The Patrika Group has emerged as the top print publication in the Hindi heartland in recent years. Its growth has been validated in the IRS figures (Patrika tops the IRS 2013 in Hindi heartland), perhaps a reason why the group has stood by the survey. In a conversation with exchange4media, Arvind Kalia, National Head, Marketing, Patrika Group, elaborated on group's expansion plans and why it stands by the IRS figures. Excerpts.
What are the key focus areas for Rajasthan Patrika for this financial year?
Consolidation of Patrika recently won leadership in Madhya Pradesh + Chattisgarh (MPCG). There are still some pockets in MPCG where much improvement is needed to be done. We can take the Bastar edition as the apt example. The entire area is bigger than Kerala. Surprisingly, since Independence, no newspaper has opened a full-fledged edition there. Patrika was the first newspaper to publish copies from this challenged region.
Which state is your next target after MP and why?
For now, we are heavily concentrating on consolidating our No. 1 position in MPCG. Much needs to be done, especially in the rural heartland of Madhya Pradesh. Patrika has done lot of activation programmes in remote rural areas, which makes it the No. 1 newspaper in MP rural regions by a huge margin. That needs to be fortified.
This IRS saw various allegations and marketer somehow feels that it has lost its relevance. Do you agree with that?
Absolutely not. We believe the IRS was unnecessarily subjected to various allegations. IRS has done many filtration and validation exercises, which made it more relevant and accurate in reflecting ground realities. Rather, after the validation exercise, it has become more relevant for marketers.
How much has the absence of IRS numbers for almost two years impacted the business?
Without IRS it is difficult to do media planning and buying. Now, media planning can be more accurate.
With so much controversy do you think the print industry need to switch to another currency?
Not at all. IRS is the best currency which should not be rejected, just because of some controversy raised due to vested interests. Besides, the latest IRS was subjected to ultimate scrutiny by some of the best experts on the field. We find it completely error free.