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Impact Weekly Magazine

Good News!

20 July 2015

Girish Agarwal, Director of the DainikBhaskar Group, talks of the 'No bad news on Monday' policy, putting systems in place and upholding the sanctity of content by involving 2,000 odd journalists across all the Group's publications


At the DainikBhaskar Group, content is revered as king. "Our newspapers, with an average age of 12, 13 or 15 years, have been able to bring the focus back on content," says Girish Agarwal, Director of the DainikBhaskar (DB) Group. "While most publications are now marketing-driven and events do a good job by involving people socially, by bringing the focus on content, we want to change what you read. In a large organization such as ours, we are talking about some 2,000 odd journalists and reporters working with us. It's not that we need to train the top 200 people only. It's an ongoing process. We are a multi-state & multi-language publication, present in 14 States with about 60 printing locations and 68 editors. It is impossible for any one person to call up all the 68 editors every day and discuss the daily business with them. Therefore, we need systems in place. At the same time, you can't be too regimented, saying that news related to the Prime Minister will go in three columns and news relating to a Chief Minister will go in two columns. So this is a very dynamic concept!"



"I realized that thinking in terms of content has to become the fibre of the organization, and the culture of the organization. Initially, I expect these 2,000 journalists to start thinking this way and new people, who join the organization, will soon become a part of that culture in, say, six months to one year. "We have worked a lot on our editorial. It is a bit frustrating at the beginning, because there are no immediate results when you go about changing the culture of the organization or imbibing certain new things in the existing system. It takes time. It's like changing the thinking and the mindset of the people. Sometimes you have to explain things again and again to people, but our team has done a fantastic job. Now it is building brand loyalty among journalists."

According to Agarwal, whatever is presented to readers should keep the reader as the focus. "The first thing that comes to a journalist's mind is how readers will perceive this thing? Will he understand this report from that perspective? Will he benefit by this report of mine? Will he see this in the right perspective? Will they comprehend the news the way I am doing it? That's been our focus," explains Agarwal, adding that editorial and marketing never infringe on each other at the DainikBhaskar group.


No bad news to be published on Mondays. That was the decision taken by the leadership of the DainikBhaskar Group sometime back, to bring some optimism in the Group's publications amidst the gloom and doom of everyday news. So while the papers still report a killing or natural disaster that would make headlines on a particular Monday, the treatment of that news would be different so as to portray the positive more than the negative aspect.

"We recently did an experiment 'No Negative Mondays', based on a reader's perspective. When you wake up on a Monday morning, you are starting the new week on a new note. So we thought whether we could take a stand like 'No negative news on Mondays'. There was a lot of debate on it and how we would implement it. Where would we get all positive news? News is news. It could be bad news also, but it doesn't have to be negative. For example, if the Sensex falls by 300 points, then it is news, but not always bad news. There were a lot of deliberations among our editors and then they decided to implement it," says Agarwal. "Even in extreme cases, we would publish the bad news, treating it slightly more intelligently and attentively. Plus we would carry a small headline on the top of it saying 'Negative news which you had to know today' and then place it as a small news item. Or, we can try to identify whether there is any positivity in that news. For example, the recent Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh happened on a Sunday and the news had to be published on Monday. So, we published it, but taking the angle that in spite of the gruesome attack, our soldiers fought very bravely and were able to save most of the Battalion from death. Five soldiers had died, but if the soldiers hadn't fought bravely, then the casualties could have been higher. See it from that perspective. Fortunately, there has been a lot of appreciation from our readers for this." Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lauded the effort.

On this positive note, the DB Group has discovered goodness in ordinary things and managed to convey them to its readers. "We got a photograph of monks and local kids playing cricket somewhere in Himachal in the month of January or February. It was a normal photo. What was special about it? Well, snow stops almost all outdoor activity for eight months every year in that area. But these people realized that they could play cricket if the bowler only bowled a full toss. If they bounced the ball on the ground, it would go flat due to snow. It was a very innovative thing," Agarwal says.


Taking inspiration from Akbar's 'Navratnaa' philosophy, DB Corp – better known as the DainikBhaskar Group - sets an example of workplace diversity, and thrives on the benefits that it brings to the business.

Companies that are made up of individuals drawn from different fields ought to pride themselves on their diverse workforce, with a wide range of experiences that add value to the business. The DainikBhaskar Group is one such company, with its top management drawn from different organizations such as HT Media, Fortis Healthcare, Oman Formaldehyde, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, Chellarams Plc, Parle Agro, Unitech Wireless (Uninor), MTS - Sistema Shyam Teleservices, MCCS (ABP News), Angel Broking Limited, Hitachi Home & Life Solutions, PNB Metlife and many more.

Commenting on the varied background of people at DB Corp Ltd, Girish Agarwal, Director, DainikBhaskar Group, says that as the group puts in place its expansion strategy, it has become critical for them to have a set of executives who understand the strategic markets of the future. "As one of India's largest Print media companies, DainikBhaskar is at an exciting stage of growth. We are proud of a leadership team that is diversified and brings rich operating experience spanning sectors such as Telecom, FMCG, financial services, healthcare and so on. We believe that building a team having people with different perspectives and backgrounds is the best way to ignite the spirit of innovation and fresh thinking that DainikBhaskar is known for. Our talent management programme recognizes that it is imperative for us to build a team of high potential managers with diverse backgrounds, rather than people of the same mould. This approach is also aligned to our 'Navratnaa' philosophy, guiding our talent management objectives – that brings unique and different gems together to create a powerful whole."

But transition between industries is not as easy as it sounds. RachnaKamra, Chief Human Resource Officer, joined the DainikBhaskar Group more than five years ago, shifting from the healthcare industry. She has seen the organization grow with great willingness at the promoter level. As a company, what they feel good about is that the business does not look at any boundaries to pick up benchmarks. "A lot of times we have done things which may not have a parallel in the industry. An example of that would be that we were the first company in media to go for an employee engagement survey in 2011, in partnership with Gallop," says Kamra.

The nature of business at DB is very different from that in BFSI, FMCG, Telecom, Pharma, Retail or other firms. Thus hiring people from those fields allows them to get the best advantage of their processes, as these people apply their experiences and learnings to solve issues and reach consumers. This leads to a lot of lateral thinking and bringing in of new processes in the organization. Says Pradeep Dwivedi, Chief Corporate Sales and Marketing Officer, "When I came here, I realized that the world view of our sales team was so different from what marketers would expect. There was a transactional view of looking at pricing and campaigns and objectives. We had to sensitize the entire sales team to be mindful of the client's expectations and not look at it as a commodity that we have to sell." So the discussions which earlier used to revolve around what would be the per square centimetre rate, typical deal size and volumes moved to talking about the client's target market, marketing objective and total campaign effectiveness. "It was refreshing to see how the alignment of the top leadership in an organization yields the best results for a marketing campaign. These results were visible not just in sales and marketing, but all aspects of the business, as the company moved into newer markets, challenging status quo," Dwivedi adds.

Vinay Maheshwari
Sr VP – Sales, Market Development & Brand Marketing
Moved from - HT Media Ltd.
Coming from a hardcore sales background, with over 21 years spent in media and FMCG firms, my longest stint of six years has been with the DainikBhaskar Group. Though distribution here is like FMCG, the vendor or seller can't influence consumers; it is the editor who does that job. The product has to drive itself and processes are above people. We have literally added one State every two years to the business.

Pradeep Dwivedi
Chief Corporate Sales & Marketing Officer
Moved from - Tata Teleservices
DainikBhaskar in its pre-IPO days was represented at the leadership level by the directors and the owner. Post the IPO, they have professionalized the company in a significant way, so that professionals like us have a fairly independent hand in carrying the values of the organization and at the same time bring a professional difference and value-add from experience across multiple industries that we have. That is working extremely well for us.

Chief Human Resource Officer
Moved from - Fortis Healthcare Limited
When you take in professionals from various fields, they bring in the best practices which they can apply with an open mind here. The creative and innovative aspect of the business gets a push. While filling a position, we look for general attributes in terms of behaviour and functional skills, and sometimes look outside the domain of Print. Moreover, an elaborate induction programme for our leadership makes them understand the Print business first and then DainikBhaskar as an organization.

Regional Chief Operating Officer- Rajasthan, Bihar & Jharkhand
Moved from - Reliance Communications
I came in from Telecom, which is a highly competitive, multi-faceted and fast moving industry, compared to media. DainikBhaskar is an organization looking to change, a well thought out change, and not an impulsive one. New ways of doing things are discussed here, multiple viewpoints are put out and people reach a conclusion. For example, from someone's observation, we felt we were not doing enough to groom talent at the mid-level. So HR was given the mandate to develop and create a detailed programme.

Sanjay Pradhan
Regional Chief Operating Officer - MPCG & Special Projects
Moved from - Chellarams Plc.
After being in FMCG for 25 years, now I am seeing it from the other side of the table, from being an advertiser to how client needs can be fulfilled through our media vehicle. The DainikBhaskar Group has a very healthy mix of promoter-led entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire and direction towards professionalizing the organization. While the drive is being provided by the promoters, there are lots of initiatives, innovations, processes, etc., at the professional level.

Sanjay Sharma
Chief Operating Officer- Rajasthan
Moved from - Unitech Wireless (Uninor)
From a 12-operator competitive Telecom market, media was a welcome change for me. You have less transactions or KPAs to manage on a daily basis, but it is very competitive as the number of clients is fewer. At DainikBhaskar, while the promoter is always aggressive in thought and action, they are also in the process of handing it over to professionals while spreading wings to garner a larger market-share. We have also devised a brand strategy and made one umbrella brand that encompasses all our solutions.

Vijay Kumar TV
Chief Operating Officer- CPH ( Chandigarh- Punjab & Haryana)
Moved from - MTS- Sistema Shyam Teleservices
My shift has been extremely smooth because of two fundamental reasons – one, there is great value that we add to readers and two, the intent of the organization to be at the top, every single moment. That aggressive attitude synched well into my attitude. We are extremely focussed at giving a differentiated product to readers. Similarly for advertisers, we provide the right value and response. The best part of it has been the employees; I have always believed that we have ordinary employees doing extraordinary tasks.

Amit Doshi
Chief Operating Officer- Gujarat
Moved from - Hitachi Home & Life Solutions Pvt. Ltd
As P&L head of Gujarat, my assignment is going to help me use my skillset, my background in marketing, sales, production and HR. When I was supposed to meet Sudhir Agarwal, and he was running late by five minutes, he had the courtesy to call and tell me that. This generally doesn't happen. More importantly, I have complete independence to work. Gujarat is a unique case with two equally strong competitors, while across the country you have only one. This makes the assignment very interesting. The challenge is how to become the best among equals.

Vision statement