Dec.29

Rahul Gandhi has a tough task in hand

In 1998, Sonia Gandhi inherited a very weak Indian National Congress (INC). The party was in power in a mere four States, though it still had 114 MPs in the Lok Sabha. Under her leadership, the party won 14 States in the very first year. She helped stitch alliances with political parties that shared diverse political ideologies and guided the INC to victory in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

The task wasn’t easy for Sonia since she was not a natural politician. In fact, it will not be wrong to say that she too was a reluctant politician just like Rahul Gandhi but after she took charge of the party, she emerged as one of the finest politicians of our times.

The most commendable characteristic of her political journey was a deliberate attempt to maintain a low profile and avoid any ad hoc remarks, both in public and private conversations with party members. This helped her escape all negative political dialogues.

Little Growth
Her second most important characteristic was not challenging the established political set-up. Instead, she chose to optimally utilise the experience and loyalty of her core team — Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi and others. This team, nurtured by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, virtually ran the party on her behalf.

It won’t be off the mark to state that while Sonia survived on the core team for over two decades, she did not focus on building new leaders. This myopic act created a huge leadership deficit across the party, both at the Centre and State levels. Resultantly, today the party is devoid of expertise and loyalty of young and dynamic leaders, which used to be forte of the INC for ages.

Though the party, in the last two decades, under her leadership increased its vote share and presence, it was not achieved just on the merits of INC. It relied on the political arithmetic of smart alliances with regional political parties. The party has also lost credibility over a period of time.

In Bad Shape
Rahul Gandhi has inherited a party that is far worse in shape than it was when Sonia took over. So, Rahul has a tough task at hand to reverse the electoral fortunes. He needs to build the party and cadre from the scratch and instill optimism and hope in them.

When Sonia Gandhi took charge, there were no major corruption charges against important INC leaders. The Nehru-Gandhi family was also not tainted by corruption. Today, the party is stuck with multiple corruption charges and many of its leaders figure among the accused.

So, while Sonia succeeded in rebuilding the INC as a clean, progressive party, the task for Rahul is tougher. He will have to rebrand the party and its image from scratch. This will not be easy since the key leaders during the term of Sonia Gandhi are now aged and at best be his advisers. Rahul will have to build his new team.

Changing Expectations
The dynamics of politics in India has changed over the years. We are now experiencing the rise of young voters who vote at the intersection of caste-religion and development. The INC is still far away from understanding this new dynamics. The party desperately needs young leaders who can sync with the changing political landscape.

Hopefully, things will change soon as Rahul has made it clear that he wants to change the existing set-up and shepherd greater inner-party democracy. He has also started building his own team and that’s why leaders like Mohan Prakash, Madhusudan Mistry, Raj Babbar, Randeep Surjewala, RPN Singh and Divya Spandana are in the forefront.

Moreover, to bring in the best of the leaders, Rahul is espousing internal democracy in the party. The idea that he tested in the Youth Congress in the past will hold him in good stead.

Rebuild Party
When Sonia took charge, she did not have any political image. But Rahul has an image, and he is mostly seen as a politician who lacks charisma, seriousness, depth and leadership qualities. He is considered a reluctant politician. It is critical for the INC and Rahul to break out from this image built by political rivals.

Rahul Gandhi will have to activate the frontal party organisations and build a strong cadre, which is no mean task. It is a known fact that the INC has over the years lost its connect at the ground level. The party has a frontal organisation — Congress Seva Dal — which needs to be strengthened across all wards and panchayats in India.

Rahul Gandhi cannot bring about an instant transformation but he needs to start the process of building the INC cadre. At present, signs of confusion among the cadre and the loyal INC followers are at its peak. This is natural since the INC strength has dwindled to 44 in the Lok Sabha and it has lost almost all major States except Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry, Karnataka and Punjab.

New Hope
The INC is going through its lowest phase and but isn’t the night darkest before the dawn? Perhaps, this big dip offers the opportunity to ring in change quickly and cohesively. The party needs radical and innovative changes for infusing confidence among its cadre and regaining the trust of the people.

With Rahul Gandhi taking over as the president of the 132-year-old INC, there is a new enthusiasm among its cadre and loyalists. At the same time, there are apprehensions about how the party will shape up under his leadership. The true test of Rahul Gandhi will be to leverage the new enthusiasm and use it as a springboard to revive the INC.

Point of View,Politics

Mar.03

Digital Marketing is The Best Medium for Election Campaigns

TV Channels, and newspapers for long have been perceived as strategic for political communications, and for voters’ decision making processes but in recent times, Internet and mobile has changed the dynamics of political communication, political campaigns and party management processes drastically.

In recent times the impact of digital marketing in the political campaigns have also increased as the engagement level of voter on web and mobile devices have increased over years. This change has happened as the smart phones, tablets and laptops have penetrated both, urban and rural space. Moreover, politicians and political parties have experienced that mobile is very effective communication device in the media dark markets. It will not be wrong to say that smartphones, tablets, and laptops are the most important and powerful screen that connects and provides platforms to engage voters and politicians.

In my opinion, politicians and political parties have start seeing traditional media as a mode of entertainment. Moreover, for them it is no more relevant as it used to be a decade back. I am not saying that TV Channels, and newspapers have completely lost its relevance. It is still relevant and help political parties influence voters and form opinion but the relevance of new media such as web presence, blogs, social media, news portals and aggregators, mobile campaign, influencers engagement, bloggers outreach program has increased.

Traditional media is not seen as the preferred tool to win voters and serve the purpose of politicians and political parties.

New age media is seen as a rich source of information. Moreover, the digital ecosystem is effectively used to manage and keep voter’s attention. Ubiquitous reach is one of the exciting part of the digital marketing. It has also made it easier for political campaigns to reach target audience at a lesser cost compared to that of traditional marketing and that is why New Age campaigns ‐ digital marketing, mobile marketing, and social media have already become a key communication tool in political strategies. In recent past we have seen major success of online political campaigns be it Obama, Modi, or any other global powerful politician, their success can be attributed to a successful new age campaign.

The success of global leaders like Obama, Trump, Modi, etc. can be attributed to new age campaigns.

The Digital Marketing Journey

The success of global leaders like Obama, Trump, Modi, etc. can be attributed to new age campaigns. The first big digital marketing success was Obama campaign. Though the Obama campaign was first global success the first Indian success of political digital marketing was Modi Campaign.

The Obama campaign became successful not once but twice in a row. In my views, the dynamics of the Obama Campaign was different from the dynamics of the Modi Campaign. The influencing factors viz. geography, demography, internet and mobile penetration were different in both campaigns but one thing which was common in these campaigns were treatment of the campaign. I believe each campaign is different and we need to find our own parameters to influence and engage voters.

The journey of designing a successful new age communication is not easy. For a campaign to be successful, online presence of political party and politician must be thoroughly planned. In my views, and in simple terms, an effective online presence means being where your audience is in the digitally connected world. There are many ways to do this, such as web presence, blogs, social media profiles, social media engagement with influencers and voters, owning and co‐owning content spaces, and interaction on third‐party channels, etc. The effective online presence is not enough to win the game of political digital marketing, but definitely is the first step towards the success of the voters and politicians engagement.

An effective online presence means being where your audience is in the digitally connected world.

It is important to focus on the empowerment of voters. Indian voters now have seamless access to news, and information required to become active participants in the country’s democratic process. Moreover, we are witnessing vibrant and connected voters who are demanding explanations for all the acts of the political party, politicians and government and also advising political parties, politicians and government. It makes engagement with voters the most important element in the political communication. The issue of how to proceed further in order to achieve high level of engagement with the public can be addressed by answering several questions:

  • Is the Political party and Politician ready to engage on the new age media platforms?
  • Are they ready to change with changing media dynamics?
  • Is there a willingness to interact with the public on the new age media platforms?
  • Are they prepared to deal with criticism on the new age media platforms?
  • Do they have time to devote to what is created on the new age media platforms?

At first the answers of the above questions will help digital marketer understand the seriousness of the political party, or candidate towards digital marketing journey. It will also help digital marketer structure the digital marketing campaign based on the level of seriousness and engagement of the political party, or candidate. Once digital marketers have the understanding of the interest level of politicians and political parties in the digital marketing campaign and the level of engagement they want on the digital marketing platforms, designing a successful digital marketing campaign roadmap becomes easy.

Digital natives are the biggest influencers and their interest needs to be taken into consideration when developing digital political campaigns.

The digital marketers also need to understand that there are millions of voters – native digital voters who have developed a certain digital sense that helps them filter information better and faster. Digital natives are the biggest influencers and their interest needs to be taken into consideration when developing digital political campaigns. It is important to monitor behaviour of the digital natives on web, mobile, and social media on real time. The objectives of campaign monitoring initiative can be classified in following activities: Identifying influencers, identifying the voters who are in favour and voters who are against the political party or politician, creating relationships with voters and influencers, managing grassroots mobilization initiatives, crisis management, obtaining insights for content engagement, interaction and engagement with fans and followers, conversations with candidates, politician, and spokesperson of the party, evaluating for strategic information. The campaign monitoring helps us understand the voters’ sentiment and hence helps us design the political communication.

A successful digital marketing campaign can help us identify the individual who will cast vote for the candidate.

The engagement of the voters, social listening, and analysis of their sentiments is most important element in the success of campaign. We all know that digital marketing is mostly engagement driven and provide us with huge data for analytics. The data which we get form the digital marketing campaign can be mapped with historic data on voting habits and other relevant parameters to get sentiment analysis. The result of the sentiment analysis is used to define the course of political communication.

Point of View,Politics

Nov.13

Basics of Online Reputation Management

Reputation management is the understanding or influencing of an individual’s or business’s reputation. It is the practice of monitoring the reputation of an individual or brand, addressing contents which are damaging to it, and using customer feedback solutions to get feedback or early warning signals to reputation problems. It is important to have well defined, and developed online reputation management program. The key elements of the online reputation management include:

Branding,New Media,Social Media Marketing

Jun.27

A Brand New Akhilesh Yadav

With less than a year left for the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has signalled zero tolerance towards corruption and candidates with criminal background. He has sacked many powerful ministers including Rajaram Pandey, Ambika Chowdhry, Narad Rai and Yogesh Pratap Singh and stripped others of plum portfolios. He is not only removing the ‘Dabangs’ from the party and the minister but also creating his own team and on-boarding them as ministers. In last two years, the ‘Team Akhilesh’ members being made ministers. It is obvious from his acts that he is on the go. He is the decision maker. He is clearly out of the shadows of the family politics. He is a mature politician now.

Point of View,Branding,Politics

May.17

Successful Email Marketing Tips

There has been lot of discussions around end of email marketing, email marketing is dead, etc. I believe that email marketing is still going strong and evolving. I with certain assurance can say that in recent times, I have witness rise in popularity of email marketing. The rise in popularity of email  marketing can be proved by the rise in number of email in every inbox. The popularity of email marketing has created a situation where we need to optimize our email marketing practice. 

Marketing,Email Advertising

May.16

Jan.29

Commoditization of Political Brands

There are six key aspects in political branding: party, policies, leader, candidates, issues, and services. It is very important to know that any political branding exercise can’t separate these six aspects when it comes to it. This is my attempt to understand the basics of political branding in India and where do all political parties stand in these aspects. I must say that I have been observing the behaviour of most of the political leaders from all key political parties in India both national and regional. Here I would not like to talk of global political leaders and political parties.

Branding,Politics

Jan.08

TrackNext.com: India’s First Business-Social-Network

TrackNext.com, based in Mumbai is India’s first BSN (Business-Social-Network) where people can publish their personal as well as professional profile together at the same place. It helps in connecting professionals and businesses with each other and market their businesses.  Shibam Sarbswa  says that In market companies are working only for their business and profit, also they do not think about helping others and doing social work but we actually want to do something that will give benefit to common people and not only them;

Interviews,Branding