Thursday, 5 December 2013

4 I's of advertising

I was watching a crucial cricket match and the advertisers were playing with my sentiments every time the over ended. They flashed the same advertisement again and again, sometimes even between the overs. Now, you can imagine – you'll start hating the product even though it is a good one.

You can take the case of Prasanna. He has promised never to buy Shivam Cement. 
Here comes the importance of first I.

Intermittent intervals. You should never bombard your viewers with your advertisements too frequently. Your advertisements should be placed at intermittent intervals.

Innovative ideas. Like you hear all the time, think out of the box. The pop-up 3D advertisements really catch your eyeballs. Have a look at the below advertisement and tell me you were not inspired.

Now have a look at these. What a great way to use the space!

Inspirational taglines. Now don't say, you don't need inspiration. Everybody needs a dose of inspirational quote to start the day with. And if you are wise enough, inspire the consumers, in-between the copy or the tagline.

Just check out few inspirational taglines.

Think different.                    Apple computer

Have it your way.                Burger King

Relax, it's FedEx.                FedEx

If you want the whole bunch of inspiring taglines, visit Taglineguru.

Interactive advertising. Make it interactive. Meaning be with the time, use different cognitive tools to get your message across. A perfect example is Domino's UK spoofing the concept of British Airways' interactive "Look Up" billboard with a kid pointing at airplanes as they fly overhead by.

The British Airways billboard pointed to planes while displaying their flight numbers and trajectories, so the Domino's version is a kid pointing down at pizza delivery drivers, with different messages about where each pizza is headed.

See the commercial.

Now the question to you, do you know more I's of advertising? You are welcome to add to the list.

And don't forget to follow Gabriel Beltrone's column in the Adweek.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The conundrum called internal communications

Though we harp about communicating with external audiences, we fall short in communicating well within our organisation and with our colleagues. While communicators disseminate success stories from the field to a wider audience through internet, print and electronic media, the voices within the organisation remain unheard. 

Most of us are glued to internet and social media all the time, but we feel it unnecessary to visit the company intranet. We are busy gossiping about the stars and their tantrums but don't know what our colleague in next cubicle is doing.

Here comes the role of internal communications. Be it through memos, emails, weekly meetings, company e-newsletters, intranet, blogs or informal social gatherings, the conversation has to take place between the employees. 

Efficient internal communication creates an aura of openness in an organisation. Everyone is informed and up-to-date about the happenings within the organisation. Be it a new baby born to a colleague or a major funding awarded to the headquarters. Both the information are equally important to build a better performing team where people trust each other and no one is taken back by surprises.

There are organisations where hierarchy prevails and junior employees fear even to knock the door of their supervisors. However, most organisations are breaking down the barriers and building an environment that allows anyone to talk to anyone. It promotes good relations and team spirit. People feel like they are working as a single team to achieve the goal of the organisation and the organisation turns into a pleasant place to work.

I am impressed by a team of professionals who hike together every Sunday. On the way, they carry their DSLRs, click pictures and post it to the corporate blog. It not only highlights their talents but also encourages others to join them on the next hike. On the way they chat a lot, eat together and sometimes engage in a corporate social responsibility (CSR) stuff. I have seen them emerge much happier after donating stationeries to the underprivileged children in rural schools. In their case, the hike has really broken down the hierarchies and solidified the team spirit.      

It's the age of information and people are hungry for information to excel in their respective jobs. Efficient internal communication improves the effectiveness of an organisation by providing the needed information to the employees on time. Many CEOs post their views on their corporate blogs and employees are free to comment and put forward their suggestions. Hearing from the chief about the recent happenings in the organisation keeps the employees well informed and it creates an environment of trust among them.

Likewise, the monthly e-newsletter about the happenings within the organisation does wonders. Even the weekly all staff meeting keeps people well informed on what each of them are involved in. If the employees are well informed, the organisation has a better chance to respond to a change, crisis or emergencies. It also promotes fairness within the organisation. If everyone has equal access to information and to everyone else, nobody feels that he or she is left out in the decision making process and somebody else is more privileged. Employees feel that they are equal in the eyes of senior management and the jealousy among them is kept at bay.

I have seen brainstorming sessions being organised by companies involving all staff. An organisation benefits by the ideas put forward by its employees. The sparking idea can come even from a cross-cutting staff who has nothing much to do with the programme stuff. It encourages employees to give a voice to their ideas and opinions to take ahead the organisation. They feel proud to be a part of problem-solving team and feel that their opinions and ideas are listened and valued by the management.  

I would never forget the informal gatherings organised by my supervisor. Sometimes, after a hard day's work he used to treat us to a sumptuous meal and few drinks. The informal environment during the dinner and drinks installed helping-each-other spirit more than ever. Our department was recognised as the most efficient and productive department in the organisation and our team the most terrific. We owe this to the occasional gathering.

While talking about internal communications, we should never forget the organisational culture and system of the organisation. There should be some decorum regarding the flow of information. The memos, mails and other types of communication should follow some standards. The company intranet should be an open space where the employees can interact with their far-off colleagues and share their experiences with each other.

I don't think managing internal communications would be a tough nut to crack if we just keep in mind these simple things. Otherwise, as in most of the cases, it would be a conundrum hard to solve for the management.       

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Which one would you go for? A print ad or an infographic?

As an advertiser, I am a fan of witty print advertisements. As a development practitioner, I have faith on infographics. I see a lot of similarities and at the same time many differences between these two.

A print ad generally comprises of an interesting opening headline, a sleek body copy, an engaging punchline and an eye-catching visual. Likewise, an infographic consists of an opening headline, a lengthy body copy of data inter-mixed with eye-catching graphics (motifs), a tagline and a link to further information.

The headline of both the advertisement and infographic should be interesting, witty and sexy. It should surmise the content following it. I don't see any difference between headlines of an ad and an infographic.

However, there is a vast difference between the body copy of a print ad and an infographic. In a print ad, lesser the text, better the ad. In an infographic, staggering the data, better the information. The name, infographic is combination of information and graphic. It is basically data sorted, arranged and presented visually. A copywriter tries to abridge the content while a visualizer tries to arrange the data into segments along with graphics.

In a print ad, an advertiser uses a relevant picture, illustration or typography to make it visually inviting. However, in an infographic, a visual artist uses motifs, graphics that are placed aside the data to make it interesting. The numbers and visuals are highlighted to seek the attention of the reader.             

The punchline of both an advertisement and an infographic needs to be engaging, instigating interest in the audience to look for further information. Mostly in case of an infographic a web link is provided at the end so that the reader can visit the website for more information. Nowadays, the advertisers also provide web links at the bottom of the ad. Earlier advertisements used to have no web links and no contact address which used to leave the reader guessing about the product.

Now, the purpose – an advertisement is targeted to the consumers and is completely commercial. While an infographic is more of an advertorial with enough information for a researcher, student and likes. Its purpose is to teach through graphics.

To me both the print ad and infographic can be used interchangeably with little changes suiting to the needs of the target audience. An infographic needs wittiness of a print ad and likewise, a print ad needs well-researched data of an infographic.

With humans being busier than the bees, infographics are gaining popularity more than ever. Now you can just scan and skim through the data without feeling bored. I wonder if the future books will be written in infographics. In a lighter tone – the books in infographics might turn into hieroglyphs – the images that tell the Egyptian history.   

To find the difference, have a look at a creative ad and an infographic.

Monday, 23 September 2013

5 branding lessons from bodybuilders

Gym: A hotbed of branding ideas. (c)
Being a gym freak and a brand enthusiast, I always compare the learning at the gymnasium with the steps of building a brand. Here are some nuggets of knowledge I learnt from gymming.

Try doing opposites
Super sets – doing a mix of exercises without rest especially involving opposite muscles – build muscle faster. Practised by Arnold Schwarzenegger, it helped him win Mr Universe title for five years and Mr Olympia for seven years. In bodybuilding doing opposites at a regular interval enhances your muscles' growth.

However, doing opposites is a totally crazy thought in branding where brand managers strive to create a consistent brand image. Ever thought of Coca-Cola producing a whiskey? Well, sometimes it can work wonders. A tooth paste brand can sell a tooth brush, a shaving cream brand can promote an after-shave and a tea brand can market its own brand of cookies.      

Heard about the Post-it invention? Actually Dr Spencer Silver wanted to develop a super-strong adhesive for 3M. However, he accidentally created a "low-tack", reusable, pressure sensitive adhesive that brought a revolution. It was used to create the ubiquitous sticky notes. And the rest is history.

Tweak your regular regimes
In bodybuilding you need to deviate from your regular workout schedule, at least once a month. If you tweak your regular regimes, the muscles get teased and you grow muscles at a faster pace.

Similarly, innovation doesn't come from regular work. Had Nokia kept on producing galoshes, it would not have delved into cellular phone making business. Again it kept producing the regular cellular phones and had to be left behind in the race of producing smartphones. Eventually, it had to be sold out to Microsoft.

So, the message is – keep on tweaking the original. Never stop thinking outside the box.

Diversify your portfolio
For developing a particular muscle you need to do different sets of exercises impacting different muscle parts. It helps the muscles grow uniformly. Can you grow biceps just doing barbell curls? Never. You need to do preacher curls, concentration curls, dumbbell curls and hammer curls along with the barbell curls for beautiful biceps.  

Likewise, you need to build a portfolio of diverse products to build a stronger brand. Earlier it was thought that indulging in diversification would make you lose focus. But the times they are changing. Take example of Samsung – it not only produces home appliances, TVs, cameras, laptops and tablets, but is a leader in smartphone business.

Diversifying your portfolio decreases the risk of sinking down. It has become a truth in the tumultuous market.   

Warm up is necessary
You might have heard from your trainer, "Don't start lifting weights without proper warm up."  You must do the warm up exercises before the main regime to prevent sprains and strains.

So is the case in branding. Before launching a brand, the most important thing is building a story around the brand. These days, gossiping in Facebook and Twitter is good to create a buzz prior to the launch. Like teaser ads in earlier days, the word of mouth creates excitement among the consumers and your brand gets a warm reception.

Concentration is of the utmost importance
Concentration curls are very effective and peak your biceps, especially the outside part. It's called "concentration" because you need to concentrate on your biceps contraction while doing this exercise. Not only in case of biceps, you need to concentrate on the movements of each muscle while gymming.  

Like in gymming, to create a brand, you need to concentrate equally on each spheres of human experience. Be it the public sphere, where you move from one place or activity to another in the physical and virtual worlds or the social sphere, where you interact with and relate to one another. Be it the tribal sphere, where you affiliate with groups in order to express your identity, or the psychological sphere, where you connect language with specific thoughts and feelings.

So, now don't you feel bodybuilding and branding have lots in common? If you can relate more examples, you are welcome to add to the list. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Ads, Hindu gods, goddesses and controversies

 In advertising, what sells apart from sex? Elegance, charisma and wit.

On the contrary, a recent campaign created by the ad agency Taproot India shows the most revered Hindu goddesses Laxmi, Durga and Saraswati as the victims of domestic violence. Laxmi, the goddess of wealth known for her elegance has a swollen lip and cut on her nose. The goddess of strength Durga's charisma is shadowed by cuts on her forehead and cheek. And the goddess of knowledge Saraswati's wisdom is marred by a bruised eye and blood-dripping lips.

"Pray that we never see this day," the ads read. "Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to." The ads have gone viral and blogs and online portals are awash with news and comments on the ads.

The "Abused Goddesses" campaign images were created by mixing modern-day photography using live models with traditional hand-painted Indian art. They were commissioned by Save the Children India for its Save Our Sisters initiative, which, works to prevent the sex trafficking of young girls and women.

While the campaign aims to shock and horrify the audience with its powerful text and images, a large segment of Hindus still don't want to see their goddesses abused. 

Earlier, Burger King had issued an ad showing Laxmi, along with one of the beef burgers, which are forbidden under Hindu religion. The fast food chain was forced to withdraw the ads from its stores in Spain owing to the hue and cry of Hindus across the world complaining of the denigration of their religion.

In a similar move, the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi used images of Hindu gods in their advertising for a Goa tour operator, Cox & Kings. In the ads, Goddess Laxmi was shown sitting next to a chubby kid eating wafers, and Lord Hanuman was shown taking pictures with a camera. After Hindus ransacked Cox & Kings' office, the company ran a front page apology in a local newspaper apologising for the ads and blamed the agency for publishing the ads without its consent.

Likewise, designer and model Lisa Burke infuriated the Hindus during Australian Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2011/12 in Sydney when she presented a swimsuit featuring Laxmi as a part of the latest collection of her Lisa Blue label. After protests across India she announced a halt in production and vowed that the Laxmi swimsuit would never make it to stores.

In 2012, Burnside Brewing Company, a Portland-based American brewery was to launch "Kali-Ma Beer". Owing to protests from Hindus, the company postponed the limited release of "Kali-Ma Beer". The beer was earlier announced as spiced wheat ale involving cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, India dandicut peppers, etc., and showed the picture of Goddess with six arms and three severed heads.

In William Bernbach's words, "Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art." However, to cut the long journey short, the advertisers are lured to creating controversies to persuade the consumers to buy the products. And what's easier than manipulating imagery of gods and goddesses to hatch a controversy? That's also an art. 

Photo credits:
Abused Goddesses campaign (c)
Burger King ad (c) EUROPICS
Model with Hindu goddess on the swimsuit (c) Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Monday, 26 August 2013

Business lessons in the rainy season

Rain dripping from your window sills, a melange of bright coloured umbrellas passing through the street, a rainbow bridging two seemingly far points and earth's sweet smell emanating from the first downpour of the season – it's what makes the rainy season so special. In spite of the mud, filth and deluge I love the season. As the rainy season comes to an end, I am reciting few lessons that I learnt during the wet, drippy days.

Pond herons and the bamboos
Aim for the tallest, highest and strongest.

I have a pond in my native village. The northern part of the pond is surrounded by bamboos and Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) trees. During my village stay I spend an enormous amount of my time on the pond's embankment. And when I am there, I am engrossed in observing the birds coming to drink water and fish in the waters. In the evenings, I see hordes of pond herons flying back to their nests on the bamboos. It's interesting – they build nests on tall trees and bamboos, and while resting they prefer to perch on the bamboo tops.

This must be the reason – it's easy for them to land on the bamboo and tree tops while flying. The pond herons convey a simple message to us – always aim for the tallest, highest and strongest.  

Crabs and fishes
Don't waste time pulling others' legs, instead leapfrog.

Once I collected almost dozen crabs and few fishes from a freshly ploughed field in a small bucket. Not to let the fish die, I also added handfuls of water to my catch. While I was on the way to home, almost all the fishes had jumped off the bucket and I had just a single fish left in the bucket. However, none of the crabs had escaped.

When I reached home and tried to pull out a crab from the bucket, two more crabs clung to it. I left all the crabs in the bucket and observed them. Once a crab started climbing up the bucket, another clung to its feet and both of them were again back at the bottom of the bucket. None of the crabs were able to climb out of the bucket in my half an hour's scrutiny.

They offered me a valuable lesson – never waste time pulling others' legs, instead leapfrog if you want to succeed.

Eagle and fish
Set your sight on the target, forget the fear of failure.  

There are four public ponds in my village. All of them have been leased out to traders by the villagers for fish farming. The traders harvest the fishes at least twice a year. During the fishing, the whole village gathers at the site. Children run alongside the fishing nets to collect the fishes that jump out of the net, and men and women wait for their share of the catch. Each household gets at least a kilo of fish as a token of their ownership over the ponds. While the people are busy catching fish, eagles hover in the sky in search of a chance to catch a fish that escapes the net.

The eagles are such precise creatures that they keep on flying hundreds of feet above the land looking for a chance to pounce upon a fish escaping the net. And I have seen many a times, they are successful in running away with big catches. The moral is – set your sight on the target, forget the fear of failure.        

Fishes and the water-flow
Rise against the current.

During the rainy season the paddy fields are full of water and fishes. While draining away the excess water from the upstream fields to the downstream fields, the farmers put handmade traps between the fields to catch the fishes. The fishes are simply swept away by the running water and get entangled in the traps. There are fishes which never come near the water flowing downstream. However, if you observe carefully, there are fishes which flow along with the current but swim back as and when they approach the trap.

That's the way we should be. We should take risks but stay away from being a foolish risk-taker. And if possible rise against the consequences and come as a winner.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Why and how to use Twitter

The latest data on Twitter users is staggering. With more than 554,750,000 active registered users and 58 million tweets per day, the online social networking website and microblogging service launched by Jack Dorsey in 2006, earned $259,000,000 as advertising revenue in the year 2012.

Every second 9,100 tweets see the light of the day and 135,000 new Twitter users sign up every day. Likewise, 115 million people actively use Twitter every month and Twitter site attracts 190 million unique visitors every month.  (Source: Twitter, Huffington Post, eMarketer

Twitter is a real-time social network that helps users share, follow and interact with stories, opinions, links, pictures and 140-character messages. The power of Twitter allows you to receive the tweets from and listen to the opinions of the people and organisations you follow. The retweet (RT) facility allows you and your followers to spread the message to a wider audience and opens the door for your message to go viral.

Twitter basics
are small bursts of information of 140 characters long at the maximum. A user's Twitter Handle is the username s/he selects and the accompanying URL (E.g., An @reply is a method of responding to another Twitter user publicly. If you place @ before the receiver's username, your message will be directed to that person publicly.  

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to categorise tweets for reference and to facilitate conversations on specific subjects.

Twitter lingo
As the users are bound to a 140 character limit, they have come up with innovative acronyms.

at (mention) @
hashtag #
caret/hat sign ^
financial hashtag $
as far as I know AFAIK
carbon copy CC
correction CX
direct message DM
Follow Friday FF
hat tip/heard through HT
in case you missed it ICYMI
Music Monday MM
modified tweet MT
not safe for work NSFW
overheard OH
partial tweet PT
real life retweet RLRT
retweet RT
shaking my head SMH
thanks for the follow TFTF
today I learned TIL
too long; didn't learn TL;DR
tweet me back TMB
thanks for the retweet TQRT
translated tweet TT
with W/

Simple steps to use Twitter
To create a Twitter account, you just need an email address. Go to, sign up, assign a username and a password. A username can't be more than 15 characters – you are free to use letters, numbers and underscore. Make sure you use a name that you use in your websites and blogs. Using your real or business name makes it easier for search engines to find you.

After signing up, add a photo (not more than 700 KB and should be either in JPG, GIF or PNG format) and a short bio – your bio should not exceed 160 characters and should tell people what you do, your interests and personality. You can customise your Twitter profile page (Password, add devices, notices, picture, design and colour schemes).

Follow your friends, opinion leaders and organisations you want to receive tweets from. To get followers you need to tweet regularly. 

To start tweeting, tell people what you are doing, disseminate the news from your industry, share helpful tips and your opinion on a trending topic. As the maximum characters you can use is 140, shorten the URLs of your links through URL shortening services (, etc.).

Add a hashtag (#+word/phrase) to your tweet to make it more searchable and increase its chance of becoming a trending topic. Don't use more than 3 hashtags per tweet.

You can retweet (RT) to share the best tweets you come across with your followers. You can send someone a tweet publicly or reply to his/her tweets by adding @ before the username. You can send a direct message (DM) to a person who is following you. It is private and directly goes to the follower's twitter inbox.   

You can follow back a follower, un-follow and even block him/her if you find them annoying. To block a follower, go to the profile of the person, click the person icon, from the dropdown Actions menu select Block from the listed options. You can Unblock him/her by clicking undo on their profile page

If you are a beginner, follow the steps in the presentation (in Nepali) below to start tweeting and be an advanced user by tweeting at regular intervals.

Source:, Mashable, USC Rossier School of Education.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The benefits of creating a local brand

Rentury Turmeric Powder - a local brand
Almost like all kirana pasal (general store), the shop is crowded with a melange of daily essentials. At the cash counter plastic pouches of edibles, and sachets of shampoo, hair oil and tobacco almost cover the shopkeeper. As a customer appears at the sales desk, he peeks out, shows his head amidst the dangling strings of sachets and pouches.

I am a regular visitor to the shop and I find nothing new about the hanging sachets and pouches. However, when I saw a lady haggling over a packet of turmeric locally produced and packed in the same locality, my eyes fixed to a string of yellow packets. The shopkeeper tore off a packet and handed it over to the lady.
Actually the lady was resisting the shopkeeper's advice of buying a well packaged carton of turmeric powder over a local product. There was a vast difference in the package quality. The one she resisted belonged to a well-established brand Century. She had chosen a lesser-known brand Rentury Turmeric Powder. In fact, it was the copy-cat product of the well-known brand.

When the lady left, I enquired about the sales trend of turmeric powder and in particular the Rentury brand. I also talked with few buyers and it offered me some insights in product branding.

Creating a local product not only contributes to local economy but also creates employment and sense of belonging among locals. The buyers had the feeling that the product was from their own place and they should promote it. The product matches their expectations and is at par with other well-known brands.  The product is generating economic benefits for the locals and is providing impetus to the local economy.    

Besides, I saw minimal packaging. A printed plastic wrapper contains 50 grams of turmeric powder. Meanwhile the nationally renowned brand packs the powder in a plastic packet which is then put inside a paper carton of thick printed paper laminated on the outer surface. Local products generally spend less in packaging which is in a way good for the environment. The carbon footprint is lower in case of a local product.   

Another satisfying logic that the buyers put forward was the freshness and genuine nature of the product. The buyers are always afraid of getting adulterated products. The local products are closer to the production points and less time is spent in transportation. It maximises the chance of retaining the freshness and natural flavour if consumed within the stated duration. As the product evades the chain of processing, the adulteration is controlled.

A crucial factor that controls the purchase behaviour is the price of a product. A local product is generally cheaper than the products that spend a fortune in refining, attractive packaging and transportation. In case of Bhattarai Spice Production and Packing Industry, the owners of Rentury brand, turmeric is sourced from the neighbouring districts, processed, packed and sold in the Surkhet (a district in Mid-Western Development Region of Nepal) and neighbouring districts. Due to the demand, now they have been selling even in the major cities in Nepal.
Looking at the benefits of going local, even multi-nationals have jumped into creating local brands. Recently, McDonald's added rice products to its menu for the first time in China, including Chicken Rice Wrap, Beef Rice Wrap, Chicken Rice Bowl and Beef Rice Bowl, to cater to the Chinese customers who can’t move away from the local tastes.

Earlier McDonald’s had introduced McTikki and McAloo to tickle the taste buds of potato loving Indians and a rice burger for Singaporeans. Likewise, KFC sells fish ball soup, spring rolls, several varieties of rice porridge and egg custard tarts including rice sets.

Like the lady who preferred local copy-cat brand Rentury over the well-established brand Century, a local product can beat the Goliaths and create a brand of its own. It just needs to retain its freshness and avoid adulteration. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Learning Routes – developing pilgrimages of learning

Republished from

Knowledge sharing mechanisms and processes have evolved hugely in recent years. From the earlier documentation of knowledge in the form of manuals and booklets to audio-visual materials, online portals for discussion, and recent phenomenon called crowdsourcing, all have their own relevance and audiences to target at.     

Leaving behind the traditional forms of knowledge management, my colleagues from High Value Agriculture Project in Hill and Mountain Areas (HVAP), Sirish Pun, Ghanashyam Chaudhary, Krishna Thapa and I embarked on a journey to develop a Learning Route. The Learning Route comprises identifying a good case from which others can learn, developing it together with the community – staying with them and learning in the process, and following the visit trying to replicate it in other areas.

The training venue was in the outskirts of the town and the working area was almost 17 kilometres away from the venue. Both the places were peaceful, tranquil and far from the madding crowd. However, coping with the hot and humid Taulihawa was a challenge in itself. Then was the problem with translation for the instructors – the local language was Avadhi which was translated into Nepali and then into English. In the process, much information details were lost many a times. However, belonging to and having worked in the Terai region eased our language woes.

The case identified for establishing the learning route was the success story of Pragatishil Agriculture Cooperative Limited. With the establishment of the cooperative, the village has witnessed many avenues of development. Now there are roads around the village, groups are engaged in fish farming in the ponds, a shop that provides goods at reasonable price has been set up by the cooperative, the villagers can receive money sent by their relatives employed in foreign countries through the remittance service operated by the cooperative, more groups are engaged in vegetable farming and commercial onion cultivation, children are getting quality education in the boarding school established by the cooperative, local market is a well-managed weekly affair and a dam has been built to control the upheavals caused by floods.   
Community members preparing map of past.

The first assignment began with preparing the maps of past, present and future. The community members were divided into three groups and we asked each group to draw how the village looked like in the past, present and how they wanted it to look like in the near future. After the map preparation, the maps were presented among the groups to verify and validate the data incorporated in each maps by the groups.

Secondly, we held focus group discussion and personal interviews with the community members and local champions. We visited the places that tell the story of the cooperative and we met with the beneficiaries. This formed a basis for drawing timeline of important events and map of actors involved in the success story of the cooperative. A chart of learning insights was also drawn including the strengths, challenges and recommendations.

The timeline, map of actors and chart of learning insights was presented to the community members and the information was validated. With the finalisation of the data and information, a rough list of events, places and persons to meet while narrating the story to the visitors was charted out. This will form a basis for the community members to showcase their story to the visitors wanting to learn from their experience.

A Learning Route gives the first hand information of a success story to the visitor. Not only that, the visitor gets to meet the people behind the success and interact with them. This inspires the learners to replicate similar successes in their respective working areas.

Watch a video explaining the Learning Route process.

The Learning Route is a capacity-building tool with a proven track record of successfully integrating local knowledge and experiences, in development with innovation and the best practices from the field, that have scaling-up potential.

The Learning Route is based on the idea that successful solutions to existing problems are already present within rural areas, and that those solutions might be adapted and spread to other contexts.

Over the years and in rural contexts across several continents the Learning Route has shown to be a powerful method to foster capacity-building through peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge and face-to-face interactions.

The Learning Route cycle:

Step 1. Best practices are identified and systematically organised to promote the adoption and scaling-up of innovative processes.

Step 2. People who are successful in their own work are trained to become capacity builders, with their personal experiences as the source of training.

Step 3. Participants in the Route  have opportunities to directly gather knowledge from successful experiences in the field. Interest and curiosity arises from the exchanges with “the Champions”, leaders and practitioners of those successful experiences.

Step 4. Finally, when participants return to their organisations they will have the knowledge  and tools to innovate  and generate results.

Learning Routes for Asia and the Pacific: Strengthening Knowledge Sharing Innovative Solutions

Financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the PROCASUR Corporation, the Programme is targeted at rural poor men and women and the technical staff of public and private development projects.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Life-changing corporate lessons from animals

Do you love animals? What about fables? I am a great fan of Panchatantra – the famous book of fables where animals speak and act like humans and show us how to lead a good life. Last week while looking for some interesting fables, I came across three short stories teaching important corporate lessons in With due credits to the creators, I would like to recite the stories.  

Corporate lesson 1
A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day.

A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?”

The crow answered, "Sure, why not.”

So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested.

All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit, and ate it.

Moral of the story is - To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Corporate lesson 2
A turkey was chatting with a bull.

"I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "But I haven't got the energy.”

"Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. “They're packed with nutrients."

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the first branch of the tree.

The next day, after eating more dung, he reached the second branch.

Finally after a fortnight, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree.

Soon he was spotted by a farmer who promptly shot the turkey out of the tree.

Moral of the story is - Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Corporate lesson 3
A little bird was flying south for the winter.

It was so cold, the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field.

While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it.

As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realise how warm it was. The dung was actually thawing him out!

He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.

A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate.

Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him!

The morals of this story are:
1) Not everyone who drops shit on you is your enemy.
2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
3) And when you're in deep shit, keep your mouth shut.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

7 ways to make a success story interesting

Writing success stories is not only about showcasing the difference your programme is making in people’s lives, but it is also about grasping the attention of readers and creating a bandwagon effect.

Interesting figures grasp attention.
When a dog bites a man, it’s not interesting. However, if a man bites a dog, it not only becomes interesting but also gets the attention of a wider audience. To make your stories stand out among the millions of stories churned out by development professionals around the globe, you need to add that “X-factor” to your story. 

Begin with the most promising part
Take your audience to an event, place or character that is interesting. You don’t need to cling to the regular way of showing situation, challenges, interventions and outcomes in a success story. These can be interchanged. Show the most interesting part first, then take the audience to other sections.

It’s like watching a movie. Sometimes a director starts the movie with the climax and then uses flashbacks to tell the story. However, most stories follow a timeline. 

Follow a logical sequence and keep the paragraphs short
Try to write small sentences and small paragraphs. Then link the paragraphs in such a way that the story flows seamlessly and there are no hitches and halts in the way. 

I follow the sequence mentioned by Jennifer Stewart.

Put a man up a tree, i.e., start with an issue you want to resolve
Throw stones at him, i.e., present the problem
Get him down, i.e., show how an issue might be resolved

Another popular sequence is the SRRE method coined in the Journal of Extension: Writing Success Stories for Program Enhancement and Accountability (University of Wisconsin – Extension).

Situation: What prompted the programme?
Response: How did the programme respond? (inputs and outputs)
Results: Who benefited? What resulted? (outcomes) 
Evidence: What’s the evidence? (evaluation)

Add fillers to spice up the story
Mention the environs and ambience the protagonist lives in. It allows the audience to visualise the environment and situation of the protagonist. Explain the challenges, needs and rationale of your programme to the protagonist, community and the country.

Quote the protagonist
Mention catchy quotes from the protagonist and other participants in direct speech. It not only provides credibility but also provides the reader with a chance to empathise with the actors. Also present facts and figures. They help catching the reader’s attention. 

Add pictures to the story
A picture speaks thousand words. Add a picture with a catchy caption to the story. It convinces the audience. Try taking pictures from different angles in different layouts and choose the best ones. Also add charts and figures in boxes to illustrate the success of the programme. 

Present the programme interventions subconsciously
Readers don’t like to read about your programme in the story; they are interested in the protagonist and his/her success. However, you tend to talk about your programme and its interventions. Try to minimise the words and sentences describing your programme. If possible, try to add a quote from the protagonist talking about your programme.

Make the end interesting
Conclude your story in a question that makes the reader think about the story and programme interventions. Talk about the future possibilities. End with an interesting quote from the protagonist.

Now time for few tips on writing success stories (in Nepali). 

Friday, 31 May 2013

What is your social media personality?

How do you behave in social media? Are your posts informative? Or you just comment to others’ posts?

Your online behaviour determines your social media personality. According to an extensive new study by conversation experts first direct, you either fall under the category the Ultras, Dippers, Deniers, Virgins, Lurkers, Peacocks, Ranters, Changelings, Ghosts, Informers, Approval Seekers or Quizzers.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Know your online target audience

Who are your target audience?

In simple words, they are the crucial actors who help achieve your communications objectives. Basically, while designing a communications strategy you take into consideration their willingness to support your initiative. Thinking in terms of time involvement and willingness of the audiences, they can be classified as partners, early adopters, wait and watch category, and rejecters.  

Most communicators categorise their audiences as ultimate target audience who are the primary audience, actors with the potential to strengthen the key message and influence the ultimate target audience, intermediaries who help to pass the message to the audience that are hard to reach but are easily accessible to them, and actors with the potential to weaken the message.

Analysing the target audience is always a cumbersome job. And, targeting audience according to their online behaviour has been much more difficult since the number of online visitors is humongous and the motives behind the visits are incomprehensible. Due to the influx of millions of blogs, online forums, and websites, the behaviour of online visitors too is changing day by day. 
So, how you analyse your online target audience?

Forrester has devised an innovative approach termed as Social Technographics Ladder to analyse the online target audience. Forrester’s Social Technographics classifies people according to how they use social technologies.

Inactives at the bottom are followed by spectators, joiners, collectors, critics, and creators at the topmost rung of the ladder.

Creators make social content go. They write blogs or upload video, music, or text.

Critics respond to contents from others. They post reviews, comment on blogs, participate in forums, and edit wiki articles.

Collectors use RSS feeds, add tags to web pages or photos, vote for websites online.

Joiners connect in social networks like MySpace and Facebook.

Spectators consume social content including blogs, user-generated video, podcasts, forums, or reviews.

Inactives neither create nor consume social content of any kind.

Conversationalists update status on social networking site or post to Twitter at least weekly.

So on which rung of the ladder does your target audience hang on? Try formulating strategies according to the behaviour of your audience and the success is yours!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Advertise strategically, beat your competitors

Being an advertising enthusiast, I am always in a look-out for creative advertisements. These days my favourite place to search answers to my queries is Quora.  It is a heaven for knowledge hunting, gathering and sharing. Carrying on with my query I stumbled upon the question, "Which are some of the funniest, most clever advertisements?" in my favourite treasure hunting site. If you are into serious mood of beating your competitors with strategic advertising, then follow the below advertisements.
Read Quote of Kevin Jung's answer to Which are some of the funniest, most clever advertisements? on Quora Read Quote of Abhishank Sahu's answer to Which are some of the funniest, most clever advertisements? on Quora Read Quote of Siddharth Bhattacharya's answer to Which are some of the funniest, most clever advertisements? on Quora Read Quote of Sean Rose's answer to Which are some of the funniest, most clever advertisements? on Quora

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Social media explained with coffee

Just stumbled upon a pin from - it explains characteristics of different social media in a simple and interesting way. See how your favourite social media positions itself among the crowd of me-too sites.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

5 ways to grow your Twitter following

Twitter is second only to Facebook in terms of users. It has 517 Million registered users with 6.9 Million daily active users. Every minute of the day 100,000 tweets are sent over internet and in a day 340 Million tweets make their way to the online world.

More than 11 Twitter accounts are added every second totalling to 1 Million new accounts created everyday.

Apart from tweeting and retweeting on a regular basis, you can grow your Twitter following through the below mentioned ways suggested by

Monday, 28 January 2013

Why to be a social media junkie

Why social media?

The social networking statistics and facts for 2012 speak a lot. If you are not there, you and your product will get lost not only in the online jungle but in the minds of the consumers as well.

The spread of social media is staggering. We end up sending 100,00 tweets, upload more than 48 hours of video in YouTube, share 684,478 pieces of content on Facebook and share 3,600 photos on Instagram every minute of the day.

Facebook has 1 Billion registered users with 552 Million daily active users. Similarly, Twitter has 517 Million registered users and 6.9 Million daily active users.

Each day Facebook users spend 10.5 Billion minutes (almost 20,000 years) on the social network. On YouTube, 4 Billion video views are seen globally every day.

Facebook is the number one social marketing tool for brands at 83% (88% target for 2014), followed by Twitter at 53% (target 64% in 2014).

Now can you imagine being out of the scene? If you are not there, just plunge in!
For more intricate and detail statistics and facts have a look at the infographics prepared by