In an email interview with Neeraj Radhakrishnan, Atul Sobti former CEO and MD of Ranbaxy Ltd., and the founder of Friday Gurgaon, discusses Friday Gurgaon’s launch, and how he plans to position the publication in the minds of readers.
Today, many newspapers have additional page or pages on Gurgaon. How will ‘Friday Gurgaon’ differentiate its offering from them?
We believe that Gurgaon today deserves its own paper. It is today not just a suburb of Delhi. It is a modern city of almost 20 lakh population - and a happening city, whether for residence, commerce, or industry. The coverage today does not do justice, as only a few civic and other topics get covered; within a paper that covers Delhi 10 times more. To be meaningful to a Gurgaon resident, it actually should be the opposite.
We offer a comprehensive Gurgaon 360 coverage, in a 32-page all colour compact weekly paper. It is a family paper, for adults and children. We offer a special Kids section; as well as a unique Global coverage. It is also a very visual paper, with multiple photographers and illustrator, on board.
Being a comparatively high-priced weekend newspaper, will this affect sales and product off take? How will you push the newspaper through the distribution channel – considering that it’s a weekly and margins need to be maximised.
We believe that we provide excellent value, as described above. The business model of course is dependent on advertising - and fortunately Gurgaon is a flourishing commercial and industrial hub. If Gurgaon residents find that we deliver value, and are credible - on a consistent basis - we will settle down well with advertisers also.
Also, all advertisements will be local, and therefore very relevant - and in the main paper, not a supplement. The-all colour format, as well as imported superior newsprint, will also enhance the look of the advertisements. We will distribute through the normal newspaper vendor route.
Why start with Gurgaon? Any plans to launch similar ventures in other cities in India?
Gurgaon, today has an excellent combination of a good reader base, as well as a good advertiser base - both in quality and quantity. And there is potential for more. Furthemore, I have been a resident here for over 12 years, and this is now home, and coming to the launch across other cities in India there are no other plans as of now.
I remember reading one of your interviews where you mentioned about your passion for the media business. Should we expect Friday Gurgaon to evolve into a full-fledged media offering where we have a Gurgaon TV, Gurgaon Radio and Gurgaon portal?
Publishing and editing a newspaper has been a passion for long and apart from that no other plans as of now.
Gurgaon is a large area as far as comprehensive media coverage is concerned. How will you manage newsgathering for various beats?
We have a team of over 20 people on our rolls in Friday Gurgaon. There are a further half a dozen others who are providing specialized services or advice on a regular/as desired basis. For reporting, we have 6 correspondents, and 2 photojournalists. They will also, in time, help capture spot news for the website. We also will encourage Citizen Journalism , and the concept of stringers, across Gurgaon.
Gurgaon has come a long way yet there are several problems in the city. In what way does your publication plan to be the voice of Gurgaon?
We will firstly aim to be relevant and credible - on a consistent basis. We would like to be fair, and present all sides. We would like to build agendas, add value, and urge action. We want to be a part of the solution; and not just throw up problems.
There is a lot to be done, to ensure a far better civic infrastructure and operations, in Gurgaon. We believe that local corporates and residents are positive and sensitive, and would contribute and involve themselves, to make Gurgaon a better place.
Why the name ‘Friday Gurgaon’? Any special reason?
Gurgaon, more than even India overall, has a younger profile - many 25 to 40 year olds, executives and entrepreneurs, with a cosmopolitan outlook. They work hard, earn well, spend well, and also are sensitive to many civic and society concerns. A weekend is a good time to relate with them, across the spectrum. And Friday is when the weekend mood and the weekend planning starts to flow.