‘Global Citizen Concert.. Who?

Let’s get past the obvious. The Global Citizen concert was littered with a-listers like Chris Martin from Coldplay, Jay-Z and Demi Lavato.

I found it very amusing that there were hoardings that said that this was about ending extreme poverty.

There is a back story to this. PM Narendra Modi attended one of these one year back and used a Star Wars quote, ‘Let the force be with you.’ Wolverine was looking over him. (Power move!)

Am sure not many went through the pre-interviews that the CEO, Hugh Evans, Global Citizen went through on how the PM invited him to make a change. (watch here). He actually said that “they come for Beyonce and they stay because they become global citizens,”

I am really not sure how the people who attended the concert and why do they care about exterme poverty?

A PM who is demonised for his policy decision to demonetize Indian currency. A controversial media environment.

I promise you, most people who attended the concert were there for Coldplay and it was awesome!

Greatest moment of their lives?! What happened to exterme poverty? who carries that forward?

Am really not sure how all those hoardings, media campaigns which paid for the concert ever got through an electorate that stands in line for a Rs. 100 note.

This was about Coldplay. We all liked it.

No one cares about the anti-India disgrace flag-in-the -pocket issue.

We got a great show! Extreme poverty? Who cares, right?

What’s the plan? Were they pushing for any policy change? How can we end poverty in this country? If you attended this and were there for a great time, no skin off my back. I hope you loved it.
How do we fight extreme poverty? Anyone?

The irony is that we now have precedent in multiple countries who voted against global citizen out of power.

So what now?

 

Arnab Goswami’s Will McAvoy moment?

Hey there,

Am sure those in news media, public relations and communication have been following the sensational resignation of Times Now and ET Now editor, Arnab Goswami. At the outset, this is not a commentary on Arnab’s ‘Newshour’ and ‘Frankly Speaking’. I have been following the story and here are my two cents.

For those uninitiated, The Newsroom is a TV Series, described as a political drama by Wikipedia and it aired on HBO. The most watched scene from the series’s first episode, is a passionate lament of William McAvoy at a university panel to the question, “What makes America the greatest country in the world?” (watch here) 

I can’t help but think that Arnab is going through some sort of a moment of his own. The kind that led Jerry MacGuire to write his memo. We all know he had us at “Hello” before screaming “Show me the money!” (no jab, love the movie)

There are a few things which are apparent from his speech in Goa – 1) He fought the left liberal media bias (NDTV?) 2) He doesn’t like the fact that news media reporting centers around Delhi 3) Sees no issue with editorializing media reporting in an opinion show that stands for what he believes.

Here’s what I have been thinking about. How does the establishment divide masses on a newly formed fundamental that allows us to express, justifiably? In my opinion, it is liberal and conservative, going forward. Clearly, our friends have been watching the US elections 2016, keenly.

Is Arnab going to be the next Bill O’Reily or Keith Olbermann of Indian news media?

We don’t know. I guess, Indian news media wants to know??

 

Ball tak re.. trump!

Now that I have had some time  to listen to a few political speeches, there seems to be a uncanny similarity between US President-elect Donald J Trump and Sena Chief Bal Tharekeray.

Both appeal to the pride and conscience of the locals. They both believe that outsiders are the reason why locals are backward and haven’t progressed.They both understand the system very well to proclaim that they don’t want to be a part of it. Sort of like Groucho Marx, but inevitably subscribe to the system.

A lot has been said about nativism and reasons for the uprising of local working class. It just seems amazing that you could watch these two speeches word for word and correlate the angst and vitriolic messages that both leaders projected.

DJ Trump wants to build a wall. The other one wants to build a temple. Both symbolic for the ideals and constituency that they represent. Trust me, people are buying into both.

Fascinating.

Balasaheb in Aap ki adalat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWqXTpuqipY

DJ Trump, best lines in 201 election – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0UB06v7yLY

 

On message – the news relay

There is a tendency of corporate news media to relay messages. If you are an avid watcher of the news media space you would realize there are not more than 2-3 media stories that you carry in your consciousness.

This surprises me. A country of 1.3 billion seized with 2-3 media stories? What are we looking at. I think we are looking at a corporate media relay which is “on message”. The two most recognised terms in the Indian media for the last 60 days have been “surgical strikes” and “serpentine lines”.

Clearly, there is an effort by establishment and those opposed to percolate their messages in context of the J&K issue and demonitisation.

It’s worth noting how both sides were quickly co-opted by the corporate media in India, hashtags included. At least they are fair and pander to larger interests.

Great effort, to stay on message.

India is now #talkingdigital in 2016

Connecting One Billion Indians

Connecting One Billion Indians

In the last few months interest in India among technology companies seems to be at an all time high. With #GoogleforIndia Summit, Facebook’s Free Basics campaign, Microsoft’s Hyderabad Conclave and Global Business Heads talking Digital in India, one would believe that we have finally arrived. Connecting ‘One Billion Indians’ is the new mantra adopted not just by tech giants but also telecom service providers and Government institutions.

Here are top 6 trends that may shape storytelling in the digital age in India.

1) Go deeper, go local

Marketers who are looking to tell relevant stories will need to go deeper to understand consumer journeys across digital touch points, to be discovered at the right time. Also, with the increase in data and smart devices adoption the consumer will drive demand of ‘now’ fulfillment. This can be served only with a sound understanding of the local context. For example, a young executive walking to a coffee shop from work to a ‘nearby’ Starbucks in New York has a distinct experience from her counterpart in Mumbai. This local context in Indian urban and non-urban centers will guide access, outreach and conversions for brands in 2016.

2) Regional will become mainstream

The first 300 million internet users in India grew around urban markets, with access to connectivity and devices, disposable income, predominantly English speaking, mostly Millennials and Middle-aged working professionals and mostly male. There is a sharp increase in the demographic and socio-cultural shift in the next 200 million who joined the internet in the last 14 months. More users are accessing internet through mobile, comparative growth from non-urban markets is higher, comparative growth in female internet users is high. Also, there is a marked increase in creation and consumption of regional language content. This is not just driven by consumers but also supported by mainstream media news organizations and publishers to create more regional content. Google with its Indic Keyboard for Android may just result in a spurt of local language texting, messaging and social sharing. It’s time that marketers recognized that regional language content in India may become mainstream, in 2016.

3) The rise and rise of influencers

Those in the know of the Public Relations business have always defined their operational role as ‘influencing the influencer’. This rise in ‘influencer’ marketing and engagement especially on digital platforms seems to be an old wine in a new bottle. However, the game changer here is data analytics and being able to identify, engage meaningfully and develop relevant content for successfully driving an influencer program. Paid models will continue to evolve and the focus may shift from ‘Twitter influencers’ to ‘Instagrammers’, ‘YouTubers’, ‘Digital Content Creators’ and other digital ‘celebrities’. Also, Mainstream Media in India will adopt and leverage old school ‘news gathering and distribution’ infrastructure to new age digital formats. For intelligent marketers and agencies the ubiquitous question across digital channels will be getting a fix on ‘What does influence mean to me and my business?”

It would be interesting to see if there is an emerging school around reading, visualizing, interpreting, and creating Indian language content using technology in 2016.

4) The age of smart devices

There is enough said and written about the next generation devices and how we discover the world through them such as affordable high performance smart phones, wearables like smart watches, Virtual Reality (VR) applications or Internet of Things (IOT). However for the Indian market a higher penetration of smart devices would also mean that there may be reason to believe in an alternate engagement model which revolves around the way we use mobile internet. The average Indian user accesses mobile apps and websites in short spurts and may not enjoy high speed connectivity at all times. This will change the way the brands think and deliver their proposition to the Indian consumer. More videos, images, location based offerings, contextual to environment, shorter content formats, low bandwidth applications, digital products, lighter operating systems, etc. in 2016.

5) Technology at the helm

Data Science may finally get its due in India in 2016. As large businesses grapple with the rising complexity of interpreting their business environment some of these answers are rooted in a deeper understanding and application of smart technology solutions. Most data analytics components are developed on western models and trained to derive meaning for businesses. India’s linguistic complexity and a digital consumer’s usage in communications pose a phenomenal challenge in developing indigenous solutions that can address this issue. It is certain that a lot more organizations will gravitate towards ‘Data Driven’ models for the Indian market and apply their own unique solutions to bridge the gap between listening and conversion.

6) India means business

With an increase in investment in connectivity infrastructure, smart devices and local solutions the Indian market is poised for a leap forward in 2016. Those who take time to understand the Indian consumer, changing environment, socio-economic context and work towards viable indigenous business ideas stand a better chance to gain from this surge in momentum for India in 2016.

 

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of my employer or associates.

Anatomy of loss

Underwater Art

Image courtesy www.pxleyes.com

 

It’s that time of the year as we say goodbye to 2014, when most earmark their social calendar for the festive season, some think about what the future holds and a few retrospect. Within the good, the bad and the ugly that happened in the year gone by, what sticks out like a sore thumb is what’s lost. By loss, I simply don’t mean winning or losing as a function of parameters attributed to people or things. It’s the sense of loss that can become a sore wound if not healed in time.

It may be loss of an opportunity, physical or mental ability or a loved one which can leave a deep scar. Loss of will, adapt to change and experience new things is not always apparent. Sudden or unexpected loss may lead to despair and unwillingness to accept. Loss of identity and purpose can be paralytic. The process of loosing something or someone is one of the most complex human experiences. A sense of loss due to unmet expectations festers within as seeds to an eventuality which may not be a conscious choice. Losing sense of control over self, the environment in which we exist and resulting actions is somewhat similar to being on a boat in a midst of a maelstrom, with no compass or oars, to sail to safer shores.

The anatomy of loss can be described as follows, although its manifestation may vary depending on the individual, as is argued ahead. A lot has been written in Buddhist texts which helps understand the root of suffering to finally being at peace. The below are merely observations and not an attempt to understand or provide answers to address loss or sense of loss.

1. DABDA: The Kubler-Ross model helps us understand, pre-empt and counsel people in depression, suffering from an ailment or simply unable to accept their reality. The five stages of grief as they are known – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance are universally what everyone goes through while losing something or someone. It can act as a mirror in very confusing times to understand one’s actions to get to the root of the suffering to be able to identify and accept.

2. It’s personal, always: Most often than not, loss is a very personal experience. An individual’s ability to understand, deal with and move on from loss has a lot to do with their lived and known experiences along with outlook towards life. As a group, loss is experienced as a weighted average of all individuals and their relative correlation with the person or thing. Hence, most people advice sharing in grief or loss, as it has a higher probability of tending towards acceptance. In a group dynamic the tendency is always weighed towards normalcy. However, sense of loss and it’s manifestation as thoughts or actions are always personal.

3. Guilt and blame: At some point between the five stages, one experiences a high sense of guilt and self loathing, usually between denial and bargaining. As one evaluates his or her role, a strong sense of guilt, self pity and hopelessness sets in. This is enhanced especially in what is perceived as a personal loss or failure. The thought veers towards not meeting self imposed expectations and possibility of what could have been done to avoid the loss. The choices that we make lead us to how we eventually experience loss as an individual. Within those choices, the ones that we make that lead to eventual loss are the most hurtful in retrospect. Having said this, there is no right or wrong and loss is eminent.

4. On delusion: A crucial stage usually understood as denial. The delusion I refer to is the ignorance or unwillingness to accept while in the process of grieving, that you are grieving. A limbo of sorts which can continue for months, years or even decades if not dealt with. While denial is more specific towards something or someone, delusion is a state. The inability to understand that one is experiencing grief, simply defers the process of healing.

5. Time and time again: Time is not only a great healer but also can be a hindrance in addressing or pre-empting loss at the initial stages. It is with time, that one’s sense of discontent can become potent enough to lead to eventual loss. While in such a state one’s ability to think rationally or experience grief is greatly compromised. With timely intervention, it can be addressed by sharing with others or taking necessary actions to subdue the sense of loss.

6. No single rule: While the larger discourse on the process of healing is about acceptance, the means to be at peace with oneself may vary. No single path, rule or framework (including DADBA) necessarily applies while experiencing loss and grief. It may have multiple dimensions and is characterized by myriad nuances which are not just complex but unique to be understood in a generalized way of thinking.

7. Catharsis: While striving for acceptance and peace with oneself, the process itself can be cathartic and liberating. It is usually experienced while healing from anger and self loathing. This is quite critical to understand minutely, as the actions that lead to this stage cannot be looked at from the prism of propriety or indignation. However, it is important to acknowledge this while deeply sensing loss and grief as a moment of actual truth as it is usually characterized with one’s acceptance of reality, real and perceived.

8. Let there be light: A note on loss without the hope of healing seems incomplete. While healing itself has its own stages, the premise that one can heal is essential to dealing with loss. The acceptance of loss is closely linked with the ability to believe that there is more beyond. Although, this is understood mostly as a nebulous and intangible idea it is usually experienced in real thoughts, emotions and actions. The ability to heal is also about the ability to let one heal.

The process of writing this itself was cathartic to let the healing begin. While 2015 holds a lot of promise and hope, the ability to let go of 2014 will largely determine how much of that really matters.

 

Perpetual state of flux and social order

 

economic disparity and social disorder

it's the economy, stupid!

Most of the polity is in a state of constant flux in a socially conscious, robust evolving economy. The ensuing chaos may be the key to functional social order.

Even as the unbridled romp of free market philosophies ravage through this vast wasteland, a new breed emerges which brings with it hope, faith, compassion and social consciousness. The select few who chose to abhor consumer instincts in a vibrant economy and want to do right by the less fortunate. Social justice must prevail is their vehement demand and pledge to fight relentlessly towards large moral goals.

Economic liberalization has not broken the spirit of the urban few who truly believe that social parity is of prime importance. Amidst increasing disparity there seems to be a new voice of compassion which attempts to uphold the core values of humanity.

But there is a huge gulf between the presumed utopia and ground realities. The stark contrast could not be more apparent and yet they say we are on a ‘sustainable growth path’ which will bring us prosperity and ‘economic freedom’ to every individual who walks this ‘haloed land’.

If the new conscious is emerging then why are these voices not being heard? Or is there a need to consider a more plausible possibility of those presumed voices being non-existent? Are we delusional and beginning to hear imaginary things?

Do we perceive what they want us to perceive? Are we content in not questioning the system beyond a point, making it uncomfortable for us to face real answers?

The newly disoriented enter this environ with naïve hope. The noises made are right. These may be inclusive of all reasoning that must be considered before making broad assumptions.

With economic opportunities on one hand and the will to contribute to socially relevant issues on the other, the choice is fairly an easier one. The ensuing conflict is difficult to navigate.

It is in this state of constant flux that most exist. The odd humane gesture that one may come across in this largely callous, individualistic society emanates from this Kapraesque complexity.

Those firmed up to either rhetorical consonants of thinking are vying for the triumph of their agenda. The disoriented merely swing from one side to the other, feeding the frenzy that ensues in this perennial battle of ideological supremacy. The accepted norms are interchanged along with the ever changing mind space. Distorted reality becomes the basis for future corrections rendering them unviable, non sustainable.

The crucial role this polity plays in defining the destiny of a society cannot be ignored. At the same time, the human race may benefit at large from this critical mass of populace in constant flux, as this would ensure enough space of constant systemic evolution.

So, those confined in this compounded state of confusion may revel as the newly disoriented will remain so until the paradigm of direction changes. The voices may not be heard but their existence is proven by the dynamic nature of the system.

This may not be Utopian, but it tends to a state of balanced governance and systemic social parity. In chaos, clarity reigns supreme.

 

Tricked Out Tip #2: content writing

stages of writing web social media content

This one includes publishing and pre-writing (conceptualizing) as stages

A lot of people struggle while writing content for business or communication programs. Whether it is drafting a press release, a blog post, a Facebook update or a tweet, the principles of writing remain the same. Most people overlook basic fundamental rules while creating content for news, publishing or social media and wonder what went wrong! In my opinion, the education system in India does not help much either. There are hordes of professionals passing out from top colleges and B-schools with good grades and technical knowledge of their subject, but find it difficult to construct a single coherent sentence for business or communication to get their work done.

This handicap becomes glaring and painfully obvious, if to begin with you work in the communication industry and secondly you are expected to write on behalf of your clients or firm.

Well this is not really a long training manual on ‘how to write good content for web’. You can search for it and there are plenty of useful resources available online. It is essential for social media practitioners and strategists to be well versed with content creation and writing skills, to successfully execute client programs. Let’s face it, web can be an unforgiving medium, especially when a sore typo or a syntax error is staring in your face in the form of a tweet or an update on your brand property!

This is about the basics. The fundamental stages involved while creating content are –

  • Planning
  • Drafting
  • Redrafting or revising
  • Editing

I forget the last one very often, as you may have noticed by now after going through few of my blog posts! It is essential to follow these basic stages to create a good copy. Most people who claim that they don’t review what they write are just fooling themselves! Subconsciously you are reviewing what you write, even if you don’t want to!

Another small tip which works for me, if I am being extra careful about what I am writing is this – I save the draft copy of what I have written and close the document or folder for review later. This way I am able to see the copy with a fresh perspective and a little more objectively the second time around, which helps me identify a few things that could have helped the written content. Another simpler way is to share the draft copy with your friend or colleague for review, an alternate opinion always helps!

Hat tip: This post started as an idea as i see people constantly struggling and complaining about not being able to write effective content. My simple submission is if you try a bit harder and follow the process, you may find it a bit easier.

If you still don’t get it, then well you shouldn’t be in the communication business to begin with!! Well then you should find something else to do! 🙂

I came across a related post on aliventures along with more useful tips and advice. Do check it out.

 

The purpose of fragmented opinion

Voices in MSM (Main Stream Media) seem to rise in unison on issues which may be acceptable to a social dynamic.

Various opinions surfacing on blogs, which may be nebulous in their understanding, but within those limitations dare to transcend beyond convention. A bastion of rebellion, or so it may be perceived, still descends into opinions which may not be purposefully relayed in the mainstream space.

Hunter Thompson famously said, “There is not enough room for dissenting voices…”
May be this medium can offer that elusive outlet for a thought which may change the world.

P.S. Small post, think at will

Tricked Out Tip #1: email wars

email wars tip to get away with it

email bombs don't get you anywhere!

 

How to avoid email wars at work! 

There are days then you find yourself stuck in the middle of a situation where there’s this email staring at you menacingly from the screen. Most of us start furiously typing an apt response trying to get the last word in. Some of us choose to take the high road and leave it be. The wiser leave it for later and meet the person to resolve matters first hand.

But if you are the kind who NEEDS to respond, here’s a smarter way to deal with the issue.

Tricked out tip #1 –
Always make sure your response is half the size of the other person’s email. Remember brevity is the key here and keeping it short and sweet has its advantages!

So for example, if your boss writes this furious mail detailing each and everything that you have missed out on and wants an immediate response, ensure that you respond judiciously sticking to the key points rather than a point wise rebuttal.

Or if your colleague writes along email about how you are not being supportive at work with examples of how you have not done that in the past, you can just simply choose to say, “I will try and be more supportive”

Or if a person responds to your short mail with a shorter one sentence response, try simply saying, “Ok”.

Or an “Ok” with a “K”. (pure evil!)

It does two things. Allows you to gather yourself, collect your thoughts and think of ways to deal with the issue rather than get into a ego battle, which never ends in a good way for anyone.

And it lets you walk away with a bit of dignity rather than being smashed to smithereens.

Caveat: Do not try this with your boss on a critical issue! Or with people who may genuinely have a problem which is left festering and unresolved because of your callous approach. People should be given the due respect and dignity that they deserve. This is more of a way out for rants which can avoid potential flames over email or a full blown war at work! The message is simple, take the high road!

Hat tip: This tip was shared by a much wiser and experienced friend, as sound advice on a frustrating day. Works like a charm. 🙂