Rohit Upadhyay is the founder and CEO of iBroad 7 Communication. In his career, he has worked with Indian Express, The Times of India and as part of the launch team of Star India (Radio City). He finally worked with Reliance Broadcast Network that runs 92.7 Big FM, before heading down the entrepreneurial road.
He refers to himself as a radio evangelist as he conceptualized this company which is the first full service radio agency with an in-house recording facility and providing complete end to end solution on myriad topics via the radio. Among other projects IBroad 7 Communication handled the radio campaign for BJP during the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Abhinn Shreshtha, Rohit Upadhyay spoke about the change in political campaigning and the role the medium of radio played in this change. Excerpts.
What difference did you notice in how political parties (especially the BJP) used radio this time around?
This time around political parties have used radio not only as a medium of reach but also as an impact medium as the medium reaches to a wide cross section of society, or TGs—right from SEC A to D,R1 R2. All the parties used the medium effectively.
The BJP in particular used the medium very widely. For the first time in the history of any political campaign, not only the private FM networks but extensive use of govt stations was also done, especially the use of medium and short wave government stations to reach the last mile voter.
What were the essential and typical qualities of the radio medium that were leveraged?
Radio being a mass medium and with low cost per reach was perhaps the best medium to be used after door to door contact. No other medium can be localised, regionalised, and targeted in spite of it being mass in nature.
For example, a farmer living in Vidharba and one in Bihar may have completely different issues from each other and because of radio’s localised reach, it becomes the best medium for communication of various agendas to each of these two communities and that too in a language and manner that they follow completely.
As compared to other mediums what role does the radio play in political marketing?
It has always been thought that radio is a mass localised reach medium. However, it has never been used that way. BJP in particular used the medium to its fullest. Let’s take the example of UP, which was divided into five parts, i.e. Western UP/Braj ,Bundelkhand, Rohilkhand, Awadh and Bhojpuri on the basis of the dialects used in the respective areas. Different communications were created, keeping in mind, the issues of each region in their own dialect.
So, for the first time, a mass media was highly localised and targeted. Hence, the mass localised strength of radio was exploited to its best.
The BJP used mediums like digital and radio effectively in their campaign. Do you think this has caused a shift in the mentality of political parties on how campaigning needs to change?
All the mediums were used rather effectively by BJP including digital and radio. However, the latter two stood out simply because for the first time a client believed in the medium and used it to its fullest. Not only parties, but also other brands will also believe in investment in these mediums more than before as now they have seen proof that they do work.
What are the challenges that one faces while using radio as a medium of propaganda or communication?
The main challenge is that the industry doesn’t have definitive data apart from the four cities where RAM is available for media planners to plan effectively. Also, most creative and communication agencies, especially the big creative agencies, do not create enough creative communications for radio.