What does success look like for a digital newspaper that’s less than six years in the mix? Firstpost (www.firstpost.com, www.firstpost.com/hindi) has juiced both digital content and distribution to become financially solid in a ruthless market where the mighty are falling by the wayside, riven by high costs and sinking advertising volumes. Take 2016, and what a year it’s been – disruptive politics, technologies and stunning whiplash of xenophobic protectionism all at once.
What does this have to do with Firstpost? Everything. With a 70-strong team of mostly millennials guided by a senior team drawn from the best of print journalism, the challenge on every story is to hang in and be counted against competition that includes legacy print and broadcast majors. Nobody’s not digital anymore, it’s the digital-only gigs like us who have a steeper climb. For ad buyers, the metrics have changed, their lexicon is now monopolised by Google’s search engine, transparency for both content providers like us and our advertisers is the best it’s ever been in the industry. Page views, heat maps, two way engagement and the ability to analyse the data elephant available to all stakeholders have rebooted digital journalism and marketing forever.
The 2017 Union Budget and 5 state election results of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa presented us with a fascinating case. We’re not a financial newspaper, we’re not into economic wonkery but the Budget is a rite of passage and this time it was going to be a post-demonetisation political blockbuster. That is certainly our strength so we went all in on both text and video. Our 5 hour Budget day livestream played live on 4 platforms – website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – smartphone heaven ( we hope) for the country’s teeming millions of cord cutters. All this from a 10X10 corner room in our Mumbai office and sponsors giving us a thumbs up – Vivo Camera and Music, Future Generali India Life Insurance, Kotak Securities, SBI Life Insurance, Canara Robeco Mutual Fund and Godrej Properties Limited. High cost showbiz does not impress us, it’s the bootstrapping model that we have perfected that puts us front and centre of the digital journalism business. Firstpost marked a world first in 2016 becoming the only digital news organisation to host a multi location Facebook Live from New York, San Francisco and Mumbai. Facebook has named Firstpost as a flagbearer of its livestream product for our marathon election specials. We’ve just downed the curtains on our Uttar Pradesh blowout. Next up is Firstpost digital strategy 2.0, which will be a first again because the rest are barely coming to grips with our original disruption. Turn your FB notifications on!
Article by Mr B.V Rao, Editor, Firstpost