Thursday, February 16, 2006

LIC: Message mapping

Communication plays an important role in preparing people for major changes, whether it involves the environment, a corporate or the community. What is more important, communication also helps in convincing them about the gains that stem from the emerging scenario.

In India, the challenge for advocates of change is complex given the country’s diversity. If the change concerns a financial entity, the task is humungous as investors hate surprises and uncertainty.

Yes, LIC sent a rejoinder to The Economic Times on February 15, 2006. “While our government ownership is beyond doubt, the use of expression ‘50 years of hand-holding’ by the government conveys an erroneous view about LIC’s strength,” wrote the Secretary (Board Secretariat), Central Office, LIC. “To say that LIC has ‘banked on its government guarantee for selling its policies’ amounts to a canard and ignores 50 years of our unremitting and selfless efforts.” However, till now, there is no word on whether there has been a move to terminate government guarantee on its policies.

Experience shows that merely issuing rejoinders might not serve any purpose. The challenge lies in the proper orchestration of five Cs: constituency, content, channel, context and continuity. Ensuring a constant flow of information to all stake-holders will help create support for the organisation’s initiatives.

Considering this, LIC should launch concerted efforts to roll out a scientific communications plan. Mapping the message platform should get due importance. In this regard, eminent Canadian communications professional Patrick McGee has suggested one of the best possible routes. Quoting a PR colleague at a British bank, McGee has talked about a platform that uses a triangle to organize information. The three key crucial questions are:

  • What happened?
  • What are you doing about it?
    What are you doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Watch this space for March ahead, LIC!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

LIC: Communications and change

“After 50 years of hand-holding, the government may consider withdrawing its guarantee on more than 16 crore policies sold by the Life Insurance Corporation,” says a report in The Economic Times on February 13, 2006. “The move may finally open up a level-playing field for the private players, without the prop of government support for the public sector giant.”

“The move follows the diktat of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, which mandates reduction in the level of public debt to 0.5% of the GDP,” the report said. “This means the government guarantees on LIC policies may have to be terminated in the Budget.”

If this is true, would there be grave repercussions? Would it spark major changes in the insurance industry? How would it affect the average insurance policy-holder? In the absence of a government guarantee, what would be the impact on LIC’s business? The trickle of questions continues….

Considering the pace of India’s economic reforms, radical changes seem inevitable. As for the reported move to terminate government guarantee to LIC policy-holders, it was recommended by Deloitte & Touche Tohmatsu, which had been roped in to look at the restructuring of LIC, two years ago.

If change is on the anvil, are the stake-holders being prepared for it? That is the all-important question.

Watch this space for ‘Message mapping’