[eBook] The Future of Communications: Spotlight on Malaysia and Indonesia

Published on 7th March 2024

As Malaysia and Indonesia are two of the fastest growing economies in the world, our sector experts among our Worldcom Public Relations Group’s Global Partners, share their thoughts about what 2024 will hold in the sixth post in our predictions sequence.

Download the full eBook>> The Future of Communications: 2024 PR and Communications Trends

We’ve captured their thoughts in a seven-post series that covers everything from AI to sustainability. We’ve also included posts on two very important regions, Latin America and Malaysia and Indonesia.

We hope you find the advice helpful as you navigate your way through the challenges and opportunities that 2024 will bring.

Part 6 – Spotlight on Malaysia and Indonesia

Unpredictable political environment will need sensitive handling

By Saiful Shamsudin, Consultant, TQPR, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Businesses need to have an increased awareness and sensitivity to changing political/religious dynamics in Malaysia. This was obvious in 2023 and we expect that this will become even more of an issue in 2024. Even small missteps can generate significant negative coverage, primarily due to a fluid and extremely enflamed political landscape.

The currently unpredictable nature of Malaysian politics can lead to sudden changes in direction and in the current environment politicians are constantly seeking any opportunity to identify issues which will allow them to promote themselves and score points. Marketing and PR campaigns need to properly consider potential sensitivities before embarking on campaigns that could be hijacked for political reasons.

In 2024 we also anticipate seeing increased tensions and issues between State and Federal governments, with expected changes in leadership in several States. Organisations, especially those who are predominantly located in one State, do need to track local and national discussions to identify and navigate potential issues, before they have a reputational impact.


Communication strategies must take account of geopolitical events

By Aldric Toyad, Senior Consultant, TQPR, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Geopolitical events have had a big impact on Malaysia during 2023. The Ukraine/Russia conflict and subsequent price rises of many staple goods has impacted national debates around cost of living and food security The Israel/Palestine conflict has led to boycotts and campaigns against specific organisations that are perceived to have Israeli connections (even if this is not actually correct). The US/China trade war continues to have impacts on Malaysia and is likely to continue to do so into 2024 and beyond.

In 2024 organisations in Malaysia need to be increasingly prepared to deal with the consequences of events outside their control and be nimble in adapting existing plans and campaigns in response. We expect that Malaysian organisations will continue to be impacted by the geopolitical issues listed above (and there are many other potential issues such as foreign labour and relationships with neighbours which could crop up). As such Malaysian organisations must closely monitor global/regional issues and take these into consideration when planning and initiating activities in 2024.


Cost of living issue represents a threat and opportunity to brands           

By Aldric Toyad, Senior Consultant, TQPR, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We expect much more debate/discussion in this area in the coming year as the Malaysian Government appears committed to a programme of subsidy removal – which is likely to impact the cost of living for many Malaysians in the coming year. This has also been impacted by the weaking of the Malaysian currency – a trend that is also expected to continue into 2024. There is a general perception already that the price of many household staples have been rising much faster than the official inflation rate and significantly outpacing peoples’ incomes. This already had an impact in 2023 with initiatives such as ‘Menu Rahmah’ where all food outlets were encouraged to provide a menu option at a fixed price point of RM5 (approx. USD$1.50) per meal to cater for lower income groups. This initiative was seized upon by many brands, such as McDonalds, to demonstrate their commitment to good corporate citizenship. We would expect the cost-of-living topic to garner significantly more attention in 2024 and this does provide both potential opportunities (and threats) for organisations in the next year, depending on how they respond to these issues.


A changing media landscape needs a new approach

By Niall Dologhan, Principal Consultant, TQPR, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

While it may not be new, one issue that organisations (particularly multinationals operating in or planning to enter Malaysia) should be aware of is the need for localisation of content. This has always been the case; however, the Malaysian media is becoming even more insular and selective in terms of the content that it will publish. It is increasingly important moving into 2024 that international brands do put some effort into identifying Malaysian facts/figures/spokespeople for any announcements they wish to share in this market, if they want to have any chance of achieving earned media coverage.

It is also important to recognise that the whole media environment is in state of flux and this will drive the need for a new approach to media relationships. Many mainstream top tier titles that marketeers have relied on for years are continuing to suffer commercially. This has impacted their willingness to provide ‘earned’ coverage with no strings attached. In many cases organisations do need to consider some form of commercial partnership/sponsorships if they want to ensure coverage in those titles. At the same time, there has been a proliferation of new online titles, many of which may be flash-in-the-pan, but some of which may go on to establish themselves as the next generation of top tier and niche media.

It is important that clients recognise these changes and are open to collaborating with some of the newer up and coming media (even if they are not part of their traditional targets) to start building relationships.

In 2023 it became much more challenging to attract Malaysian media to events – due to increased commercial/manpower issues faced by many of top tier media. It is becoming increasingly evident that the media in Malaysia are becoming significantly more selective about the events they attend. Previously, it was quite easy to achieve a strong media attendance at events that were not necessarily that newsworthy. However, moving forward, clients do need to give much closer attention to whether a media event is required and worthwhile. If clients do proceed with media events without strong news hooks, then they do risk being disappointed.


You need to plan your market entry if you want to hit the ground running

By Eric Lee, Principal Consultant, Cognito Communications, Jakarta, Indonesia

Global multinational corporations are actively seeking to diversify their supply chains. As Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia will predictably be a recipient of direct foreign investment flows. Our experience shows us that companies must develop very targeted communications strategies as part of their initial market entry plan. Those who do, will gain faster market penetration and be more readily accepted into the commercial landscape.



Plan for delays to business initiatives

By Dewvina Oktora, Associate Director, Cognito Communications, Jakarta, Indonesia

Like many other countries around the world, Indonesia will hold “super” elections in 2024 for presidential, national parliamentary and regional governments. There is a real possibility of delays in getting regulatory approvals for business initiatives while waiting for the new government to be installed. Companies need to mitigate this with carefully nuanced communications, so they are not blamed for missed project deadlines.



Download the full eBook:

The Future of Communications: 2024 PR and Communications Trends


Can we help?

If you would like help from any of the experts in this e-book please contact them direct via the weblinks provided on individual pages. For any of our other experts please contact Todd Lynch.

And, if you’d like to keep your communications strategy ahead of the curve, see what over 100,000 C Suite executives around the world are thinking by visiting our Worldcom Confidence Index global tracker which is updated monthly.

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