Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Chennai Big FM on social responsibility

R a d i o s t a t i o n s h a v e b e e n j ump i n g o n t h e c o r p o r a t e s o c i a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y ( C S R ) bandwagon as part of their marketing exercise. The benefi ts derived from such activities, although not measurable in commercial terms, are highly rewarding. One station that has gone big on CSR is Big 92.7FM. Since its launch in September 2006, t h e s t a t i o n h a s ma d e t h e effort to support numerous causes as part of their CSR campaigns. A case in point; the day the station went on air in Chennai, it organised a walk near the city’s Marina beach in its support to create awareness on traffi c safety. The station has also used t h e i r ma r k e t i n g mu s c l e t o w e a v e i n f i l m s t a r s a n d sportsmen to promote their activities. Causes to support t h e p l i g h t o f u n f o r t u n a t e children have been big in many of its campaigns’ focus. Tamil actress, Asin, celebrated her birthday with 40 children from an orphanage and RJ Dheena was involved in a campaign supporting children with HIV/AIDS. And leveraging on their sponsorship status as official radio partner of the premier hockey league (PHL), it organised for the Chennai h o c k e y t e a m ( C h e n n a i Veerans) and RJ Gopi to visit cancer-stricken children at the government cancer hospital. A c t i v i t i e s i n t h e f i r s t s i x months have also included the following: • A free eye check up camp a l o n g w i t h a R o t a r y e y e hospital, resulting in free eye check-ups for around 1000 people. • An event to honour local heroes, such as Dr. Kanaga, who is Asia’s fi rst female neuro surgeon. • A b i k e r a l l y t o s p r e a d awareness on the importance of using helmets. • A morning walk to spread awareness of keeping healthy and to make exercise a regular routine. W h a t m a k e s t h e t r e n d interesting is that the station has never asked for sponsors to fund these activities, as the entire cost has been borne by the station’s marketing budget. So this begs the question, why does the station adopt this strategy? Zarine Jalil Menon, station manager, BIG 92.7 Chennai, thinks the money is well spent and the effort well worth the trouble. "As a radio station, we want to be well connected with our listeners. To do that, we need to address their issues a n d c o n c e r n s , w h a t e v e r t h e y m i g h t b e . " Menon also believes that if the station is able to create public awareness of certain issues, "all of us [can only] gain from it." The station doesn’t isolate a n y o n e c a u s e a s m o r e important than the other, as Menon says, "We will highlight any cause which deserves attention. We have had our l i s t e n e r s c o n t r i b u t e t o t h e medical expenses of children who could not afford it. If such instances come to our notice, we will defi nitely highlight them and involve our listeners in the alleviation of the problem." A l t h o u g h , a c c o r d i n g t o Menon, the benefits from the spend are visible, they are not c omme rc i a l l y me a s u r a b l e . "Through such activities, our listeners and advertisers see us as a responsible station. As we have stuck to CSR from the time we launched, the city sees our conviction in our own policy, and that is very important for our reputation- building."