The annual media business event, FICCI Frames in Mumbai comes out with a status report on the world of media and entertainment in India. The latest one of March 2018 says that the size of the Indian M&E industry is around Rs.1.55 lacs crores employing around 12 lacs people, directly and indirectly, with 13% year-on-year growth, much higher than the GDP growth-rate of 7% nationally. Since there is a new talent entry of more than half a lac people annually, the immense need of professionally trained creative work-force remains alive year after year and stalwarts lament the lack of requisite skills. What sort of education and skills are the stalwarts expecting among the future professionals in the field of media and communication? Many FICCI Frames 2018 panelists expressed views on talent grooming.
The major strength of media courses of tomorrow has to be that the Media School introduces every channel of communication (online, offline, on-air, on-ground and on-mobile) and every platform of media (television, newspaper, radio, portal, outdoor, events, social media, mobile) at the start of a course in media. The institute must also bring in every function of communication (educate, inform, entertain, infotain, edutain, interact, persuade, engage, and empower), and every segment of Indian media with their recent trends, turnover, recruitment and attrition factors, skills-sets needed, and infra-structure required at the start of the learning of media. This is unlike the earlier approach limited to only one area of specialization, like only films or advertising or only journalism (that too print or electronic) education of the past.
Also, courses and programs need go in details to examine the strong phenomenon of Convergence in media technologies, how various technologies of shooting, editing, sound and graphics are getting integrated on one platform. The education delivered must also explain the reality of an integration of media consumption patterns within the same set of media consumers. Each individual today consumes multiple media and is not loyal to any one format or medium, and hence reaching out to this individual is becoming easier on one hand due to digital march, but to command his loyalty is becoming harder by the day.
In the specific case of journalism, the new age futuristic media courses must explore the seamless multi-media content creation and presentation, content-technology-business integration, multi-media ownership, and convergent media production skills. Hence, no more valid is the debate between print and television or internet. It is about learning platform-agnostic or medium-neutral journalism where content produced can be seamlessly used across all: print, cyber, radio and television media.
Alongside, the command over general knowledge, in-depth knowledge of a few areas of knowledge, and skills that help a professionally tell a story with equal comfort through words, stills, audio only and audio-visuals shall be of immense value as a journalist of tomorrow.
Thus media education hence shall not be for yesterday, not even for today, but oriented towards tomorrow when we move into the age of Mobile Multi Media Content Creators, be it in print, on air, or online, or, in other words, towards Mobile Journalism (MOJO in brief).
Integrated Brand Communication Learning:
Products are made in factory, but Brands are created in the minds of the Consumers. This process of creation of a specific perception of brands in the mind of the consumers is Branding and Marketing Communication and it cannot be done by one piece, one medium, one activity, one creative only. Branding requires that the uniformly positioned yet variously packaged creative communication of the brand concerned reaches the target audience in various possible ways and touch-points which the targeted audiences are connected with. It may include the seamless integration of online, offline, on-ground, on-air and on-mobile communication taking the brand to its target audiences. This is often called IMC or IBC depending upon whether the focus is on a marketing activity or the brand as a whole.
And to create such integrated communication, the professionals need to have a concerted understanding of all media platforms, all communication functions, fundamentals of Brand Management, the need and ways of integrating seamlessly all communication done for branding, & the SWOT of this process. S/he has to be creatively inclined, technologically savvy, and business or measureable results oriented.
Brand communications will cover the areas like advertising management, market research & consumer insights, public relations, events & experiential marketing, corporate communication, along with digital & social branding.
This integrated holistic understanding and learning of Brand Communication has to be the core approach to brand learning. And such a learning also needs several case-studies from various sectors of the economy. For example, cases must explain to how India has been branded through Incredible India campaign, or how a product branding (bike or edible oil), or a service branding (education, healthcare or hospitality brand) has been achieved across multiple media and at different times, may be in different regions as well. Such cases need to be explained and live brandcomm problems or issues taken up of the learners to give them an approach to an IMC solution.
Entertainment Learning for Tomorrow
Entertainment learning is not just about a television sop opera or a cinema on celluloid. Entertainment now encompasses all that can make us smile, weep, motivated or satisfied. There are films on screen, films on web, there is audio on podcast and that on radio, there is entertainment on television through fiction or non-fiction, and then there is live entertainment in front of you.
The new age entertainment professional will have to traverse a long distance to produce content for varied platforms, from the closest face to face live entertainment to on your pal web entertainment to in the idiot box television entertainment and finally to the silver screen of feature films.
The skills can be associated with creative fields like screen-writing, direction or action etc, or with more technical fields of cinematography, graphics, post production, sound design et al, or event with branding, marketing and sales of entertainment products and services. Holistic knowledge of all of these, and expertise in one specific domain is what will keep the young professionals in good stead in near future.
Experiential Brick and Portal Learner Centric Educational Pedagogy
In the digital age, chalk and talk is history. Integrating digital tools into education, from school to University, is must. But which are these tools, what are their strengths and weaknesses and how to integrate the same? We need to learn about the same in our higher education curriculum itself. We need to enumerate various educational pedagogy and approaches, and then move to learn in details, with cases and tasks to apply, the concept of blending or synergizing between the class room/library brick and mortar education with internet/cyber-based click and portal learning and experiential learning by doing. This Experiential Brick and Portal approach is all the more significant in creative domains like media, communication, design et al. In these domains, knowledge is evolved from practice and practice evolves every day.
Today’s creative education exhibits in great details how we can move from a teacher/syllabus-centric education to learner/learning-centric education: from school to University, and how teachers have to be facilitators at the minimum and mentors at the best.
This revolutionary approach to teaching and learning of creative professions is at the heart of our education in a futuristic media and communication school, whether at Bachelors or at Masters levels.
The author is the School Head, School of Media, Pearl Academy, Delhi and Mumbai. He has been earlier the Dean of Media of Symbiosis Pune, Amity Mumbai and Whistling Woods Mumbai.