1. Entertainment and Gifts Entertainment through social get-togethers, in which press correspondents/reporters are invited by rotation in small groups, is essential press relations activity. This is a desirable thing, but should be done in a way that no particular correspondent or correspondents are patronised. Such social get-togethers should not be combined with functional or business sessions. On such occasions, no news is disseminated. The entertainment programme should be adjusted to the money available for the purpose. Big entertainment budget does not necessarily contribute to better press relations.
The press people fully know that money spent on them is borne by the department or organisation. Normally, courtesy extended to a correspondent when he visits the publicist is more important than the formal get-togethers. A few business houses and other organisations also present souvenir or some of their products or some other gifts to the correspondents. It is wrong to expect something in return from the pressmen.
In any case, lavish gifts should be avoided. The gifts, if given, must be on proper occasions and in proper context, so that they may not look absurd. 2. Professional AssistanceEntertainment and gifts are not enough to develop proper relationship with the press. It is a fallacy to think that excellent relationship can be developed on the basis of entertainment and gifts. What is more important to a correspondent is a good story and professional assistance.
The publicist should, therefore, do everything to provide him information both on his own, and when asked for by the correspondent. The publicist should answer all questions fully, promptly, and honestly as far as possible. Newsmen are his customers, and hence they should be treated with due respect and courtesy. It will do more harm; if any attempt is made to bluff or exaggerate of misguide the press correspondent.
Good press relationship also means that the publicist should be able to give a story about his organisation when the newsman desires it. Even if provoked, the publicist should not get excited or be abrupt with the newsman. The publicist should be equally energetic to assist the press people even in the coverage of adverse story. Once the publicist establishes reputation of sincerity, impartiality and objectivity, it makes his task easy. He will certainly be able to soften the newsman’s criticism against his organisation. 3. Normal CourtesiesAnother requirement of successful press relations is that the publicist must know his organisation thoroughly. All details should be on his finger tips.
Only then he will be able to make the necessary impact on the pressmen. The publicist should make it a point to periodically call on the press representatives, covering his subject field, even when he has no particular work with them. He should also share in press representative’s sorrow and happiness.
For instance, when the pressman is not well or hospitalised, the publicist must visit him. If there is any bereavement in the family, the publicist must pay a condolence visit. Similarly, on occasions such as marriage or birthdays or other celebrations, the publicist, if invited, can give appropriate presents.
These social visits, not connected with the word, are of greatest importance and help a great deal in developing cordial and proper relationship on a long-term basis. 4. Publicity not through Advertisement SupportThe publicist, who places advertisements with a particular newspaper, should avoid the temptation of getting into newspaper columns by influencing the advertising manager. The editor or the news editor will not like to be pressurised in this way. It may work in one or two cases, but in the process the publicist will become persona non grata with the editor.
This will not at all be advantageous in the long-run. 5. Limits of Public RelationsSuccessful public relations or more precisely press relations help a great deal towards projection of the image, and in the removal of misconception, and rebuttal of criticism concerning the organisation.
The press relations, however, have its limitations and these should be clearly understood by both the organisation and publicist. In a democratic set-up with free press, it is not possible to insist on newspaper publishing anything which the publicist would like to get into the newspaper columns. Again, the publicist cannot prevent a newspaper publishing anything, true or false.
He also cannot insist on a false statement being corrected. In view of the above limitations, it is more necessary to cultivate the spirit of goodwill and cooperation of the press on a long-term basis. 6. Press Facilities and Press RoomIn our country, press relations wings of the Press Information Bureau and the Directorates of Public Relations and Information of the State governments provide a number of facilities to the press corps. These include grant of accreditation, invitation for functions and social get-togethers, including press briefings and press conferences.
Press facilities, in a wider context, also include conducting tours of press representatives for local or outstation coverage’s and making necessary arrangement for this purpose. These include provision of accommodation and messing; air, rail and road bookings; supply of transport; setting up of press rooms and press enclosures; providing facilities for photo, movie and television coverage, supply of background material, and extending entertainment and recreational facilities. Press rooms are set up on important occasions. The size of the facilities to be provided naturally depends on the importance and needs of the occasion. In any case, the press room should have all functional facilities such as adequate space to move about, proper furniture, typewriters, stationery, telephones, telex lines, press lounge, press conference room fitted with mike for both the speaker and the correspondents, and canteen facilities. In these press rooms, postal and telecommunication facilities are provided to accredited representatives of news agencies, press correspondents, and cameramen. For transmission of press messages abroad, permanent press rooms of Overseas Communication Service are available at Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. International telegrams can be filed at the counter in the press rooms on pre-payment or ‘collect’ basis.
For ‘collect’ basis facilities, the credit card—national or international is required. Photo telegrams service is available to most of the countries. The maximum size of the picture accepted is 25?22.5 cm. Commercial telephones can also be leased out for 24 hours use on exclusive basis. In these cases, the telephones can be used for originating on a fully automatic basis, local and long distance calls within India, and also international calls. Fully automatic service is available only to certain important cities in India, and to the whole of UK.
In all other cases, the call requests have to be placed with inland or international trunk operators. International telephone service is available to almost all countries round the clock. In a few cases, however, the service is restricted to a few hours. ‘Collect’ facility is available to a few countries on an unrestricted basis to any caller. International or inland telex calls can be made from telex public call offices on pre-payment or collect basis. Assistance is also available for preparation of perforated tapes in Roman alphabets. In other cases, the correspondents make their own arrangements to produce a tape.
The service is available round the clock, practically, to all the countries. Programme transmissions (voice casts) can be arranged if requests are received from the connecting foreign countries. At least 24 hours notice is required for this arrangement. Correspondents can contact the Overseas Communication Service (OCS) to fix up studios and broadcast circuit. Studio facilities are available in OCS centre at Parliament Street, New Delhi. On special occasion, a fully equipped special press room with all arrangements for transacting telegraph, telephone, and postal business is set up by the Indian Posts & Telegraphs Department in coordination with the Overseas Communication Service. Such special press rooms provide all facilities enumerated above. If special press room or press centre is to cater to a large team of correspondents accompanying a VIP it should have facilities for international live voice casts.
For this purpose, studios are set up by the Overseas Communication Service. Such press rooms have a number of telex lines and direct telephone links connecting New Delhi to the country of the VIP, so as to enable the press correspondents accompanying the VIP to cover the visit. Such press centres also have channels for transmitting radio photographs. If possible satellite can be used for conveying radio and television programmes.
The press centre is also equipped with machines for cutting tapes. On very special occasions, such press rooms have also arrangements to pipeline all the speeches of the VIP, made at different public functions, into the press room for the benefit of reporters working there and who are unable to keep pace with the VIP’s hectic schedule. 7.AccreditationTo facilitate coverage of events in the capital and in the country accreditation at the headquarters of the Government of India is granted by the Principal Information Officer to representatives of newspapers, news agencies, radio, television, films and photo organisations.
The accreditation requests are considered in consultation with the Central Press Accreditation Committee, a body composed of journalists. While applying for accreditation, the applicants are required, among other things, to furnish particulars of professional career and three prints of latest photographs. A press identity card bearing photograph of the journalist is issued. Accreditation entitles the journalist to the following facilities: (a) Supply of publicity material.
(b) Invitation to official press conferences, press get- tog ethers. (c) Concessional travel for bona fide professional work within the country. (d) Allotment of accommodation from Press Housing Pool. (e) Invitation for conducted tours. (f) Speedy dispatch of exposed films. (g) Meeting with PIB (Press Information Bureau) officers attached to various ministries, including officers in the PIB—Defence Wing, and in the External Publicity Division. (h) Residential plots/built up houses from reserved quota for journalists.
(i) Entry to Government of India offices in Delhi which are under the security control of the Ministry of Home Affairs. (j) Allotment of telephone connections for office and residence on priority basis. (k) Membership of the Central Government Health Service Scheme to the International Telegraph Office, New Delhi.
They are exempted. (l) Entry to the press gallery of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Accredited photographers are provided facilities for the coverage of the functions.
Photography is not allowed inside the Parliament House, at airports and in certain restricted areas. However, on special occasions, permits for photography are issued by concerned authorities. Prior permission is also necessary for photography at some development projects and in certain areas. Non-accredited photographers are, generally, not allowed to cover official functions.
Foreign correspondents are also given accreditation on request from their principals and are provided facilities enumerated above. They can also obtain press collect authority for filing messages and photos after presenting their international cable authority card to the International Telegraph Office, New Delhi. They are exempted from payment of customs duty on professional equipment, import of raw film and recording tape and export of exposed film and tape. Foreign correspondents, accredited to the Government of India, are free to travel across the country, meet and talk to people from all walks of life and send out verbal and pictorial dispatches. There are very few restrictions on travel to certain border areas for which permits are required.
Accreditation is granted at State capitals by the State governments.