Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who is hailed as the father of our nation, in my opinion, is one of the most effective PR practitioners. He was a master strategist and understood his target audience very well and crafted his communication accordingly. Although he held no office, he was able to captivate the minds of India’s millions and took control of Congress and its elite, sophisticated and cynical leadership. It was his passion, careful consideration and discipline which got him the recognition which has well sustained beyond the man himself. Below are the reasons why I think he was the ultimate PR practitioner and a Brand:
Mahatma Gandhi-The Master PR Practitioner
The Salt March:
The Salt march also popularly known as the Dandi March, was one of his most powerful campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience which had a massive support. The Salt Acts imposed on Indians prohibited them from collecting or selling salt. Indians were forced to buy salt which was a natural resource and a staple in the Indian diet which was needed to replace the salt lost by sweating. The British, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also imposed a salt tax. It contributed to almost 8.2% of the British Raj tax revenue. Gandhi, the brilliant strategist, thought that an item of daily use could resonate well with all classes of citizens of India and he chose mass civil disobedience to tackle the issue. In March 1930 Gandhi and 78 of his close associates marched from Sabarmati ashram, some 240 miles to the Arabian sea to take a pinch of salt. He informed the government well in advance about his intention to break the law to make salt. The British government threw people in jail for violating the law and censored the press. Despite that, the Media covered the event in great detail and people across the nation followed suit even though Gandhi was already in prison. Jails in India were filled with 60,000 Satyagrahis whom the British imprisoned.
Effective use of media:
Gandhi was probably one of the greatest journalists of all time, and the publications he ran and edited were probably the greatest ones the world has known. In 1904 in South Africa, he had taken over the editorship of the ‘Indian Opinion’ and published it in English, Tamil, and Gujarati, sometimes running the press himself. He is known to have written on all subjects; he wrote simply, clearly and forcefully. His writing was passionate and burning indignation. He believed that the objective of a newspaper, is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it; to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments, and the third is to be fearless and to expose popular defects. He took up journalism more as a service to the public and he was devoid of any personal ambitions. He used his writing as a vehicle to present his various experiments to the public.
He believed in powerful symbols and designed a headgear as a symbol of Indian unity which later came to be known as the Gandhi Topi. His own dress was one of the foremost and most visible symbols he adopted–the loincloth and shawl of homespun fabric –which he deliberately chose, after careful consideration, to show solidarity with India’s grinding poverty. We all know that clothing is an important way to communicate one’s personality and not merely playing a role or dressing solely to impress. This became his trademark attire which eventually got him a name of ‘half-naked fakir’ from Sir Winston Churchill. By the time that India’s independence was won, the homespun cloth or Khadi was inextricably woven into the fabric of India’s life. Even today Khadi is the unofficial uniform of India’s political leaders.
Gandhi is seen as one of the world’s great inspiring public speakers. He could inspire all classes of people whether they were freedom fighters, thinkers or even the farmers. He was very articulate and considerate in expressing his thoughts. His talk was authentic and could move the whole nation into action.