in collaboration with NGO Project Nanhi Kali, launched a campaign “Ladki Haath Se Nikal Jaayegi”. If you haven’t seen the film, I urge you to spend two-and-a-half-minutes on this video. 

Mahindra group shortlisted the theme of girl education after conducting a detailed social media listening exercise and conducted focused group discussions. Some interesting highlights were– the common desire of parents to be protective of daughters, men appointing themselves as protectors of women and the idea that are suitable for women, while some are not. These beliefs were widespread across rural and urban India.

#LadkiHaathSeNikalJaayegi is a compelling film, weaved as a conversation between a father and daughter in a semi-urban setting. The story tells a persuasive story about challenging patriarchal beliefs which stop daughters from leading independent lives.

The film was released only on digital channels and not on television. The Content marketing for the campaign was led by social media channels to reach the right audience, this helped in rationalizing budgets.

In conclusion, these case studies capture how advocacy and communications go hand in hand. There is a lot of learning to be derived from these examples – be it their concept, storyline, media mix, or content marketing technique.

 The focus on the empowerment of women and preventing the spread of malicious messages in these campaigns is the cherry on the cake. Kudos to these brands!

Malvika Mudgal is a Godrej PRmoment India Adfactors 30 under 30 winner for 2019. She is manager, corporate communication, Lilly India.

The views expressed by the author are personal

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