Hindustan tries to make an impact during lockdown

Hindustan Times
Hindustan took the lead in fighting the menace of fake news

One of India’s leading Hindi dailies, Hindustan — which has a reach of 51.3 million readers across Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand — has played an important role in encouraging readers across geographies to stay safe during the pandemic.

According to a blog published by Saurabh Sharma, HT Media’s head of marketing, on the INMA website, the newspaper has tried to address a lot of issues that have cropped up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spread of fake news has been the biggest concern. As lockdown started, fake news started spreading which led to fears and unrest, leading people to take actions detrimental for themselves and their families. Hindustan took the lead in fighting the menace of fake news.

“We released a communication for our readers to help people understand that their favorite newspaper continues to invest time and energy to ensure that every printed word is ratified by experts and specialists before it is published. The campaign reinforced the core need for trusted news and accurate information in these tough times,” Sharma said.

Hindustan also addressed the rumor that was spreading that urged people to stop newspapers because they could carry the virus went viral. “We reassured our readers their newspapers were safe and shared an informative video on the precautions and measures being taken to ensure the safe delivery of newspapers. The video garnered more than 2.2 million views and was shared over 10,000 times,” Sharma added.

The biggest question in readers’ minds was how to stay safe from coronavirus. As per Sharma, Hindustan tried educating readers on various safety precautions to keep them secure and healthy. The newspaper carried full-page stories in all its editions and locations to educate readers on multiple fronts, offering precautions they should take to ward off the threat of infection.

Due to the prolonged period of complete lockdown beginning March 25, Hindustan realized it needed to connect with the readers and engage with them emotionally and physically to help spread calm and positivity.

Hindustan rolled out the Suraksha Chalisa (Safety Poem), using a traditional format of prose writing and expounding the benefits of keeping oneself safe. Through “shlokas” and “dohas,” it integrates useful communication in the local dialects in a format that resonates with the readers to educate them on various aspects of staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newspaper also started a high-impact campaign, Hindustan Ghanti Bajao, in which reporters visit different localities every day, ringing the bell of households to understand their on-ground challenges, issues, and problems. Hindustan then got in touch with the local administration and helped these households get immediate relief.

Celebrating its partners

Hindustan has also tried to celebrate the contribution of people who have chosen to step out and make life simpler for others. The newspaper created awareness of the contribution of these people and their services, expressing gratitude for them through a series of articles and advertisements.

The newspaper raised awareness among readers and expressed its appreciation for the trade community that distributes the newspaper through regular digital and print ads, educating readers on the need to acknowledge their contributions and to honor and pay their dues to the newspaper vendors on time.

“To create awareness among trade on good practices, Hindustan put up several banners and conducted various training sessions of sanitization protocols at newspaper distribution centers, advising the trade to take all advised precautionary measures,” Sharma said.

In the fight together

Besides creating awareness and educating the trade and public, Hindustan supported the government initiative of providing necessary essential gear to help people stay safe. Hindustan distributed over 50,000 free masks and gloves, and 2,000 liters of free sanitizer among the trade and general public. Hindustan also sanitized carriers used for plying essential goods and services such as fruits, vegetables, and newspapers.

“Now is the time for publishers to act. Through endless hours of work, in these trying times, we have done more work than ever, enabling India to rid itself of the coronavirus with the least amount of possible damage to our people and economy. Hindustan, true to its brand commitment, will continue to offer a new take on progress and safety, and will do every bit to contribute to an informed and healthy society,” Sharma concluded.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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