Head of Media Relations at DMA Media and a former digital journalist with TOI and NDTV, Aditi knows well the secret of storytelling- especially in a modern and well-connected age. From her work leading a highly successful social media strategy during her time at NDTV to her current position articulating the expansive yet personal stories of luxury brands such as Lamborghini and Audi, she always keeps in mind the powerful tool of veracity in attracting a large audience: “it is key to maintain your integrity in both the journalistic and marketing fields because these are the stories that connect and gain traction with your respective audience.” In the same way passionate, human stories drive the media industry, Aditi elaborated, communicating the intentions of great, noteworthy businesses impact on the international economy: “whatever the context good narratives will accurately reflect the spirit and events of the situation, as well as giving you a macro picture of what is unfolding.”
Indeed in a recent entry for her blog with The Times of India – entitled ‘Move Over Democrats, say hello to a new class of Trump haters in the UK’ – Aditi forthrightly discusses students banding together through their mutual desire to veto a particular world magnate, also predicting what this would mean for the general American public: ‘would Americans too choose Clinton because they didn’t approve of Trump, or would their vote mean they genuinely have faith in Clinton’s leadership?’ Similarly when discussing her process with constructing brand stories Aditi told us the importance of highlighting the company’s core values and with it the valuable innovative vision each can bring as a reliable master in their field. With human faces and hard-working team behind them, such corporates are interested in being represented honestly: “people might have the misconception that marketing material is all lies, but businesses often target people who’d benefit from their services anyway, wishing to elucidate for them information that would better one's life. Companies also demonstrate a deep sense of corporate social responsibility.” Also Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian’s award-winning student newspaper, Roar News, you can then trust Aditi when she tells you: “ultimately being a successful content provider epitomises the practice of virtue." There will always be a genuine and nuanced connection with the world-conscious consumer: “this is what generates a loyal customer base and gives a name longevity. This has always been the case, and is now tangibly so with the advent of social media.”
In a quick summary, what does it mean to be a digital storyteller for you?
Keeping in touch with my audiences 24/7 and communicating accurately what is happening. That sometimes means operating in a more informal environment where I can converse with my audience and act on and reciprocate feedback: it’s not simply a one way street as with traditional media such as radio and TV.
For example some media organisations might adopt social media, but forgo the full potential when they still anchor themselves in an old approach; not responding and really interacting with their readers. The Huffington Post engages with their audience, taking on board the views of people from different backgrounds and situations, giving a slice-of-life flavour. Audiences are ready to be more interactive, and are capable of contributing news too. Say, God Forbid, there is a terrorist scare, people can send in pictures, opinions and alerts becoming legitimate contributors themselves. Through detailed google analytics you can even cater to local people and news and be very specific in the way that you tell stories.
Of course, the drawback of that has been its easy exploitation, otherwise known as Fake News
Yes, Fake News is a huge problem. What do you think could be done to counter that?
Obviously Fake News went viral through social media so it requires a two-pronged publically rooted approach. Established and morally conscious media outlets should verify their news more, and set a good example to aspire to. It’s easy to get a lead but you need to double-check your sources too. At the same time, the publications who do unethically rely on click-bait – i.e. to the detriment of facts - should be monitored more intensely and called out for their malpractice.
You help big brands to tell their stories; what do you keep in mind to do this justice?
The client’s message is important and you must deliver that. You’ve also got to be clear and highlight the relevant details. A lot of individuating factors, such as the brand perhaps contributing to a particular charity could easily go unnoticed. You’ve got to keep true to the brand’s principles and make no compromise on that.
And would you say brand marketing involves a marriage of creativity and self-promotion?
Yes, but it’s also about substantial content: there has to be a strong heart behind it all.
What have been some of your highlight moments in the job?
Honestly, every small achievement matters to me. Two big ones are when I was selected by the Israeli Foundation to visit Gaza and really immerse myself in the situation at the border there. I had the privilege of getting a real idea of how the Israeli/Palestine conflict was affecting people there. I learnt so much about their lives. The great part was that it wasn’t about getting a story but rather exploring and learning about the situation. Journalists are mouthpieces and it’s important to report what is going on first-hand. If I ever did write on the situation out there, I’d know exactly what I was dealing with.
I’m also proud of my scholarship to Kings to study asset and media management.
What’s been a favourite project of yours?
Being part of the social media strategy at NDTV when we were covering the US elections: while I was there we won an award for the best social media strategy in Asia. The NDTV platform managed to get the maximum attention and hits and that was incredibly rewarding.
What’s a current political topic that fascinates you?
Trump! No article on him ever fails to entertain.
Finally, what was your primary media technique when you won the award at NDTV?
To keep pace with the ever evolving social media space, the rule of thumb for me was experimenting and adapting: interacting with audiences on different platforms in different formats. Then deconstructing which format (picture, video, text) would work for which platform and so on. The Social media space changes very quickly, so it’s important to be able to act effectively and quickly without comprising the journalistic standard.