I recall that over 10 years ago, Idea Cellular made an immensely popular and meaningful series of ads with a smart tagline of – What an Idea sirjee. Who would have ever thought that most of global education would be imparted on smartphones in 2020. The core of the campaign was a series of ideas which had the potential to cause powerful social change and overcome the problems that society is facing. It addressed issues like communal divide, keeping in touch with loved ones, overcoming barriers of languages and also the challenge to provide quality education for millions across the country.
The ad I am referring to has actor Abhishek Bachchan playing the part of a school principal who is profoundly moved due to a highly emotional scene where a father is struggling to get admission for his son. In a compelling representation of the challenges that millions of families across the country face, the father is roughly pushed out. The character representing the principal is so profoundly touched by the incident that he exerts himself in prayer and gets a brainwave while doing so. He starts a virtual school where he is able to connect millions of children online. The character later thanks God saying – What an Idea sirjee.
I recall this ad for three reasons. The first one is that the ad can now accurately be called prophetic. The second reason is my deep personal attachment for the cause of childhood education. The third is the high degree of relevance of this topic today.
With nostalgia, I recall that in 2010, I was a part of team Coca-Cola and at that time I was at the helm of the “Support My School” campaign. I had a chance to see first-hand, the challenges faced in rural education, especially for the girl child. The ambitious campaign was started with a tie up with a leading TV channel. Initial funds came from the global foundation of Coca-Cola but we needed additional money to fund the programme. It was quite a challenge to stitch together a coalition between Coca-Cola, a leading TV channel, a UN body and several other Indian NGOs. The campaign was a resounding success. Over 1000 schools were a part of the programme and several million dollars were generated to implement the programmes in these schools. Over a hundred corporates, foundations and NGOs participated in the success of the programme. Providing good essential facilities in schools is one of the most important factors in retaining students in schools and since this program was highly successful in this regard, I derive a great deal of satisfaction from the same.
Online communication and online education are truly exciting for me as I feel that the reach and scope of digital media is unlimited. Community professionals too are amazed at the possibilities for business communication and online education. I and my colleagues are constantly in touch with clients, each other and business stakeholders using multiple tools of technology like Zoom, Google Meets, Hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams. Interestingly, almost all these platforms have been made free for schools and educational institutes for a few months.
In a recent experience, my teams have been instrumental in organising webinars for Shopping Centers Association of India, (SCAI) to create awareness on the safety processes of malls and organised retail shopping complexes. We have been able to reach out to and engage with thousands of people. The videos have generated thousands of views from community and other stakeholders. The webinars have been highly successful in dispelling myths and clearing doubts on various important concerns. Panels of business experts presented factual information to correct erroneous beliefs. Publications took note of the facts and started reporting balanced news stories which highlighted the problems of the sector.
JKLU a rapidly growing university is offering online training sessions for students like various other institutions. Additionally, they are examining new technologies and processes to ensure online examinations, online evaluations and even online laboratories. Popular learning apps like Byjus are witnessing unprecedented growth and are offering some free classes as sampling to school students. And what are the schools doing to engage with junior classes like KG and Nursery? I have seen tiny tot family members attending classes sitting on parents laps, studying via homemade videos of teachers on pre-primary and primary concepts.
Over the next few months, as online classes continue, it will be most important for parents to help their children imbibe the values and ideals of hard work. Parents are getting the unique insider view of their children studying in classes and these moments are actually special for them.
The communications professionals of today can use a wide variety of formats to package their campaigns as high quality home shot videos can be created almost anywhere. Additionally, the wide plethora of editing and finishing tools online provide campaign creation capabilities to the savvy professional. Keeping this in view, at Consocia Advisory, I encourage all the team members to keep learning new skill sets and we have a robust in house training program to help encourage employee development in a structured manner.
Click, edit, create and post will be the new mantra now for communication professionals as they learn to develop and deploy campaigns for their brands and companies. The challenges and the opportunities here are huge. The learning curve for many professionals will be steep, but will give them rewards as they develop their skillsets towards the requirements of community in a post Covid world.
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