Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Why I chose to be a digital marketing professional..."

Niranjana Muraleedharan (Class of 2014) wrote this piece for The Commits Chronicle in June 2104:

Yes, my Facebook page is always open, as you can see in the photograph below. But I browse Facebook not for fun; I do it to earn a livelihood. Never in my life did I know about the existence of careers in digital media until I came to Commits. Today I am working as the Jr. Executive, Campaign Management-Digital at AdVerb Inc. in Bangalore.

Like any other fresher, I was also blank about where my skills lay and what career I could pursue. In my first semester I liked journalism because I thought I could write; in the second semester my thoughts turned to advertising because I thought I could ideate. And then I found my true love, Digital Media Marketing. All thanks to Commits, which conducts special classes on the subject for MMC specialisation students.


I must have run to Sai Sir’s and RP Sir’s cabins umpteen times to ask them what job would suit me best when, one day, Sai Sir asked me to try out this new field. He told me about the boom in, and scope of, digital marketing. At first, I was doubtful because the field is new, but my second internship, arranged by Commits, cleared all my doubts.

Digital Media Marketing has a bit of content writing, ideating, and brand management. As there were classes in all three subjects at Commits, it is easy to understand my work better now. Life is fast-paced when you are working in digital media. RP Sir’s dictum — “Pay attention to detail” — has proved invaluable: If I make one mistake, thousands will see it.  Hence, I always keep his words in mind.

One more thing: The Commits radiance spreads everywhere. To my surprise, I have a Commitscion (Razia Kuvale, Class of 2009) as my manager and I am so glad. No one can ask for a better boss.

And in January 2016, after moving to a new company, Niranjana contributed another piece to The Commits Chronicle:


“Oh! How I just hate that ad which pops up before the YouTube video starts playing. All I want to do is press the skip button.”

Say that no more if you want to be a digital media enthusiast.

In this fast-paced world, brands have started investing more on digital advertising. For them, it is a fair deal because every metric is tracked. There are determinants to understand the performance of each ad. Since the communication is two-way and the results are immediate, believe me, it makes the job more fun. You know if your strategy has worked or if the thinking cap you wore when coming up with your strategy was the wrong one.

This reminds me of an interesting episode. We were working for a client, — a job-matching portal for blue-collar workers. The challenge to communicate with these blue-collar job-seekers was immense because their English communication skills were weak. We tried talking to them in simple English. We wrote content they would be absolutely interested in.

But we received no response on the page.

What was wrong then? Was it because they disliked the content or was the content not relevant to them? It struck us then that the language we had chosen was a problem. We took a different route and started sharing content in Hindi. And boom! In came all the responses. This was proof that any strategy works only if you have understood your target audience well.

If you want to become a Digital Marketing Professional, you have many areas to choose to work in. This includes social media, search-engine marketing and optimisation, web analytics, e-mail marketing, media planning, creative designing, and client servicing. The growth is immense in the field.  I started my career as a Social Media Executive at AdVerb; recently I moved to Media Planning at Isobar. This means, it’s good if you explore various fields in the medium and gradually become an expert.

You can get into digital media if you have the right educational qualifications, which means it helps to have a master’s degree. But what’s more important is learning on the job. Keeping an eye on what’s happening around digital is a must. You should be updated about what other brands are doing online, the changes in advertising techniques, the advertising tools, as well as the new features.

And you don’t have to worry about the fun part! Digital media folks are the most chilled-out people you will meet in your life. You will not know how those nine hours or more (!) at work have whizzed past.


Monday, January 25, 2016

How to be a success as a freelance production professional

Saaksha Bhandary (Commits Class of 2012), a production professional based in Mumbai, was most recently Associate Creative Director of the just-concluded reality TV show, I Can Do That, for Zee TV. She is possibly the youngest ever to be an ACD for such a big show.

I asked Saaksha to give us a lowdown on what it means to be a freelance production professional and elaborate on the responsibilities of an Associate Creative Director. Here is her piece:

Being an Associate Creative Director or Associate Creative Head means you, along with the Creative Director, are responsible for conceptualising and executing a show from start to finish — right from thinking of the basic idea of the show to finally working on it, putting it together, and delivering the “master” to the broadcaster.

When it comes to television shows and events, it means you are basically in charge of everything related to the show, be it thinking of the central theme or idea, the set design, the venue, the performers, the anchors, the on-stage and audience interactions, the light design, the costumes, the seating, the props, the scripts, the music, the acts, the choreography, the show flow or show progression, the edit pattern... in short nothing gets the green signal until the creative team approves it.

You are in complete charge of what the content of the show will be.  It's a lot of work and responsibility because one small mistake could have adverse effects on the show.

All this might seem quite daunting at first but the more shows you do the more efficient you become. I found that one of the most important qualities to have in order to be successful in this line of work is to be able to think on your feet. The Hindi television industry is not a big believer in “forward planning”. Everything happens, or, conversely, does not happen, at the very last minute and you need to be able to think of a solution immediately.


If you are thinking about taking up this profession, here’s some serious advice:
  • If you're planning to come to Mumbai to join this segment of the production industry, forget about having lots of time to socialise and relax! Say goodbye to most weekends.
  • Don't play safe. If you want to get ahead in this field, playing safe isn't going to get you there. Take risks.
  • Take this up only if job security is not your first priority. There have been stretches of time earlier on in my career when I have sat at home for months without work.
  • Network, network, network! I wasn't too good at networking earlier. I would just come, do my work, and get out. But now I realise the importance of networking in this industry. It takes you a long way. 
Okay, I know I've made it look like a very difficult and scary field to work in... But I have come to love it, despite all the pressure and sleepless nights. When I finally see my show going on air it gives me a tremendous high to think that I have been part of creating something that lakhs of people in India and abroad will watch.

All I can say is, this is a very fulfilling job and I am fortunate to be among those people who can actually say “I love my job” and mean it. :)


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A kindred spirit! As my friends and students know, I, too, can't read only one book at a time

Here is a relevant excerpt from Jerry Pinto's column in the latest issue of The Week:

Now that it is the end of the year, I thought I should do an audit of how many books I am reading simultaneously. So I went through the house — not a difficult task to do in a small Mumbai flat — and listed every book of which I had read more than 20 per cent. When I was done, I found I was reading 30 books at the same time. This does not count Marcel Proust — I am in the middle of The Captive The Fugitive — which I have been reading four pages at a time for the last two years.

He is reading 30 books at the same time! I am not so bad, rather, good. According to my Goodreads feed (above), I am reading 10 books currently. (Actually, the number is 11 — two days ago I began reading Sarasvatichandra, by Govardhanram Madhavram Tripathi. But the book is so new, it does not figure yet on Goodreads.)

Here you can read Jerry Pinto's column in its entirety: "Strange Encounters".