Telum Talks To: Harry Tumengkol from Image Dynamics
Jakarta-based PR agency, Image Dynamics, celebrated its 19th anniversary this year. Partner and Co-Founder, Harry Tumengkol, spoke with Telum about the agency's evolution and how the team has maintained its outstanding record of employee retention.
Congratulations to Image Dynamics on celebrating 19 years in business! Walk us through the evolution of the agency so far.
This year's anniversary celebrations for Image Dynamics are extra special as we were also gifted with two industry awards for Best PR Agency within the same week as our "birthday". We are appreciative and humbled by the recognition. Awards also keep employee morale and pride high. It's also a good asset to have when recruiting.
19 years ago, when Image Dynamics was first established, we knew we had to be different to the other agencies out there, especially the big ones. So we did a little research involving journalists and PR practitioners on the client side to find out, "What is the biggest weakness of current big agencies in the market?". Most answered unanimously, "media relations", specifically around securing media coverage that met with client expectations.
The capacity to develop and maintain organic relationships with the media was another common complaint. Based on these results, we set out to position ourselves as the best in media relations. We focused on developing, strengthening and consistently delivering effective, high-performance media relations for our clients. Our very first hire 18 years ago is still with us. She currently leads our media relations division and helps to set the standards for our consultants.
Our media relations positioning is still going strong today and has evolved to meet the growing need for digital PR capabilities. In principle, media relations in digital PR requires the same skills and attitudes, just with different technology.
Today, one of our strengths is our ability to deliver organic social media coverage. That means achieving non-paid placements on social media accounts. Any agency provided with a decent budget can do paid social campaigns, but delivering organic social campaigns requires special abilities and relationships that not all agencies can bring to the table.
There is a trending demand amongst our clients for this type of organic service, which is why we've made special efforts to develop in this area.
The agency has celebrated seven years of outstanding employee retention. How do you prioritise employee well-being at Image Dynamics?
We are proud to have an average employee length of service rate of seven years at our company. For agency standards, this is amazingly high. 40 per cent of our employees have a length of service of more than five years, with our longest-standing employee working with us for more than 18 years.
The key to our employee well-being strategy is flexibility. Providing a flexible working environment, which includes offering flexible benefits schemes, hybrid working conditions, and flexible personal time and leave arrangements, provides a level of comfort and loyalty that makes our employees want to stay at Image Dynamics.
We also have a monthly programme called "Mom Day Off" made specifically for our working mothers, allowing them to take a day off with no questions asked.
What's next for the agency? What campaigns are the team preparing for?
We are serious about growing our digital and social capabilities, especially our organic coverage capabilities, which means going back to basics on media relations and relationship building.
At the moment, we are very excited to be preparing for Coldplay's "Music of the Spheres World Tour" project in Jakarta. This concert is going to be a significant event with epic PR challenges and rewards.
How do you think media relations has evolved in the age of social media?
Media relations will evolve alongside technology and the media industry at large. For example, measuring performance used to involve looking out for key messages and spokespeople to mention in articles. Today it's all about tags and hashtags.
When we want to pitch a story to a social media page, we still need to know how to develop a pitch doc as well as the do's and don'ts of approaching a (social) media outlet. When we write a press release, we include hashtags and keywords to make it more SEO-friendly, not just journalist-friendly.
All of this is media relations. Basic skills and attitudes in effective media relations have not changed. Media relations is a fundamental pillar of successful public relations. This will never change.
What is the most important skill a PR professional should develop?
Media relations skills and an attitude to serve.