Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Media is being unfair to Yash Raj… but the fault lies within

Yash Raj Films (YRF) is no longer a banner – it’s an empire. Mentioning some of its films here would almost be belittling the force that YRF has been since 1970. So it pains me to see the media play games with a super-reputed brand like this. Sorry to say, Yash Raj doesn’t play the media anymore, at least not like it used to. Now, YRF is being ‘viewed’ to try too hard to sustain its reputation.

So review after review, write-up after write-up, why is the media being ruthless to a brand which has given us mega-hits since four decades? Isn’t this critical onslaught unfair to a success story that has been legendary? Let’s go right to the roots.

From my little 23 years of experience in media, first as a journalist for 11 years (since my school days) and later as a PR for 12 years, as I see it, there are various factors. But I’ll tackle the most noteworthy ones here. To start with, I should mention a line which a prominent journalist wrote in Mumbai Mirror the other day… “Success breeds respect, success breeds love.”

These words hold true for almost every product, organisation and celebrity today, when brands are being stamped with ‘success’ and ‘failure’ by the over-enthusiastic media, waiting to pronounce ‘judgement’ all the time. And we all know that YRF’s hit-parade has slowed down off late.

There’s another side to it, which Yash Raj doesn’t seem to have realised yet. And that is the PR side of things. We are living in a world where perception is reality. Smart PRs are great perception builders. They mould, make, break and remake images. They play with minds in the fourth estate, shape opinions, influence write-ups… with focus and an octopus approach… things that ultimately result in changing the outlook of society. Today, YRF needs that kind of PR.

As much as the empire needs to strike back with hits, it needs that ‘correct’ PR push and re-imaging… which many in my profession term a ‘makeover’. And all this with subtle manipulation… cause no man ever likes to be manipulated when it is obvious.

What I’m going to say next might sound a bit bitter, but the fact is, that the empire has mismanaged its PR in the last 4 years. Apparently, some of the people who worked in their internal PR department are said to have given so much attitude to the media in the last few years, that even after they have left the company, the ‘attitude’ tag is unshakeable. One simple way to break this impression and break it hard, would be to shift the control and outsource PR for some time, before reverting to an internal PR department again.

Yash Raj is Yash Raj, a pioneer among pioneers in Bollywood. I guess, we all know from within, that this is just a temporary low, till the empire strikes back with a huge hit, and success starts breeding love and respect once again. But yes, this time round, it will matter more than any other time, how YRF handles the media; the PR side of things. At the cost of repetition, I reiterate one of my favourite lines… we are living in a world where perception is reality.

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