#PRAwards 2021 spills: Roll with the punches, advices Tokopedia's VP of corp comms


Possibily one of the most anticipated pieces of news in the recent times has been the official business combination between Tokopedia and Gojek to form GoTo Group, marking the largest ever business combination in Indonesia and the largest between two Asia-based internet media and services companies to date. However even prior to the news breaking, Tokopedia has been a force to be reckoned with - and a beloved friend to many small businesses in Indonesia.

In fact, earlier this year, the brand won the coveted gold for Best Campaign Pivot and silver for Best PR Campaign: e-Commerce at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s PR Awards 2021. This was for the work it had done for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across Indonesia as the COVID-19 pandemic shows no clear end in sight. 

And while Tokopedia went above and beyond to help this community, in a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Tokopedia's vice-president for corporate communications Nuraini Razak shares with us some of the lessons learnt through the difficult year. 

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series for PR Awards 2021. To find out more about the awards, click here.

What would you say was the biggest accomplishment for the whole PR/communications community in 2020?

Nuraini: 2020 was a year of rolling with the punches. The past year has challenged us to be more agile, innovative, and adaptive in the way we communicate our message. In times of adversity, PR plays an important role in designing creative, innovative, and effective communication strategies to build and maintain a positive image by utilising technology and new media.

Despite the uncertainty the pandemic brings, with spot-on and creative storytelling, PR actually has the opportunity to strengthen brand value, and consumer trust and loyalty towards the company. At Tokopedia, we do this by providing regular communication on favourable stories of our COVID-19 initiatives in supporting buyers and sellers across Indonesia.

What would you say was your proudest achievement of the year?

Nuraini: The team! Despite its challenges, the pandemic has made us all realise the things we thought were impossible. We’ve been in full force to leverage all communication channels, including for creating all the virtual moments and maintaining relationships in an online setting. The team agility has made it possible for us to navigate through despite the increased complexity of our function.

As an example, we leverage PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) channels for our #JagaEkonomiIndonesia (Let’s Guard the Indonesian Economy), Tokopedia’s key campaign as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In the Corporate Communications team at Tokopedia, we have a clear organisational structure to carry out an integrated communication function: Internal Communications and Owned Channels, External Communications, and Media Intelligence. Each of these functions also reflects how we carry out the PESO model approach as our main strategy in communicating the #JagaEkonomiIndonesia campaign.

The internal communications and owned channels team is responsible for ensuring that our more than 6,000 Nakama (Tokopedia’s employees) receive the same information and have the same perception towards the company’s take on the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the external communications team plays a role in reaching out to external stakeholders, such as buyers, sellers, partners, and the government. The main focus is to inspire more local businesses to transform to digital platforms (Tokopedia) to sustain their businesses amid the pandemic, while encouraging more Indonesians to buy local products.

After executing all strategies both internally and externally, the media intelligence team has an essential role in measuring the effectiveness of our communications approach, as well as providing insights that later act as the basis for developing future communication strategies.

What are some communications trends you see carrying on post-pandemic?

Nuraini: At Tokopedia, we always say that from this pandemic, we have witnessed the birth of the “transformation generation”. The pandemic has supercharged digital adoption and everyone is embracing technology faster than ever before. We have never seen and experienced a period of digital transformation as fast and as important as today. Digitalisation and technology are no longer seen as just value-added but have become a necessity. And it is here to stay, it is the way to go.

The pandemic also increasingly demands the ability of PR practitioners to strengthen digital communication to build public trust, one of which is by building and maintaining online communities (social media, forums, etc).

In addition, with the world getting more connected and people have more screen time and access to information, there’s a growing importance of internal communications to ensure that we communicate to our employees first (internal-first communication approach).

Moving forward, the industry also demands PR practitioners to have creativity, innovation and the ability to read trends and momentum, especially considering that the attention span on digital platforms is relatively low.

Communication, especially in digital PR should be creatively crafted, hook-worthy and easy-to-digest.

How will the role of communications professionals evolve as we move into a rather uncertain future?

Nuraini: Listening/monitoring function gets more important than normal. As PR practitioners we are sometimes too engrossed in talking, to the point of forgetting to listen. Amid the swift flow of digital information, the 'listening' function should be further strengthened.

Only by actively listening can we understand what is happening around us and the steps we need to take.

In times of uncertainty, we should always be willing to pivot and innovate as change is constant. We should keep an open mind to new ways as we navigate through the changes. In addition, it’s very important to stay true to our company’s mission and values as the compass and guiding principles when the going gets tough or uncertain.

What can we expect from your company in 2021?

Nuraini: As an Indonesian technology company, we will continue to serve our 10+ million merchants and 100+ million monthly active users across 99% of districts across the country. Entering our 12th year, we will remain focused on building a Super Ecosystem where everyone can start and discover anything.

In regard to the pandemic, our focus will always be to ensure that the community can fulfill their needs from home, maintain the business continuity of our sellers, while encouraging economic recovery in Indonesia.