Kolkata has a strong business community that often voiced its need for local business news. As a national daily, The Times of India covered business news of national interest, leaving this large local readership dissatisfied.
Although some corporate news made it to the pages, the local community felt its efforts and contributions always went unnoticed. Thus, reaching a lucrative target audience that had good consumers of brands as well as advertisers was important for the national daily.
We decided to launch a reader connect initiative for increased readership. To connect with local businesses through a destination page, we launched Times Bengal Bizas a half-page Sunday section that covers news on the local business community and industries. With adequate response to the product iteration, the section was extended into an interactive event called Times Philanthropy Honours.
Usually, these leaders are rewarded for their contributions to the business world. For the first time, they were being awarded for something that they were proud of outside their work and as individuals.
TOI recognised and honoured the business community of the state for their consistent philanthropic efforts and contribution toward Building a Better Bengal. This initiative sought out business owners from Bengal who go beyond their call of duty and contribute using their resources and efforts to give back to society.
Turning leaders into heroes
Bringing these stories out in the open excited this cohort and made them heroes. The stories of the 18 philanthropists were covered in the city pages of TOI to celebrate their contributions.
These stories were crafted to shed light on their generosity, substantiating the same with quotes directly from the beneficiaries. These stories were further shot into two-minute videos and digitally amplified through the TOI Kolkata social media handles to reach the city audience.
Through digital conversations, the campaign collectively achieved a reach of +4.5 million, with video views of +1.79 million and engagement of 0.54 million. Additionally, +1,000 Kolkatans shared their stories of philanthropy on the TOI Kolkata Facebook page.
A special night
The initiative culminated in an invite-only grand event on August 26, 2022, where business owners were congratulated and honoured by industry dignitaries. Other members of the business community and regulatory bodies were also a part of the event. It turned out to be an impactful networking arena for local business owners as well.
Dr. Shashi Panja, cabinet minister for industries, commerce, and enterprises and the Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare of the government of West Bengal, was the chief guest. Alapan Bandyopadhyay, chief advisor for Chief Minister Smt. Mamata Banerjee, and Dr. Purnendu Chatterjee, founder and chairman of The Chatterjee Group (TCG), were a part of the eminent gathering as well.
The newspaper carried a full-page of post-event coverage detailing the event and celebrating its massive success.
A first of its kind, Times Philanthropy Honours was able to cement the idea of TOI as a newspaper that celebrates the local and national community. The same format is being replicated across territories for the newspaper to celebrate unrecognised local philanthropists from the business community.
Times Bengal Biz continues to publish every Sunday, sharing relevant stories about the business community of Bengal.