The 16th edition of exchange4media's flagship property, the exchange4media conclave, presented by Dainik Jagran and powered by Zee Entertainment, saw a very interesting fireseide chat in the shape of Arnab Goswami, President-News & Editor-in-Chief, Times Now and ET Now in conversation with Nick Emery, Global CEO of Mindshare.
As both admitted, this was their first experience with such a setting and the conversation that followed was flled with deep insights and sprinkled with humor, candour and wit.
Opposed to form, the session started with Emery asking the Newshour host how a balance of truth is maintained in news reporting, especially when it comes to Goswami's new venture, which still remains unknown. "The nation wants to know," quipped Emery.
"All we needed was a level playing field. With digitization and internet penetration, we, in India, got a level playing field. So, people like me and a lot of people in this room owe the responsibility to go out there and say, because we now have a fantastic opportunity. We now need to think what are the formats we will bring, what are the styles we will bring. How will we create and how will we discover," answered Goswami.
Goswami then asked Emery what were his thoughts and hopes when he started Mindshare, which will complete 20 years next year, and also what all had changed in all these years in the media space.
Emery pointed out that Mindshare began operations in Taiwan, because, in his opinion, the Taiwanese ecosystem was more open towards entrepreneurship than a London or a New York which were more traditional.
"We have always tried to do something new. After 10 years or so, companies or ventures tend to become bloated and bureaucratic and you have to build into your company a desire to change. You have to challenge the status quo and that is a spirit that we have maintained in the company and this allows you to keep up with how the world is changing," said Emery.
He also added that certain things, such as, understanding of brands, culture and people and how you send out a message to them will remain the same. "The means of delivery has changed, being one-on-one with people is much better than it has ever been but the basic need to say something interesting remains the same," he added.
Goswami noted that social media can create virality and buzz but he asked whether something like social or digital media, which makes information easily available, could become a threat to traditional advertising. Emery stated that it was important to view everything with a perspective. "We have to see that we do not get carried away by new media or social media," he observed, further stating that even something as popular as Snapchat has just around 150 million users worldwide, which is not massive.
"I don't see it as an issue as long as people use it as part of a mix and don't get sucked into one channel," he added.
Goswami also asked Emery what space was there for emotions in the mutual world. "Can the focus be on the human element? The focus is so much on technology that somewhere the human element might go missing," asked Goswami. To this, Emery agreed that there was a danger. "There is a tendency by engineers to see everything as an engineering problem to be solved," he said.
Speaking about the things to be learnt by media from the recent US elections and other international events like Brexit which firmly divided people and the media, Emery said, "The biggest trend we are seeing in media is the rise of populism on both left and right (of the political spectrum). Marketers need to understand this and what it means," he said. He also said that India continues to remain a top 10 market for Mindshare though he also noted that India's role on a global stage could be much bigger.
At this point, the two were joined by Anurag Batra, Chairman & Editor in Chief - BW Businessworld - BW Businessworld Media Group.
Batra asked Goswami whether he worried about failure while setting out on his upcoming new venture. "The dream is too big not to try. i owe it to this profession, to a lot of young reporters and producers and I have no doubt that we will make it," replied Goswami.
On being asked who were some institutions or personalities that he respected and admired, Goswami named the late Vinod Mehta, the founder and editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine and the late Appan Menon, a senior journalist at Doordarshan and NDTV. "I do not admire institutions but these two individuals I do admire," he said.
Batra also asked Emery, who was a part of a punk rock band before starting Mindshare, what were the simillarities between being a rock artist and an entrepreneur. "The similarity is to try and challenge the status quo. One of our core values is provocation. If you do not challenge the status quo and have some fun doing it then what is the point?" he said.