This month, we're spotlighting on our Malaysian counterpart, Aisya Hanem of Ariff Communications.
1. Please introduce yourself and Ariff Communications.
My name is Aisya Hanem and I am one of the three co-founders of Ariff Communications. Ariff Communications is an independent PR communications consultancy based in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, specialising in technology, consumer lifestyle, travel & hospitality and corporate communications. We provide creative publicity solutions through branding, consumer communications and media relations.
Ariff Communications was conceived in the summer less than a year ago, somewhere between the streets of Montmartre and Monet’s garden in Giverny France. I have dedicated close to a decade in PR and marketing agencies, working with clients including Nikon, Maxis, Uniqlo, Temasek, Goldman Sachs, Dilmah Tea, Club Med, Strepsils, Aesop, as well as award-winning campaigns with adidas bodycare. In that moment, however, I really wanted something to call my own.
It has been a really exciting time since we started the agency in June 2017. We got to work with a great mix of clients, including Aesop, Red Bull Malaysia, Xiao Mi and Elevete, just to name a few!
2. Tell us more about how the media landscape is evolving in Malaysia. Are there any emerging communications trends businesses should look out for?
In recent years, there have been many worrying signs in the industry - publication closures, journalists moving out of the industry etc. We also noticed that print media are increasingly focusing their attention on the digital world; a natural transition given the shift in media consumption pattern to digital media today. That said, this transition is something we are all trying to figure out, and just how this affects the PR industry remains to be seen. The upside is that it is so much easier now in the digital world to spread information, in a much faster way, to a much wider audience.
On the flipside, we do feel that credible old-school journalism, expert opinions and authoritative voices are something that is lacking or perhaps drowning in the digital world. Now, everyone can be a citizen journalist. In the past, PRs are in-charge of crafting stories. The conversation has become a delicately balanced two-way street.
Nonetheless, we are big believers that the fundamentals of digital PR remain the same as traditional PR, which is about connecting to other people.
3. As more brands move towards influencer marketing, can you share with us who are some of your favourite Malaysia-based influencers?
This answer may sound generic to most entrepreneurs and PR practitioners in Malaysia but if I have to choose, I would have to choose the people behind Fashion Valet. I find it incredible how most of these ladies who are employees and alumni of Fashion Valet journey to who they are today. For example, Asma Nasa who used to be the head buyer now owns her own apparel label. Veen Dee, the former Head of Marketing is now a widely-known social media influencer. I cannot stress enough how inspiring and ambitious these ladies are and this is just two of them! There is also their truly inspiring girl boss, Vivy Yusof, and their big boss, Fadza Anuar.
When it comes to influencer marketing, I try to come from a consumer and audience point of view when recommending the right partners to work with and to follow in the industry.
4. What are some of the top PR tips you have for overseas brands looking to expand into Malaysia?
With all its complexities and dynamics, it is key to truly understand Malaysia. Be authentic, be genuine and know your audience. There are sensitivities and cultural/racial barriers, known or unknown, that one needs to be aware of. What might work in the West, might not work over here. Another thing is that sometimes, messaging can get lost in translation, so it is important to operate with the language skillfully. If you are genuine and if you speak to your target audience authentically, I think Malaysians, like anyone else in the world, will resonate with the brand.
5. Have been in PR for close to a decade, what is the favourite project / account you’ve worked on and why?
I would have to choose Aesop. They are great brand custodians, and also understand their audience really well. Although a skincare brand, Aesop believes wholeheartedly in arts, music and literature. A lot of the brand association centres around those three themes. Just to give a small example, we sponsor door gifts to theatrical plays like Romeo and Juliet at the KL Performance Arts Centre - which is fitting because one of Aesop’s product is aptly named “Rose By Any Other Name”. If you know your Shakespeare, you’d know the reference. I think that Aesop is a sophisticated brand that exudes class, and we are more than happy to spread its message.