Indian Railways is all geared up to take over social media as public relations (PR) professionals from private agencies will soon be hired to publicize for it at the Union ministry in the national capital as well as in each of its zones.
The national transporter has issued guidelines to hire private agencies to manage its publicity.
According to the news agency PTI report, at present, around 70 officers – including one chief public relations officer (PRO) in each of its 18 zones — have been engaged in circulating information to the media about the railways and running its social media handles, along with several senior PROs and public relation inspectors.
Notably, a team of 17 private PR professionals will be hired for each zone to assist the officials.
“We already have private agencies working with us in the zones, who help us with our publicity work. This is not new. What we have done now is that we have tried to standardise the process,” said a senior Railway Board official while speaking to PTI.
As per the guidelines, a team of 17 trained professionals, including a team leader, a social media manager, content analysts, content writers, video editors and others — will be engaged in each zone. Each of these teams, sources said will be hired at a cost of around Rs. 2 crore.
The model document, which provides the criteria for the selection of such an agency, issued by the railways states that these teams will work in collaboration with the chief public relations officers (CPROs) and handle social media activities, aggregate the grievances received by the national transporter through such forums, analyse media coverage, assist in gathering and dissemination of information to the media and also prepare reports to be submitted monthly and quarterly to senior officials.
The teams will also be tasked with creating a dashboard in their respective zones, where all news articles and television clips concerning the zone will be available online. This alone would be accomplished at a cost of around Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh per team, informed the source.
The teams will be tasked with sketching out strategies for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. They will also identify issues, themes and “social media influencers who are active in the media”.
“Most of our officials engaged in publicity-related activities are not trained in this. They are railway officers. In this digital age, where communication is a significant aspect of governance, we need trained professionals. However, our CPROs will provide all the content and material for the information disseminated by these teams,” said the Railway Board official .