What will fill in the vacuum left by a once respected media?

Newspapers are folding by the day. Readers are abandoning print and going online. Today we read, online of course, of Singapore Press Holdings’ valuation falling below the New York Times in 12 years. At the same time we read of the Wall Street Journal stopping their print editions in Singapore and Hong Kong. Sadly they are part of a trend that has also hit Indonesia media hard.

The Wall Street Journal is to stop its publications in Singapore and Hong Kong. The media are getting creamed by digital disruption

Many news outlets have tried to follow their readers by going online. The strategy, however, hasn’t paid off for most of them as online advertising is going more to Facebook and Google than to these outlets.

What should companies that have been relying on engagement with newspapers and news outlets do, now that these traditional outlets are closing down?

Some have tried to go digital by shifting their marketing and promotional efforts online but that does not work as their target audiences have an abundance of choice and shun any type of interruption marketing, even if its on the platforms they use like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The more savvy ones go for content marketing. Those that do well come up with content that is relevant for their audiences with information that is useful for their targeted audiences. Or they amuse them. The rest fade into a mist of irrelevance.

In all this, something is missing that cannot take over the ideal traditional role of the media – An independent voice that carefully chooses (or curates, using the current lingo) the news that we should be interested in, as opposed to what we think we are interested in. A source of authority, a pointer to inconvenient truths, a conscience of the people or a community.

Public relations professionals also experience this frustration. And its for this reason that Maverick, as our names suggests, is trying out something that would disrupt the traditional way in which a controversial industry engages with the media, how its players get informed and in what the directions the public discourse on issues relating to the industry should be going.

It’s still in the works but our bet is that there is a need for something to fill in the vacuum left by a media that is once look up to as responsible, authoritative, informative, rising the right issues and asking the right questions without resorting to fault-finding. Stay tuned.





Panic at the ATM

On a weekend in August 26, many Indonesian banking customers could not use ATMs as the machines were out of service. This error was caused by a problem encountered by Telekomunikasi Indonesia’s (Telkom) Telkom 1 satellite, which was used by banks to support their ATM network.

ATM fingers

How did the conventional media cover this problem? Read More

Public Relations lessons from Bell Pottinger collapse

As a young man cutting my teeth in journalism during the Thatcher years, I was in awe of the people behind the company, Bell Pottinger, that helped ensure her electoral victories. I remember they were touted as one of the first public relations firms to use behavioral psychology to good effect.

Now, after being in Public Relations for about 18 years and seeing the Bell Pottinger name reappear into prominence,and with it the man who founded the firm, I must say that it is a letdown. The man at the helm of that once powerful public relations firm turns out to be a doddering shadow of his former image in the interview below:

He was combative and defensive, he was in denial and he could not even switch off his mobile for an interview- twice.

What lessons can we PR people learn from this? Read More

Maverick Support Staff Outing 2017

Jam tangan menunjukkan pukul 4 pagi ketika saya bertolak dari kantor menuju Bandara Soekarno Hatta pada hari Sabtu, 12 Agustus 2017. Kali ini bukan untuk business trip, melainkan berlibur bersama tim kantor yang terdiri dari 3 orang dari divisi roda dua dan empat, 1 pengirim dokumen, 1 pemindai dokumen, 2 orang pengelola IT, dan 3 asisten umum. Mereka adalah tim pendukung operasi sehari-hari di Maverick. Hari itu, saya menemani mereka terbang ke Pulau Bangka.

marina bay bangka
Bergaya di Marina Bay, Bangka.

Inilah kisahnya. Read More

Corporations need rethink amid Indonesian media closures

At least 33 magazines and tabloids closed since December

If there’s any doubt that disruption is at hand in the communications industry just look at the sheer number of closures of Indonesian media. At least 33 newspapers and magazines have closed down since December last year.

Even racy men's magazine Maxim had to shut down
Maxim no more – the racy men’s magazine stopped publishing in July

This raises interesting questions on how corporations can still reach their customers and other audiences that matter. After all, the news outlets they’ve relied on as a medium of communicating with their consumers is failing than a line of dominoes.

July a tough month for Indonesian media

Thanks to some research from my colleague Wicaksono, aka Ndoro Kakung, we found that December 2016 was a bad month for the Kompas Gramedia Group as it closed four tabloids – Sinyal, Chip, Chip Foto & Video and Motor – and four magazines – Kawanku, What Hi Fi, Auto Expert, Car and Tuning Guide.

The industry quietened down but from May onwards more closures followed. First was lifestyle and fashion magazine Nylon, followed by another Kompas Gramedia Group casualty, the music magazine Hai.

July was a bad month as it was convulsed with 11 closures. The largest number of casualties came from the giant MNC group as it closed down its regional daily editions of Koran Sindo in north and south Sumatera; central, east and west Java as well as north Sulawesi. The group belonging to tycoon and politician Harry Tanoesoedibjo also closed down women’s tabloid Genie and parenting tabloid Mom and Kiddie.

The Kompas Gramedia Group took another casualty that month – the aviation magazine Angkasa and the MRA Group – known for holding the Harley Davidson franchise in Indonesia, its luxurious Bulgari Hotel in Bali and lately the problems its owner Soetikno Soedarjo is having with the KPK – also had to close their men’s magazine Maxim.

Even God couldn’t save the Hisbut Tahir publications

Even the religious publications could not find salvation in such a brutal climate of disruption. The Islamic  supremacist Hisbut Tahir Indonesia publications Media Umat tabloid and Al-Wa’ie magazine went to meet their maker in August.

There is no doubt that there will be more closures in 2017 and beyond. This is hardly surprising since the younger generation now consume information from the internet and mainly on the mobiles.

So what should corporations do?

This state of affairs, however, has implications for corporations and brands that have traditionally relied on the Indonesian media to get their messages out to the public and customers. One alternative is to court online publications, but its an extremely crowded and noisy place. This makes it very difficult for any corporation or brand to differentiate themselves from the pack.

When it comes to issues management the online media often takes a publish-first-and-correct-later attitude. This makes corporations extra vulnerable to attacks by activists and competitors.

The online media is increasingly more likely to print any allegation, founded or not. By the time the corporations come round to responding, the news may have already gone viral and the damage done.

All the more reason why corporations need to start exploring, if they haven’t already, how they need to get their messages out. The direction seems to be that they should be publishers themselves, become generators of content that are relevant to their audiences.

In reality however, this is not so easily done. Many corporations do not have the kind of openness and culture that supports content generation and quick response. Many of them also do not have the know-how or the skills to produce a constant stream of content and then to get them out there through the various social media platforms.

Support for empathic media an alternative?

An alternative may be to consider supporting empathic online publications, as opposed to the present media that works more on a fault-findingmodel rather than an explanatory model. The commercial media make their money from advertising and to command higher advertising rates they have to attract lots of eyeballs. To do this they have to resort to sensationalism or clickbait.

Emphatic online publications, however, do not have to fall into that model if they receive the support of corporations. They can practice what is called constructive journalism, that focuses more on solutions and information dissemination rather than fault finding. Perhaps then they can get a better deal when it comes to getting their messages out.

The Indonesian media are closing because the present model is broken. It needs to be replaced by something new. Fortunately, the tools are available today to do that. If only corporations have the foresight and the courage to try something disruptive and new.

More bad news on the way

In the meantime the toll mounts: We have just learned that The Femina Group’s women magazines Cleo and Pesona will be printing their last edition in August and September this year.











Green Pramuka dan Keluhan Konsumen di Media Sosial

Apartemen Green Pramuka Jakarta menjadi sorotan publik awal pekan ini. Banyak warganet mengecam apartemen tersebut di media sosial, namun pengelolanya dianggap tak merespons dengan baik.

social media complaint
Photo: Pixabay

Bagaimana kasus tersebut dilihat dari aspek komunikasi? Bagaimana sebaiknya perusahaan menangani keluhan konsumen sehingga tak memicu serangan di media sosial, seperti dalam kasus Green Pramuka? Read More