LET'S TALK SCIENCE by Porter Novelli, The Practice for Infosys Technologies

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LET'S TALK SCIENCE

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Industry Business equipment & services, Corporate Image
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market India
Agency Porter Novelli
Account Supervisor Keerthi Goutham
Agency The Practice
Released September 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Media Relations
Advertiser: INFOSYS SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Product/Service: THE INFOSYS PRIZE 2011
Agency: THE PRACTICE PORTER NOVELLI
Chief Executive Officer: Nandita Lakshmanan (The Practice Account Director)
Account Director: Lakshmi Nair (The Practice)
Account Manager: Bhawana Singh (The Practice)
Account Supervisor: Keerthi Goutham (The Practice)
Account Executive: Aysan Mohapatra (The Practice)
Account Executive: Priyanka Pandey (The Practice)
Media placement: Technology PR (Media Relations) - Mainline Newspaper - 10 January 2011
Media placement: Technology PR (Media Relations) - Electronic (Television) - 14 January 2011
Media placement: Technology PR (Media Relations) - Online Publication - 20 September 2011

Summary of the Campaign
Dr Imran Siddiqi, the winner of the 2011 Infosys Prize for Life Science, has done some breakthrough work with hybrid seeds to increase their yield. His work has huge relevance for a country like India, but awareness of his research outside biotech circles is very low.

In India, news on science and research tends to be relegated to the back pages. There is a lot of attention given to Bollywood (the Indian movie industry), politics and cricket. Science and its heroes cannot hope to compete.

As we set out to create visibility for the Infosys Prize and the winners, our primary challenge was to penetrate this apathy, and to do this without a real budget. We aimed for coverage that was noticed and remarked upon, by people beyond just the core research community.

We connected with reporters to cover the event, senior correspondents to analyse the state of science in India, and editors to give it the space and airtime it deserved. We also reached out to other key stakeholders: schools, children and concerned civic groups.
Spanning front page news, editorials and prime time TV, the coverage resulted in almost 100m impressions from print and online media and reached 5.6m viewers through TV. Prominent features included a TV panel discussion involving a Prize winner and school children as well as free advertisements in a leading daily!

The Situation
As the Infosys Prize, a Nobel Prize-like annual award, established by the Infosys Science Foundation, came back in its 3rd year, we set out to create visibility for the Prize as well as the current winners and their research.

In doing this, we were up against the media preference for celebrity scandals, cricket and politics over more thoughtful topics. The media was not readily drawn to less ‘saleable’ topics like science and research. In trying to get the Prize featured in prominent newspaper sections and TV shows, we had to capture media interest through interesting statistics and other angles.

The Goal

Our main goals were:

• To leverage ‘noticeable’ media stories to maximise visibility for the Prize, the current year’s winners and their research.

• To draw a wider audience into conversations on science in India:
Our analysis of the media revealed a strong bias for articles on Bollywood, cricket and politics. Interest in the Prize was limited to its association with the Infosys brand and the other well known names on its Board and jury. Our goal was to give the media plenty of other reasons to talk about it in the weeks leading up to the actual awards ceremony.

The Strategy
Our strategy was built around engaging the media in reporting on and analysing the status of science and research in India. In doing this, we had to go back to the drawing board to answer the question: ‘What’s new this year for the Infosys Prize?’

We wanted to pursue noticeability as opposed to mere visibility in coverage. And so a lot of thought went into our pitches to the media. We looked at reporters to cover newsy items (e.g. the announcement of the winners); senior correspondents to conduct deep-dive analyses on India’s standing in science; and editors to give this subject the space and airtime it deserved.

Beyond this, we also looked for innovative ways to rope children, schools and the general public into the conversation.

Execution
With media across India to maximise national impact, paying special attention to the media based in the home towns of winners.

We maintained a hectic pace of meetings with journalists, including many editors and senior journalists. We made sure we had something interesting to offer at every stop: telling statistics on how India’s standing in science had slipped in modern times; on how a weak scientific culture was holding India back; or, more specifically, of how an animal stampede could actually be an example of order in Nature (from the work of one of the researchers).

We saw great results with such targeted pitching but we almost ran out of bandwidth for one last impactful session. With persistence, we pulled it off by bringing 30 school children, teachers and a Prize laureate together for a stimulating panel discussion.

Documented Results
- Nearly 100m impressions (print and on-line);
- Reached a TV audience of 5.6 million;
- Prominent coverage, a few samples of which are:
• A full page round-table discussion in Mint (a WSJ publication);
• A panel discussion featuring ISF Board member and the former chairman of Infosys;
- Technologies Mr Narayana Murthy, one of the winners, and 45 school children from Bangalore – aired on NDTV (leading TV channel):
• A discussion on the Indian education system, featuring Mr. Murthy with ISF juror and renowned economist, Dr Amartya Sen, aired on CNN-IBN;
• Special feature profiling the winners of Infosys Prize 2011 on a primetime show aired on CNN-IBN.

What changed for a winner:
"[The Prize brought] wider recognition of our work's potential and possibilities, within the scientific community and the lay public."
- Dr Imran Siddiqi (Winner of the 2011 Infosys Prize, Life Sciences)