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(arindam Chaudhuri) - Why the Times of India Group Rules! and It's not Marketing, Silly


I needn't tell our readers how proud we are at Planman Media about our magazines. All of you who have followed my editorial pieces would almost think that we are too arrogant and have a high degree of superiority complex... But I want to confess. While we are very proud that there's hardly any media house in the country that is capable of giving a more intellectual and incisive analysis of committed news that matters to the country, there is one media house which has too often beaten us with their analysis. And yes, that's the TOI group.
Too often, when we have thought we have an original idea and plan to put it on our cover, we've seen, the very next day, the same in the front page of The Times of India - the most recent one being our Aazamgarh story. What was amazing was not that they covered it - everyone covered it - but that the kind of first hand statistics they had in their story showed that that it was not journalism for the heck of it... It was intellectual journalism with commitment! And that's what I want to say - it's very easy to criticise the leader on the basis of anything and everything, but the fact is that no one becomes number 1 for nothing!
Every morning, when I get up, I get about 10 newspapers, all of which I read thoroughly - and I can say confidently that the knowledge I gain out of TOI, I gain from none of the others. Furthermore, I must add, on the day that matters the most - that's on Sundays - TOI is a total delight, with its edit page having all the best possible writers one could possibly ask for. If Swaminathan's intellectual columns - week after week - are the ideal brain stimulus that one needs to stay alive for the next seven days, then Gursharan Das' columns are pure and complete guru speak.
Yes, it's true - as per the philosophy at the Times Group - there is no famous editor. But the fact is that the behind-the-scenes editors know their jobs better than most others and they quietly give you, every morning, excellent perspectives of news. They are learned men who, most often than not, live up to the challenge - on a daily basis - of giving analysis that constantly beats the competition. Just the other day, my Managing Editor told me he was going to write on why India Inc. needs leadership skills like Sourav Ganguly's - and the very next morning, Economic Times (in the financial sphere, they outclass the rest by a million miles) had the same thought as its masthead. There is no innovative thought that goes left behind at Group TOI, despite its image as a marketing driven organization (in that sphere also, it goes without saying that TOI's innovations have constantly caught the competition napping and have been totally world class). And that's why they are one of the world's leading media houses.
And the beauty is that they repeat it with finesse in every media related venture. Before anyone else thought of it, they came out with the leading internet portal - IndiaTimes! Their TV news channel, Times Now, has been the classiest product on air from day one - and there is no compromise on the quality of news for any TRPs (and that's why I suppose their TRPs are the highest too). Forget everything else, their radio venture - Mirchi - after the initial hoopla with the Shilpa Shettys of the world, has become a channel where the RJs mix fun with social commitment in the best possible manner. Be it their non-stop campaign (in a non-moralistic, yet effective way) they carried out against the potholes in Delhi roads with Anant and Sourav (their top RJs) singing hilarious songs like maindak ban gayaa hoon gaddon mein tere..., or be it their superstar Sud and his jokes (which stopped on the day of the bomb blasts with a very sensitive note from him), even through radio, they do what no one else does.
I know, I know, you must be wondering why, suddenly, I am almost writing a PR plug for them. The reason is that I am personally fed up of meeting media personalities who never fail to give The Times Of India's example as what media ought not to do - and just today, I happened to meet one such person (whose media house is obviously not even remotely close to the Times Group in numbers) who was going on and on about ethics in media ­­and who is No.1 in Delhi, and so on and so forth. I guess with the IRS results out, there is a lot of heat going around on this numbers game! And being an avid follower of media and being very critically observant of the Times Group in particular, of late, I have only been just plain appreciative of the learnings that I get from this group non-stop, be it through TOI, ET, Times Now or Radio Mirchi! And since no one in media ever writes in the praise of another media house, I thought it's my duty to put some facts on paper that readers in India must know. In fact, now we plan to bring out a media house ranking soon in one of our magazines so that media houses realise they can also be judged and they need to be on their toes and go beyond stale slogans of truth and courage. Slogans don't make a media house great. it's constant delivery day-after-day for decades that does! And that's why The Times Of India Group is No.1!
Yes, I have myself been at times critical of some of TOI's strategies; yet, I must today admit that ever since those times - when Ambassador and Contessa cars used to rule the road, and Nicholas Coleridge had come out with his book called Paper Tigers, I have been fascinated by the TOI group! One can actually say that they, in a way, are the inspiration behind our group's entry into media too - because it's only after reading their story as a B-school student that media fascinated me for the first time. It was when, as a part of our marketing project, I read for the first time in Paper Tigers how Sameer Jain ran the paper and how, through aggressive marketing strategies, he made the group India's No.1, that I felt media was not just about commitment to great journalism - which many others have too - but about being extremely exciting as well. And The Times Group constantly keeps things exciting - not just through their contents, but also through their designs and innovations, which are always the best. And they don't need to change their designs every other week (like many other confused souls do, confusing their readers in effect) and their innovations are pioneering, the best and ahead of the times - be it their city supplements, or their job supplements or their brand supplements or their social campaigns like Lead India etc. Needless to say, everything that they do is also always greatly marketed and backed up by perhaps one of India's best sales teams, which is always equipped with the best tools and researches. After all, shouldn't every good product also be taken to as many people as possible?

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