Pune Fortnight 1, HT vs TOI : The Highs And Lows

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Two weeks have gone by with the Hindustan Times in Pune.. Launched with minimal noise save a few hoardings and a Dol-Taasha performance, nothing significant was seen during the launch. So be it.

It is probably sensible to avoid making a big noise when your future is uncertain…

The TOI has been visibly on their toes during this phase albeit the overkill on the day of the launch with all those notices to readers. It is over and done with now and the action is all in the paper and the ground.

Time for old fashioned reality to step back into the scene.

A conscious attempt to have a subdued marketing approach is evident with the HT. They are hardly pushing local advertisers beyond the customary few which in all probability have been roped in through network rather than any active sales process.

They obviously don’t seem keen to take local revenues ahead at this point of time, leading me to believe that my earlier take on their strategy could have been right.

They will push only the Mumbai+ Pune corridor when the time comes. For now the focus is on getting the content going.

Abhay Vaidya and team seem to be doing the right thing and picking a good mix of generic city news with a noticeable civic focus.

Now this is where the TOI has upped their ante. Joy Purkayastha and the Toi edit team are taking their competitive lead seriously and are visibly chasing hyper local news.

The TOI Citizen Reporter Initiative is also being bandied around significantly in the paper.

Going hyperlocal is sensible for TOI, since it would take HT a while to build a network with team of reporters to match the TOI team size that is already large.

We have seen a lot of space being devoted by TOI to affairs they have ignored in the past or did not find worthy to publish. A good sign for readers since this will increasingly play an important part in the marketplace.

HT on the other hand has been chasing some lesser known stories for a few days now that it is getting fair attention.

TOI has also been beefing up their features teams and trying to get in more magazine genre features into Mirror etc.

The old flotilla game ( borrowed from combat – the aircraft carrier and largest will always be protected by a flotilla of small destroyers ) is being played again by the TOI. What is left to be seen is the impact it will have in keeping the main TOI insulated from any fall in numbers.

Cost’s have increased overnight for TOI will free supplements being handed out to match the HT compliment. This will herald higher revenue goals for the advertising department ( response as it is called within the TOI ) resulting in a possible higher attrition rate. The mentally weak succumb to pressure on targets and more so if they become unreasonable. Different matter that there are pockets in the city, the marketing teams don’t visit but that is typical of leader complacency.

It would be prudent to give HT some time before they are targeted on performance but at this stage it would be advisable for them to keep their nose to the ground and pick up every bit of news that is lying around.

It isn’t easy fighting two large competitors every day. One the market leader in the segment ( TOI in this case ) and the other, online media. The latter for its immediacy, crisp style and more importantly width of subjects.

Verdict for the fortnight : Readers are getting better fare from all the dailies concerned.

Jaisurya Das

Jaisurya Das

The industry affectionately calls him a Marketing Maverick; Known to be brutally candid with his writing as much as everything else, Jd is a much respected media and brand commentator whose prolific writing sees no boundaries.

Jd also consults in Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing, both of which are integral to his brand interventions.
Jaisurya Das