Government Information and Public Relations

Dr. Harsha Bhargavi Pandiri

Assistant Director, State Information Center,
Government of Telangana

New Delhi

Dr Harsha Bhargavi Pandiri is holding a Doctorate from Osmania University, Hyderabad, gold medalist in post-graduation from communication and Journalism. She has also earned Diplomas in Media Laws and Human Rights. Blessed with great writing skills Dr Harsha has to her credit various publications and research paper presentations at International and National conferences. During her twelve years of working in Government Public Relations, she has received huge appreciation while performing roles as Chief Public Relations Officer of Telangana State Police, Vikarabad Divisional PRO, Agriculture PRO. Presently she is working as Assistant Director in the Telangana State Information Center, New Delhi. Specialized in Still photography, documentary filmmaking, techno-savvy, experience as an educator in Loyola Degree College, Osmania University, Telangana State Police Academy, and Bureau of Police Research. A regular contributor for Newspapers and research journals.

Press Release

Public Relations Society of India

 Day 12 of PR – Mass Communication Orientation Programme for Students with

Dr. Harsha Bhargavi Pandiri (Assistant Director, Telangana Government, New Delhi) on 12th October 2021

New Delhi

12th October 2021

On the twelfth day of the lecture series, Dr. Harsha Bhargavi Pandiri was the guest speaker for this academic initiative by PRSI. Dr. Harsha Bhargavi is the Assistant Director in the Telangana State Information Center, New Delhi. She is holding a Doctorate from Osmania University, Hyderabad, is also a gold medallist in post-graduation from communication and Journalism. She has also written various publications and research paper presentations at International and National conferences. She has received huge appreciation as Chief Public Relations Officer of Telangana State Police, Vikarabad Divisional PRO, Agriculture PRO.  

She delivered a lecture on ‘Government Information and Public Relations.’ She first talked about the importance of not only maintaining the cordial relationship but also the exchange of information between the stakeholders and the organisation. Then she took the session forward on how PR has evolved and especially the government information system and divided the historical background into four – Ancient India, Medieval India, Modern India, and Contemporary India. She gave the example of the mythological character – Naradmuni to explain to the audience the role of PR in ancient times. In Medieval times, the secret informers were known as “Khufia Navis” and News reporters were known as “Wagia Navis” She further explained how East India Company later adopted this system of PR, and Press Releases and Press Reports were published. Furthermore, the speaker explained the history of newspapers and their emergence and how a link was developed between the Government of India and the Press in Modern India. She also wonderfully explained about the campaigns before the Independence. Then she briefly explained about the PR in Government and also put a light on in-house advantages and disadvantages of PR. Then the speaker talked about the PR Campaigns in which there is a series of messages and the PR has to adopt a campaign approach, she further included types of campaigns as well. She briefly discussed the aim of PR and also clarified and explained the difference between an Ad Campaign and a PR campaign. She took the session forward with PR Stages – defining the problem, planning & programming, communication and evaluation. She discussed a few case studies and took the recent scenario of pandemic and PR that how information was available but wasn’t disseminated correctly to the public. She added up a few more old case studies and discussed the example of Campaigns of the Central government as well as the Telangana government. Dr. Bhargavi also talked about crisis communication in relation to the government and wonderfully explained the importance of Channel and Feedback in a communication process. Lastly, the august speaker talked about Contemporary Media and PR and concluded the session by saying that PR’s role is very crucial in communicating information to the masses and information should not be manipulated. The session was well conducted and was presented with interesting facts and examples. The viewers and listeners gave wonderful remarks.

Summary of the Presentation
By Mr. V.S.R. Naidu
Amaravathi Chapter

Dear Sirs/ Madams,

Summary of 12th PRSI Orientation Program of Mass Communication for Students, the Speaker being Dr. Harsha Bhargavi Pandiri, Asst Director, State Information Centre, Govt of Telangana, New Delhi.

Initiating her lecture on ‘Government Information and Public Relations’ Dr. Harsha Bhargavi emphasised the importance of PR as a part of management discipline and its importance to maintain cordial relations with its stakeholders. It’s not just passing the information, it’s also required to exchange information between the organisation and its’ stakeholders and more so in case of government organisations since the Govt takes the policy decisions, she said.

She recalled the evolution of PR especially the Government Information System and divided the Historical Background of the system into 4 parts; Media
1) Ancient India- when the Information system served the rulers and the ruled, tools & techniques being different depending on the rulers with the example of Naradamuni who with his creative kind of technique was able to pass the information and connect the people with the organisations.
Another example being Chandragupta Mourya, Kautilya-Arthashastra with a sort of spying in the information system with feedback about various schemes implemented.
King Ashoka introduced various art forms of information dissemination such as Stupas, Statues basically to deliver the information to the next generation.

2) Medieval India- during which time, the system of information was in place with both the Inflow and Outflow of daily happenings. Thanks In this Medieval times, especially in the Moghal period, the secret informers were known as “Khufia Navis” and News reporters were known as “Wagia Navis”. Akbar further streamlined the system.
She further explained how East India Company later adopted the system of PR collecting feedback on government policies & programs. The system is relevant even today, she said.

3) Coming to the Modern period- wherein due to the growth of official information and the people being very eager to know what exactly is happening in the country under the British administration, the East India Company after undertaking a lot of investigation came out with the 1st newspaper-The Bengal Gazette.
In order to be transparent in the information system and to streamline the system, the 1st Press Commissioner was appointed in 1880 and lots of newspapers were published from Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. Lord Canning Viceroy of India established the “Editor’s Room”.
So, before Independence, during world War-1, the Govt of India was involved in defense-related publicity. To establish a link between the Govt & the Press, In 1919 Central Board of Investigation was set up but it was in 1941 Publicity Boards were set up across the country with the objective of streamlining the flow of information and during World War-11 in 1939, a new organisation-Directorate of Information & Broadcasting was formed which was later that is after Independence, converted into MIB with 3 distinct wings viz Information wing, broadcasting wing, and films wing.

a) Information Wing:- under this wing, the Press Council of India (PCI) was formed majorly to protect the journalist’s welfare, and another set up being Registrar of Newspapers for India and it is basically to register the newspapers and to guide them with proper scrutiny.
b) Broadcasting Wing:-is basically to see that proper content is broadcasted through Television & Radio, and also to see that the Program Code formed is implemented.
c) Films Wing:-comprises many organisations/institutions involving in a lot of issues and certifications etc.
She recalled that in the early 19th century, the 3rd President of US-Thomas Jefferson underlined the importance of information as he believed in Govt’s duty to furnish full and correct information to the citizens.
Dr. Bhargavi also recalled that the 1st PM of our country Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid emphasis on the “free flow” of information from government to the governed for the successful functioning of democracy.

4) Contemporary India is earmarked with advantages of media business as an ever-growing business because of its robust demand, having attractive opportunities coupled with policy support, and higher investments.

Coming to PR in Government, she said that there are both advantages and disadvantages of In-house PR mainly in terms of cost, skills and time factor, etc.

Then the speaker talked about PR Campaigns where techniques and media of PR are applied in a campaign approach with a series of messages to accomplish a particular goal or goals of an organisation. Multimedia PR Campaign with a judicious mix of Print, TV, Social Media, is always advantageous, she pointed out.

Dwelling upon Campaigns, she categorised them as Commercial campaigns, Advertising campaigns, Marketing campaigns, Poverty Education campaigns, Political campaigns, Social issue campaigns, Health Education campaigns, Family Planning campaigns, and PR campaigns which include Media, Employees, Shareholders, Customer, Dealers & Suppliers, Stakeholders relations and also Public Awareness campaigns, Public Education & Public Information campaigns, etc.

The aim of the campaign is;

  • to Inform & create awareness,
  • to Pursuade, Educate & Motivate,
  • to Mobilise public opinion towards ideas & actions
  • to Utilize appropriate media & methods in reaching the target audiences and
  • to give results by implementing the programs.

Dr. Harsha Bhargavi also distinguished the difference between an Ad Campaign as an exercise basically to advertise and to sell a product whereas a PR campaign is an exercise to help the people to understand the organisation or to build a trust.

There are 5 “W”s, according to her as key elements and important while planning for a PR campaign viz

  1. Why-communicating because of Objectives;
  2. Who to reach- Target audience;
  3. What are we going to say-messages;
  4. Where-through media and
  5. Which way to reach the target-by Strategy.

She also clarified that there are 4 PR Stages or Processes involved in a PR campaign or Communication process viz Defining the problem, Planning & programming, Communication, and Evaluation.

She illustrated few case studies taking recent scenarios of the pandemic, the panic condition of the public, leaving the houses unaware of what the disease is about in the absence of sufficient information, and the inability of the government machinery to disseminate correct information to the public especially in Incase of migrating public.
She also made a reference to Union Govt campaigns of Beti Bachao-Beti Padhav in Haryana, Swatch Bharat, etc.
Coming to the campaigns of the Telangana government, she mentioned Rythu Bandhu, Kalyana Lakshmi, Shaadi Mubarak, KCR kit with their objectives.

She was of the opinion that in a Crisis Communication situation, it’s necessary to put PR personnel in a proper direction duly providing them with proper details and information so that they will give correct information, otherwise they become panic and give wrong information.

Talking further about Crisis Communication, she cited Berlos’s SMLR Model of Communication as the best model wherein the key elements are Source, Message, Channel, and Receiver, and the Message and Feedback being an essential part of a communication process. She illustrated some examples like Mob Lynching of a person in Telangana due to misunderstanding, publication of same pictures of Carona vaccination undertaken in the fields in 3 newspapers of AP and Telangana due to miscommunication.

In Contemporary Media and PR, Dr. Harsha Bhargavi emphasised the importance of communication, its evaluation of a situation and the strategy to be implemented to communicate the kind of information needed to pass on in a proper way to the public in the perspective of social media and also in case of print and electronic media within deadline where there is enormous competition for coverage.

She concluded her lecture by saying that the role of Public Relations is very crucial and important and plays an important role in the communication process. She cautioned that the PR professionals and practitioners have to be prepared for response strategy as there is always a link between a Crisis situation and a Crisis response.

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