Journalist Grills Me on ...


After the press event to launch our office in Jakarta last month, a journalist from one of the local publications interviewed me.

Here’s an excerpt from that interview.



Q What is interesting about the Indonesia market that makes Hoffman want to open a branch in Indonesia?

A As one of the smaller global consultancies, we can never relax. We must always push to evolve as a company. That’s why we’ve entered Indonesia. This move will make us a better company, not just next year or the year after, but looking out five or more years.

We believe that Indonesia will become a priority market for an increasing number of potential clients in the coming years. To give you a sense of trajectory, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that Indonesia will represent the fifth largest economy in the world by 2030, with an estimated worth of $5.424 trillion. Yes, 2030 is a long way off, but it’s the economic growth rates between now and 2030 that generate opportunity for a company like ours.

It’s also worth mentioning that many companies that enter Indonesia in the coming years will choose to NOT establish a communications or Marcom infrastructure in Indonesia. Such a scenario sets the stage for us to support this type of client in a deeper fashion. More than just providing arms and legs, we can support these companies in ways that overlap with market entry services.


Q Among the existing PR agencies here, how is Hoffman different from the others? What kind of services do you offer to the market?

A As far as positioning for Hoffman Agensi Indonesia is concerned, the huge PR consultancies — I call them “mega shops” — in Indonesia, like Edelman and Burson Marsteller, bring a certain sophistication in their programming and international standards to the table. On the other end of the spectrum, there are local communications firms such as Imogen and Fortune Pramana Rancang that add a more personal touch to their campaigns. We bring the best of both worlds to the table — the sophistication in programming associated with the mega shops in combination with the “high touch” that typically comes from boutique shops.

Take the area of media relations. Even though we’re an international company, we appreciate and recognize that journalists in Indonesia put enormous value on relationships. This means allowing time to cultivate relationships with journalists that can’t be billed back to our clients. We’re committed to make these investments to benefit our clients over the long term.

Another difference lies in our financial structure. We focus on P/L at the regional and global level, not the office level. This is a huge difference from the mega shops and brings tangible benefits to our clients. For clients who need support in multiple markets including Indonesia, it’s easy for us to allocate the budget based on what’s best for the client.

We expect most of our services in Indonesia initially will be the PR fundamentals, announcements, media relations, speaking opportunities, etc. As we grow, you’ll see our services expand into social media, blogging, search engine optimization and even digital marketing.


Q You’re known as a tech PR agency. Does that mean you only take on tech companies?

A The short answer is no. It’s true that our heritage lies in Silicon Valley and supporting tech companies. Yet, our offering has evolved through the years to address other industries, even those that focus on mainstream consumers.

For example, LEGOLAND Malaysia hired us to bring Indonesian journalists to the park for the introduction of a virtual reality roller coaster (note: activity took place last month).



Our core competency, constructing a company’s story to put its best foot forward with the outside world, can be applied to a range of areas including amusement parks.


Q Were you were able to get out and play tourist during your time in Jakarta?

A I didn’t have time to sightsee, but did manage to experience a Grab ride to a restaurant after our press event. Definitely got the adrenaline going.



What a great concept to go from point A to point B when the roads are gridlocked.

Earlier this year during a stop in Jakarta, I did make a stop at President Obama’s grade school.



Q Back to business, what is your expectation for your office and the PR industry in Indonesia?

A Our expectations for business in Indonesia in 2018 do not focus on financial performance. Instead, we view 2018 as a period to strengthen our foundation, integrate the office into our global network and of course make sure we deliver a good product to our clients. Based on what we learn in 2018, we’ll establish a revenue target for the Indonesian office in 2019. If you look around the region, our offices generate anywhere from US$1M to US$2.5M in annual revenue. We believe our Indonesian office will perform along these lines over time.

As for the general PR industry in Indonesia, we want to be part of elevating the profession here. The bigger the PR business in Indonesia, the better for everyone. This isn’t like a badminton match where one person wins and one person loses. In the PR game, there can be many winners. Again, a healthy PR industry benefits everyone.



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