The 10th edition of the Indian Magazine Congress was held in Mumbai yesterday. On this occassion B. Srinivasan, MD, Vikatan Group, gave his views on how the magazine ecosystem could make itself stronger as it enters the digital age.
According to Srinivasan, the biggest asset of a publisher are the people who create products for the community. He reiterated the importance of creating and nurturing a community throughout his talk. Quoting John Lennon, he said, "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."
One of the most important things for magazine publishers to do, he said, was to reset their culture. He advised his peers to capture what the culture of the company is, confront those areas which need tinkering to move forward and monitor this change. Talking about the trend of setting up open offices being seen, he said, "If our minds remain closed but we work in an open office, the system will not work."
He gave the further example of #whereismytoilet; a campaign run by the Group recently. He explained that the genesis of the campaign came via feedback and comments on an article written by a student contributor. His advice was to keep listening to the audeince and learning from them.
"You cannot always succeed the first time around. It is important to fail. When you do fail, it is important to understand you have failed. The next logical step is to understand why," he said.
Talking about the importance of monetization and how to approach it, he opined that it was important to understand what the brand stands for, what the community needs and what the advertiser wants to address. "Be a part of the solution; don't just try to take money from the advertiser."
He also gave his thoughts on native advertising which he felt has become very important. "The brand comes first. Ensure that the brands you are working with are not fly-by-night operators. You don't have to sell your communities to them (brands) What you need to do is create interest in the community for what the brand is trying to say."
He also urged magazines to promote talent from within. According to him, his own group has seen contribution by journalists in different walks of media increase from 10 per cent to 30 per cent. He informed that all journalists in the group are encouraged to contribute in terms of keywords, Facebook headlines, tweets, hashtags, etc.
"You have to try and create cross functional teams. Break down silos, not only for content but even for other functions like sales," he said.
"Your competition is not other media groups but your own consumers," he signed off.