The results of the recent elections in Uttar Pradesh surprised many, given the extent of BJP’s win. There have been many analysis presented attempting to decipher the reasons behind this huge win, so we are not going to attempt to do another piece on this.
The attempt here is to see if there are any lessons which corporates can learn from the BJP’s election campaign, with particular emphasis on the communication strategy in the months leading up to the election.
This is not an endorsement of the content or message of the election campaign but a study of the process of communication. As it is, political parties and corporate organizations are not comparable and one cannot treat one as a paradigm for the other. Therefore, we are restricting ourselves to extracting lessons on execution of a strategy rather than the strategy itself.
Customisation of Communication content
Uttar Pradesh is a large state with many different constituencies based on region, religion and caste. BJP’s strategy was to talk about different themes in central, west and east UP to appeal to the aspirations of different target audiences. This ensured that they were talking to people in the language they understood and on issues they identified with. Accordingly they used issues of development, Ram temple, Hindutva, Uniform civil code and demonetisation in different areas of the state with great success.
This is something all organisations who have diverse customers, both internal as well as external, need to remember.
The internal customers (employees) vary according to role, function, age and experience. The expectations of a shop floor executive will be very different from the management executive in the corporate office. The tools for enabling performance will be different for a Sales employee than those for a Finance employee.
The HR department needs to tailor its communication to the needs of the audience, while at the same time maintain a common, unifying thread which resonates with the organisational goals. The outcome will be visible in the form of increased engagement and productivity levels.
The medium is crucial
The Bharatiya Janata Party is known to use the social media extensively during an election campaign. The case this time around too is no different and the BJP's IT cell has spared no effort in using the social media during its campaign in all the states. Amit Malviya, in-charge of the BJP's national information and technology was quoted by a news site as saying that BJP's social media foot-print in Uttar Pradesh is most prominent.
Malvia says that the engagement levels where the social media is concerned is eight times that of their rivals. "We augmented the social media handles with our national page which has made it even more larger. We have a national network on Whatsapp and have networked this to every constituency. We also have two representatives in every constituency and we will provide digital communication and technology," Malviya says.
Not only this, the BJP went the extra mile by launching a fleet of 400 mini-raths to criss-cross the state and deliver the BJP's poll message; the mini-raths were cars fitted with various digital media equipment.
The online and digital blitzkrieg was reinforced by hoardings and posters on the ground
A study of which medium of communication is best suited to reach out to the maximum percentage of the target audience is key to success.
In the context of the HR domain, the medium of communication has a role in activities like employer branding, talent acquisition and employee relations. Where are your potential employees most likely to be- online forums or offline? How to reach them – LinkedIn, Facebook or a newspaper advertisement?
Communication has to be two-way process to be effective and the communication channel dictates the ease of information flow in both directions. By having multiple channels available to employees, an organization provides multiple opportunities for an employee communicate with an organisation particularly when airing grievances.
Know your weakness and build a message to overcome it
The BJP was the only party without a CM face in the campaign. This was also true of the Bihar campaign and BJP’s loss was partly attributed to this lacuna. Yet they did the same in UP, realising that there were deep divisions within the party on this issue. The focus instead was on projecting the PM as a unifying figure and leveraging his perceived popularity. Not only this, a bevy of ministers from the central government were campaigning in UP, shifting the narrative from regional figures to the central government’s policies.
Therefore the BJP was successfully able to circumvent this shortcoming in their state-level organisation.
No organisation can claim to have all the characteristics of a perfect corporate, but the need is to focus on the positives and build on them.
Employer branding is all about showcasing the strengths of the organisation’s human resource philosophy, not about potraying your organisation as the best possible workplace. An organisation may not be the best paymaster but may offer a stable career or may be a fiercely competitive environment but offer great opportunities to learn as well.