The uncreative PR industry

Last month Unspun was speaking at the International PR Summit in Bali. The talk was entitled was “Sleeping with the Enemy” where essentially Unspun lamented how the Advertising Industry — in defiance of Al Reis’s prediction about The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR — has not only checked its fall but have encroached on PR territory in the use of social media and being very creative in doing so.

The talk was delivered at the Spikes Asia Awards in Singapore and in this year they had a PR category. The submissions for this category were very creative and well documented and packaged. The only trouble with them was that they were all the work of advertising companies, but packed so that it looked like PR programs so they can add another award to their shelves.

No shame in that for the Advertising industry. But shame for the PR industry players who are consistently outclassed by their advertising brethren when it comes to submissions for such awards. And in the creatie ideas employed in the programs.

The study mentioned below is further corroboration that the PR industry needs to jolt itself out of its smugness and be more creative. 

By Staff Reporters on Nov 20, 2012 (1 day 6 hours ago) filed under PR , Asia-Pacific

GLOBAL – Nearly two-thirds of PR professionals agree that it’s fair to criticise their industry for lacking creative ideas, and about half would label the industry’s creative output as no better than “ordinary”, according to a study published by The Holmes Report in collaboration with Ketchum and No Go Create.

PR industry recognises importance of creativity, but lacks big ideas: study
Just 6 per cent label PR-industry creativity as “inspirational”

Titled ‘Creativity in PR: A Global Study’, the report (available in PDF form , or below) is based on a worldwide survey of more than 600 people in 35 countries. Respondents included agency and in-house and a diverse a range of industries and sectors covering consumer, corporate, healthcare, technology, digital and public affairs practices.

The report found that just 6 per cent of respondents labelled PR-industry creativity as “inspirational”, while one in 10 described creativity as “unsatisfactory” and 6 per cent said it was “poor” or “non-existent”.

The PR professionals surveyed acknowledged the importance of creativity (95 per cent) and consider themselves to be creative individuals (89 per cent). So why is the industry not delivering more creativity? Popular answers included a lack of time (65 per cent), overworked staff (37 per cent) and a lack of clear creative objectives that hampers personal and organisational creativity (33 per cent).

Asia-Pacific respondents viewed the industry’s creativity in a worse light than those in North America. Among Asia-Pacific respondents, only 37 per cent see PR creativity as “good’ or “inspirational”, while 20 per cent find it “unsatisfactory” or worse. The corresponding numbers in North America were 51 per cent and 11 per cent.

Other findings:

  • 42 percent of businesses don’t reward or incentivise creativity.
  • 35 percent don’t use any specific interview methods to assess creativity in potential employees.
  • 40 percent of clients said their agencies could do better when it came to their creative capabilities.
  • Just 16 percent were consistently happy with these capabilities
  • 23 percent said they were not happy with their firm’s creative capabilities.

What is the end game for all social media investments?

Unspun was conducting a social media workshop recently when the topic settled on KPIs – Key Performance Indicators. The answer was simple but I could tell it was unsatisfying to the audience: it depends.

The audience wanted definite answers to tell them when they were getting their money’s worth if they poured money and resources into using social media to connect with their audiences. It would have been easy to pull one of the metrics suggested by off-the-shelf social media monitoring systems and tell them that that was it; or, try to convince them that hashtags and followers/fans are an indication; or even the by-now-ubiquitious “engagement” metrics mainly of comments to a Facebook posting.

The problem, however, was that we had decided to embark on the road less taken by many communications consultants: to tell the truth even when it can be inconvenient.

And the truth is simple. If you subject an organization or brand’s social media efforts to the question: “What is the end game of getting into social media?” the long-term answer must be “to build belief in the organization/brand.”

This is because on the Net, the audience has an overabundance of choice. The audience is also skeptical and  yet prone to what behavioral and cognitive scientists call System 1 Thinking. In less than a blink of an eye, if you are less than “trustworthy” you would have lost them, perhaps forever.

What this means for organizations and brands, more than ever, is for them to develop a distinct point of view — and, if you are old-fashioned, you could call it character — and use this as a compass to navigate themselves through the virtual sea.

Will this result in the organizations and brands increasing their sales? Not necessary. And this is the scary part for most business entities – to contemplate investing in social media that may not yield immediate bottom line results.

Yet what choice is there in a world dominated by the the Net where social media levels the playing field like never before and overwhelms its denizens with so much choice they have difficulty picking one from the other. Should trust be the new metric for social media?

Jakarta second from last in location branding survey of Asian cities

How well does Jakarta do when it comes to location branding (a fancy modern word to substitute for reputation of a place)?

According to a study by Public Affairs Asia and Ogilvy PR called Location Branding 2012, not that well at all. Out of 16 cities Jakarta came 14, just above Manila.

Another dubious distinction for this city. perhaps it is time for its residents to sport more checked shirts to get the city going.


Ernest Prakasa’s failed viral campaign and Kathy Perry’s kiss

Why are Indonesian onliners peeved off by Ernest Prakasa’s pleas of help after his “kidnap”; what are they saying about visiting megastar Kathy Perry’s kiss and what do Indonesian onliners have to say about what’s happening about half the world away – America’s Stop Online Piracy Act?

Find out and keep abreast of what’s buzzing in Indonesia’s social media hive in a weekly update started by Unspun’s colleagues at Raconteur here

Gong Xi Fa Cai everyone. .

Ogilvy in Jakarta: Family or package?

Seems like interesting times are afoot in one of the largest Marketing Communications firms in Indonesia. So, is it family or package? Misunderstanding or spin?

This news and photo  from marketing-interactive com:

Mangham speaks out

By: Deepa Balji, Singapore

Published: Nov 04, 2011

Regional – Stephen Mangham has refuted Ogilvy claims that he left the group for family reasons, telling Marketing it was a personal disagreement over terms that led to his departure.

A statement from Ogilvy said that Mangham had resigned from the agency for family reasons, however Mangham has since said this is not the case.

“The role which Paul Heath (Asia Pacific CEO) outlined to me was a fascinating one – to realise the potential of Indonesia and create another India/China type operation.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t agree on the personal terms, so I decided to turn down the role and explore other options. I haven’t finalised my plans going forward, but I hope to do so soon,” he told Marketing.

His role in Indonesia was that of technical advisor PT Indo Ad.

Mangham had been a long serving group chairman at O&M’s Singapore office. His role was taken over by Fiona Gordon, who continues to lead the business out of Singapore.

Following his departure, barely more than a month into his new role, president of Ogilvy & Mather ASEAN David Mayo will step in to handle the former’s duties until a replacement is found.

“I am taking over responsibility for the Jakarta office while we search for a new chief executive officer,” Mayo said.

Rest of story  here

The trouble with contests and awards

There’s been much comment and discontent about Indonesia’s poor showing in the New 7 Wonders of The World Contest. In the conversation led by, among others, The Indonesian blogosphere’s Comeback Kid, Priyadi, many Indonesians are criticizing the methodology of how the New 7 Wonders were chosen.

The problem in their arguments, however, is that Indonesia chose willingly to enter into the contest, knowing full well that the selection process may not hold a candle next to Ceasar’s wife, so it is a bit churlish to complain when, having been complicit in the progress of the competition, you turn around and criticize the organizers.

Unfortunately, however, most of us – Unspun included – are suckers for that whatever slim chance at recognition and victory that we tend to overlook the flaws of a contest or award, only to have these very same flows come back in their mocking glory when we do not win any prizes.

Unspun knows this feeling only too well. Last week Unspun was invited by some friends to join their table at the SABRE Awards that was organized by the Holmes Report. Unspun went there because 1. The spot was free, courtesy of my friends and Unspun’s a cheapskate and 2. Unspun’s firm had been short listed as finalist in two of the award categories.

Unspun was skeptical of the awards from way back (see this link) but so hard wired are we all to optimism and The Slim Chance that he trekked to Singapore for the dinner. When the results were announced, the spoils went mainly to the Big Boys of PR, who also happened to be sponsors.

At this point Unspun reasoned, you could interpret the results several ways: Big Boys, because of their resources, are inherently more creative; Big Boys have more clout because they also happen to be the sponsors of the dinner (or conversely, because they are aware of how good they are, they sponsored the dinner so that they could be recognized); Small Boys generally can’t compete with the Big Boys; Big Big Boys rule,maven against other Big Boys.

Unspun wasn’t alone. There were others more skeptical than him. Many questioned the impartiality of the awards, pointing to the close connection between the viability of the organizing body and advertising/sponsorship for its existence. This, however, is a bit unfair because the Holmes Report did conscript some judges who should be impartial although,
Ironically, they did a bad job of PR-ing that fact.

Unspun thinks that the Holmes Report’s present dependence on sponsorship and advertisement leaves its credibility vulnerable but at least they are trying to do something to recognize PR.

The real problem is that the organizations with the heft and resources to really do something for the profession – the Big Boys – are doing squat to set up a forum where good PR work can be recognized and encouraged in a manner that is much more beyond reproach. (Human psychology is such that if you belonged to a Big Boy team and won an award, the fact that you are intelligent enough to figure what Unspun’s said so far would not stop you from The Ecstatic Moment When your firm or team’s name is announced). Then again, if you are a Big Boy, why would you want to upset the apple cart?

So there you have it. Unspun is probably churlish for complaining (and would he write a completely different post if his firm had won an award that night?) but at the same time feels that the whole matter should be brought up for a good airing and unspinning. Any opinions from the PR fraternity?

Raconteur picks up another award for Maverick

I’m so proud of my colleagues at Raconteur who picked up yet another award for Maverick last week.

Who says PR can’t be creative?

The Year of The Raconteurs!

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By hanny

Other posts by hanny

This year looks like an especially favorable one for Raconteur!

Earlier this year, the story tellers were celebrating awards to two of our social media clients: US Embassy Jakarta and AXIS, that received awards from MIX magazine on their effectiveness in using social media. We were so humbled and proud for becoming a part of it—and we recounted those days when we were working on the two winning projects with lots of excitement and enthusiasm.

The US Embassy Jakarta won a Silver Award in Image and Reputation Building category with the program “Berbagi Indonesia: A Campaign to Welcome President Obama”. This social media campaign netted the embassy with more than 70,000 new fans in its Facebook Page within  2 weeks, and exponentially increased the engagement level with its audiences in other social media platforms as well. Our other client, AXIS, won a Silver Award in the Marketing PR category with its “AXIS Menang Bareng” campaign, which succeeded in helping AXIS increase consumers’ usage of its mobile packages and attracted hundreds of new customers.

A few days ago, we were pleasantly surprised with the news that we have won another award—this time from a client.

Each year, PT HM Sampoerna Tbk holds the “Sampoerna Supplier Awards” to recognize the work and contribution given by their more than 3,000 suppliers. The suppliers comprise advertising agencies, PR consultancies, event organizers, among others. This year they created a new category of awards—the Value Creation Ideas Award, to recognize their partners who had come up with the best idea that would add value to PT HM Sampoerna Tbk, either in terms of increasing productivity, increasing quality, lowering costs, lowering wastes, improving safety, or increasing its corporate image.


We submitted two ideas involving the use of communications technology in customer relations and direct communications that they apparently found very useful and awarded it to Maverick, as Raconteur’s parent company.

We think that this award would nicely round up Raconteur’s year for 2011—except that one of our projects have also been selected as a finalist in the SABRE Awards in Singapore on Thursday night! Now if thing go well, that would be the perfect ending for the year for us

Wait for more stories that we will be able to tell in 2012.

via The Year of The Raconteurs! | Raconteur.

Play. Pause. Forward.

The euphoria surrounding social media has been so infectious that many brand managers and organizations have jumped headlong into opening their own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

Some enterprising ones have conducted a campaign or two using these social platforms that they have classified as unqualified successes because it generated some buzz in the form of hashtags earned, or increased followers in the Facebook ro Twitter accounts. But are they real successes? In the business world communications is but a tool.Tools are useful when they help the business to achieve its objectives,wasteful when they do not. Social media and its platforms, in this sense, are but tools to achieve business objectives like increased sales and closer ties to customers that matter most.

In this context, how many of the social media programs we see around us in Indonesia are flashes-in-the-pan that create a lot of razzle and dazzle for a moment and then die down, conspicuously  achieving nothing?  How many social programs out there will never help an iota in increasing sales and/or strengthening the bond between brands and their consumers?

How many zombie Facebook pages and Twitter accounts are there out there in cyber space, brought to life in a rush of enthusiasm and then neglected when the owner can’t quite figure that to do next?

If any of this describes the organizations you’re familiar with then its time to get real, to take a pause and question who do you real need to communicate with via cosmical media and to what end, before forging ahead with your social media activities at a faster clip.

It is with this in mind that my colleagues at Raconteur and Brio have put together a workshop that aims give brands/organizations/ social media policy and usage a health check up; as well as hands-on practical sessions in mapping out your real audience and what strategies to adopt moving forward that are real and relevant to the people you are trying to reach.

The workshop, to be held on November 24, will be run by Hanny Kusumawati who’s perhaps better known by her Twitter handle @beradadisini and the movement she started, Coin-a-Chance, that has won several awards and recognized for its innovative use of social media. Hanny who lectures on communications at Universitas Paramadina and is an oft sought after speaker on social media, also heads Raconteur, the digital storytellers division in Maverick. There she and her team consult to clients on how best to use social media to meet their business objectives.

She’s assisted by Jonathan Tenggara, our resident geek who specializes in digital technology and social media analysis. He’ll be able to tell you how to measure and quantify the impact social media campaigns and programs have on your brands.

They are very bright guys who also happen to know the Indonesian social media landscape inside out so it should be workshop that anyone who’s interested in boosting their businesses’ social media performance cannot afford to miss.

Malaysian Leaders fall for another PR consultant

Here we go again with Najib and his cohorts thinking that some spin doctor will provide them with the magic bullet that will boost their popularity, ensure that they will be continously  voted into office and live happily ever after.

The problem is that spin doesn’t work. Leaders and others who want to win the popularity sweepstakes must work hard to win that popularity. PR people can help you strategize, coach you, provide you with communications skills and even write up your soundbites for you, but at the end of the day it is authenticity that wins the day. No Pr person can provide you with that. Authenticity comes with character, integrity, a commitment to ideals and a strong belief in ideals.

In other words, Najib and Co needs to change their personalities instead of their PR people. Yesterday, the flavor of the month PR consultant was APCO. They did not good because they were trying to Pr the unPR-able, as Unspun had predicted. Now it is FBC. What next? And how much taxpayer’s money would have gone into the pockets of foreign spin doctors by then?


Malaysian Leaders ‘Paid UK Firm for PR’
Hazlin Hassan – Straits Times Indonesia | August 06, 2011

Kuala Lumpur. A British-based production company with ties to well-known global television networks has found itself in the spotlight following allegations that it was paid to produce programs to burnish the international image of Malaysian leaders.

Business network CNBC has already dropped its weekend show World Business since reports about FBC Media, which also does public relations, surfaced. The BBC said it was investigating the matter, while CNN denied airing such ‘paid-for’ shows.

‘In light of serious questions raised last week, CNBC immediately initiated an examination of FBC and its business practices and has withdrawn the programme World Business indefinitely,’  Charlotte Westgate, CNBC’s vice-president of marketing and communications, told The Straits Times. She did not elaborate.

The Straits Times’ requests for a comment from the Prime Minister’s Office were not answered as of yesterday.

The allegations first appeared on Sarawak Report, the website of Clare Rewcastle Brown, a Sarawak-born environmental journalist who lives in her home country, England.

‘Allowing slots to be purchased in this way, deceiving millions of viewers who thought they were watching impartial programming, is a serious breach of broadcasting laws,’ she wrote.

Brown, 51, who is the sister-in-law of former British premier Gordon Brown, is a fierce critic of Sarawak’s long-serving Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. Her website has reported extensively on allegations about his wealth and assets abroad, and made a strong impact in the recent Sarawak state election.

via Malaysian Leaders ‘Paid UK Firm for PR’ | The Jakarta Globe.

Ramadhan blooper II: Indonesian TV’s turn

In Unspun’s last posting we featured the silliness of TV8 in Malaysia and its Ramadhan message. While the flak is still flying in Malaysia, Indonesia’s TVOne (what is it with TV stations and numerals?) seems to have come up with silliness of their own.

TV stations traditionally air a videoclip to accompany the adz an prayers. Typical messages are, of course, exhorting people to be religious, to be tolerant, to have compassion. This year, however, TVOne has a different message:

It starts with a tailor being treated badly. This inspires him to get even by doing well for himself. So he goes to the bank to get a loan, start a business. As he prospers he buys a car.

Here’s where product placement gets ridiculous. The camera has the requisite handshake-to-denote-closed-deal shot and as it pans out, very prominently we see the Daihatsu marqe and the make of the model of the car – Sirjohn (what sort of an idiot will name a car Sirjohn anyway?)

As the car leaves the showroom, breaking all the rules of the Highway Code because it does not have a legit number plate but the ridiculous SIRJOHN, the camera carefully pans across a – you guessed it – DAIHATSU showroom and the fact that it is part of ASTRA International.

What were the marketing people at Astra Daihatsu and their advertising company thinking? Unspun supposes the question is moot because if they were thinking at all they would have realized that something like that smacks of a brand exploiting religion to sell its products, would backfire.

Already, Twitter is all abuzz with this insensitivity on the part of Astra and Daihatsu. Let’s see how they will drive their way out of all this.

The incredible resurrection of Sumardy “Coffin” Ma

You would have thought that Sumardy Ma, the self-professed pioneer of word-of-mouth marketing, had buried his career with his coffin antic back in June 6, when he sent coffins to several media houses and individuals as a publicity stunt to promote a book he was publishing.

Critics then decried it as bad taste and misguided creativity. The Police started investigating Sumardy Ma and brought him in for questioning. No one seems to know the outcome of these questionings.

Then, barely a month after than, Sumardy began his resurrection with pure chutzpah by “rebranding” himself as Coffin Ma on his Facebook page.

Now comes the shocking news that would awaken the dead. He is to be the key speaker in a workshop entitled “Boosting your Market with Word-of-Mouth”.

You have to ask the question of how MIx, a putatively reputable magazine on markting communications, makes its decisions. Does it seriously consider Sumardy an expert after that incredible boo boo, or has it sold out to Mammon at all costs and calculated, cynically, that curiosity over Sumardy would draw in the crowd and bring in the mollahs?





Chutzpah Marketing

Remember the self-styled master of Word-of-Mouth marketing Sumardy Ma who got buried in a welter of brickbats and was the subject of Police questioning after he sent meter-long coffins to media houses and individuals in Jakarta back on June 6?

Lesser marketers would have hunkered down and wait for time to lay on a patina of amnesia before crawling out of the trenches but not Sumardy, who has refashioned himself as Sumardy Coffin in his Facebook page.

Unrepentant, even defiant, of the incident that would have devastated his career. What is one to make of this marketer?

via @shillach