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On a diplomatic mission: Press officer in India

Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, illuminated in the national colours of Germany and India

Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, illuminated in the national colours of Germany and India, © AA

28.02.2013 - Article

How do you work with the press in the biggest media market in the world? Our colleague reports from New Delhi.

The job of publicizing Germany in India is like the proverbial drop in the ocean: where do you start press and PR work in a sub-continent which will soon overtake China as the world’s most populous state? In a country with over 20 official languages which is almost 7000 km from Germany as the crow flies? The Press Officer at the German Embassy in New Delhi, Niklas Wagner, reports.

1.2 billion potential customers

There’s no doubt about it: Germany has a very good image in India. It’s regarded as a friend and partner and above all as an anchor of stability in the eurozone. Even so, bringing the country to India’s attention is certainly not something that happens on autopilot – especially as there is not a single Indian correspondent in Berlin who could report breaking news from and about Germany.

The biggest media market in the world

This is where the press team at the Embassy in New Delhi comes in. We need to be creative, work fast and put across a clear message to reach our potential audience of 1.2 billion people.

We operate in such a big field that you could easily get lost: over 600 TV channels, more than 80,000 registered newspapers and magazines, All India Radio with hundreds of millions of listeners – “incredible India”, the biggest media scene in the world with double-digit growth in all branches of the media. On top of that there are the social media – 50 million Indian users are active on Facebook alone. That’s the second-largest Facebook community in the world.

So you see it’s absolutely crucial for the Embassy in India to go down all channels.

... …and how we try to reach it

@GermanyinIndia
@GermanyinIndia

Traditional press work – press conferences, articles by and interviews with the Ambassador on issues of importance locally like the planned free trade agreement between the EU and India – is indispensable, but by no means enough.

It is vital to reach the Web 2.0 generation as well. That’s why we supply India and five other countries with news about Germany via a virtual German Information Centre on Twitter and Facebook. And we have copied the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Foreign Minister by putting regular podcasts by the Ambassador on the Embassy website.

Year of Germany in India

Anyone who wants to be seen and heard in India needs to concentrate first and foremost on soft power when it comes to public relations. The Year of Germany in India, which has just come to an end, is a perfect example. The “Indo-German Urban Mela”, 16 pavilions by the German artist Markus Heinsdorff in five Indian cities, as well as hundreds of concerts, exhibitions and workshops, welcomed a million visitors.

Indo-German Festival of Colours

India Gate illuminated
India Gate illuminated© German Embassy New Delhi

Spotlights out, curtain closed? What’s important now is sustainability. At the Year of Germany in India closing ceremony at India Gate, India’s trademark at the heart of New Delhi, Ambassador Michael Steiner launched a new campaign, #k GERmany. In 2013 we are focusing on education, training and particularly German as a Foreign Language in India. The ceremony at India Gate was attended by 600 pupils from the Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) chain of state-owned schools who, as part of the “German at 1000 Schools” project sponsored by the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut, have been learning German for just over two years now. The aim is for a million KV pupils to learn German by 2017 – an ambitious target, but perfectly doable. By the way, the best German class at India Gate won a one-week trip to Berlin, including flights. And the Embassy in New Delhi illuminated India Gate in the national colours of Germany and India. First class!

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