Media, the fourth pillar of democracy, evolved in India due to the staunch leadership acumen of leaders from the different paths of society, taking on their shoulders the responsibility of providing accurate and truthful news to those in need of it, the Indian republic.
An emerging digital marketing leader is Prakash Kumar, the Digital Head of prabhatkhabar.com, the leading Hindi Daily from the Hindi belt.
It was not inspiration but much more than passion that Kumar came into the digital media industry. He started his career with a market research firm called Exevo, based out of Delhi, India, and worked there for a few years. But as a fresher, he decided to switch to the digital industry, which he found fortunate.
This was in 2012. Working in the digital industry, Kumar began loving his job and his work and started ideating things. He has worked in various roles, from social media to AdTech, MarTech, product management, revenue optimization, marketing communications, and the technology market.
He has been polishing his leadership skills for ten to twelve years. He has covered almost every digital angle and worked with companies like Dish TV, Dainik Bhaskar, ASKME.com, and Cybermedia, a leading agency.
Kumar states, “In every individual company, I have learned everything there could be learned. I have devoted myself to polishing my skills and enhancing my personality.”
Igniting the New Dawn of Prabhat Khabar
Today, Prakash Kumar is leading Prabhat Khabar’s digital wing. Initially, it was more into a print media and was a leading news daily of Bihar, Jharkhand, and Bengal. But sensing the modern times’ demand for everything and everybody switching towards digital, Kumar convinced Prabhat Khabar’s management to transform the news daily into digital.
That is how Kumar ignited the new dawn at Prabhat Khabar and initiated its digital wing. Through it, Kumar began pushing on for everything digital. Initially, working in Delhi, Kumar came into the domain of prabhatkhabar.com and explored and learned everything on the job.
And today, under his visionary leadership Prabhat Khabar is growing into the leading national digital player.
Kumar says excitedly, “We are strengthening our digital and print arm. And we are expanding like anything. Unlike print, digital can spread Prabhat Khabar’s wing across the entire country. That is how from a regional player, we became a national player.”
Kumar Transforms Prabhat Khabar
Kumar has revamped Prabhat Khabar’s digital wing during the last three years.
Kumar adds, “When I came three years ago, I made my team. I worked on upward skilled resources who had expertise in particular domains. I strongly believe that multitasking can be harmful to personal growth. Like jack of all trades, but master of nothing.”
That is why Kumar hired skilled resources; a particular resource, those having expertise in a specific domain rather than one person doing multiple things, which is not suitable for an individual’s growth.
Kumar explains, “That is only for that if you want to run a company somehow. But if you want to grow, then you have to deal with expert resources so that they can give their 100% by knowing the business inside-out.”
That way, Kumar made his professional team of forty people. Those were working in various parts of the country, from where he onboarded them. He called them all to Prabhat Khabar’s Ranchi and Delhi office.
They started working under his astute leadership, and in two years, Prabhat Khabar has reached from five million to a news subscribers base of 30 million, “Which is a 6X growth since I joined prabhatkhabar.com. Earlier it was not coming in the top hundred websites. Today, it is one of India’s top ten news websites in terms of traffic, user acquisitions, and everything.”
According to Kumar, only 40 to 50 per cent of the target has been achieved, with the remaining target yet to be accomplished.
Kumar states further, “We can see our growth graph and plan to reach under the top five players in India by the end of 2023,”
Winning Over the Challenges
The biggest challenge Kumar faced while transforming Prabhat Khabar was people’s perception. Since Prabhat Khabar is based in Ranchi, all the great resources either work in metros or want to work only in metros.
But determined to hire expert resources, Kumar leveraged them. He gave them a free hand to work, practice, and experiment with their skills. Initially, he made many mistakes, but he fast learned from his mistakes. And he kept experimenting with ten-odd things and began recording where he was going wrong. At the end of the month, he knew precisely which of his experiment worked and which backfired. He focused on those which worked, dismissing all other failed ones.
The second challenge is that of competition. Competitors are national and multinational players. In terms of technology, resources, and finances, they are huge. But Kumar was clear that if he utilises all of Prabhat Khabar’s existing resources to the maximum extent, Prabhat Khabar would grow.
Although they are a small company of only forty people, each member works to their fullest potential. And today, Kumar feels that they are like some case study where forty people took an under hundred company and transformed it into a top ten company in just two years.
And where most media houses cannot even break even in a year, Prabhat Khabar has claimed profit in the first year after going fully digital.
The third challenge he beat was that of technology. He completely changed Prabhat Khabar’s old technology, moving to advance technology. He restructured and streamlined everything to make the company’s entire process future ready.
Once everything was set up, he ensured that the company was giving its employees the best possible environment so that they will not miss any comfort of living in the metro city.
Kumar adds, “We have given our employees everything. We have streamlined the process. We have structured things. We have given them a free hand. And that is how beating every challenge we went from five million to thirty million users.”
Content is the King
Kumar asserts that Prabhat Khabar’s USP is its content. It is very rich and solid, unlike other media houses. People refer to its content.
Externally it gives quality content to the people and thriving culture to its employees. It is not just a professional environment, but Kumar makes sure that his team works like a family.
Kumar puts, “Rather than making them responsible, we give them accountability. We say to them that this is your area. This is the domain on which you must work. You are accountable for everything, your losses, your benefit, and all. So mentally, we prepare our employees.”
Kumar asserts that for Prabhat Khabar, its team is its best asset. Once the team is mentally prepared, they have to reach a certain level within a particular time frame; then, one has to leverage them. One has to tell them that they are everything to the company. They are the company’s strongest asset.
Kumar puts it like this, “We give them leverage in terms of work, perks, benefits, and everything. That way, they take accountability and start performing.”
Creating a New Day, Daily
Kumar says, “Value is the dedication or honesty towards your work. This is our core value. And when we say that our team is our asset, we value honesty. And I strongly believe that there is no substitute for the hard-working.”
Kumar further adds that he keeps telling his employees two things. First, he does not want a multitasker. If someone works for 8 to 10 hours and multitasks, they distribute their time and efforts in several departments rather than their core departments. And that means they’re contributing nothing towards any single department. So that way, multitasking is entirely unprofitable.
The second is: that there is no substitute for the hard-working. It is a combination of hard and smart working, or any other fancy terms one can call it. They are not doing any automation kind of thing. Because if they want to do any automation, there are limited men to be used. Which is not their approach, nor it is their objective.
Their objective is to meet the demands of the digital media industry in which they deal. This profession demands everyday ideation, everyday innovations that come from the past and the work and the process that one is approaching.
Kumar details it, “In short, it demands hard work. Once you do market research, you analyze the thing, maybe after data gathering. So, this whole process requires a lot of effort and work. That is why I say that there is no substitute for the hard-working.
First, you have to analyze the product and process and deep dive. Once you deep dive, that means that you are hard-working. You are working very hard for a particular thing. Then you can get some value out of it, which is value addition.”
The digital industry is changing like anything. Maybe things might become obsolete in the next couple of years. Thus, Kumar’s suggestions for any entrepreneur are that they must be clear with their basics. They must understand the digital ecosystem because he had seen this industry from branding to performance marketing in the last 10 to 12 years. Things are changing fast. Especially in digital, it has dramatically changed in a previous couple of years. Today’s technology may be obsolete tomorrow.
All the time, one must be on their toes; one must keep updating themselves to see what is happening. And a case study helps, that what exactly went wrong or what has been fabulous for that particular industry.
That way, one must be updated all the time. Like today, digital is working. It is in demand. But there are so many domains and verticals in digital that one has to understand what they want in digital.
Because the e-commerce industry in digital works differently. The media industry works differently. Any product-based company or service-based company works differently. Their approaches and ideations are entirely different; it varies from industry to industry. So firstly, one has to think about what exactly they want from the digital.
Kumar reasons, “Your objective and the aim should be very clear. Along with digital, can we add a branding perspective, can we add an ROI perspective, or can we add a lead-based perspective?
Many things have been categorised as digital, so you have to understand what you want. And you have to be patient, right? If you think that you are starting digital and getting ROI just from the next fiscal year, you still have to wait and watch. Ultimately, if your approach, strategy, and ideations would be in the right direction, you will eventually get something out of it, but you must be patient.”
Enlightening the Future Dawn
After completely revamping prabhatkhabar.com and its team in the last three years, Kumar understood that they have to work on their policies for continuing the forward momentum to achieve their goal. They have to also work on their strategies, which might vary from time to time rather than a standard lifelong policy they must follow. This is not their approach.
Kumar defines it, “We will be very flexible to strengthen our employees, to give them the best facility, we will keep changing our policy every two years. So, for the next couple of years, our vision, objective, and goal are to become one of the top five players in India, and that is how we are planning to establish our brand or company across India, especially in the Hindi belt.”
Kumar states, “We are Hindi language news daily, catering to Hindi audiences, Hindi advertisers, and thus want to capture all the Hindi speaking audiences of Northern India. This is our goal. We have launched our offices in UP, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and MP. Next, we will be launching our office in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.”
Kumar concludes, “We want to reach all the Hindi language audiences of the country. Completely. This is our audience. This is how we cater our content to our audience. This will be an absolute priority rather than a particular area. I want to serve every user who reads, writes, talks, and understands Hindi.”