Sakal Group: State expectations

By Devesh Gupta , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 18, 2013
The Maharashtra-based media group reached out to its audience asking them to tell what they expect from the state government to make the region a better place.

Maharashtra Expectations

Maharashtra Expectations

Maharashtra Expectations

Front page of Oct 30 supplement with Sakal Times

Today, more and more media groups are coming up with campaigns that ask people to speak their mind on what they need from the government. Be it roads, water, traffic, safety, empowerment, it has all become a part of the marketing campaigns for media houses to reach out to the people. Following this trend, Maharashtra-based media outfit Sakal Media Group recently came up with its latest initiative titled 'Maharashtra Expectation' or 'Maharashtra Apeksha' (in Marathi) aimed at finding what the people of Maharashtra expect from the government on development in different sectors.

The 45-day campaign involved print, radio, online and television media to reach out to the people. Sakal Media Group initially identified 16 sectors and went on to seek people's opinion on them. These sectors were industrial development, financial revenue, infrastructure and urban development, community development, rural development, home, power, judiciary, cooperative and textile, agriculture, water, healthcare and FDA, tourism, IT, education and training and entertainment.

The campaign began on September 16 and culminated on October 30.

Speaking on the idea behind the campaign, Abhijit Pawar, managing director, Sakal Media Group, says, "What we at the Sakal Media Group did by way of this campaign was to ask our readers and viewers - the citizens of Maharashtra - as to what are the key issues that are affecting our state. What are Maharashtra's expectations in terms of what issues need priority? Feedback from the Maharashtra's Expectations campaign has then been used as inputs in the Delivering Maharashtra Program, ensuring that we have the right concerns in mind as we chart the road map for Maharashtra for the next few years."

For each sector, the media group allotted three days of heavy advertising in the newspapers. On the first day, a front page print ad defined the sector and its current status and requested people to share their opinion and feedback on it. On the second day, it followed on collecting the feedbacks, and summarised the expectations, while on the third day, it came up with a probable solution to the sector, with top agendas for consideration, economic indicators, and the current statistics and the funding requirement for it.

The feedback for the campaign was collected through online, Facebook (, SMS (58558), call centres (9225800800) and Twitter handles (#MaharastrasExpectation).

After receiving the suggestions and reactions of the people, Sakal Media put together a carefully designed implementable solution to the issues which were then published as a part of Delivering Change programme on October 30. It was a 12-page ad free supplement.

These solutions were designed using a special technique titled ST7 (Sakal Trinity 7) that takes its inspiration from PEMANDU (Performance Management and Delivery Unit) of the Malaysian government's Prime Minister's office. This is a method which the Malaysian government follows to identify the problem, obtain solution by bringing in opinion from the smallest stakeholders of the society and implementing those in the model. Sakal Media Group has partnered with PEMANDU. To extend its reach, the media group used Tanishka Women's Dignity Forum, a initiative that it launched in 2013 in an attempt to empower women and give them a stronger role in the society.

Pawar says, "The ST7 model defines the fundamental values espoused by the Sakal Media group and will be the acid test that all projects will be put through. All projects identified by the group (and subsequently under the fold of the Delivering Maharashtra Program) will be scrutinized first for their social impact and then the manner of implementation. Once the project's positive impact on society is determined, the implementation will have to engage and connect with the stakeholders and be based on inclusive participation and consensus of all involved. Implementation paths chosen will also ensure accountability and transparency, efficiency and compliance with the rule of law."

Sakal Media Group has launched several campaigns in the past to reach out to its audience. Some of these initiatives were Pune Bus day, Tanishka Women's Dignity Forum, water conclave, Tandaroost Bandobast, and others.

Speaking on the benefit of these campaigns, Pawar says the campaigns create a huge brand for Sakal and people look up to Sakal to find the solutions to lead the society to improvement.

The eight decade old media group has both online and offline verticals. For its newspaper Sakal Times, it claims to have 1.5 million daily copies in Marathi; 100,000 English copies for Pune and another 100,000 copies for bureaucrats and other important people.

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