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Premium Products / Services come with a Cost

Premium Products / Services come with a Cost

Recently, Mr. Suresh Balakrishna, the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of The Hindu Group addressed our MBA (VITBS) students on “Media & Advertising in India”. He also spoke about varied subjects that include career opportunities in Media Industries, How The Hindu managed to transform from a print only product to a solution provider and shares a vital piece of advice to tomorrow’s managers with S. Sudarshan

Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about various career opportunities in Media Industry from today’s context?

Careers in Media have really burgeoned in the last 10 years. Prior to that, we used to have classical careers like Editorial, Journalism, Photography, Sales, Marketing, Circulation (Distribution), News Reading etc; These careers still exist but then there are new avenues that has come up in the recent times.

Digital Media & Out Of Home (OOH) has opened newer opportunities for the youngsters. Digital Media in particular has been a fantastic addition – be it the Social Media, Google Adwords, Content Writing etc; These jobs never existed before a decade but then they are thriving careers today.

At The Hindu, 80% of the new recruitments that happened in the last 2 years are for Digital. We are investing a lot in digital and that is where we all see a great future. One can be a part of the Product Development team, Content team, Sales Team etc, Editing team etc;

How The Hindu Group successfully transformed itself from Print only products to a complete solution provider?

Legacy companies usually struggle with transition, be it any industry and the story of The Hindu’s transition has been any different. Although we were pioneers (The Hindu is the first Newspaper in India to launch e-paper, way back in 1995), we didn’t monetize like the way, we should have.

The Hindu took a bold step when it came to this transformation. We decided not to follow the crowd. We didn’t make the content free as we believe that premium things come at a cost and we are a premium product. Be it our websites or the app or the e-paper, it is all paid. It was a huge risk that we took especially when the whole World said nobody will pay for the content particularly in India.

We now see that risk paying off. Today, we have about 90000 subscribers paying a premium subscription. This change happened because of the mind-set change across the organization from top to bottom.

In addition to the digital business, we have in-house events, brand solutions, activations. We do not own Television Channels or Radio Stations but then we partner with them to provide 360 degree solution to the clients

Learning from The Hindu to the current crop of students?

Do not always rely on legacy or your past laurels. Having said that, do not forget your past. For example, Authenticity & Credibility are our strengths and it took generations to build that. So, whatever we do when we transform ourselves, we never forget our strengths.

In a nutshell, never forget your roots but don’t rest on them either would be the biggest takeaway.

Favourite & must read books for the students?

Good to Great by Jim Collins created a lot of impact on me and I strongly recommend the students to read it

This is your maiden visit to VIT? You delivered a wonderful lecture to our MBA Students. Your thoughts about VIT?

Very impressed with the infrastructure and I am not dwelling in to it further. What has most impressed me are the people. Right from your Chancellor Dr. G. Viswanathan, your Vice-President Dr. G.V. Selvam, Dean, Faculty members and the staff whom I met were very much grounded and realistic. The Chancellor in particular symbolizes humility and that has percolated the culture of the organization.

Not to forget the students. There were 300 students with whom I interacted today. Some of the questions that they posed today surprised me. The maturity of the questions impressed me and they are a great bunch of students.

Finally, your take on what should a student choose – Employment or Entrepreneurship?

Tough Question. Consider your financial position and take a call. Becoming an entrepreneur is definitely a welcome sign but then be aware of the pro’s & con’s of being an entrepreneur. Personally I would say, work initially for few years; get in to the groove; make money for yourself and pursue your passion