Friday, June 24, 2016


"You may say you’re not a writer. But if you have a job that requires communicating with others, you are. If you keep a to-do list, that’s writing. If you draft a project plan, report, or meeting agenda, that’s writing. And, if you’re like most writers, you want to be more skilled at using your words."
~ From a promo for Evernote


    The world is your oyster...

    ...when you have the 3 i's: Interest, Initiative, Imagination.

    And Sumukh Mehta, a 21-year-old Bangalorean, seems to have the 3 i's by the bucketful.

    That's Sumukh on the cover of GQ. What's he doing there, you ask? Read all about it here: Your Resumé Doesn’t Stand A Chance Against This Dude’s Ridiculously Creative One.

    Sumukh's story featured prominently on the websites of many news outlets. Here's how it played out on the BBC's site: This graduate made his CV look like GQ magazine  and it worked.



    Poorvi Kothari (Class of 2014) wrote this piece for The Commits Chronicle in June 2016:

    Before I joined Commits I had no idea that a role like media planning even existed. But thanks to our classes with Mala Ma’am (Malavika Harita, CEO of Saatchi Focus), I not only learnt a lot about advertising but I also got introduced to some great roles, like those of media planners.

    And that’s the beauty of Commits. You can come in without even knowing what you want to do or what you are capable of, but one thing is for sure, you’ll leave with a vision, direction, and goal in life.


    So what exactly is media planning? When I say I work as a media planner, people usually get a little excited and ask, oh, so you are in the TV industry? To which I politely say no. Then they jump to the next possibility: Oh, so then you are a journalist? To which I again say no. As I start explaining how the advertising world works, they become impatient and ask, oh, so you make ads? I say no, I just plan them. By then, even though they haven’t understood what “plan” means in this context they give up and say, oh, okay, that sounds good. 

    So, yes, “media planner” is not a profession that everyone gets right away, like “journalist” or “copywriter”. Let me, therefore, try to put it in simple terms: Imagine a mind-blowing advertisement that never reaches its target audience. What good is the ad then? Media planners ensure that a brand’s ad is served up to the right audience. We are like distributors.

    After an ad is created, media planners think of the best ways to reach out to the brand’s target audience (be it print, TV, radio, or digital). This involves a lot of statistical analysis as well as number-crunching. Media budgets are huge, typically in crores of rupees. Using this money to effectively reach out to a million consumers in the target audience is a big challenge.

    I could go on about everything that happens in media planning, or at work, or at client meetings where we are grilled for explanations about why we are spending this much on a particular medium/channel/programme/website/newspaper, etc., or what the rationale is behind a particular strategy. We are talking big bucks here so, often, we play the role of lawyers, accountants, strategists, and investment bankers.


    To sum up, media planning is the business side of advertising. It is not all about numbers, though. To me, media planning is a good mix of creativity and ingenuity combined with a knack for identifying key insights about what we refer to as media consumption. What I really love is how beautifully numbers can tell us stories, and the best part is when you are trying to sell a story and your job becomes so much easier because you can do so on the back of some powerful data.

    Creative agencies feel proud when their TV commercials are seen on air, but for us it’s satisfying when people say, Hey, did you see that ad? It’s all over the place, man! That’s when I know, okay, I did a decent job there.
    • Here are three ads whose media plans were prepared by Poorvi and her team:

    Thursday, June 23, 2016

    The mother of all podcasts: Serial

    More than 80 million downloads of the 12 episodes that make up Season One.

    That single statistic speaks volumes for the popularity of Serial, which is often referred to as the mother of all podcasts. In fact, Serial changed the way the world thought about podcasts. The New York Times has written that the phenomenal success of Serial lies "in its willingness to defy some of the worst trends in journalism", while The Washington Post has described it as an investigative journalism podcast that became a cultural obsession.

    Strangely, hardly anyone I know has even heard of this revolutionary podcast, even though it was first aired nearly two years ago. I got wind of it last year and I was hooked immediately because, with every episode ending with a cliffhanger, Serial is very much a "TRUE CRIME" THRILLER.

    But it is also journalism; radio; research. Voice modulation; the usage of background music. It showcases the art of interviewing. And it gives us an insight into the importance of script-writing. Believe me, everything about Serial is FASCINATING.

    For media students, especially those who have chosen Audiovisual Communication, this is an invaluable tool — it will help them better understand their chosen field.

    Get your fix here.

    And read up on the impact of Serial: Podcasting’s First Breakout Hit, Sets Stage for More.

    UPDATE (June 30, 2016): From The New York Times, "Adnan Syed, of Serial Podcast, Gets a Retrial in Murder Case".

    • Season Two of Serial kicked off in December last year. But while Season One will be of interest to a general audience, Season Two, in my view, will appeal only to an American audience. Of course, you can make up your mind after you read co-producer and host Sarah Koenig's Welcome Note.
    • The phenomenal success of Serial has led to a boom in podcast-production. The number of apps that enable you to search for and listen to podcasts has also increased exponentially. Here are my posts about my favourite podcasts:
    Do you have dark thoughts?

    Friday, June 17, 2016

    Do you have dark thoughts?

    Such as "I am no good." Or "No one likes me." Or worse.
    Even if you don't, here's an NPR podcast that delves into the secret history of thoughts while giving us two real stories that begin in pretty dark fashion. Both, however (especially the second one), end on such a joyous note you will get a kick out of listening to them.
    Of course, ultimately, this is a great piece of (audio) journalism.

    To listen to "The Secret History of Thoughts" on the "Invisibilia" podcast, click here and scroll down to the episode. If you want to download it, click on the "ellipsis button" and choose "Download". You can also subscribe to "Invisibilia" on the Podcast Addict app, which is my favourite app for listening to podcasts while I'm driving to and from work.



    "Shakespeare got better because he learnt. Now some people will tell you great writing cannot be learnt. Such people should be hit repeatedly on the nose until they promise not to talk nonsense anymore."

    ~ From an extremely witty book I have just begun reading (thank you, Shagorika Easwar, for the recommendation)

    Thursday, June 9, 2016

    When subs fall asleep on the job

    From today's Times of India

    a. In an interview with labour minister Parameshwara Naik by Sandeep Moudgal on Page 4:

    "The ingenuity of these posts is to be verified."

    I think that should read "The genuineness of these posts is to be verified."

    b. In a report headlined "Zika fears: Olympic champ freezes sperm" on Page 20:

    "... the couple were increasingly worried about mosquito-born Zika..."

    I think that should read "mosquito-borne Zika".


    Q. What's wrong with that picture? Can you "point" out the issues?

    A. It's "U.S.", not "U.S".

    Q. What's wrong with that headline?

    A. At the very least, it should read "Tamannaah speaks on why Katappa killed Baahubali!"

    Friday, June 3, 2016

    Some of the best news apps out there, for Android as well as iOS, in one post

    FYI, I have been using Newsd since last night. The best thing about Newsd for me: Human editors provide a well-written summary of each story.

    Check out the complete list here.