Insights

Growing an agency during a pandemic: An interview with Vero Indonesia’s Diah Andrini Dewi

When the world throws obstacle after obstacle in your way, how do you stay motivated and keep pushing forward?

We can learn a lot from Diah Andrini Dewi, an account director at Vero’s office in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is a passionate learner who finds satisfaction in challenging herself and improving her skills, and she has had an eventful career journey delivering communication campaigns for various industries, both B2B and B2C, including consumer goods, beauty, technology, pharmaceuticals, and property. Her strengths as a PR professional include corporate communications, account management, marketing communications, crisis communications, and internal communications. As we shall soon see, her experience in human resources has also proven invaluable during the trials of recent months.

Hi Diah. Can you tell us what it’s like to be in the communications industry in Jakarta right now?

Since the pandemic started, everything has changed, including activities and media. There are no more offline events or publications. It’s an environment that demands creativity and efficiency to maintain positive momentum.

It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced, but it’s also an opportunity to build bonds. To succeed, I have to approach everything with positivity and a desire to make the best out of the situation. COVID-19 cases are increasing day by day, so I expect we will be working from home for a while, but I hope that eventually the team I’ve helped build can meet in person and have an office to gather in.

2020 was a hard year for PR in which many companies tightened their budgets, but I believe that communication is worth sustaining for each brand. They can’t give up if they want to reach their target audiences. Agencies that can convince brands of this necessity will continue to have opportunities to build them up with a long-term outlook.

I hope and expect that Vero’s presence here in Indonesia will keep growing, and I plan to nurture it. We think this is the moment to invest in sustainable growth, as Indonesia is an emerging market with potential for many brands from outside to expand here.

How has Vero Indonesia managed to grow in recent months?

Vero has a lot of experience serving companies in the technology, gaming, and software industries, and at a time when technology is more important than ever, expertise in these high potential sectors is very helpful to maintain a steady stream of client opportunities.

We are also really focused on building our team and investing in people.

Ultimately, an agency is a people-focused business. The agency with the most talented, hardest-working, creative and fun team will perform the best. Luckily, I have a background in HR, so I’ve used those skills to find people, along with the help and support of my regional colleagues at Vero. I use local communities on Facebook to find agency people, talk to colleagues, spread advertisements, and directly approach people on LinkedIn. For each new hire, I give them a sample study case and they create a proposal. There has been no shortage of candidates and tests.

In December, I brought on a new account executive and an HR person. I recruited another PR executive in January, and three new people will join in February. I worked at my previous agency for eight years, so I’m quite loyal and committed. I feel like there is a lot I can do to contribute at Vero, and operating in the regional market for the first time has been a healthy challenge for me.

We fill positions based on the needs of the clients we handle. I discuss with Brian (Griffin, Vero CEO) and Pattanee (Jeeriphab, CCO) and propose which positions would be the best fit for our current needs. Most have not been hard to fill because so many talented people in Indonesia are seeking good, sustainable work in the current environment. I’ve been lucky to find team members with extensive agency and corporate experience on campaigns for a variety of industries.

I see a marketing team as like the organs of a body, each of which is essential so the body can thrive. With that mindset, I want to create teams that have great bonds with each other and support each other. So besides experience and expertise, I look at personality. I want someone who likes challenge, has a can-do spirit, is willing to be a team player, and is eager to be a part of the agency’s growth journey.

Our status as a regional agency means that we get to interact with people all over the region, and our USP is that we understand local perspectives everywhere in ASEAN via branches, partnerships, and networks. Since we’ve worked on regional campaigns, we’re already a prominent choice for the regional business community.

How has the pandemic impacted the campaigns you run and the work environment there?

We have worked from home for the entire eight months I’ve been at Vero. Thankfully, we’ve been able to manage it, especially since our clients are mostly from abroad so we’re not expected to physically meet them. I’ve only met representatives of each new client once in person, when we had a group meeting in January.

We’ve been working with several big tech clients on activities and press release dissemination in Indonesia, where we’ve seen continued enthusiasm from media due to the fact that tech is one of the few sectors that is still growing here. People are using technology to help them adapt and support their daily needs, so tech companies have some of the most potential right now, but other industries still have opportunities to reach customers. The biggest focus is on industries that produce things that people need in daily life – more necessities, rather than non-essential consumer goods.

Brands doing social good are also really valued right now. We recently had a campaign with the Australian social enterprise Thankyou that was one of the biggest we’ve ever had, with the involvement of agencies all around the world. We introduced them here. They have a good objective and values based on minimizing poverty, which would resonate here any time, but especially so in the current climate. We’re raising awareness from zero using influencers, which has gone well based on impressions and reach. The campaign has gotten lots of positive coverage despite people’s lack of previous knowledge about the brand.

As for the office environment, we mostly handle things through company chats and video calls. We have frequent group meetings and morning briefings to get clarification and brainstorm about new briefs to more easily express our ideas and insights. There are some people who have joined whom I’ve never met face-to-face, but I feel I know them well since we’re always in touch and collaborating.

We also believe in bringing creative people together and community spirit. So once it’s safe, we will definitely invest in making our office a great place for collaboration.

What do you like about working at Vero?

It’s a positive environment, which is a quality I try to cultivate in myself. I choose to see things in a positive light and focus on solutions rather than problems, as I feel that an affirmative attitude creates more value for myself and others. I see that same attitude reflected in Vero from the top down.

It’s also nice to have a chance to work with people from all around ASEAN, which provides me with unique insights and new experiences due to our different backgrounds. I’m constantly learning more about the process of dealing with multinational brands and colleagues and developing international competency, which broadens and enriches my insight as a marketer and expands the range of ideas I can consider to provide the best service for our clients.

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