Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Importance of Empathy

ImageA friend happened to mention the eternal human habit of turning things personal and taking things to heart. Yours truly felt it rang true. One might be asked to express a generic view about the state of politics, education, culture, fashion trends; it becomes invariably colored with a personal opinion. While most people believe it is prejudice that clouds sound judgement and objectivity, I beg to differ. What of empathy? Isn’t this subtle and unconscious emotion responsible for the millions of passing comments we make every day? Unless one puts oneself in the shoes of another, a public opinion cannot be effectively formed.

Taking it to another level- as PR professionals our human ability to internalize and empathize is what is most required to aid a client. Unless we’re seeing the world through their eyes, as well as whatever-colored glasses they are wearing, can we truly call ourselves advisers and counselors? PR folks are often insulted when called spin doctors to their faces, when knowing the client in and out, and being a spokesperson who will let the world know their story is a designation to be rather proud of.

Public Relations is nothing if not empathy. In the rat race of marketing and devising formidable communication strategies the end products, namely mutual understanding and goodwill remain out of focus. One is asked to don the garbs of a spokesperson, mediator, crisis manager and a lot more. None of this can be genuine without a personal understanding of the the client and their publics. Objectivity is an enviable quality indeed but true understanding can only be built on a foundation of empathy.

Kerala shining…

lulu-mall-kochi

Bustling Edapally, from God’s Own Country, has been basking in the glory of being home to India’s largest shopping mall. The arrival of Lulu Shopping Mall is an eagerly awaited celebration begging to happen. With recognized metropolitan cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru readily available, why choose Kerala and it commercial hub, Kochi for a gargantuan venture of 1.6 million square feet?

Kerala was first projected as a rapidly progressing metropolitan city by the Malayala Manorama, the largest circulating Malayalam daily globally. With convenient access and transport facilities, population density, purchasing capacity,international airports, international container terminals, historic highlights, state-of-the-art health centers, rocketing health indices, international mega projects such as the Smart City, educational facilities, entertainment and recreational options, potential investors can change the question from “Why Kerala?” to “Why not Kerala?”

Professionals from other parts of the country have often tried to implement business and marketing plans in Kerala without making an effort to understand the sensitivities of the Malayali psyche. While the obvious choices for a metro would be Delhi and Mumbai, closely followed by Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad, one also ought to keep in mind the fact that these cities have reached saturation limits in progress and development and are stagnant in growth as time goes by. Kerala differs with its high literacy rates and employment statistics, signifying the greater audience available to the marketing tactics of any investor who wishes put down roots here. Kerala has matured into a self- sustaining metropolis; a city fit to join the pantheon, rather than remaining aloof as a state in the Republic.

Well, we couldn’t have asked for a more befitting retort. As Bang in the Middle’s Naresh Gupta told one of the senior ResPublicans, Jeevan Chandy, last day: “It’s our belief that real opportunity for India is with brands that have regional roots.” A major project such as the Lulu Shopping Mall is just the tip of the iceberg; a mere indication of how the underdog has arrived in style.