Anna Hazare: A public relations case study


Published on

How social crusader Anna Hazare used communications techniques to beat the government in the fight against corruption.

Anna Hazare: A public relations case study

  1. 1. Anna Hazare: A Hanmer MSL analysis of the massmovement against corruption in India and its use of publicrelations tools and techniques.* photo from Rajesh Lalwani on FlickrA good product generates its own PR. That, in a nutshell, is the success ofAnna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement. Hazare took up an issue that affectseveryday people in every aspect of their lives – they must bribe officials foreverything from getting a driver’s licence to getting a child admitted into school.In everyday interactions with the government, absolutely nothing gets doneunless people pay a bribe.*Hanmer MSL does not represent Mr. Hazare; this is an analysis only.
  2. 2. THE PRODUCTYou can compare the Jan Lokpal Bill to aproduct that satisfies a crying need – thereduction of corruption, if not its extinction.The success of the agitation is astonishingbecause it had no professional help. Yet,a good product (the Jan Lokpal Bill),clear messaging and use of the rightcommunication tools for this age (it’s beena social media-fuelled stir, which is why yousee such a large youth participation), haveled it to great success.THE BRANDIf the Jan Lokpal Bill is the product, AnnaHazare is the brand ambassador. Here area few lessons he taught us about brand-building through the campaign.
  3. 3. Lesson 1 Similarly, every public movement has its symbols and icons – the charkha and non- Have an idea that connects violence as symbols and Mahatma Gandhi as the icon of the freedom movement. SUPPO MEDICAL PEOPLE TIME CORRUPT IBNLIVE GOVT JOIN TAX JOIN ADARSH Similarly, Hazare and the Gandhi topi became FAKE LOKPAL MAKE FORCE ELECTING HAZARE CHANGE SUBMIT the icon and symbol respectively of the anti- CWG DON IBNLIVE graft fight. CULPRITS ANNADEMANDS ADARSH LISTEN RESPECT _______________________________________________ EXPOSED INDIA LOKPAL FAST TIME Lesson 3 INCOME POWER Offer a consumer experience Rocked by five major scams over the past year, India was angry – at the government, its seeming lack of will to tackle corruption and the time it took to act. A strong, independent Lokpal that could investigate ministers, the bureaucracy, the judiciary and even the prime3 minister was an idea whose time had come. _______________________________________________ Lesson 2 photo from India Kangaroo on Flickr Create symbols, icons Each brand has a distinct character. But how do you make the consumer experience it? Hazare chose the Ramlila ground for its size, allowing thousands to throng it and take in the atmosphere. Having experienced their own power, the people began to believe they could change things. There was no looking back. _______________________________________________ photo from India Kangaroo on Flickr Every timeless brand has its symbols – Nike and its swoosh, for instance. Most brands also have their icons – Steve Jobs for Apple, for example.
  4. 4. Lesson 4 Lesson 6 Test market Make a media plan All successful products are test marketed before they are launched. Anna’s earlier fast at Jantar Mantar showed that the idea could work. It provided the vindication for a larger movement. The campaign was timed perfectly to grab media attention. Launched between the World _______________________________________________ Cup and IPL, it filled the media vacuum that existed then.4 Lesson 5 Team Anna – Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Package it right Prashant Bhushan – gave innumerable interviews to the media, making sure the campaign was centrestage all the time. Hazare himself did not give too many interviews – in fact, none during the second round of agitations. He spoke just once to Kiran Bedi from Tihar Jail, which he refused to leave after his arrest. This created a larger impact than any media interview could have had. Apart from this, he addressed the public and media several times at the Ramlila Maidan. There was another critical aspect to the media communication: the campaign had only the abovementioned people speaking to the media. This was smart thinking. The fewer the photo from Rajesh Lalwani on Flickr voices, the less scope there was for distortion of the message. Product, pricing, promotion, packaging are the four Ps of marketing. In this case, packaging Would any corporation have 15-10 was paramount. Anna’s white dhoti-kurta and spokespersons? Normally, they’d have one his clean image were the perfect magnets for or two. No reason why the anti-corruption the jeans and T-shirt generation. movement should have been different.
  5. 5. The campaign made impressive use of PR tools and techniques ranging from symbolism (fasts and meditation) to social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, apps), FM radio, news media, television and mobile telephony. _______________________________________________ Lesson 7 Out-think the competition photo from India Kangaroo on Flickr With a giant image of Mahatma Gandhi in the backdrop, the message was not lost on anybody – here was a frail 74-year-old taking on the establishment, much as another frail old man had done in the 1930s and 1940s, and he deserves your support.5 _______________________________________________ Anna kept the competition (the government) Lesson 9 guessing. Example: The government thought Use the right tagline it had preempted the agitation by arresting Hazare. But, his refusal to leave Tihar even when allowed to go, trumped the government’s move and fuelled the movement. _______________________________________________ Lesson 8 Use the right imagery The image of Hazare meditating at Rajghat or of him lying down at Ramlila ground and clapping along to the bhajans being sung ‘I am Anna Hazare’ is a lot more impactful proved to be iconic. When he broke his fast, he than ‘I am for Anna Hazare’. It is far more took water from a Dalit girl and a Muslim girl. participative and has a way of internalising the struggle. It grabs you and makes you want to act. _______________________________________________
  6. 6. The ‘social’ revolution Till August 27, there were 3.64 lakh ‘likes’ The young, some of them fresh graduates, on Facebook and over two lakh followers were the ones who created a countrywide on Twitter. In contrast, the ‘I Hate Anna buzz about the campaign for a strong Hazare’ Facebook page roped in only 4,137 Lokpal. members. While Arvind Kejriwal may have headed the media cell, it was the responsibility of over a dozen team leaders, most of them below the age of 30. Hazare’s video recorded in Tihar had 1.6 lakh views on YouTube.6 The media impact » Large swathes of the television-viewing public switched to the saturation A dedicated team of IT experts from Public coverage of Hazare and his campaign, Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), which especially those in Hindi. For once, real acted as a secretariat for India Against life was more riveting. Corruption (IAC), ran IAC’s main website » While viewership increased for most (http://www.indiaagainstcorruption. news channels, time spent on them org/) along with 14 city-centric websites doubled in just a week. It may, in fact, round-the-clock. They also monitored TV have eaten into the sports market, channels and posted videos on the internet which dropped 33%; and Hindi movies, to create a buzz across the globe. which showed a 12% fall (from a 16.37% genre share to 14.44%) in the Another team ensured that the latest week ended August 20, according to information about Hazare, soon after a study by media servicing agency he was arrested, was posted on social ZenithOptimedia. networking sites such as Facebook (http:// » The genre share of Hindi news channels and Twitter rose from 5.9% in the week ended (@janlokpal). August 13 to 11.02% in the week ended August 20, according to TAM.
  7. 7. » The genre share of English news agitation wall-to-wall coverage, but was channels also rose — to 0.54% from careful to balance it. 0.31%. » Regional newspapers, which have far » Viewers were hooked since August 16, more experience of covering Anna, were when Hazare began his fast. more balanced too. » The average daily time spent on Hindi news channels rose to 16.9 minutes from 8.5. Top-viewed news events on » Viewership of Star News rose 15%. From 26 million viewers, Star News reached TV out to 31 million. » There was a viewership surge across Tier Event % of Period 2 and 3 towns in Punjab, Haryana and audience Rajasthan in the past week, which shows Anna campaign 12.41 Week 34, 2011 how mass-based the movement was. Babri demolition 11.54 Week 40, 2010 » While the news genre viewership more case than doubled, Times Now reached 12 million viewers, said Sunil Lulla, CEO of YSR chopper 12.31 Week 36, 20097 crash Times Global Broadcasting. Times Now continued as the No. 1 English news 26/11 17.81 Week 48, 2008 channel with a share of 37.8%, followed Mumbai train 11.78 Week 30, 2006 by NDTV 24x7 (22.2%) and CNN IBN blasts (20.7%). Mumbai floods 9.71 Week 31, 2005 » Among Hindi channels, Aaj Tak continued to lead with a share of Tsunami 10.35 Week 1, 2005 17.9% share, up from 15.2%. India TV’s Lok Sabha polls 10.22 Week 20, 2004 share declined to 11.6% from 14.2% to 2004 bring it down to the fourth place. THIS 9/11 7.56 Week 38, 2001 IS BECAUSE IT HAS A STRONGER ENTERTAINMENT COMPONENT Source: TAM COMPARED TO NEWS. Star News took over as No 2 with a share of 14.7%. » Many news channels decreased their How the UPA got it wrong entertainment-related content to make way for Hazare. In fact, some dropped Manmohan Singh used to be known as one ads to accommodate more of Hazare. of India’s most effective prime ministers. » Every newspaper covered the agitation. By shaking off the communists’ hold on » All newspapers took the stance that his government, pushing through a historic corruption needs to be tackled; ToI took nuclear treaty and winning the last Lok an aggressive pro-Hazare stand. Every Sabha polls, he was on a high. other newspaper gave the issue and the
  8. 8. Today, he’s the face of a government ACTION that badly misread the public mood and Failure to communicate bungled the handling of Anna Hazare’s movement. What’s more, his extended IMPACT silence gave the impression that he wasn’t The top leaders stubbornly refused to really in charge and that he had no idea of engage with the media, secure in their how to manage ministers who seemed to 2009 electoral victory. get shriller by the minute. ___________________________________________ He finds himself at the receiving end of a ACTION nationwide upsurge against corruption, his Let anti-graft crusaders drive the debate government with its back to the wall. IMPACT Government should have seized the Sending out the wrong initiative by moving aggressively on the unfinished reforms agenda. It did not even messages celebrate 20 years of reforms in July, as though it disowned them.8 ACTION A publicity blitzkrieg would have done Refused to accept need for anti-corruption wonders for its reputation, especially law with young middle class Indians who benefited most from the reforms. It is IMPACT these people who heeded Hazare’s call. Government created a perception that it Instead of regarding Manmohan Singh as a was stonewalling, seeking to stall an effort benefactor, they saw him as an obstacle to to cleanse the country of corruption. change. ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ACTION ACTION Arresting Hazare No magic wand to curb corruption, said PM IMPACT IMPACT If arresting him was ill-advised, taking He would have been better off declaring him to Tihar was a PR disaster. Tihar is that the battle against corruption and a where those accused of some of the strong Lokpal Bill were an integral part worst corruption in recent times – A Raja, of the reforms process. If RTI brings Kanimozhi, Suresh Kalmadi – were lodged. openness in governance, Lokpal is part of Hazare turned his arrest into victory by the restructuring. refusing to leave jail until his demands ___________________________________________ were met. ___________________________________________
  9. 9. ACTION April 16: Joint committee meets, both Missed opportunity sides exchange drafts. IMPACT May 2: Second meet with “no difference of It would have been a PR coup if Singh had opinion”. asserted that he was on the same side as Hazare. He could have even joined Hazare May 7: Agreement on independent Lokpal on a day’s token fast. That would have gone with powers to initiate investigation and a long way in bridging the communication prosecution. gulf between the populace and the government, which they see as remote and May 23: Agreement on empowering Lokpal loath to abandon old habits. to order list of movable and immovable ___________________________________________ assets of accused in corruption cases when sufficient evidence found to book them. May 30: Differences appear as government Timeline disagrees on including prime minister, Supreme and High Court judges and MPs’9 January 30, 2011: Marches in over 60 cities conduct in parliament within Lokpal’s to demand Lokpal bill. Social reformer ambit. Anna Hazare, former top cop Kiran Bedi, activist Swami Agnivesh and lawyer June 6: Civil society members boycott Prashant Bhushan participate in Delhi rally. meet a day after police crackdown against yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s fast in Delhi’s February 26: Hazare announces fast Ramlila Maidan. unto death from April 5 if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not decide on civil June 15: No consensus on inclusion of society’s inclusion in drafting the bill. prime minister, Supreme and High Court judges. April 5: Hazare starts fast at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. June 20: Some ice melts amid war of words; government calls it “major step April 8: Hazare announces decision to forward”. end fast as government agrees to form 10-member panel of civil society members June 21: Last meeting of joint committee and union ministers to draft a stringent ends on sour note. Both sides exchange anti-corruption law. drafts; Hazare warns of another fast. April 9: Hazare ends fast. August 15: Hazare denied permission to fast at Delhi’s Jayaprakash Narayan Memorial Park after Team Anna agrees to accept only 16 of police’s 22 conditions.
  10. 10. August 16: Hazare begins fast, detained and sent to seven-day judicial custody to Tihar jail. Government decides to set him free late night. He refuses to leave. August 17: Hazare refuses to leave Tihar till a solution is reached on fast venue. Supporters gather outside prison, Hazare continues fast from jail. Permitted to fast at Ramlila Maidan. August 19: Hazare leaves Tihar, continues fast at Ramlila Maidan. August 23: Government invites Team Anna for talks. August 24: Second round of talks, all-party10 meeting held. No breakthrough in impasse. August 25: After meetings with political parties and Team Anna, government agrees to debate all versions of Lokpal bill in parliament. August 27: Both houses of parliament debate Lokpal bill, adjourn after adopting ‘sense of the house’ and agreeing to Hazare’s three demands that will be sent to standing committee on Lokpal bill. August 28: Anna breaks fast on 13th day.