The concluding day of INMA South Asia Conference saw industry leaders discussing on new strategies to build newspaper readership. The event was held in Mumbai on November 13-14 under the theme of ‘Building value in the newspaper enterprise’. While industry leaders are optimistic about readership growth in India, they want newspapers to become active engagers now.
impact, the weekly magazine on advertising, media and marketing, and Pitch, both from the exchange4media Group, were media partners for this event. exchange4media.com was the online partner.
There is a huge number of population who speak in English do not prefer reading newspapers, before they look at newspaper, they get all the information they need through television or online medium. So to tap this people, newspapers have to evolve themselves from passive disseminator of the news to active engagers.
The session on ‘New Strategies to Build Newspaper readership’ had speakers like Neelanjan Shome, Chief Marketing Officer, HT Media; Rahul Kansal, Chief Marketing Officer, The Times of India Group; Sanjeev Kotnala, VP - Marcom, Dainik Bhaskar. Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media, was the moderator.
Starting the discussion, Punitha Arumugam, said, “Most newspaper companies still have their heads in the sand, but other media companies are aggressive.”
Neelanjan Shome observed, “Before looking at new strategies to build readerships, we need to look at how time and place of consumption of media is rapidly changing. We need to understand how behavioural changes in media consumption are happening on a regular basis. Today, readers are well informed and tech savvy. Before they look at newspapers, online and visual medium inform them about everything. To tap these people, it is very important to answer their questions, fulfil their needs and give them more than what television and the online medium offer. We cannot afford to repackage the news and disseminate the same, there should be some value-added element in the newspapers to convince a reader to go through once from their busy schedule.”
He further said, “I am optimistic about readership growth in India. We are going from passive to highly active relationship with the readers. Building a strong brand is an absolute necessity in today’s scenario.”
Rahul Kansal added here, “Newspapers have to evolve from passive disseminator of news to active engagers.” Agreeing with Shome, he said, “We need to have a lot of analysis stories to grab eyeballs. We need to have a lot more improvement in terms of content to compete with the new age media. We should get involved with our readers by getting guest editors so that the reader gets the feel of local touch. We have tried the same thing with some of our language newspapers. If you segment the category and cater to that particular segment accordingly, then definitely readership growth is guaranteed.”
Sanjeev Kotnala pointed out, “If a newspaper gives what readers want, then readers will definitely find time to go through at least once. Newspapers need to have a local touch and give something unique to the readers that they won’t find on any other medium. Most of the newspapers are certain format or segment driven. But we need to understand that every reader has his own needs.”
Summing up the session, Arumugam said, “To build newspaper readership, it is very important for newspapers to do what readers want, to answer their questions such as ‘why should I read your newspaper’, ‘does your newspaper have anything that pertains to me and am I part of it’, ‘is your newspaper going to give me anything unique’, and so on. It is very important for the newspaper industry to fulfil the expectation level of the readers. Just collating and disseminating the news is not sufficient to convince the readers to read the newspaper.”
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