Engagement with an audience today is across media and technology platforms and has gone beyond traditional media. Supporting this statement, Rohit Bansal, CEO, India Strategy Group for Hammurabi & Solomon Consulting LLP and former COO of India TV, cited the example of a little known musician Dave Carrol, who’s song on YouTube criticising United Airlines for damaging his guitar and not listening to his complaint went viral, much to the airline’s embarrassment. This, according to Bansal, was the power of social media, when it comes to airing one’s views.
Going further he said that the single screen that we were carrying in our pockets today had the same processing capacity and the price of what one paid for a full blown iMac in the early 1990s. This meant essentially proliferation of a different kind. Which means ordinary people will be carrying such devices in their pockets and accessing them with better 2G or 3G services, depending on which price points we start discussing.
Bansal also mentioned about the propensity of a very earthy example of people using pictures. “The 750 million or so people on Facebook today, who spent a staggering 90 billion minutes a month on this ‘wonderful time waster’ as Google says, see nothing in posting fairly straightforward pictures,” he noted.
Thus, proliferation of social media, profileration of technology in the hands of the people and their propensity to share whatever was important to them, including something intimate like a family picture, with just about anybody, meant that guys like Dave Carrol would become increasingly important in the decision making that went into what went into a story and how it had to be told, Bansal pointed out.
To further corroborate his point, Bansal mentioned Rajiv Mantri, one of the fund manager types sitting in Kolkata, who had over 5,000 followers on Twitter because he had stayed relevant with the social media discourse. Similarly, a guy called Nikhil Narayanan had 5,000 followers on Twitter, Narayanan is an IT person, who simply tweets on the basis of instinct and a little bit of thought and he almost represents the value of a columnist of who may exist in a fairly large paper. “These are metrics which can be measured more readily that a columnist who may be buried because nobody knows whether somebody reached that page and read that person, Bansal said.
According to him, the challenge for business journalists was very simple – it was to fight for survival, fight for relevance, to continuously be open to where the world was actually going. And therefore, not to simply focus on the source, or even the editor, but that the whole discourse had to be in a way that it could be very easily measured today and it could be thrown back at the reporter with a lot of dissent right there in his/her face and for them to know that this was happening.
Bansal further said that whereas earlier CEOs depended on the media to share their story, today they had different avenues to do this. For instance, Anand Mahindra has 400,000+ followers on Twitter, who lapped up whatever Mahindra might be sharing in 140 characters, whatever links, pictures or anything that he chose to surf. What does that mean? “He has now built up something like Mahindra Rise, a social entrepreneurship initiative where best ideas win and people are voting and engaging. So, I don’t think it would be too much of an exaggeration to say that Anand Mahindra has the clout so to speak of a small economic newspaper, following what he has to say at least for his life,” Bansal pointed out. Similarly, Vijay Mallya had 950,000 people following him on Twitter. In fact, Mallya was using this very platform to bit out as media as one of his tweets said: “More speculative than fact based, self-styled expert commentators who are unqualified. Where is the media taking us???” “It’s a fact that a few lakh people have internalised this counter-discourse, which as business journalists and editors of the future we should be factoring in the way we engage with the world,” Bansal advised.
Thus, according to him, business journalists today needed to answer some relevant questions – How as a professional will you engage with a huge proliferation of social media, coming down of band width cost, storage space, sharing of images becoming more and more important, and individual business honchos as well as folks like Rajiv Mantri and Nikhil Narayanan taking on the space of communicating directly to an audience of their own outside of the traditional media? These would determine how well one did as a journalist and went on assume those big positions and perhaps even take these organisations closer to where the world was going to be looking at five or 10 or 15 years from now.
Canada eyes $15 trillion trade with India in 3 years
India and Canada has always shared a close relationship on various spheres. Canada was one of the few countries in the Northern Hemisphere that withstood the recession fairly well. Simon Cridland, Head, Advocacy High Commission of Canada, remarked, “We are very fortunate that we have survived the recession very well, and among all the G-7 countries we did quite well.”
Talking further about Canada’s trade relationship with India, he said, “Our GDP depends on trade to a great extent, in fact, it stands at 40 per cent per annum. We have always shared a good trade relationship with India. There are many things that Canada exports to India – pulses, potash used in making fertilisers, technology for food procession and so on. Not many are aware that Canada has been helping India in building hydro-electric plants for the last nearly 60 years.”
On the balance of trade, he said “Canada and India have a favourable balance of trade. Gold and diamonds are two major imports. In fact, 80 per cent of our diamonds are sent to Surat for polishing.”
“In the coming three years we are looking at a bilateral trade of $15 trillion with India,” Cridland informed.
Both Rohit Bansal and Simon Cridland were speaking at the day-long work shop on ‘Reporting on Business in a Global World’ for business journalists, held in Delhi on February 23, 2012. The workshop was organised by the High Commission of Canada, in collaboration with exchange4media.
(With additional inputs by Abid Hasan)