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Lessons in Public Relations that Shiv Sena can pick from Kangana Ranaut


Lessons in Public Relations that Shiv Sena can pick from Kangana Ranaut
SHARES

For the first time in the history of the Indian politics, one Bollywood actress has decided to go all guns blazing against the Shiv Sena. Earlier too several celebs have had spats with the civic body or the body but not with a particular party. It started off as a heated exchange of words and most people thought will die off in a day or two has gone played out for more than two weeks and has managed to erode a lot of goodwill for the Shiv Sena.

Maharashtra has been trying hard to get coronavirus outbreak in control. It has been the worst impacted state for a while. This is also after a really long time that Shiv Sena is in power. Add to it the fact that this is the first time that a "Thackeray" is leading the state. Ideally, Shiv Sena would have wanted to make a big mark with their work. This is their golden chance to shine and seal the fate for the next few years for the party.

Over the past few years, both Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya Thackeray have been working hard to do an image makeover of the party. The idea is to project Shiv Sena as the party of the today that talks of things that the youth can connect with – environment, tourism and development. In the process, they also want people to forget the earlier image that the party had which was seen as fascists and confined itself to the cause of Marathi Manus. Now the party wants to expand its horizon beyond the confines of Maharashtra and also in the state too it wants to be seen as a progressive party that is working for the goodwill of all and not one community.

They have already announced their plans to contest in upcoming Bihar assembly elections on 50 out of the 234 seats. The party has appointed 20-star campaigners which including Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and state Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray. 

While they have been working hard to change the image and go beyond Maharashtra, their plans to no longer be seen as a fascist party got a major jolt as pictures of the demolition of Kangana Ranaut's office became viral. It all started with forty workers, five BMC employees, three senior officers and a handful of police personnel present at the Nargis Dutt Road in Bandra to breakdown the office of Kangana Ranaut’s office space. These viral pictures and video added a whole new dimension to the war of words the actress was having with Shiv Sena’s spokesperson Sanjay Raut.

While the Sena has decided to now to go silent on the matter and are hoping that with time people will forget and get on with new things but then Ranaut is known to never let any matter go. Also, this is one of the many times that Kangana knows that the support of the masses and perhaps the ruling party is with her.

In this entire episode, here are a few lessons in public relations that Shiv Sena can perhaps borrow from Kangana’s books.

Seeing is everything

There is an age-old saying “out of sight is out of mind”. Whether Kangana has a movie coming or not, she knows how to keep herself in news. She has an opinion about everything and she knows how to not only deliver the same but also amplify it.

Shiv Sena on the other hand has seldom been able to take credit for even things that they have done right. Take for example the Dharavi model got appreciated even by the WHO, Oxford University and even the World Bank. While this made news but the conversation was lost soon. The party and their communication team were not able to keep this buzzing long enough and get it as part of every conversation.

Not just this even Aarey being declared as a forest was a big victory for Sena. Last year in October, Sena had openly supported the green activist and went against their then alliance partner BJP to say that the Metro car-shed will not be constructed at Aarey. This year, 600 acres of Aarey land was declared as a forest area. This was a big win for Sena and the Maha Vikas Aghadi but they have not been able to get this conversation back on the national scale and pin it as an achievement for themselves.

What’s more, Thackeray has been criticised as being the CM of only Mumbai and not keeping the interests of the entire state in mind. There were also allegations by the opposition that he does not step out of Matoshree (the house where the CM resides). In fact, their alliance partner and seasoned politician Sharad Pawar had even given Uddhav Thackeray the advice to visit other parts of the state. Taking on his advice, Uddhav Thackeray did pay a visit to Pune to check on the growing number of cases in the district. However, that too is now long forgotten.

Shiv Sena will have to realise that they will have to talk more often about their accomplishments and more often. They recently announced new reforms under the "ease of doing business" and had nice social media updates on this. However, they will have to realise that social media is good starting point but in today's time, one needs complete 360-degree support. They will have to support these with explainer videos, more conversation and regular articles about this and the under major achievements that the party has managed to get. In addition, they have to ramp up the efforts to stay relevant and in the minds of people for all the right reasons.

Create connections that matter

Public relations in today’s time is not just about announcements. It is more about how you get your target audience to connect with you, your narrative or storytelling. Kangana has mastered that art over a period of time. She knows what way the tide is going and how she can ride on the same to make her mark. No matter what the conversation, Kangana knows how to tie up every issue in the country with her own struggles and her story.

Whether it was about promoting her films like Manikarnika or the upcoming movies such as Thalivi/Tejas or the recent matter of suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput. She has positioned herself as the person who is fearless and is single handily waging a war against “nepotism” in Bollywood. She is an outsider who managed to make a mark despite all the many hardships that she has faced. Not only has Kangana managed to create this image perfectly in the minds but she is also very aware of when she is to play the victim card or a woman card or the nationalist card or the warrior card in which she will project herself as the woman who fought the whole world alone to fulfil her dream of being an actress and in the process won three national awards in the process.

Ever since the controversy for Sushant Singh Rajput started, Kangana has used her social media to present her point of views very effectively. From text to videos she uses them all very well to talk the language that her followers connect with. Also, she is extremely aware of what people are saying about her and knows who she wants to reply to in which manner.

One look at her Twitter account and one would see that she has replied to her trolls as well as her supporters in the manner that is now becoming her signature style. She manages to make people believe that she cares.

As a political party, the biggest strength for them is the support of the people. If Shiv Sena could take a leaf a two on how to connect with their target audience in the manner that Kangana does.

Anticipate the move of your opponent

While people believe that Kangana likes to shoot from the hip and say whatever comes to her mind. However, a close look at her statements and how the situation plays up and one would know that she is not really one of those blabbermouths. In fact, she is very aware of what she is saying and the repercussions it can land her into and also what her next step would be. Let’s look at the recent controversy that she stirred when she compared Mumbai with Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Kangana knew that this will stir up a furore and she used that to her full advantage. She anticipated the backlash and the treats and in the middle of all this announced that she will be making a visit to Mumbai.

For these threats, she even managed to get Y security from the home ministry and she knew that the party workers will take to some form of aggression to revolt against her. Sure she would not have anticipated her office being bulldozed and neither am I hinting that it was a result of the same. However, the fact of the matter is that the action did lead to a big sympathy wave for the actress.

Kangana who knew that there would be some aggressive reaction from the party took this opportunity to announce her next movies. She has taken the vow to make a film on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, as well as a movie on Ayodhya and drew parallel on how the demolition of her office with the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.

Kangana posted a video on Twitter in which she says, "I knew about the atrocities faced by Kashmiri Pandits...today I have felt them.”

Let's flip the situation and look at how Shiv Sena could have changed this narrative. When Kangana hit out against Mumbai even the most loyal of her fans were starting to have doubts. There was an entire wave against the actress and there was a furore on social media against her. Shiv Sena completely failed to make full use of the same. Shiv Sena still has a great support base in Marathi Manoos. They could have used this to stir up support for themselves. They could have projected this as an attack on the state and its citizens. Furthermore, they could have projected Mumbai as the land of opportunity and the city that never sleeps where dreams are fulfilled including that of Kangana. 

This could have changed the narrative completely in their favour and to augment the tide when Kangana claimed that she was getting threats and expressed the desire to jet to Mumbai, the ruling party in the state should have offered Mumbai Police to protect her. Doing this would have sent out the signal that the city is all welcoming to one and all. Forever, it is said that Mumbai is a safe city and this would have cemented that belief and gone in completely contradictory direction to what Kangana was projecting.

Public Relations of today is no longer just about sending regular updates and just informing people. It has evolved more into story-telling and commanding mind space. Kangana sure knows how to turn the tide in her favour and mastered the art and craft of steering all conversations her way. 

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