Veteran media professional B N Kumar, popular as BNK24x7, credited for launching a novel concept called Social Communication. He has thus acquitted a new tag – Social Communication Activist. Vikypedia talks to BNK, Executive Director of Concept PR and Governing Council Chairman of Public Relations Council of India (PRCI), on his new experiment which has won a national and two international honours – Fulcrum Award: Consultancy Professional – Not For Profit and two SVUS PR World Gold awards.
Question: Congratulations BNK on winning the SVUS PR World gold for the second time. What was all this about?
BNK: It’s about social communication which we at Concept PR have conducted on behalf of PRCI. It goes well beyond social media. It deals with issues of social importance and communicates about them through all available means of communication.
Question: Will you please tell us in detail about the issue that you handled and won the SVUS PR World Award?
BNK: The campaign is called #SaveParsikHill focusing on the need to protect Parsik Hills in Navi Mumbai. The hills have been the major source of stones for construction in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) for over four decades. The hills have been recklessly blasted under the guise of quarrying. In fact, the forest department has officially complained at the Thane District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) that as much s 248 hectares against the allotted 136 hectares have been blasted.
Question: Was this not known? What was so special about your Communication?
BNK: We designed our communication so as to address the powers that be. With the help of NGOs such as Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan or SEAP we consistently highlighted these issues and communicated to the Governor, the Chief Minister, Konkan Divisional Commissioner, Thane Collector, Forest and Pollution Control Board officials. While we used all social media tools to the hilt, traditional media too carried reports based on our events at Mumbai Press Club and so on. The Press Club helped us hold Media Seminars during Earth Day and Environment Day as ours was a social interest campaign.
Question: We see you getting quoted in media reports. So you actively coordinated the campaign?
BNK: Yes, I have been communicating on behalf of PRCI.
Question: After BNK 24×7, you seem to have acquired a new tag of social communication activist. Is it okay for a media professional to be an activist?
BNK: I think every media communicational professional should be an activist in the sense that he or she must actively work for causes. What do we work for? For social well being, right? PRCI’s motto is – Communicating for a Better World. Whether you are in media, PR, corpcom, HR, Advertising, you do positive communication which ultimately leads to an improved socio-econiomic situation. By activism, I mean active communication. The causes that we pick up do not result in any personal gains.
Question: So, what’s the update on Parsik Hill? Has quarrying stopped?
BNK: All stake holders and authorities have agreed that there should be no further quarrying of Parsik Hills. You will be surprised to know that even quarry contractors admit the environmental damage and are keen to move to new sites. They have written to CIDCO, the city planner, to allot then fresh sites. We at PRCI have recommended to the State Government to adopt a cooperative federation on the lines of dairy cooperative societies to collect stones from various parts of Maharashtra and have them supplied to construction sites across.
Question: Last year, you won award for #Mission Mumbai Local for communicating about the woes of suburban commuters. Which are the other issues you handled through your Social Communication?
BNK: In the wake of the Kamala Mills fire in December last, we did a brief campaign #vrlayingwithFire to draw attention on the fire preparedness of public places like cinema calls, restaurants. During water crisis, we had #20plenty4water to make people realize the plight of those who do not get a drop of water to drink. The idea was to make people think of the hapless whenever they spend Rs 20 on a bottle of packaged water and donate Rs 20 to a public cause like PM’s Relief Fund.
Question: You also run a drive for focusing on girl child? What is it about?
BNK: Yes, at PRCI we observe July 1, the official birthday of Kalpana Chawla, in memory of the late Indo-US astronaut. Through our #Shakti4Beti, we campaign for empowering the girl child. The idea is to go beyond Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and empower the girl child to gain a level playing field. We do not advocate any reservation, but equal opportunities for girls. It also helps in sensitizing boys about gender equality and beat gender bias in places of work.
Question: Isn’t it a huge task?
BNK: It is a task. Not certainly huge as we all communicators at PRCI are campaigning united. We can achieve success if we are able to communicate at each of our places of work. We are also communicating at the grass-root level through our Young Communicators Club, the student wing of PRCI, at various colleges and universities that teach mass communication courses. #Shakti4Beti also focuses on sexual harassment at places of work and on the need to have Internal Compliance Committees as per Vishakha guidelines.
Question: That’s lot of work. How do you manage all that?
BNK: Together we can! I firmly believe in team work and we have good teams at both Concept PR and PRCI who work on causes. I dedicate all my awards to them as without these teams, I am zilch!