Shishir Joshi | ‘The brand is huge, why not make it even bigger?’

Shishir Joshi | ‘The brand is huge, why not make it even bigger?’

Synergy is the watchword for Shishir Joshi, the new group editorial director for Mid-Day Multimedia Ltd.

Having taken charge of the Rs250-crore, Mumbai-based media group this month, the media industry veteran is seeking to capitalize on the “early mover advantage" Mid-Day has gained through its entry into radio and Internet, besides building on its mother brand, Mid Day, a tabloid with a circulation of close to 220,000 in Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, collectively.

In an interview with Mint, the former executive editor for TV Today Network Ltd talks about his plans to make Mid-Day a multi-city, multimedia brand.

What are your priorities for the Mid-Day group?

Mid-Day provides a fantastic opportunity. This is the era of multimedia, and the primary requirement today is to facilitate synergy among all media. If you have a print employee of Mid Day, and he has an interesting story that can be shared by radio, the same can be synergized on to the Internet and different forms of media.

The reporter gets more exposure, more energy and more mileage, as he is seen through different media.

It’s all under one umbrella.

My role at Mid-Day is to create those synergies. We have all these verticals, (though) not television as yet. Mid-Day, the brand, is huge, why not make it even bigger? Why go to anyone else for radio, print or Internet when I can give you the entire set-up right here in terms of partnership, news value and a superb brand.

Fun and fresh is what we want the product to be. There are going to be a lot of marriages in the digital space and Mid-Day is going to be a pioneer in that area.

First-mover advantage plays a very critical role. We are looking at a lot of exciting things in the Internet space. The idea is to make Mid-Day a multi-city, multimedia brand. We are just present in Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, and would like to take the brand to other cities. The question is which city can offer more in terms of content, research support, etc. Today, there are so many cities where radio has already been established. So, in that scenario, print could follow. It will be the larger cities to start with. Our target audience is essentially young urban mobile professionals across India.

Rival Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd’s paper, ‘Mumbai Mirror’, has managed to get the pulse on local news and ‘Mid Day’ seems to be flagging. Your plans to correct this?

The group has seen better days and I’m sure that we will see better days. It has nothing to do with a Shishir Joshi coming in. I’m sure that I will be able to put all the jigsaw pieces back into place, because local news is what drives a newspaper. In metros, people want to know what is going on.

The localization of news—Mumbai as a nation, Delhi as a nation and Bangalore as a nation—has to be enhanced. In that sense, Mid Day has suffered some erosion from competition which could be from anywhere—Mumbai Mirror and even the The Times Of India. Sometimes, the dent could be due to people movement. Or, when the focus changes. It could even be during the transformation from one focus to another.

The idea is to make Mid-Day Mumbai a nation; so even someone sitting in New Zealand should be able to put their finger on the pulse (of the city) through Mid Day.

The same applies to New Delhi and Bangalore. There is so much room for growth.

There is a clear distinction between us and the competition (Mumbai Mirror is now a morning paper)—there is huge room in the afternoon-paper space and one just has to push forward. Mid-Day as a huge brand already exists, it just needs some sharpening.

There is speculation that Mid-Day Multimedia is looking at television very seriously. Your appointment is only fuelling this rumour. Comment.

I understand that that would have been the obvious conclusion. But, rather than saying that television is not on the agenda, I would say that brand consolidation is a priority, as is maximizing brand synergies. In the past, Mid-Day has flirted with television. It was managing content for a half-hour show to be aired on Zee TV. We need to address the priority issues before looking at television.

Marketing, circulation, distribution and editorial are going to play a very critical role in bringing the brand back, and taking it to the next level. The group is open, flexible and willing to experiment with anything that enforces a positive brand value.

Recently, the tabloid switched to a broadsheet for a day (as a part of the ad campaign forAxis Bank Ltd). While some would call it a one-off marketing gimmick, this was also an experiment. They didn’t just sit back on this innovation. They went out and spoke to people, a very serious opinion was sought, and that feedback from the market is now very much in place.