Vijay Karnataka puts a spotlight on distribution channel during pandemic

By Venktesh Babu

MMCL-Vijay Karnataka

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

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During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, print media saw multiple obstacles, one of which was the physical nature of its daily distribution. The distribution of many publications in India was stalled for more than 15 days.

The Vijay Karnataka (VK) team distributed sanitizer, gloves, and masks to everyone across all channels so they could protect themselves while doing their daily duties.

The VK Delivery Super Heroes campaign recognised the people who went to great lengths to safely deliver the printed newspaper throughout the pandemic lockdown.
The VK Delivery Super Heroes campaign recognised the people who went to great lengths to safely deliver the printed newspaper throughout the pandemic lockdown.

Despite hardships, we ensured VK and Bangalore Mirror (BM) teams thanked the relentless efforts of the distribution network of agents, vendors, and delivery boys across Karnataka who ensured newspapers reached homes even during the lockdown with adequate safety measures.

The campaign spanned 27 March to 1 May — more than 30 days. We encouraged more than 5,000 channel members for the work done by them.

Objective

In India, newspapers follow the traditional method of door-to-door distribution.

During the pandemic crisis created by COVID-19, publishers faced a unique challenge of a distribution channel not willing to distribute the newspapers as there was fear that newspapers would carry the virus on them. Some readers also did not want to receive newspapers at their homes. The circulation numbers dropped drastically in many cities, including Mumbai.

VK, the highest read daily newspaper in Karnataka, decided it would work with the distribution channel, empower everyone, and protect them from the deadly virus. The VK Delivery Super Heroes campaign’s goals were to:

  • Establish that newspapers are produced in safe, mechanised conditions.
  • Ensure readers did not fear newspapers being delivered to their homes.
  • Support vendors and delivery agents with safety equipment like masks and gloves.
  • Give social recognition to channel members.

Campaign rollout and results

Renowned leadership training guru Dale Carnegie said, People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards.

Circulation figures dropped more than 50% in the first week of the lockdown. In the first leg of the campaign, VK and its parent company BCCL provided information about the safety of newspapers and its state-of-the-art production facilities, which require no human touch until the newspapers reach distribution points via vehicles.

VK supported the distribution teams with protective gear like mask and gloves. The distribution channel appreciated the move by the publication and invited missing team members to come back when it received support with essentials to safeguard their health. The circulation in 15 days came to about 75%.

The team launched a campaign called VK Delivery Super Heroes. The tactic was to showcase the agents as superheroes and mention their coordination in the campaign.

The print and digital campaign urged readers to inform their friends and families in these areas to share the numbers so that could reach out for copies of the newspaper. We received a good response across the Karnataka market and were able to increase the circulation by about 2%.

In the third leg of the VK Delivery Super Heroes campaign, VK team asked celebrities from the Kannada movie industry to thank the delivery superheroes with video messages. VK team posted these videos across social media platforms and tagged a few leaders in various markets. Also, these videos were available through mobile phones to the distribution network.

On International Labour Day, we asked readers to thank delivery agents with a flower, chocolate, or sweets as they have relentlessly delivered newspapers to their doorstep even during the times of the pandemic. Many readers across the state responded with goodies on May 1.

With the above set multi-pronged approach, VK and BM were able to regain all the copies in the Karnataka market by appreciating the efforts of the delivery channel.

Banner image courtesy of Steve Halama on Unsplash/Vijay Karnataka.

About Venktesh Babu

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