by Pigar A. Mahdar
April 16th, 2014

Strategy (definition) : a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim. 

Agencies and clients already know the importance of strategy. It becomes the foundation of our work; a map of guidance that directly impacts on the success of a campaign or yearly plan. The word strategy continues to be featured in every new business development presentation, evaluation report or planning document that a client or agency create. PR agencies always write their strategies before their tactical approach, to demonstrate the rationale and intention behind every action that they make. It’s logical then to assume that we all should have a pretty good idea of what strategy is.

But if we’re so certain about what strategy means, then are we certain about its value?

Here in Indonesia, strategy is often overlooked for execution. Indonesian firms are more responsive towards final outcomes and the amount of followers you make rather than understanding or even acknowledging the positive impact that planning and strategy brings to the quality of the work. Sustainability becomes an ignored topic of issue, as businesses prefer hands-on execution that directly brings forth results.

And this isn’t bad, because it simply represents Indonesia’s cultural values towards long-term ideals and planning.

Under Hofstede’s cultural microscope, Indonesia stands as one of the most short-term oriented cultures in Asia, having a time orientation that is more about the past and present instead of the future. It becomes understandable that Indonesian businesses don’t really pay attention to the longevity of strategy, and how such an invisible train of thought could be capable in turning around many aspects of business including sales or coverage. Long-term strategy and planning becomes a huge opportunity cost in comparison to simply completing the deliverable, and this often compromises the quality and coherence of communication campaigns. I’ve been a part of many discussions with clients, and most of them continue to question our tactics and its feasibility to drive more – more sales, more followers, and more fans on Facebook. Simply put, businesses in Indonesia understand the importance of strategy, but the concept just isn’t valued as significantly as execution.

In the globally competitive world we live in, PR agencies need to be more aware of our client’s values toward strategy and find a solution that fulfils their insecurities whilst continuing to move the company forward. It’s up to us to provide clients with a new perspective; give them knowledge and faith that long-term strategy and its large investment plays a big role in generating strong success. We have to educate our clients on the idea of sustainable impact; a positive trend of engagement, growth and two-way conversation that remains long-lasting for the brand.

It’s a daunting task, because it ultimately means that we as agencies have the responsibility to reshape and recalibrate the core values of some clients. But if successful, then it means more success, more results, more coverage, and more award-winning campaigns for both agencies and their clients.

Pigar A. Mahdar is associate – Digital, Indonesia, at Weber Shandwick

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