Aditya Tandon, Head-Brand Marketing (CNN-News18, News18 India, News18 World, Firstpost Weekly) shares insights on the launch of Network 18’s first weekly newspaper.
With the ethos of digital journalism at heart, Firstpost Weekly, Network 18’s first newspaper marks the media conglomerate’s official foray into print. With the brand tagline ‘The Last Word’, Firstpost Weekly comes in, in the year of General Elections, IPL 12, and World Cup.
Media Samosa gets in conversation Aditya Tandon, Head-Brand Marketing (CNN-News18, News18 India, News18 World, Firstpost Weekly) gives insights on the newspaper’s launch, distribution and marketing plans, and more.
First things first, what was the idea behind launching the group’s first newspaper? From the ideation to the launch, please take us through the journey.
Firstpost is one of our strongest brands with category topping scores in terms of reader engagement. Strategically we felt that by launching print we will add further heft to the brand. Print continues to enjoy high credibility in India and hence the rub off on the digital brand would also be significant
What gives Firstpost Weekly a distinct identity in a clutter of newspapers? Please share your USP.
First and foremost Firstpost is a weekly newspaper and that in itself is something that differentiates us. We have invested a lot in the product’s look and feel – from the newsprint that is being used to the design which was done by Jacek Utko – a 4-time recipient of the world’s best-designed newspaper.
Also, we look at ourselves as a “viewspaper” and not just a newspaper – we will look at carrying long format features, and providing perspective from possibly the most renowned commentators and journalists in India and abroad.
The paper will focus primarily on politics defined broadly as anything that impacts public life and space. There will also be coverage on Bollywood and Sports especially Cricket but even here the stories will be insightful and not your usual run of the mill masala content.
Print as a medium has been suffering at the hands of inaccurate circulation numbers, dwindling readership, and distribution issues. How do you plan to combat these with Firstpost Weekly?
The answer lies in sharp targeting – like a newspaper, we aim to focus on acquiring discerning readers who feel a tad underserved by the current newspapers. Our product will be targeted at those who really want depth and are intellectually curious to want to read the real story behind the news. Our reader acquisition and distribution efforts will hence also be oriented accordingly. Our narrative will therefore always be more about the quality of our readers.
How do you plan to monetize Firstpost Weekly? Please take us through your strategy.
The answer to this follows through from the previous question. Given the quality of eyeballs that we are targeting, we will enable advertisers to precision target high-end readers with minimal wastage. This value proposition we believe will allow us to position the paper as a high-end product with advertisers with concomitant rates.
Will Firstpost Weekly have no digital footprint whatsoever? If no, why? If yes, please take us through your digital plans and how will you differentiate from Firstpost.com?
Firstpost weekly in a sense is not separate from firstpost.com, if anything it is an extension of the same ethos and brand of journalism that the website espouses.
What we do intend to eventually do is to keep the content that we print in the newspaper behind a paywall on Firstpost.com. We believe that given the high quality of content, readers would be willing to pay for accessing the same.
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Last to report, has been a key of your messaging around Firstpost Weekly, how do you think this helps the newspapers as a brand? Please take us through your campaign
Actually a slight correction – our key message has been the Last Word in News – the prime idea being that in this mad rush for breaking news 24X7, the newspaper aspires to step back and take a good hard look at what is happening and present well researched high-quality reportage and opinions. We use the symbolism of being the last word in news, quite literally the final word on issues since instead of being in a race to be the first to report. The use of this positioning is meant to articulate the advantage of being a weekly newspaper that comes on a Saturday.
Please share your marketing strategy for the launch of the newspaper.
In terms of marketing, the newspaper’s launch campaign saw extensive use of the Network’s TV brands including CNN-News18, CNBC TV18, History TV18, Colors Infinity amongst others. Ads in Mint and Forbes, promotion on Twitter and Facebook, on cinema outdoors and radio were all used to drive conversations and salience for the brand. On – ground activation, consumer contact programs, partnerships with brands such as Ola, BookMyShow etc. have been rolled out to drive both brand promotion and reader acquisition. Extensive branding targeted at media agencies has also been done to ensure that the brand makes inroads into the choice set of media buyers and advertisers. We are also working very closely with our distribution partners through various promotional schemes to drive offtake of the newspaper
How has the campaign helped Firstpost Weekly in its readership numbers?
Given that the primary focus of our campaign has been on on-ground direct consumer outreach programs as well as distribution partner programs, our campaign has allowed us to build both line copies through the distribution trade but also, more importantly, subscription copies in large numbers. This is a reflection of the fact that the newspaper and the campaign have been well received and has resulted in some traction for the brand. Subscription copies are of course helpful in the sense that they ensure a longer-term engagement with the readers allowing them to experience and become intimately familiar with the brand
What is the road map ahead for Firstpost Weekly?
These are of course still early days for the weekly. As of now, our priority is to consolidate our launch in Delhi and Mumbai – we are of course committed to growing weekly in terms of scale and reach as we move ahead.