After a long and illustrious career as a strategist with major advertising agencies in Indonesia, Paramitha Mohamad left her post at Lowe Indonesia last year to launch Communication For Change, a communications consultancy company, with Misty Diansharira Saptoro, her partner at Lembaga Bantuan Kreatif.
According to Mohamad, her two years in running Lembaga Bantuan Kreatif (Creative Aid Institute) –with Saptoro and Yuwono Widodo in partnership with Lowe– made her realize that there is so much more that can be done outside of the world of traditional creative agency.
LBK was established in 2014 with significant support from Lowe, to reach those who require more than an advertising or marketing solution. Their clients had been mainly those in the public sector or working towards social change. LBK was run quite distinctly from an advertising agency, which meant that at some point the two entities would have to part ways even though the partnership had been fruitful.
In leaving Lowe, Mohamad’s departure was a memorable one, she said. It’s how she had pictured it, with a silver trophy from Citra Pariwara Creative Festival 2015 for the work done by Lowe and LBK for Jentera Law School.
“Lowe is a classic advertising agency, they have their own business model… and our business model is different than theirs,” Mohamad said.
During the two years with Lowe, LBK worked with a number of clients producing comprehensive communications solutions that aren’t generally served by advertising or public relations agencies. Mohamad and Saptoro then decided that LBK needs to become independent from Lowe to address a greater range of the challenges that they want to deal with. “Let’s now not be dependent on Lowe,” Saptoro told Addiction. “Because if we’re depending on Lowe, we cannot be totally free in doing what we do. It’s time now to do it ourselves. Because LBK was funded by Lowe, we changed the name to Communication for Change.”
One of the drivers for establishing this company is that a number of social impact companies have realized that they need to do more than just distributing photocopies of their agenda to the public because it’s not effective to just do a typical public service announcements. “It’s not just about having a PR agency put something on the web to communicate it,” Saptoro said. The pair has worked with government agencies and NGO’s through LBK not just to produce communications materials but also ensure that their programs are being executed properly and the messages that they want to convey are received and well understood.
“It’s a bit scary to do this full time”, Saptoro said, “but it’s about time that we do this, otherwise it’s considered as something that we do on the side to help out, but it’s not something you can put only part of your time.”
“We are consultants, we give advice. We don’t do things on their behalf,” Mohamad explained. “The first thing we do is we consult on how they pitch their program so people understand and the stakeholders would buy in”. The current system can be so convoluted and confusing that Mohamad described the process as “a gallery of bad PowerPoints”, which is what they aim to change to ensure that the message gets delivered and understood properly. If necessary, the pitching process to the stakeholders would be changed from the standard presentation to whatever form that works.
Since Communication for Change won’t have employees, they will have to rely on a lot of freelance and contract personnel to be part of their projects. Saptoro doesn’t think that this would be much of a burden because throughout the two years with LBK, they’ve met and worked with a range of skilled individuals who are happy to work with the arrangement that they offer. “There’s a lot of freelancers just in Jakarta and from meeting them we know whether we would be able to work with them or not”, Mohamad said. “We can determine who we can work with based on their initial response to the brief”, Saptoro added.
The pair is also happy to hire students, fresh graduates, or anybody, if they happen to fit the bill for the projects they’re working on. “Students often want a good portfolio”, Mohamad said.
When it comes time to execution, the duo would put together an ad hoc team based on their problem diagnosis as well as the required expertise since the solutions tend to be different from one case to the next. “It’s not always advertising”, Mohamad explained. “We don’t employ anyone. If from our initial structure we have an in-house creative, I bet to my last dollar that what we sell will be things that we have skills for, not what the client needs.”