ICMA 2017: Media needs stories and vice versa: MK Anand, Times Network

At the e4m Content JAM, MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network talked about the importance of stories for brands, their symbiotic relationship,media’s role and the need to make branded content a continuous exercise

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 8, 2017 8:18 AM

At the e4m Content JAM, MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network, reinstated the importance of stories for brands. He began his session with how media and brands can't live without each other, and this was not just from advertising revenue perspective. During the course of his talk Anand also highlighted how the human brain is attracted to stories. 


He narrated the example of a New York Times journalist who picked up a pair of spectacles from a German brand on eBay only to put it up there again for sale but backed his offer with a dramatic story (created by him) and sold it at a humongous profit. “What was sold was the story not the artefact. That's the importance of stories for brands,” said Anand.


He also emphasised on the partnership between media, stories and brands, “Brands are made of stories. Media exists to inspire, engage, inform and entertain only through stories. It is in the business of stories. It could be factual, fantasy, fictional and even fake stories. Brands depend on stories. Therefore there's a great partnership. However, desire and economics don't work that way. Corporates exist. Media needs stories and vice versa. Therefore one needs to understand that it’s a symbiotic relationship,” he said.


He added, “Media owners need to accept and understand that media from any source is as good a story as any other source. A media company which is helping with branded content makes itself own up to the story.” For this he offered an analogy: “For me the best analogy would be that of the author and the story owner. Let’s say that the latter has gone through a challenging experience, which now becomes attractive. It could be a mountaineer. So the person who owns the story is the brand owner. The author has to come with the motive of assisting the story owner to make a book which is successful and meets the combined objective of both the story writer and owner.” 


Since co-creation is involved in branded content writing, Anand advised that the media owner should come with an author’s mindset. He then reinstated, “As a media owner one needs to understand that every story is good as any other story. You need to come with an honest intent. As an author you have to be very clear about what you are as an author and what do you want to write about.”  


Anand shared that as a media company Times Network does not go after ‘all sorts’ of branded content and that India's development is currently their focus area. The Network is pursuing this focus area through the various network channels like Mirror Now, Times Now, and ET Now, he said. “Through these three platforms we are able to make a pitch for anybody who’s planning to look at branded content activities which are in the middle of future of India and its growth,” he said.  


He also wants people to do away with the notion of treating branded content as an episodic activity and instead make it a recurring activity. He explained, “In today’s day and age there has to be six to eight quarters of consistent work in the same zone in terms of storytelling, story writing and propagation. Branded content or story, if it’s relevant, has to be a continuous activity and must be talked about.” 

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