AAP is a party built on journalists. The Delhi Deputy CM used to be a journalist. The head of the Delhi Dialogue Commission is one and so are most senior AAP leaders. For all practical purposes the aam aadmi party was built around a journalist strategy by which former journalists now as members of the party would recruit and influence other journalists, still in the media business to push a positive face of the party.
However, this recent news suggests this strategy may have begun to come apart. The AAP finally seems to be accepting that their own party members haven’t been able to deliver the right PR to the party in recent times and hence they’ve turned to a professional PR firm. Earlier this year in March the AAP also hired 12 private communication consultants to improve the party’s image. Also last year the AAP set up their own ad release agency named “Shabdarth” to purportedly save 10% commission out of the 15% that private agencies charge and save on their creative costs. This new agency was supposed to charge 5% to generate revenue for itself and be self-funding. However it was also mentioned that it would start its operation using a Rs. 50L loan. The creative development of AAP ads since the set up of this agency has been pretty dismal in my opinion. Everyone remembers that highly disturbing ad where a middle class housewife is almost subliminally plugging Arvind Kejriwal’s name and goes “Mere Kejriwal ko salamat rakhna”. The radio ads also seemed to have a annoying nature to them.
Some allegations surfaced in September around advertisement contracts handed out by Shabdarth were done so as to favour firms owned by Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s relatives. AFAIK this complaint is still under investigation at the ACB.
These missteps and course corrections seem to suggest that the AAP govt in Delhi believed that their journalist core would be able to deliver the right PR image for their party and govt. in Delhi. They’re now beginning to come to terms with the fact that this strategy hasn’t worked and professionals may be the best bet for this purpose. At some level I believe AAP also thought that a good PR machine would rocket them to victory in Punjab and other smaller states without having to deliver efficient governance in Delhi first. However corruption allegations (against the most honest party in India), Arvind Kerjiwal’s almost stalker-like obsession with Narendra Modi, the office-of-profit controversy and umpteen other random scuffles and improprieties that have arisen from AAP’s MLAs have forced the AAP’s image to take a severe beating.
It remains to be seen if Perfect Relations (the firm hired by the Delhi Govt) is able to turn around the Delhi Govt’s fortunes in terms of PR!