CASE STUDIES

We have few stories to tell, come, explore...

The brief was simple: To package and get widespread attention for the upcoming Ashirvad Hospital Azamgarh, a remote district in UP. The challenge was to ensure a dramatic take off by creating high-decibel buzz and ensuring a credible launch for the hospital.

This small district and its neighboring areas are prone to neurological disorders. The Clinic of Dr Shishir Jaiswal, a renowned neurologist who served at AIIMS besides others, was often overcrowded with as many as 300 patients a day. Encouraged, Dr Jaiswal set up a 386-bed hospital, to provide better care and cure. While the issue of brain disorder and its high degree of prevalence was surely critical and could attract national or state-level media for a story or two, hard selling it was difficult. Given its location and reputation, it was also not possible to organize a visit of a group of journalists to Azamgarh from Delhi.

Something real big was needed to provide the big push. We zeroed in on former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and impressed upon him on the need to have a modern healthcare facility which could address the typical problem of this region. Negotiating with Dr Kalam‘s office was challenge as they follow very high standards of due diligence and our communication ran for months. Designing the communication with focus on backward region, an ailment which was acquiring a scary enormity and noble initiatives was critical. Dr Kalam did make it to the event and the dramatic take off that GreyMatters had envisioned was made possible.
Agra-based Oswaal Books (oswaalbooks.com) is a six-decade old publishing house bringing out over 250 titles every year for CBSE Board, a host of states Board and major entrance exams including IIT-JEE and CAT. While the group has done well to build strong loyalty among students and teachers, it was keen to showcase its work more credibly, and gain more prominence.

We designed a special concept with an aim to bring together all critical stakeholders in the education domain – principals, teachers, students, parents, NGOs and educationists – and used a neutral third-party forum Forum for Indian Journalists on Education, Environment, Health & Agriculture (www.fijeeha.in), a development communication forum of journalists and development sector professionals. In two such events, two education ministers – Mr Arvinder Singh Lovely of Delhi Government (Delhi) and Mr Kimmane Rathnakar of Karnataka Government (Bengaluru) – graced the occasion while in another one in Patna, HRD Secretary Anjani K Singh, IAS, was the chief guest. We also unveiled white papers carrying a set of recommendations for improving school education and role of books therein. Other than getting very high media visibility, these events catapulted Oswaal Books into a big league prompting the Union Minister of State for Education Mr Upendra Kushwaha to compliment Oswaal Books on the initiative and urging them to continue this good work.
On their first birthday Nigerian conjoined twins Hussaina and Hassana Badaru came apart and celebrated the joy thousands miles away in New Delhi, at BLK Super Speciality Hospital. The 18-hour surgery to separate the twins – a rare medical feat - was performed by a team of 40 doctors, drawn from nine specialities. The medical community hailed the medical excellence.

The story got massive media attention and this helped reinforce hospital‘s reputation as a world-class facility. We wanted to take the story global to showcase the capabilities of the hospital as well as to possibly reach out with this information to all such patients who need such medical intervention. With our diligence pursuit, we were able to have the story aired at Discovery Channnel‘s prestigious Medical Miracle show. Watch here or Watch here
Assam-based Bitchem, which were among the very few companies which introduced cold mix technology for road construction, was facing stiff resistance from government agencies, villagers and contractors who refused to accept it. Something more than mere articulation was needed.

We designed a multi-stakeholders sensitization and engagement programs. From those who designed policies (ministers and legislators) to those who would be the end users (villagers), we effectively reached out to everyone with a simple narrative - the technology was cleaner, greener, faster and cost-effective and safe for ecologically sensitive north eastern states of Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh. Street plays, community meetings, and road shows to exhibit the efficacy of technology formed the first-stage advocacy tools. This was followed by media workshops to build pressure on governments as well as influence opinions of other stakeholders. Strategic negotiations with institutions like Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) and PradhanMantri Gram SadakYojana (PMGSY) ensured right inputs at policy making level for rural roads, a subject in the central list. Sales picked.
The over Re 7000 cr LNJ Bhilwara Group had done exceedingly well over the years with businesses in textiles, graphite electrodes and hydro power. Stable and robust, the Group with over 25,000 employees remained focussed through its journey, growing the value incrementally, yet firmly. While it had been continuously working in Bhilwara town in Rajasthan, at one point, the Group wanted to contribute more meaningfully led by the vision of third generation of the family - MrRiju Jhunjhunwala.

Home to an enlightened set of people, we knew the regular stuff - building schools, medical vans - would not work. We designed a fresh-idea, umbrella platform Bhilwara2020 (www.bhilwara2020.com), which had a vision for the city, as well as a slew of programs to engage with various segments of population. We created many small-format engagement events ranging from debate competition to health camps, tree plantation, career talks, water tanker, vocational programs and so on. CSR got a new hue and this platform created palpable buzz among those who matter. It continues to be a binding force for many activities in the city.
The global leaders in visual collaborations or video conferencing Polycom (www.polycom.com) was keen on reaching out to influencers in the healthcare, education and IT domains, both private and government sector, in a non-intrusive manner with an aim to talk both about the legacy of its products as well as their relevance and efficacy for the Indian set up. The marketing route was a big no.

After doing a series of personalized meetings with influencers including government joint secretaries, CEOs, CXOs and directors of academic institutions, which was followed by a special e-Newsletter, GreyMatters sat down to designing a formula to showcase the products - a necessary prerequisite before the stakeholders started to believe in the technology and its power. A multi-party-multi-location (MPMPL) Dialogue was designed on topics such as tech enabled mass communication education way ahead. Since the studios were located in Polycom’s own office, government functionaries were especially reluctant; however, the design of the discourse including visual collaboration facilities with multiple participants across locations was such that required them to necessarily travel to the high-tech office of Polycom in Gurgaon. The discussions saw participants from different parts of the world, including Polycom’s experts. The experience, said the participants, was rewarding. The superlative experience coupled with modest cost of the installations and huge ROI convinced quite a few participants about Polycom products.
International Labour Organization (ILO) is anchoring a joint UN campaign on Social Protection Floor (SPF). United Nations Development Action Framework (UNDAF) for 2012-17, signed between UN systems and the erstwhile Planning Commission in India, identified SPF as an essential component of inclusive growth in India. It also identified Odisha as a pilot for establishing institutional framework for SPF, that can be replicated and scaled up at a national level. Subsequently, ILO-India launched a pilot in Odisha. GreyMatters Communications was entrusted with the prestigious task of driving awareness on SPF among key stakeholders. We were mandated to design and execute a campaign to create better understanding about SPF, directly and through media, in order to sensitize stakeholders about the significance of ILO’s initiatives. We designed an advocacy campaign aimed at targeted communication among Policy makers, NGOs, Trade Union and Employers Organization, directly and through conventional and social media platforms. The messaging strategy was delicately designed to ensure each stakeholder group received customized messages. An approach of Inter-Personal Communication and Media-Led Communication was adopted. We deployed the following tools: Media Workshop, Editorials, Press Releases, Interview, Meetings with Influencers, Emailers and Social Media.
 
In a span of over 16 weeks, we organized 3 media workshops (Bhubaneswar, New Delhi) reaching 80 plus journalists and generating 61 print media clips in English, Hindi and Odia with an estimated collective readership of 2.3 millions. We also engaged with 62 high-potential stakeholders including Members of Parliament, Members of Odisha Legislative Assembly, NGOs, State Government Secretary and other officials, Academia and Workers Unions. 
 
Some key highlights of the campaign was an online essay competition on SPF which saw over 300 entries, and two unique campaigns on Facebook -  ABC of SPF, and I am for SPF, Are You. While in the first ABC stood for Awareness Building Campaign and aimed at disseminating information on the SPF campaign, the second one was designed to solicit people’s participation in the campaign - One would hold the ‘I am for SPF’ placard and click a pic and upload on the FB. Both these campaigns were very well received by audiences and the ILO.

In September 2015, Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (GNNTD) partnered with us to run a media awareness program on Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in India. The GNNTD, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, works to raise the awareness, political will and funds necessary to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

 

Often falling beyond the purview of mainstream media, like many other compelling problems in the country, LF has severe enormity and has persisted in India as well as other countries of the world for many years. 

 

Not many would be aware that LF is the world’s second leading cause of long-term disability. Although filariasis does not kill, it causes debility and imposes severe social and economic burden to the affected individuals, their families and the endemic communities. According to one estimate at one point in time 120 million people in 83 countries of the world were infected with lymphatic filarial parasites, and it was estimated that more than 1.1 billion (20% of the world’s population) are at risk of acquiring infection. Over 40 million people are severely disfigured and disabled by filariasis and 76 million are apparently normal but have hidden internal damage to lymphatic and renal systems. According to the World Health Organization, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Bangladesh alone contribute about 70% of the infection worldwide.

 

The task here at hand was to raise national awareness and focus media attention towards the work that GNNTD was undertaking at the ground level. We organized a journalists’ visit to two worst affected districts in Odisha. The delegation comprised scribes of top daily newspapers from the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand & Delhi. The aims was to sensitise journalists on the work being done by GNNTD on the ground for control and elimination of LF and encourage them to write stories to raise the level of awareness among policy makers, academia, health professionals and government agencies. 

 

After we carefully identified and selected journalists, we shared knowledge materials with them to educate them on the issue and its severity. Before the field visit, a special workshop for journalists was conducted with GNNTD and Odisha government officials. During the visit, journalists were made to interact with affected patients to get a better sense of the enormity of the problem. With focussed messaging and engagements, we were able to generate very good media coverage with special features appearing in leading publications like The Statesman, Aaj Kal, Pioneer, Governance Now, Prabhat Kahbar, The Samaja, Sambad, The Political & Business Daily etc.  In all, the newspapers clips had a gross readership of more than 20 lakh across the states.

 
Crystal Crop Protection is an Indian company with a turnover of Re 1000 cr and offers agri inputs solutions including pesticides, herbicides, fungicides among others. The Re 30,000 crop protection industry in India is dominated by big multinationals and the existence of Indian players is hugely negligent. Crystal was keen on giving a big push to its image and create a unique positioning for itself. As their communication partner, the challenge was huge. 

 

Recognizing that conventional PR tools had their limitations, and take time to scale up the image, we knew Crystal needed a big bang intervention to catapult its stature. We designed a first-of-its-kind National Crystal Agri Awards to recognize talents with innovations in agriculture and allied sectors. Entries were sought from all parts of the country. A massive media and online media outreach was also launched to create buzz to attract large number of entries. Given the massive spread of the government machinery vide Indian Council of Agriculture Research and Krishi Vigyan Kendras, we launched an aggressive outreach program to attract entries from these institutions. A high-powered jury comprising eminent scientists, journalists, agriculture experts and sociologists was formed, which had to undertake the enormous task of sifting through the thousands of entries.  

 

Out of the several applications received 20 were short listed for all the categories. The awards were given in four categories - Farmers, Scientist, NGO & Special Jury. The award ceremony was held on August 27, 2014 at India Habitat Centre. Two union Ministers - Agriculture Minister Shri Radha Mohan Singh, and Transport & Rural Development Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari were the chief guests. A host of participants representing government institutions from across the country were present. In all over 400 participants attended the event with representation also from private sector, academia, development agencies, and media.

 

While the magnitude of the event, its planning and execution were Humongous, the media buzz before and after the event were equally remarkable. We diligently designed the media plan and reports were published in all leading print and digital mediums across the country, in more than 5 languages with a combined readership of over 20 million. 

 

All this had provided a Herculean lift to the perception of Crystal Crop Protection, and massive satisfaction to Team Grey, which put in a gigantic effort to see through this mega event, from its conception to end. 

How turning mundane into extraordinary high decibel Media Buzz was made possible by combining the right ingredients
 
Routine occasion and one liner brief from our esteemed partner – BLK Super Speciality Hospital left us wondering how to turn a very ordinary Asthma Day into an extraordinary opportunity to create media buzz and promote the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Allergy and Sleep Disorders.
 
The question was what and how – to ensure high level of media attention making certain it retains the credibility of the brand BLK. After much brainstorming and exploration, we decided to tie-up with Delhi Traffic Police. Our engagement with Indian Police Service Association (IPSA) helped us reach the then Traffic Commissioner of Police, Shri Muktesh Chander. He kindly agreed to our proposal of conducting asthma screening test for the traffic personnel – men and women at their headquarters, Dev Prakash Shastri Marg, Pusa Road. We made sure that senior doctor from BLK Super Speciality Hospital led by Dr Vikas Maurya conducts Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) for the men and women who sweat it out for us and are most prone to lung infections due to high level of pollution in the city. Over 200 personnel came in for the test which went for 5 hours.
 
Association with an institution like Delhi Traffic Police in itself is a big PR intervention and appropriate recipe. Now it was time to make sure that the intervention becomes more meaning for our media friends. With our diligent approach and meticulous planning, we released the findings of the test. These findings made headlines in all leading and vernacular newspapers and TV the very next day, nicely catapulting hospital’s speciality and capabilities of the doctors.
 
At a time of high decibel noise, proliferation of media, and dwindling attention span due to the onset of social media, it is critical for us to perennially innovate to get our message across and enhance our partner’s credibility among many stakeholders. We thought this screening camp helped us achieve that. This intervention was so successful and impactful, that one of the leading English dailies, Hindustan Times made an attempt to replicate the same model by conducting such screenings on people from different parts of the city when Odd Even pilot was in effect in the capital.