Bollywood and Social Media: The Changing Trends in Public Relations Practices

Bollywood and Social Media: The Changing Trends in Public Relations Practices

Raj Kishore Patra (Khallikote University, Berhampur, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3511-0.ch027


Public relations (PR) always play an essential role in promoting the movie and reaching out to the massive scale of audiences. Especially in the current situation, the role of PR is more vital because of the fragmented space created to release of movies by the digital revolution. The Indian cinema industry may not have considered the PR seriously earlier, but in the last few years, the game of film promotion has changed. Therefore, the chapter focuses on the dynamics of PR practices prevalent in contemporary film promotional activities. The study also aims to deliberate on the changing trends in creating buzz around the films and maintaining the euphoria through various PR activities or campaigns.
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The Indian film industry, which is popularly known as Bollywood, is one of the largest players in the entertainment arena in terms of the number of films produced in a year. In many ways, Bollywood is different from Hollywood, because of its unique approaches to movie making to withstand the taste of the Indian audience. Typically, a Bollywood film time frame is between two to three hours, mostly the movie packaged with 6-8 songs with dance performances of leading actors, creating melodrama appeal and emotional storyline (Nanda, Pattnaik & Lu, 2018). Bollywood as an industry relies on the promotional activities to draw the attention of the target audience and to pull them to the theatre to generate the revenue. That's the reason, why film marketing is an essential component to generate awareness about the movie as well as to promote the entertainment business.

Apart from marketing and advertising, Public Relations (PR) have become an integral part of film promotion. While creating awareness, the PR also helps in creating a bit of excitement, anticipation, and brings spotlight by promoting the unique selling point (USP) of the films, it may be the hairstyle of the hero, or visual effects, or storyline. And it is not new. For instance, when K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam released in 1960, the film reels arrived in a procession of elephant and a band of musicians which was frontline news in next day’s papers (Gangadhar, 2010). Even if we go back to the year 1896, the Times of India carried an advertisement about “the marvel of the century, the wonder of the world”, before the screening of Lumière brothers’ films at Watson's Hotel in Bombay (Rajdhyaksha, 1996). So, PR knows how to showcase the elements of the film and make it news-worthy and create a trend to draw the attention of the audience. That creates a buzz word and gets a space among social media folks. Then the word of mouth pulls the crowd to theatre. As a matter of fact, PR campaigns are very economical in nature in comparison to other promotional modes, especially advertising. The main reason is PR campaigns target media platforms with strategies like earning media favour for campaign coverage, publishing positive articles in all forms of media, internal communication, promoting text and video content through various digital platforms etc.

Now, with the emergence of multiplex centric audiences and digital craze new challenges are posed to the promoters to create interactive platforms to market their films. Furthermore, the theatre is moving to digital space, as an example OTT (Over-the-Top) which creates a niche space for movie lovers at present. The content delivery platforms, from Amazon Prime to Netflix, are producing a range of movies, which attract the audiences. This is a contemporary global phenomenon. Recently, Jio Fibre (High-speed broadband and home entertainment) announced, the first day-first show can be experienced at home (Das, 2019) – taking theatre to home via releasing the movie on digital space. All these progressions of the film making to releasing and movie audience have changed.

This chapter analyzes the practices of PR and how it adopts the new trends with the changing time. In the twenty-first century, social media have become an integral part of PR activities to engage target audience/group. Sometimes, target audience voluntarily generates and share messages about the product or organization, which creates word-of-mouth or buzz word or getting viral in social media platforms that became a promotional message or activity for the product or organization. As a fact, the common aspect of PR and social media is to influence the target group by creating two-way approaches to the communication model. However, PR uses social media as a tool as well as a platform for reaching and engaging the audience.

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