INMA 4th Annual Conference: Innovation is the key

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 10, 2010
To ensure a continuous dialogue and bond with the readers, newspapers will have to adopt unique methods to create success stories.

Constant engagement with the readers is a must for any newspaper; and if conventional routes are blocked, then newspapers will have to find alternate solutions to carry on the dialogue. In one of the sessions on the first day of the 4th Annual INMA South Asia Conference held at the Lalit in New Delhi on November 09, panellists discussed the need for continuous engagement through various activities, sharing success stories of newspapers that had done so.

Bharat Kapadia, director, Lokmat Group, shared, "The Pune edition of Lokmat was launched on September 13, 2009; and by the end of 2009, the number of copies increased to 216,000. This further increased to 378,000 copies between January-June 2010. And on certain days such as August 16, 2010, the number of copies rose to 500,000; as most newspapers do not print copies on August 15. "

Kapadia further spoke about a price war that had begun in Pune, due to which Lokmat had reduced its cover price to Re 1; and as a result, was boycotted by hawkers in several regions in Pune. Kapadia added, "We, at Lokmat, reviewed the 4Ps of newspaper business, that is, product, price, place and promotion, and found a unique solution. Since most hawkers boycotted the paper, we created a parallel distribution system, where we roped in everyone -- from a housewife to a 'kirana' store to a vegetable vendor to a student -- to distribute the newspaper. The new system turned out to be a huge success; and today, we have both our own distribution system as well as hawkers distributing Lokmat copies in Pune."

Further providing details on innovative ways to engage reader through various activities, Neville Bastawalla, head marketing, Mid-Day Infomedia, talked about the 'Meter Down' campaign. He said, "We initiated the 'Meter Down' campaign, in order to teach a lesson to cabbies in Mumbai, as daily commuters often complain about being harassed by auto and taxi drivers. Hence, we tied up with the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and Mumbai police and selected key areas, such as Churchgate, CST Junction and Dadar. Everyday, a reporter, a photographer, along with a team of Mumbai police and the RTO officer, would fine cabbies at fault."

As per Bastawalla, in week 1, 130 cabbies were fined and in week 2, 133 licenses were revoked. Week 3 witnessed participation from the citizens. Overall, 1,551 cabbies were caught. As a result of the drive, the Mumbai taxi union will be launching a portal soon.

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