Where does the news genre fit in media strategies for the upcoming elections?

Leading marketers and media experts decode the power of news genre for advertisers in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

By  Storyboard18Mar 29, 2024 8:02 PM
Where does the news genre fit in media strategies for the upcoming elections?
News as a genre can be leveraged in new and innovative ways to expand and deepen audience interest and engagement across media like TV, digital and social media.

In an election special episode of Media Dialogues with Storyboard18, a power-packed panel decoded strategies of top marketers, in what promises to be a blockbuster season with the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections coinciding with the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Moderated by Storyboard18's editor Delshad Irani, the panel included Ajay Dang, president and head - marketing at UltraTech Cement; Gaurav Ramdev, CMO, Protean eGov Technologies; Rahul Shivshankar, consulting editor, Network18; and Mohit Joshi, CEO, Havas Media Network India, who talked about the importance of the news genre to garner audience attention and mindshare.

Shivshankar set the tone when he said, “Almost a billion people come out and vote for a government that will determine 1/8th of humanity's destiny for five years. I don’t see this anywhere in the world, on the scale that it manifests itself here. It’s the greatest affirmation of the power of one vote. India today calls itself the ‘Mother of Democracy’" Shivshankar added that in India there are two IPLs - The Indian Premier League and the Indian Political League.

In the context of the upcoming election, Shivshankar said that there is a lot more interest from audiences this time since it is a pivotal election. “A lot of people say that because the outcome of the election is foregone, there is not much excitement. Actually, the outcome may be foregone, as some people say in the aspect of winning, but it’s certainly not foregone on where we’re going to go as a nation,” he said.

Shivshankar highlighted that the audience wants to hear what the People want to say and programming needs to be calibrated to focus on People; it has to take viewers who are sitting in their living rooms out amongst the people. “All the IPs that you create at this time are about being amongst the people. It can be ‘nukkad’ shows, you can hit constituencies, you can have massive stage events where there is a huge live audience. It’s all about immersion,” Shivshankar added.

From a marketing perspective, it is a marketer's job to follow their customers and the next three months are going to be eventful unlike anything else, the advertisers on the panel said. Thus, news is a critical part of the media strategy. “It all comes down to how you activate through the several options that are available and understanding the purpose behind the activation. News will definitely play a big role,” said Gaurav Ramdev, chief marketing officer, Protean eGov Technologies, a tech company that builds digital public infrastructure (DPI) and eGovernance solutions.

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The next three months for a marketer are going to be relentless, Ramdev added. The focus will be on momentous, large narratives and at the same time, there will be sustenance in the form of micro marketing that a marketer circles back to. Marketers will also try to capture moments as part of a larger content strategy, given the pace and spread of news in a digitally-charged world. Ramdev noted, "It is also about moment marketing, what you can catch right after, leverage it and build a sustenance piece around it."

Ajay Dang, president and head - marketing at UltraTech Cement, observed different conversation pieces taking place at different levels - political parties gunning for each other, the numbers to decode, the head vs head battles, etc. “Rather than looking at it opportunistically, where audience interest goes up, you need to stand back and ask yourself what’s the narrative that you want to dial up. Marketers want to do that. What’s the piece that you want to accentuate and what do you want to tag yourself to. That’s where the focus should be rather than seeing that there’s a lot of noise and thinking let me be present where the crowd is,” Dang said.

From a media strategist's vantage, news as a genre can be leveraged in new and innovative ways to deepen rather than just expand audience interest and engagement across media like TV, digital and social media. However, advertisers need to be agile and adaptable, says Mohit Joshi, CEO, Havas Media Network India: "You need to understand when to dial up a brand’s visibility and when not to."

According to Joshi, while news as a genre is effective and critical, it is also a very volatile medium. “You need to have a careful understanding of what your brand communication is,” he added. And that’s where Purpose comes in. “Unless you have a purpose, a campaign will not stick,” Joshi concluded, adding, "Purpose today is the fifth ‘P’ of marketing."

First Published on Mar 29, 2024 5:55 PM

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