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[Tuning In] CEO of KVB.Global, Dian Noeh, discusses the changing waves of conventional public relations

Written by Sara Mandagie Published on 

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Dian established Voice of Startups in January 2012 for startup founders who want to build brands and deliver content via PR and other channels.

Dian Noeh has been mentoring startups (Jakarta Founder Institute, Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia, Plug and Play) and is a board member of two foundations, Leuser Foundation International and International Animal Rescue in Indonesia. Dian was a part-time lecturer at Prasetiya Mulya Business School and is an active member of the Indonesia Business Chamber of Commerce, covering international relations and trade. Our community members can ask her questions on Slido. 

Dian Noeh, Founder and CEO of KVB.Global

Kr: Hi Dian, you’ve been in the communications industry since 1998. You’ve worked at a global financial firm and in public relations at your previous posts until you found Kennedy, Voice & Berliner (KVB) in 2011. It’s been nine years. How did KVB start? Why did you set up your own PR firm?

DN: I was involved with the Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia. I was helping my friends and meeting a lot of entrepreneurs. They inspired me to set up my own company rather than remain as a regular professional. I saw that being an entrepreneur was challenging, but at the same time, I thought it was meaningful because I would help others grow. My life could be more meaningful. So with that thought, I decided to found my own company and started it on November 23, 2011. It was good timing, and Indonesia had a good pace of growth. So I decided: I have to do it.

Kr: Thanks for sharing. I noticed that just one year after you established KVB, you started inclusion platform Voice of Startups. That’s very interesting. In 2012, tech transformation, the digital economy, and startups were still very new, especially in Indonesia. How did you interpret that incoming wave at that time?

DN: At that time, 2012, we set up Voice of Startups as part of KVB. I saw that Indonesia’s tech scene was at an early stage, but somehow I thought it would be become bigger. To some extent, it was still a vision, but I believed that I had to do it. I wanted to help and work with startups, so we set up Voice of Startups. Since it was still in its early stage, there were not too many startups in Indonesia, but we started working with the existing ones. The good thing is, we were working with a few venture capital firms owned by my friends. The number of VCs were growing, and somehow all startups came to us for advice.

Kr: Inclusive growth is part of the key objective for Voice of Startups. I’d like to ask about the changing models of operation in PR firms. Technology has disrupted many sectors: finance, education, health, and others. As someone who has been part of the communications industry for over 20 years, could you share your experience with this? How has the communications industry evolved over the years?

DN: When it comes to communications, it relates mainly to content. So content is related to people, how the market is, and most of all, it relays the vision. It’s about having a good story, and how that story can be created. That’s the essence of communication. The one thing that can be influenced is the platform that delivers content. In the past, the platform was conventional PR. But especially during the pandemic, the platform has changed.

In the past, there has been a transformation in PR through digital PR. We deliver messages through social media or any technological platform. We also provide content for technology. It’s all about how we can optimize technology to deliver our content in PR. The thing with PR is that we are very fluid, so the essence is content. The platform is something we can choose that fits the brand or organization. Channels can be changed on time, and the king is still the content.

Kr: What is the difference between handling communications for tech startups and enterprises? 

DN: When it comes to communicating with big enterprises and blue chip companies, it is easier because the companies are quite well known. Secondly, the industry is known already among media and other target audiences. With startups, the company’s name is not known yet. The industry might be something that is new altogether, like when fintech, insuretech, and healthtech were beginning to take form. That’s what makes it different. In essence, startups need to communicate about not just the brand, but also the industry. There is effort required to educate others about the industry sector.

Kr: We know that becoming sustainable is a big challenge for many startups. How do you communicate startups’ journeys toward sustainability?

DN: When it comes to sustainability, it relates to growth. The communication needs to support a business plan that drives business growth. If startups want to be sustainable, they’ll need to relate to investors and how they grow. It’s not only communicating the brand, but also communicating how the company is growing. If companies are planning to be listed on a stock exchange, startups need to communicate how they grow. It is important.

Kr: So it is not only about the launch, but also growth. Do you have any success stories of startups you’ve worked with, as in how they were able to effectively communicate the story of their brand? 

DN: I am happy to share that we have helped Investree from their launch until their post-launch. We’ve been working together for years. I’m proud to see them grow. They’ve built a strong company reputation, have a strong founder, and shown how they fit into the fintech market. We just finished working with them, and we wish them to keep growing.

Kr: Do you have any other advice for founders? What can startups do differently when it comes to PR? What are two or three things that you would like to share with others?

DN: First of all, the differentiating point is important. Secondly, it’s important to define the company’s purpose. What I see is that everyone is more purpose-driven now. Companies should be built on a clear basis of purpose. The third is being data-driven. It’s very important to communicate data to show that they grow on a solid basis, building trust.

Kr: Which tech sectors do you think will become more prominent in the next five years?

DN: I think fintech and healthtech still remain, as well as education. I don’t know about retail because I think the ways we shop are changing—there should be something new about it. I think augmented AR would be something that needs to be explored. I think they will rise. Insuretech as well.

Kr: Do you have a role model that you look up to? And what have you learned from them?

DN: I’ve been learning how Sir Martin Sorrell is growing WPP and is now setting up S4 Capital Group. Besides Sir Martin Sorrell, I like Nelson Mandela; he is amazing. Being an entrepreneur means you must have persistence, and to not give up easily. That is what I learned from it. At my age, it’s not just about having technical expertise, but things like determination that matter.

Dian with her KVB global team after the press conference of Qoala, an insuretech startup. Courtesy of Dian Noeh.

Kr: I have one last question. Are there any PR taboos in Indonesia?

DN: When it comes to taboos in PR, it’s that we should not pay journalists to speak on our behalf. This is to maintain reputation and credibility.

Dian Noeh is a founder and entrepreneur who fosters inclusion and loves canoeing, trekking, history, agriculture, and business models. Dian has over 20 years of experience in public relations and brand building. Having worked at a global financial firm and in global public relations in her previous posts, Dian found Kennedy, Voice & Berliner as a public relations firm on November 23, 2011. With the thought that public relations is inclusive, Dian set up Voice of Startups in January 2012 for startup founders who want to build brands and deliver content via PR and other channels. Dian evolved Kennedy, Voice & Berliner into KVB, a content company. KVB has worked with hundreds of clients, including big holding companies, blue-chip companies, and pre-seed startups.

Tuning In is a new KrASIA series where we interview and chat intimately with thought leaders who are breaking the mold, pushing the frontiers of innovation and are trailblazing figures in their space. To read similar stories, please hop on to Oasis, the brainchild of KrASIA. 

Disclaimer: This article is part of our “Tuning In” series. All answers reflect the personal perspective of the interviewee herself, and not KrASIA’s. If you’d like to contribute as a writer or nominate someone for our “Tuning In” series, you can email us at community@kr-asia.com. 

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