The end of a decade is always a pre-eminent affair but the end of the last decade was marked by one of the most perilous incidents, the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 that brought innumerable loss. Lives lost; a downpour of businesses is not only the harsh affairs one had to go through; the pandemic is also responsible for the decline of the great human kingdom and its establishments. Though many businesses have shut down, the media industry breathed right through it.
Dr Bhaskar Das, Group President, Republic TV, Executive President, Dainik Bhaskar Group, spoke about the challenges of 2020 and the future ahead of the media industry on the occasion of the two-day SMX India Communication Summit 2021 on March 4-5.
Dr Das, the preceding president of Times of India, has had a top fulfilling career in the field of management for over 3 decades. He is a revolutionary figure in the forever modifying media industry. He brought integrated exposure, profit centre and brand management with a whole new perspective. He has addressed a multitude of minds at respectable and reputable institutions such as Harvard Business School, MIT, The Wharton School, MICA, IIM.
The phenomenal Dr Das took out some time out from his busy schedule to indulge us in this enlightening interview session.
These are the hard times; many businesses have shut down but the media have sailed through it. Is there any new way you would like to integrate into the Indian media sectors to make them flourish?
Right now, the businesses are being tested and they’re reconceiving and reconsidering business ideas. Businesses should have the agility and the ability to cope and adapt new imperatives to survive because there will be no normalcy soon. Though I believe the post-vaccine, the situation will recover. The worst-hit were the proximity businesses such as travel, aviation, hospitality whereas, educational businesses likely, BYJU’S, UNACADEMY etc. and fitness applications businesses were positively hit.
What are your thoughts on digital journalism and the ways it has affected other fields of media?
Digital journalism has different protocols than traditional ways. But a rare example is the New York Times, they say they’re in the news business but not the newspaper business. I think every media company must be tech-savvy because without technology we cannot survive. Technology in these media companies must have D2C (Direct to Consumer) protocols. Today, all of us are producing contents of our own, either for our community or for our fraternity. So, media and digitalization are facilitating different kind of democratization where information cannot be withheld and can be shared by anyone.
Are you keen on using social media? Which forum do you prefer and why?
I’m not keen on using social media because I have a personal opinion that I can’t afford to spend so much time.
You have strategized and brought exposure, profit centres & uplifted revenues; can you share with us some of the strategies that you have adopted to generate leads?
First of all, it’s a team effort. Secondly, business strategies differ by markets, product category, occasion, strategic vision etc. At a generic level, strategy is a route to achieve a goal. The strategies I have created for different sectors, on different categories are unique in their own ways but are connected by a common thread consisting of 4 elements (where am I? where do I want to go? how do I want to go? how do I want to win?). These are the 4 basic questions one needs to ask to make way for a strategy. Winning loves preparation and preparation needs meticulousness. We cannot generalize a strategy that can be used everywhere; it differs from place to place, roles to roles. The moment you look for a structured solution, you’re in deep trouble because you need to adapt accordingly to changing situations.
Do you think customer service fits into brand strategies and if so, then how can one integrate customer service into a new brand that they’re creating in the most efficient way?
A brand strategy cannot exclude customer service. Protocols that have been taught or thought of couldn’t have been done without including customer service. One can integrate such services in various ways and social media has an upper hand as it can be used to amplify such brand identities. A brand strategy itself integrates consumer experience. A brand must constantly evolve keeping in sync with the consumer evolutionary trajectory.
You’ve quoted, “Leadership, as I define it simply means to deliver outcomes and not outputs which have been my guiding principle in life.” How did you come in terms of embracing such a strategy for your life?
When you’re asked to do something, you’re expected to give outcomes, the result but not the output of processes you put. Leadership is not about the excuse, leaders deliver. So, if it’s not a delivery-oriented belief, then that’s not leadership.
Do you have a project that is very significant for you because it has given you an enormous sense of accomplishment in your career? If yes then which one & why?
I have done so many projects and all of them have given me new challenges to deal with. I’m very task-oriented so I have series of tasks worked on and I’m satisfied that most of them have been winners; it has always been a collective effort. So, there is no specific project because one project cannot be belittled by another.
Company culture is a very important aspect. How will you suggest promoting a better company culture?
Culture is very important. Culture is difficult to define in general because every company has a different type of culture. Company culture must be people-oriented; it must have a “growing” mindset since company culture and market imperatives go hand in hand. Culture is not static but dynamic so future managers must understand multi-cultures & develop adaptability, diversity.
You have had a top fulfilling management career, what advice would you like to give to the budding aspirators of media management?
One must migrate from the basic attitude of “know it all” to “learn it all”. You have to constantly unlearn and relearn; keeping in touch with changes. Adaptability is very important; you have to be able to adjust to the new changing world, the pace of changing will only keep getting faster with time and one must be adaptable enough. Hybrid work systems will take place of the traditional office work system. You have to create multiple adjacent capabilities so that you can pivot anytime because industries keep changing.
The author, Anwesha Panja is associated with Adamas University Media School.