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How he made a small daily BIG
Moneycontrol.com | June 26, 2006
Around 70 per cent of Pune wakes up to this newspaper every morning. Sakal is the city's most widely read Marathi newspaper, with an increasing presence in the rest of Maharashtra too.
Owned by the Pawar family, the Sakal Group has aggressive plans. After acquiring regional daily Gomantak in Goa, it also picked up English daily, Maharashtra Herald last year. The paper's also introduced supplements like Family Doctor and Agro Won for special pockets of its readers.
Editor, Abhijeet Pawar told CNBC-TV18, "If you look at the print media, it's not a very large market compared to the other markets, globally, but it's growing and if you can leverage Indian skillsets. If I was a foreign player, I would look at probably teaming with a player who can help, even the parent company that is based overseas."
"It's very similar to a software advantage. You have skilled, quality manpower here and if it can be put to the right use, then it's phenomenal."
With editorial content best left to the editors, Pawar decided to concentrate on three focus areas when he took over the reins three years ago. These were technology, processes like a six sigma system and good HR policy. He claims that it's one of the reasons the company's been able to expand and is attracting interest from foreign investors.
He insists that editorial rules over marketing in his newspapers. But he belongs to the the new generation of print media owners, who have cottoned onto the power of regional press and are luring advertisers with innovative offers and aggressive marketing.
He says, "If you look at the adex reports today, we are the no.1 advertising revenue earner in Maharashtra - way ahead of the competition by leaps and bounds and advertisers have realised that."
"This also means that your paper must also be able to give a response. It's not about getting ads at a cheaper rate in anothr paper and they might be getting it free for all they care but if it's not delivering a response, that's what you've got to look at."
He's also clear that he would never have a paid editorial. He says he has spoken to some people to understand the logic behind the Medianet kind of advertorials. He thinks from their standpoint, it makes sense and feels that the way that someone else conducts their business is not for him to second guess. He adds, "I leave it to the readers because finally, customer is king. Let them decide if it's acceptable or not."
He claims he doesn't have workdays that are too hectic that they can qualify as work! So he can take off for two weeks and the business will still survive, and that's something he can say with confidence because he's got the right processes in place.
He does unwind with golf, even though golf isn't exactly good for his back, he finds it rather addictive. He is a person who may not seem too flashy but he's clear that he knows how to enjoy life. Ultimately he says, "I think you need to be free to do what you want to do, otherwise what's the point?"
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