The concept of guest editors is no longer new to the media industry. Throughout print and television, news organisations have invited guest editors to join their editorial team for a day.
Recently, Mid-Day invited actor Sanjay Dutt to be the guest editor after the ‘Munnabhai’ success. The Times Group has also been active in this sphere; Vilasrao Deshmukh edited the Maharashtra Times last week. CNBC Awaaz invited Future Group’s Kishore Biyani a couple of weeks ago. Clearly most industry players feel this is a sure-shot marketing strategy in gaining eyeballs. Most feel that it also enhances the editorial perspective by bringing an external point of view.
Abhijit Pradhan, Director-Sales and Advertising, Mid Day, said that it all depends on how you use a celebrity. “It is all about how you do it and what context you get. There are a lot of brands today -- celebrities tend to become blind spots. There is uniqueness in the idea when you pioneer something. It should not become a formula. At the same time, however, it is a great way to engage your audience. In terms of such content, people find it interesting since it is coming from a benchmark: a celebrity who is relevant to the times. It makes no sense to have a fashion model giving gyaan on finance -- that won’t work. It needs to be relevant and engaging,” he said.
Hindustan Times does not follow this marketing trend. HT’s Samar Harlankar, Editor for Western region, said that he would not have anything to say, since they really don’t get into it. “I would not have an opinion about it, since we do not really ever call guest editors,” he said.
Ravi Dhariwal, CEO, Bennett & Coleman, however feels that Times has come a long way since they first started the concept of guest editors. “We have had tons of celebrity editors, from Kalam to Vikram Seth and Shashi Tharoor. I believe it’s a very good idea and it refreshes the paper for the day. It gives the editorial new focus and connects very well with the reader,” he said.
Zubin Driver, Creative Director, The Cell, CNBC 18, said that it works on two levels. “Firstly, it enhances your editorial -- it helps you to look at your own work in a different way. Secondly, it broadens your scope and perspective, helping the readership when an industry person is called in to give an editorial perspective on something. People relate to it, and it helps you to get some amount of stickiness. We’ve had a whole series of guest editors at CNBC. It is mostly an editorial choice. The kinds of people that are chosen are substantial and intellectual. I personally find it very interesting; it creates multiple perspectives,” he said.
Sunil Lulla, CEO, Times Now, said that the concept has been age old with the Times Group. “I think it can work for television as well. It is different to do it for print and to do it for television, and I think it can work for TV as well. It is a different format and I do think that it can work. The idea behind it is more of a branding or marketing strategy. It also enhances the editorial, with an external point of view,” he said.