'Targeting viewers via social media is an essential tool-kit for businesses today'

Smriti Mehra, CEO - Business News, Network18, talks about how social campaigns drive conversations and engagements on digital platforms, the reach and impact of such campaigns and more

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Apr 6, 2021 10:56 AM
Smriti Mehra

In the past one month or so states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, etc., have started witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases again, signaling that the pandemic is not over yet. Unfortunately, social events are also back and a lot of people have forgotten to take the much-needed safety precautions. Amid the election season chaos, CNN-News18, l, has launched a nationwide awareness campaign - #DontShowMeYourface. Such campaigns just like news are the need of the hour said Smriti Mehra, CEO - Business News, Network18, in a chat with Exchange4media.

"The campaigns also drive social media engagements for the platform", said Mehra.


At a time when a majority of campaigns are only around elections, you have come up with a campaign with a social message. Tell us a little about the #DontShowMeYourface campaign.

As a responsible news channel, we at CNN-News18 have always believed in raising relevant issues and creating impactful conversations to drive change. As India faces the wrath of the second wave of Covid-19 with numbers of those infected surging daily, the onus is on all citizens to do their bit to slow the spread of the virus. And wearing masks or face coverings is the first and most effective line of defense. Through the #DontShowMeYourFace campaign, we seek to shock and drive home the message that that wearing a mask is mandatory. The campaign’s call-to-action message is deliberately provocative to surprise consumers so as to increase their receptivity to what are essentially simple and clear messages - continue social distancing, and wear a mask when stepping out.

What are the target markets for the campaign and how do campaigns like this help the business? How are you marketing the campaign?

Gone are the days of single platform communication. We are conscious that consumers of the brand and the genre inhabit multiple platforms and it’s incumbent on us to reach out to them wherever they are. Hence, targeting viewers via social media is an essential tool-kit for businesses today. Therefore, we have also gone beyond television to speak to our viewers. We have leveraged our social media assets across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. This is a Pan -India campaign. We have also launched a unique and customized AR filter for social media platforms, which will allow users to capture their pictures with a curated mask and support the campaign call. Through this initiative, we have witnessed a massive uptick in engagement on all our digital platforms. 

2020 has been a rough year for the industry, what are your expectations from 2021? 

We have high expectations from 2021. The English news genre has, in recent years, experienced challenges. But that trend is changing. 2020 was a good year, both for viewership and revenues. I think 2021 will be even better. News-wise too, it promises to be a busy year with a string of elections and events that fit snugly with live news TV. The channel and indeed the wider network is known for taking up causes that matter to people. You will see that continuing as we augment the news cycle programming with consumer campaigns such as #DontShowMeYourFace. 

How is CNN-News18 leading the conversation around COVID-19, both editorially and business wise?

Considering the significance of the news television industry in these times, we at CNN-News18 are not only bringing fair and unbalanced reportage for our viewers, but also working towards busting myths and allaying people’s worries. Since the pandemic broke, we have come up with dedicated programming featuring experts and doctors whose advice our viewers can benefit from. With our CNN affiliation and being part of India’s largest multi-language TV news network, our reach is unparalleled as we can be both global and hyperlocal, serving up the best stories from around the country and the world. Additionally, we have shows providing healthcare and fitness tips. We have even provided helplines to ensure viewers have access to correct information such as counselling through doctors. CNN-News18 has in the past year shown specialized shows and special programming such as Corona Warriors, Corona files, Corona Control Room, Doctor Call-in, etc.

Help us understand the channel's new offerings and new plans for FY22.

As we enter the new financial year, the channel, true to its legacy, will be nimble and ambitious in the kind of journalism it will embrace. It has one of the youngest newsrooms in the country and a fresh, energetic cast of evening primetime anchors like Zakka Jacob, Anand Narasimhan, Marya Shakil, Shreya Dhoundial and Shivani Gupta. With this credible and capable team, it will continue innovating to produce formats that will keep viewers engaged. We will also continue our unparalleled coverage of important international events. But while we adapt and innovate, some things won’t change: our commitment to fast, relevant, fair, and responsible journalism.

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