Hindustan educates and inspires a country of 1.3 billion on lockdown

By Saurabh Sharma

HT Media Ltd.

New Delhi, India

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As the global pandemic claws across countries, it impacts every aspect of life and business. For India, a country of 1.3 billion, the challenge increases exponentially when isolation remains a luxury for many. We stand at a higher risk of community spread, which can lead to a massive rise in the number of positive cases. The spread can only be halted if people work together and help themselves as they deal with an ongoing nationwide lockdown.

Communication is imperative to provide Hindustan's readers with information about how to help themselves stay safe in the midst of a lockdown.
Communication is imperative to provide Hindustan's readers with information about how to help themselves stay safe in the midst of a lockdown.

During these unprecedented times, it is imperative for a brand like Hindustan — which has a massive reach of 51.3 million loyal readers across Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand — to play the role of mediator, educator, and mentor to encourage readers across geographies to stay safe during the pandemic.

The pandemic created situations that needed we were in a unique position to address:

1. Fake news

As lockdown started, fake news started spreading almost as fast as the virus itself.

Limited information and restricted knowledge nurtured unverified and unsubstantiated information that was peddled as news. This led to fears and unrest, leading people to take actions detrimental for themselves and their family. Hindustan took the lead in fighting the menace of fake news.

Part of Hindustan's initiative includes educating readers about fake news.
Part of Hindustan's initiative includes educating readers about fake news.

We released a communication for our readers to help people understand that their favourite newspaper continues to invest time and energy to ensure that every printed word is ratified by experts and specialists before it is published. The campaign reinforced the core need for trusted news and accurate information in these tough times.

2. Rumour: Virus spreads from newspapers 

A peculiar problem for the entire industry arose when a WhatsApp message urging people to stop newspapers because they could carry the virus went viral. We reassured our readers their newspapers were safe and shared an informative video on the precautions and measures being taken to ensure the safe delivery of newspapers.

The video garnered +2.2 million views and was shared over 10,000 times.

3. Fighting fear with information

The biggest question in readers’ minds was how to stay safe from coronavirus. Hindustan became the source for credible information and data, educating readers on various safety precautions to keep them secure and healthy. Hindustan carried full-page stories in all its editions and locations to educate readers on multiple fronts, offering precautions they should take to ward off the threat of infection.

All editions of Hindustan newspapers carried stories that targeted readers and gave advice specific to their needs and interests.
All editions of Hindustan newspapers carried stories that targeted readers and gave advice specific to their needs and interests.

Due to the prolonged period of complete lockdown beginning March 25, Hindustan realised it needed to connect with the readers and engage with them emotionally and physically to help spread calm and positivity. Hindustan took several innovative steps to disseminate information, data, and a sense of how to reclaim their positivity: 

  • Corona se Dariye Mat, Savdhan Rahiye (Don’t be afraid of corona, stay safe): Daily articles offered tips regarding health, hygiene, and routine chores to follow during the lockdown. Over 60 articles have already been shared at the time of this article’s writing. The pieces have garnered a massive following, with readers regularly asking questions and making requests on topics. 
  • Corona Prashnottari (Corona questions answered): This daily section addresses various questions from readers related to coronavirus. Subject matter experts answer questions posed by our readers. More than 1,500 questions have been answered so far.
  • Anokhi Baatein (Anokhi is Hindustan’s women’s magazine and translates as “unique”): The section engages female readers by providing them various tips related to family, kitchen, cosmetics, etc. More than 20 tips have been shared at the time of writing this article.
  • Corona Myth aur Sachchai (Corona myths and truths): This section debunks the trending fake news on social media. This protects our readers from falling for fake news, which sometimes can be hazardous to their health and safety.
  • Hindustan helpline: Hindustan, through its strong access to administrators, works around the clock to provide immediate help to the most needy. We continue to publish helpline numbers where readers can contact us as we connect with administrators to provide immediate help. So far, action has been taken on more than 8,500 calls. 

4. Campaigns that make a difference

  • Suraksha Chalisa(a poem of safety): Communicating in a language the audience understands: To enable and educate the readers on the various safety precautions, Hindustan rolled out the Suraksha Chalisa (Safety Poem), using a traditional format of prose writing and expounding the benefits of keeping oneself safe. Through "shlokas" and "dohas," it integrates useful communication in local dialect in a format that resonates with the readers to educate them on various aspects of staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Hindustan Ghanti Bajao (Hindustan ring the bell): While most traditional media focused mainly on highlighting the issues faced by the people post-lockdown, none focused on offering a resolution. Most continued to rely on news wires. Hindustan started a high-impact campaign, Hindustan Ghanti Bajao, in which reporters visit different localities every day, ringing the bell of households to understand their on-ground challenges, issues, and problems. Hindustan then raises its concerns with the local administration and helped them get immediate relief.

Appreciating our partners

While most of the Indian population is under lockdown, some have chosen to step out and make life simpler for the rest of us. Hindustan created awareness of the contribution of these people and their services, expressing gratitude for them through a series of articles and advertisements. 

Hindustan also raised awareness among readers and expressed its appreciation for the trade community that distributes the newspaper through regular digital and print ads, educating readers on the need to acknowledge their contributions and to honour and pay their dues to the newspaper vendors on time. 

To create awareness among trade on good practises, Hindustan put up several banners and conducted various training sessions of sanitisation protocols at newspaper distribution centers, advising the trade to take all advised precautionary measures. 

We are in this fight, together

Besides creating awareness and educating the trade and public, Hindustan supported the government initiative of providing necessary essential gear to help people stay safe. Hindustan distributed over 50,000 free masks and gloves, and 2,000 litres of free sanitizer among the trade and general public. Hindustan also sanitized carriers used for plying essential goods and services such as fruits, vegetables, and newspapers.

In addition to providing essential gear to help people stay safe, Hindustan provided essential information on hygiene.
In addition to providing essential gear to help people stay safe, Hindustan provided essential information on hygiene.

Now is the time for publishers to act. Through endless hours of work, in these trying times, we have done more work than ever, enabling India to rid itself of the coronavirus with the least amount of possible damage to our people and economy.

Hindustan, true to its brand commitment, will continue to offer a new take on progress and safety, and will do every bit to contribute to an informed and healthy society.

Header image by Jeyaratnam Caniceus from Pixabay.

About Saurabh Sharma

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