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162. The Flipkart cover – how do you measure

June 24, 2012

I have come to become a big fan of Flipkart in the last couple of months because I run a weekly quiz on twitter. Arguably the best Indian quiz on twitter – 4 times a month in terms of prizes. I give a way close to Rs 2,500 worth of e-vouchers to winners. The winners have the freedom to choose health and knowledge.

I have always had a good image of Flipkart the brand; Flipkart as a corporate did not concern me except that it was interesting to note that a former coworker recently joined them to head communications. But what made me look at them closely was the Forbes India cover page image. I tweeted about this cover to understand what people thought of it.

And I realised there were several others tweeting, discussing and  commenting about the cover even before the magazine had hit the newsstands or subscribers mailboxes. This led me to ask myself several questions РMost important of all a) can earned media when negative be measured or for that matter can earned media be measured at all as we may like to believe? b) Is media the court of reputation where an issue or a brand gets a positive or negative verdict?

The other questions that came up were c) Why do magazines run such stories? d) Whom do these stories benefit? e) Does the headline – “India’s e-commerce darling headed for a fall?” along with the graphic change my perception as an ordinary customer of this brand or as a potential investor if the company goes public? f) Is this a favour Forbes India is doing to the promoters and investors at Flipkart to wake up and make things better? g) While the reputation does get hit in the short term will it be good for Flipkart to take this as a point to ponder and get its act together if what the story states is true?

The fundamental point is how does one measure such a media outcome? h) Was Flipkart expecting this cover to be the way it was? i) What could they have done differently to avoid a cover like this? j) Does corporate communications have a role to play in the whole scheme of things? k) Who takes the blame for a cover like this? or there is no blame game here and l) Lastly, what about the conflict of interest issue that has come up of Forbes having a sister brand that competes with Flipkart?

I will write 2-3 more blogs as the issue unfolds and as I get to read this story in the next week or two. My interest is at two levels. Firstly as a student of reputation management and secondly, the author of the story was a former co worker at my first work place and the head of corporate communications was a former co worker at my current work place and we have had common conversations in the past on Twitter on other issues.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ina Bansal permalink
    June 25, 2012 8:22 pm

    A very relevant and thought provoking post Amith. When we talk about measuring earned media, though there is no formula per say to make an analysis, however the way we measure the ROI of positive media articles the same methodology is applied. Though this is a lop-sided effort and doesn’t give a true measurement, however, it enables one to make a guestimate of the damage done to the overall ROI of a particular brand in a given timeframe.

    The arguments and questions raised are very valid and whether the company was expecting this outcome remains to be seen. I am very curious now to follow up on the story and also look forward to reading your interpretation afterwards.

    • June 27, 2012 7:51 pm

      Should PR focus on ROI or ROO (return on objective)? What is a guestimate and how does ROI get damaged? These questions need to be answered before we talk of measurement.

  2. June 28, 2012 5:08 pm

    Amith, my sense is that such articles are clearly written for people in the investment/business/finance ecosystem. Obviously, an ordinary customer won’t be reading- much less be affected by the content of this story as long as his buying experience is good. To that extent, from the company’s angle customers are not an immediate worry. What will be troubling for them, is the perception that investors will form – and how that will affect any future funding rounds.
    As to whom did this particular story benefit, I can’t say. It benefited Forbes definitely!

    • June 28, 2012 5:12 pm

      Thats right A. But because it is a much loved brand, there is so much traction. On July 5th when the story goes online there will be more outrage. Will you not tell us your full name?

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