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The communications industry needs great storytellers: Sachin Kalbag

18-October-2014
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The communications industry needs great storytellers: Sachin Kalbag

The 5th edition of the exchange4media India PR and Corporate Communications Awards and Conference 2014 (IPRCCA) was held on October 17, 2014 at the Trident, BKC, Mumbai. The awards honoured the best work in the communications industry in the year gone by. The theme of the conference was ‘PR 2015’ Are we ready?”. Luminaries from the field of PR, journalism and corporate communications shared their thoughts on what is needed for the PR industry to thrive in the coming year.

The keynote address was given by Sachin Kalbag, Editor of Mid-Day. Speaking to the assembled audience of PR and communications professionals, Kalbag joked that his knowledge of the PR industry was not great and he had not wisdom or ‘gyaan’ to share with the wise audience. “It is a classic tactic of a speaker who has nothing much to add to tell a story,” he quipped. Kalbag then gave the example of his grandmother and the stories she used to tell him as a child; stories, he said, which changed with every telling and which he still remembers after all these years.

The key here, according to him, was great storytelling. “As communications professionals, we have forgotten how to tell stories. Before we talk about whether the communications industry is ready for 2015, let us ask ourselves whether we are ready with great storytellers. Can we use technology to tell better stories?,” he said.

He pointed out that the internet has overtaken print as the favourite medium for advertisers in the M&E space and he hazarded the guess that in five years, it might even overtake TV. However, he opined, that this does not necessarily mean that the story telling process needs to change. Touching on the social media wave taking over the globe, Kalbag said, “As a client I want stories, not social media campaigns.” His point was that great content always delivers, irrespective of the medium used.

He termed the emergence of new technologies the DSLR effect - the fact that people buy expensive cameras but cannot visualize photographs. “Any great photographer will tell you that good photographs are created in the mind and not by the camera. We have sacrificed our imagination on the altar of technology and this is true with both journalism and communications professionals,” he said.

Talking about 2015, he opined that the challenges will remain the same; what will change is the pecking order of content delivery, news delivery and communications delivery. “Increasingly, TV channels create hashtags to trend on Twitter and to create discussions. We have seen how people use Photoshop to spread doctored images, which are not true. The PR industry has a great opportunity in these new times,” said Kalbag.

At the end of the day, Kalbag noted, the concern should be about how one can deliver content to readers. “If a 75 year old can adapt why we can’t? I think it can be done but we need to think about it,” he noted. Pointing out to the mathematical concept of ‘necessary but not sufficient condition’, he said that all storytellers need to have the necessary tools to tell great stories.

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