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PERLUNYA PERSPEKTIF INDONESIA UNTUK TEORI PUBLIC RELATIONS

DOMINASI PERSPEKTIF BARAT DALAM KAJIAN PUBLIC RELATIONS

Oleh: Rachmat Kriyantono, Ph.D (Jurusan Komunikasi UB Malang)

Saya terbitkan juga di buku ini:    cover Teori PR

(Nantikan tulisan lengkap saya di buku ke 6 saya: “Teori Public Relations Perspektif Barat dan Indonesia: apliasi dalam penelitian dan praktik”, terbit thn 2014, Penerbit Prenada Jakarta. Ini adalah buku pertama yg membahas topik ini dan buku pertama di Indonesia yg membahas “Teori Public Relatios” yg benar2 teori). Melalui buku ini, saya mendorong upaya penggunaan kearifan lokal -bukan hanya perspektif barat- dlm menjelaskan fenomena PR.
Teori-teori public relations yang saya tulis di bab sebelumnya bersumber dari kajian-kajian yang dilakukan ilmuwan Barat, yaitu Amerika dan Eropa Barat. Dengan demikian, perspektif yang muncul dan menjadi landasan filosofis pengembangan teori adalah perspektif Barat. Artinya, fenomena public relations yang merupakan bagian dari fenomena komunikasi dikaji dengan menggunakan kacamata atau ukuran Barat, dan dianggap berlaku universal. Sifat universal ini menganggap bahwa teori-teori yang dihasilkan berlaku dalam berbagai konteks tanpa memandang perbedaan geografis, budaya, ideologi atau landasan filosofis dari berbagai unit sosial yang beragam.
Saya beranggapan bahwa aplikasi teori public relations tidak secara otomatis berlaku universal, dengan alasan: (i) Setiap ilmu, termasuk teori di dalamnya, memiliki objek formal yang merupakan telaah khas dari masing-masing ilmu itu. Selain, membedakan bahasan dengan bidang ilmu lainnya, telaah khas ini bermaknakebenaran telaah tersebut sangat dipengaruhi norma-norma dan ukuran masyarakat itu. Dengan demikian setiap filsafat ilmu akan memperlihatkan filsafat masyarakat tempat ilmu tersebut mengabdi. Teori yang sama akan berbeda aplikasinya dalam sistem masyarakat yang berbeda. Jadi, pemikiran filsafati pada sebuah ilmu dapat berbeda –meskipun ilmunya sama, tergantung filsafat negara tempat ilmu itu berkembang. Contoh: Teori Pers, mengenal pers liberal di negara barat, komunis (Cina), maupun pers bebas bertanggung jawab (Indonesia) (Kriyantono, 2012e).(ii) Teori merupakan representasi fenomena tetapi tidak dapat menjelaskan fenomena secara lengkap. Teori menjelaskan konteks ideologi, budaya atau karakteristik masyarakat tertentu dan mengabaikan yang lainnya(baca lagi bab 1).
Teori-teori yang dijabarkan di buku ini mempertegas hegemoni akademisi barat terhadap timur. Dunia barat pun menjadi pusat episentrum pengembangan kajian public relations yang berdampak pada penggunaan kacamata tunggal dalam memahami fenomena public relations di Indonesia. Dominasi perspektif barat ini disebabkan:
a. Ketertinggalan pendidikan di Indonesia akibat praktik imperialisme. Imperialisme ini memengaruhi pola pikir dan budaya yang tidak kondusif terhadap upaya pengembangan ilmu. Misalnya, kebebasan berpendapat yang sangat penting bagi kajian ilmiah dikekang selama ratusan tahun oleh imperialis;
b. Sistem politik kekuasaan otoriter yang juga membelenggu kebebasan akademik sampai era orde baru. Demi tujuan pelanggengan kekuasaan, penguasa membatasi pemikiran-pemikiran yang dianggap mengganggu stabilitas negara (baca: stabilitas kekuasaan);
c. Budaya akademik yang belum bangkit untuk berkembang, seperti belum banyaknya publikasi ilmiah, baik nasional maupun internasional;
d. Penguasaan teknologi komunikasi dan bahasa Inggris oleh negara barat sebagai alat vital diseminasi kajian keilmuan. Ilmu Komunikasi berkembang di negara barat, kemudian kerena mereka juga menguasai teknologi maka lebih memudahkan penyebarannya ke negara lain;
e. Banyaknya sarjana Indonesia yang melanjutkan studi ke negara barat, seperti Australia, Amerika, Inggris atau Jerman sehingga membuat penggunaan perspektif negara barat makin besar.

Seperti ditulis di bab sebelumnya, teori adalah representasi dari fenomena dan sebuah fenomena dimungkinkan tidak secara tuntas dikaji dalam satu perspektif. Pentingnya perspektif lokal Indonesia untuk kajian komunikasi dikarenakan: (i) Demi pembahasan yang komprehensif dan “insight”/persepsi yang lebih mendalam untuk mengkaji fenomena dengan berbagai perspektif;(ii) Fenomena public relations yang terjadi dalam konteks Indonesia perlu dikaji dalam perspektif lokal yang disesuaikan dengan nilai-nilai budaya sekitar;(iii)fenomena public relations di Indonesia tidak dapat dilepaskan dari konteks kelokalannya, seperti budaya, sistem sosial, politik, ekonomi, dan falsafah masyarakatnya; (iv) Karakteristik lokal ini bukan hanya menarik perhatian ilmuwan Indonesia, tapi juga ilmuwan barat…………..

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND THE PUBLIC

The Relations Between the Company and the Public

The author: Rachmat Kriyantono, Ph.D (School of Communication, UB Malang)

The public is important in public relations practices. The public is the ultimate target of a public relations program. Public relations must identify how the public responds to the messages that public relations convey by understanding what the public know (cognitive), believes, and perceives about the information which it receives (Galloway & Aidoo, 2005). It is hoped that by considering the public’s needs and interests, the company is able to foster a mutual understanding with its public.

The public is “a group of people who share a common problem or goal and recognize their common interest” (Baskin, Arronoff, & Lattimore, 1997, p.11). According to Blumer (1946) & Dewey (1927) cited in Grunig (1979), the public can be characterized as a group of people concerned with a similar problem. Even though they have the same or different ideas about the problem, they recognize and become familiar with it, discuss it, and organize it to solve the issue or problem. From the definition above, it can be said that each company has its own public, which differs from other companies. For instance, the victims of the mudflow in Sidoarjo, Indonesia share a common problem regarding Lapindo Inc’s activities.  Some of them expressed their feelings through variety of media, such as personal communication, mass media or alternative media (namely, banner, pamphlet, and VCD).

From several study in the area of public relations which were conducted by experts, Leitch and Neilson (1997) found that there are two approaches to defining “public”, namely:  the strategic approach and the dialogic approach. The public in the strategic approach is placed as passive-receiver of the company’s messages. Public is viewed as audience who only receives messages because it does not have a chance to express and to argue their feelings. On the other hand, in the dialogic approach, the public is given a broad opportunity to participate actively and equally in a dialogue with the company. However, they also commented that in reality both approaches still place the organization as the driver that determines what should happen to achieve the goal rather than focus on the public’s interest. Consequently, they stated that “the public is presented as organizational artifacts or constructs” (p. 17). In other words, the company is usually a subject and the public is an object so that there is no a good relationship between the company and its public or vice versa.  

Meanwhile, the key element of making a good relationship has been considered by some experts (Grunig, 1995; Kent & Taylor, 2002; Lane, 2005; Leitch & Neilson, 1997). They discussed how the concept ‘dialogue’ should be understood. One of the popular reference models is the four models of public relations from Grunig (1995).  Through this model, Grunig gave descriptions of public relations practice in dealing with the public, namely the press agent (publicity) model, the public information model, the two-way asymmetric model, and the symmetric model.

According to Grunig, the press-agent model is a model in which communication moves one-way from the company to its public. Public relations’ communication focuses on its propaganda or a campaign through one-way communication in order to get a beneficial publicity report in the mass-media. This publicity is gained by ignoring the truth of the information in an effort to hide the negative factors from the company. In a similar way, the public information model also emphasizes one-way communication. In this model, public relations officer acts as a reporter. The aim of this model is merely to give information to the public by ignoring the process of persuasion (Grunig, 1995).

Grunig (1995) also offered other distinctive models, such as the asymmetric model and the symmetric model. Both models have similarity in giving a two-way communication channel. In the asymmetric model, although it concerns the public’s feedback, the company tries to persuade the public to adapt its behaviour in order to deal with the company goals. Information from the public is not used for modifying the company’s goals and procedures. It is also not used to persuade management to change its thinking and behaviours toward particular policies or issues. Therefore, the company is still a subject in the relationship (Grunig, 1995).

However, the two-way symmetric model appears to give a better technique in which two-way reciprocal communication takes place. In this model, both the company and the public try to establish their interests. Therefore, communication is viewed as negotiation and compromise process. It can be said that the company pays full attention to the public’s interest. In particular, management may alter its knowledge, perceptions and the way the company should proceed (Grunig, 1995).

The effectiveness of the two-way symmetrical communication was also demonstrated by some research. Specifically, there is evidence that this symmetric model has a good chance for negotiation and bargaining processes in order to gain long-term relationships. It is similar to the concept of public participation in crisis management (Chong, 2006). Wigley’s research (2003) found that two-way communication is important to build the maintenance relationship with the public such as campus police, emergency personnel, various administrators, and the media during the Oklahoma University Plane Crash. Huang (2004) surveyed 320 public relations practitioners from Taiwan’s Top 500 companies and found that there are a positive relationship between symmetrical communication and several factors of the organization’s activity such as crisis management, conflict resolving, corporate image, media publicity, and market performance.

It can be concluded that both asymmetric and symmetric models give an opportunity to provide a dialogue between the organization and its public. Despite the abundant research in the area, it will be interesting to find out how the concept of dialogue, particularly in the symmetrical communication, has been applied during the mudflow crisis.

Several studies (Kent & Taylor, 2002; Lane, 2005; Leitch & Neilson, 1997) gave attention to how dialogue should be conducted regarding the concept of two-way symmetrical communication. In public relations, according to Kent & Taylor (2002, p. 22), “Dialogue is explained as communicating about issues with the public”. It is important to note that they do not use the phrase ‘to public’ but ‘with public’. It means that both the company and the public are actually in the same position. The company should need either to give clear information or to explore information from the public and vice versa. Furthermore, Kent & Taylor gave basic principles of conducting dialogic public relations, such as mutuality, propinquity, empathy, risk, and commitment (Kent & Taylor, 2002).

With mutuality, Kent and Taylor (2002) stated that both the company and the public could not be separated. Participants should think that dialogue is the process of conversation and understanding each other. It will be achieved if they view each other as partner. With propinquity, they argued that the company should give information about policies that affect the public as well as give the public a chance to be involved in decision-making processes. Basically, the public need to express their demands to the company. Empathy can be gained if the company gives support to a climate which encourages two-way reciprocal communication. Empathy can allow the company to hear and feel the public’s needs and emotions, even if the public disagrees with the company. It can build public trust. By applying empathetic communication, Kent and Taylor said that “public relations can improve their communication by ‘walking in the shoes’ of their public”. (2002, p. 27).

Moreover, Kent and Taylor (2002) argued that there is a potential risk for conflict. This is because during dialogue, participants can express their own feelings and perceptions so that a dialogue can encourage someone’s vulnerability and unanticipated consequences. Therefore, a dialogue should be based on the commitment from the participants to obtain beneficial results for all to minimize conflict.

Before conducting two-way communication with the public, it is valuable to recognize who the public is including its attitudes, its understanding of the issue and the media that will be used to deliver messages (Lane, 2005). It is often said that knowing the audience is one of basic principles of communication that allow communicators to achieve a wider chance to build an effective result. By understanding the audience, public relations as a communicator can plan messages properly to match the audience’s or public’s need. In the long-term, proper messages will enable a good relationship to be created with their public. It can be concluded from literature such as Baskin et al. (1997), Grunig (MetGrunig, 1979), Seitel (2001), Veil, Liu, Erickson & Sellnow (2005), and Zyglidopoulos (1999) that public relations officers must consider public opinion that represents the public’s perception of the company’s activities by applying two-way communication system.

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PUBLIC RELATIONS & MUDFLOW CRISIS 2

Public Relations & Mudflow Crisis 2

Rachmat Kriyantono, Ph.D (School of Communication, UB Malang)

 

It seems that the company viewed the victims based on the strategic approach when defining its public. In this approach, the victims are assumed to be passive when receiving organizational messages rather than being active and equal participants. The victims were directed only to understand the company’s view about the crisis, such as: the company was a victim too, the company was a hero, the company was generous by giving social aid, and the construction of the crisis that it was a natural disaster. Many demonstrations indicated that the victims did not have a chance to express and to argue their feelings. Conversely, it would have been better that the company performs as a servant of the people.

            On the contrary, based on the Situational Theory of the Public, the observation of the victims’ behavior found that the victims were not passive. They actively sought explanation by frequently questioning to the opinion leaders and demonstrating against the company and the government to gain information. They demanded information about social warnings, compensation, and what they should do. They felt that these were not relayed to the public. As a result of this information seeking process, this research revealed a model of communication flow among the victims. This model enhances the knowledge that the victims obtained the information particularly from personal communication among them and local opinion leaders to explore the information that they had already obtained from the mass media. The victims also admitted that there was a problematic situation (problem recognition); however, they did not obtain clear information and could not express their feelings because of the communication barriers (constraint recognition), such as closed communication channels.

It is no wonder that all respondents and the participants attributed the mudflow crisis to the intentional cluster: the company was the actor that should take responsibility to solve any problems, including giving complete compensation. In terms of the crisis history, the respondents also construed that the agreement and regulations were not obeyed many times. The payment of compensation became circuitous. Instead of giving fresh money, the company offered a new residence in the relocation scheme. The company stimulated public outrage when a thousand victims, who chose the relocation offer, signed an agreement to gain a new house earlier than those who demanded fresh money. The issues of relocation and cash money evolved into a critical stage because this situation led to disagreement among a group of the victims. As a result, there was a lack of confidence in the company and in the government. Even though some respondents admitted that they have a reasonably comfortable life after receiving compensation, they felt that the company did not take care of them well. The reasons were: they felt that they lived in hardship and waited for months uncertain about their fate; the compensation was an inherent responsibility of the company as the source the crisis; they still lost social-cultural aspects which cannot be replaced by money.

Moreover, it is a duty of management and public relations officers to ensure that the public will be served well by the company by assisting to devise communication strategies that will allow the company to adapt their environment. Public relations officers, for example, must be responsible for helping management to deal with the crisis. The research has given evidence that the public relations officers have the main obligation to create messages and communicate these openly in order to obtain a mutual understanding with the public. Furthermore, these strategies will help to manage issues which emerge during the crisis. However, as a part of a broader social system, implementing this duty cannot be separated from other social political systems. The research found that crisis management was highly influenced by the political economy contexts: this event involves the power relations of all social aspects in the society. These relations, then, determine how regulations, channel of communication, and compensation will be formed and disseminated during the crisis, and how the truth was constructed. 

The three factors of ineffective crisis management above led to rumours emerging among the victims about close relationship between the company and the government in a high political context. They tried to understand why this event happened. As a result, there was a lack of confidence in the company and in the government. It appeared to be a conflict of interest, because Aburizal Bakrie was the minister and also the owner of the company. Indeed, it was difficult to know when he acted as the minister and when he acted as Bakrie’s owner. This made the situation worse because how the company manages a crisis will determine the quality of their reputation after the crisis. In this case, public trust and the good reputation have gone.

It should be noted that people’s construction can be defined in the way that people have their own standard of truth when they perceive the reality and is dependent on their political economy background.The company created its construction through a crisis management strategy which included its communication strategies; the government’s regulations, the news from mass media, and the victims’ demands were also a product of the   construction. However, the different constructions can create conflicts and become a serious problem. The construction of a reality is a subjective matter and depends on the individual’s interest, any efforts to compel the construction on others can trigger controversy. Finally, whoever has the power, ability, and a channel of communication (media) will likely be able to persuade others in order to adopt its construction of reality.

The mudflow crisis itself is the objective reality. However, the individuals have their own frame in regard to the mudflow crisis that is constructed subjectively from their experiences and information about it. It can be stated that the plurality of attribution of the mudflow event is shaped and constructed socially. Individuals have their own educational backgrounds, experiences, family norms, preferences, particular social environment, interests, and interaction patterns so that they interpret the mudflow event as their own construction. Through the externalization process, individuals absorb particular information about the mudflow that has been constructed by the government, the company, mass media, academics or their relatives. In this point, the mudflow event becomes a new objective reality.

Which construction will be an objective reality depends on how the construction is shaped and the power to communicate that construction itself is about something that people believe is a social reality. By taking over several media and spending a large sum of money for an advertising strategy on local and national media, the company had the power to communicate the construction of “Sidoarjo Mud”. Mass media is a tool to disseminate the company’s points of views more subtly. News is the result of a media construction about reality that sometimes differs from reality. News is commonly thought of as a second hand reality. A Critical approach views that power and knowledge cannot be divided to create truth. Therefore, it can be concluded that power is an inherent part of the company’s message. The advertisements, newsletters, regulations, as expressed in language, transferred power. As a result, power persuaded public perception about the reality. It created particular knowledge, such as the company was a hero and generous and the victims were troublemakers. Furthermore power is a creative force that pervades all human activity which includes crisis management.

This power was also strong because of the political position of Bakrie as the minister, the chairman of one of the biggest parties, and the chief of the coalition parties. Similarly, in a highly political context, the construction of “Sidoarjo Mud” became the objective reality. The construction appeared not only in the company’s messages but also in any formal regulations from the government at the beginning of the crisis. It can be seen that this construction represents the power and interests of the political and economic elites. It is interesting that the government officers, when speaking to the public, tended to demand the company pay compensation, but they constructed “Sidoarjo Mud” in formal regulations. It can be said that the process of construction walked softly and seemed normal. However, the company failed to shape the victims’ construction of reality. The victims constructed “Lapindo Mud” and they claimed that this crisis happened because of the company’s mistake. Although they obtained compensation from the company, this perception was not change.

In addition, during the four years of the crisis, there were conflicts of interest between the company, the government and the victims. This situation can be explained by a critical approach that suggests that conflicts and disagreements always happen in the social process. To deal with any conflicts, the state should give an opportunity for all voices to be heard. As a result, the domination of ideology from the group which has the power can be avoided. However, from field observations, the ideal condition has not been reached. The victims have been oppressed by more powerful groups therefore the victims must struggle against both the government and the company to gain their right. The situation happened, adopting Marxism, because economical-profit orientation directed any efforts to manage the crisis. Moreover, the victims did not have a great chance to access any means of production, such as a channel of communication.

Finally, it should be emphasized that the company should deal more properly with the impact of the crisis on the victims. The company should be sure that no one outside the company will suffer physically (such as losing the property, the jobs, and environmental damage) and psychologically (such as fear, worry, and anxiety). The company should quickly relay information about what people should do and give compensation rather than spend time to prove that the company is not guilty. Even though the cause of the eruption had not been determined, the public perceived and attributed it to a drilling mistake. In fact, perception influences a fact and perception is a fact. The crisis can be constructed as bad or good, as it depends on how people perceive it because perception is intangible in the minds of people involved in the crisis. At present, what the company should do is complete the compensation properly in an agreed time as a form of the social responsibility program because the court stated it was a natural disaster.

The limitation of this research is that it did not aim to generalize the data, but it investigated the victims’ construction of the crisis in-depth in a natural setting that was limited by their particular contexts. Therefore the results cannot be extrapolated to other context and it depends, for instance, on the political and social context within the case. The aim of the paper is not to judge Lapindo’s responsibility but to show how the different actors interact and the consequences of those interactions for real people. For future research, quantitative methods, such as an experimental and a survey research, can be conducted to investigate the correlation between public relations programs and the public perception about the initial crisis responsibility, crisis history, and prior reputational relations.

PUBLIC RELATIONS & MUDFLOW CRISIS

Mudflow Crisis

Rachmat Kriyantono, Ph.D (School of Communication, UB Malang)

The mudflow disaster has resulted in an interconnection between the strategy of management to manage it, the public’s perceptions, and the power or control that the management or the public has. It can be said that an appropriate crisis management was needed because the mudflow crisis in Sidoarjo was changing from an issue to a crisis situation. The event has become part of the public’s awareness and knowledge. It is reasonable to accept that the hot mudflow is a type of crisis which has a wide impact on either the victims or the social life of Indonesian citizens in general. After four years, the mud is still flowing and the problem has not been solved completely. Hence, some negative and unexpected outcomes have taken place. Several issues have been emerging during the mudflow crisis such as environmental, human rights, unfairness laws and regulations, company responsibility, job losses, place displacement, social cultural losses, damage to social facilities, power-business relations, and unfair distribution of compensation. All these issues combined to worsen the crisis and have gradually stimulated public outrage which has resulted in the community demonstrating in the open. The situation can be categorized as an acute crisis because it has not been managed well.

Based on the respondents’ perceptions, the crisis management conducted by the company was not effective. The research revealed three factors that caused ineffective crisis management: Firstly, the victims perceived that the company did not take immediate appropriate action. During the fieldwork (four years of the crisis), compensation payments for losing the homes and land have not been conducted completely. Before receiving money for two years of rental from the company, the victims lived with an uncertain fate. In fact, the consequences of not responding to the crisis promptly, have the victims, as members of the external public, been living in hardship.

Many of the company’s actions were not as expected by the victims in spite of the fact that the company had provided aid and facilities for them in the temporary shelters. The company did all these things after there were reactive mass demands and pressures from the victims. The company seemed to be less responsive to the suffering experienced by the victims. Not only Lapindo but also the government was perceived as dealing with the crisis too slowly. The systematic response, for example, had been established three months after the first eruption by issuing the Presidential Declaration no 13/2006, when several villages were submerged. Both the company and the government seemed to dispose of responsibility: the company said that it was the government’s responsibility while the government said that it was the company’s responsibility.

Indeed, the government intervention as a mediator was very helpful. However, the government was very slow in the implementation of programs which should ideally be actualized promptly. Respondents argued that the government seemed to be ‘afraid of’ the company. The government should have been able to put pressure on the company to quickly overcome the crisis.

Secondly, the victims perceived that the crisis management failed to ensure reliable and regular information, causing uncertainty. The research revealed that the basic problem was closed communication. Neither the company nor the government gave clear explanations about what had happened. For example, warning of the impacts for the community, compensation, and what people should do was not relayed to the victims properly. The information was relayed after the victims conducted demonstrations and this information was only about the compensation.

Thirdly, the research found that the crisis management focused more on maintaining the company’s reputation than on the victims’ fate. Some evidence supported this statement, such as the victims living in the temporary shelters, waiting for months without clear information about compensation, and the company was busier trying to persuade the public that the mudflow was not caused by a drilling error. It can be argued that the aim of the communication strategy was to convince the public that the company was not guilty. Indeed, determining the source that triggers a crisis is important in crisis management. Information about the source will influence the public’s opinion of the company. It is natural that in every crisis situation, everyone tries to search for the cause of the crisis. Information about the source will be a basic argument to decide the main actor who must be held responsible to cope with the crisis situation. Furthermore, this can determine the quantity of the responsibility itself, whether it is full or not. However, both the company and the government should give priority to the public’s safety. Adopting the Situational Crisis Communication Theory, the company should have emphasized protecting the public from damage, rather than protecting the company’s reputation. This is the first priority to warrant safety and survival when facing a crisis situation.

It can be concluded that Public Relations officers were not proactive in providing information. By not giving compensation by the agreed time and not giving clear information quickly about what had happened, the company caused uncertainty. It should be noted that every crisis consists of a crisis of information and the failure to provide and control the flow of information accurately and efficiently made the crisis worse. As a result, the victims tended to show a negative attribution, particularly to the crisis responsibility and to the crisis history. Public Relations tended to focus on constructing the frame about the source of the eruption. This is reasonable when the communication strategy is aimed at convincing the public that the company was not guilty. However, Public Relations activity should be reliant on different realities rather than one dominant ideology as well as applying the function of boundary-spanning to facilitate and to monitor the environment. The research concludes that the company’s crisis management conducted only a one way flow of information, argument, and influence whereby the company only disseminated its views and dominated the victims. Crisis management was applied on behalf of the company’s interest and even sometimes applied to distortion and aversion to the truth.

KRISIS

PR & MANAGEMENT

Categories: Dasar-dasar Public Relations Tags:

The need for different perspective in Public Relations

Conducting critical ethnography: Toward a new method in public relations research in Indonesia

Rachmat Kriyantono

School of Communication, Brawijaya University, Indonsia

 

The Need for Different Perspective in Public Relations

Research has important role to develop public relations theories. Research is a tool to explain, apply and proof theories as well as to build new theories.  As a social activity, public relations emerged at the same time with the growth of human life, when individuals had to build relationship to fulfill their needs. However, as a scientific field, public relations is relatively new (Grunig & Hunt, 1984; Ihlen & van Ruler, 2009; Skerlep, 2001). As a result, Public Relations is “lack of theory” (Greenwood, 2010) or “theoretical lateness” (Johansson, 2007). A few research in public relations was based on theories (Botan & Hazleton, 1989). Pavlik (1987, cited in Pfau & Wan, 2006, p. 111) said: “almost all research on public relations is limited to descripstion.”

As a science, public relations is built based on two basic propositions: (1) Public Relations as a management function; (2) Public Relations is responsible to manage the relationship between an organization and its public (Everett, 1993). These two propositions require the process of adaptation and adjustment between organization and public. It can be said that the two propositions are the object of public relations study. Like other studies, there are differences about how to view the object of study. There are at least three perspectives about object of study, objective, interpretive and critical (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Neuman, 2006; Wimmer & Dominick, 2006). Objective perspective views that the organization as a center of activities that influences the public’s behaviors during the adaptation and adjustment process. On the other hands, interpretive and critical perspectives assume that both two parties –organization and its public- have ability to construct meanings and negotiate each interest. However, critical differs with interpretive in defining the construction processes. Interpretive focuses more that the processes happen in individuals’ ideas and micro-level analysis. Critical views that the constructions of the individual’s ideas are virtual reality because they are shaped by the historical processes and the power struggle of social, economy and politics in the society that result in false illusions of the constructions (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Neuman, 2006). 

At the beginning, objective perspective has dominate public relations studies (Curtin & Gaither, 2005; Gower, 2006; Pasadeos, Berger & Renfro, 2010; Skerlep, 2001; Trujillo & Toth, 1987; Wehmeier, 2009) with the Excellence Theory in Public Relations has been becoming a theoretical perspective that has been dominating public relations research. In Objective perspective, public relations is defined as a management function, transmission process of communication, based on the organization perspectives, but fails to describe the struggle of power in relationships (Gower, 2006; Curtin & Gaither, 2005). 

As a new scientific field, public relations has evolved into applied communication science based on research since the last two decades (Botan & Taylor, 2004) and tried to chase after the practical aspects (Sriramesh & Vercic, 2003). Sisco, Collins & Zoch (2011) found that articles appeared on the early publication of Public Relations Review had contained research and findings. However, Public Relations has borrowed or adapted many of its theories from other disciplines (Grunig, 1989; Greenwood, 2010). Therefore, it is need to explore new theories that originally emerge from public relations research. Research is an effort that aims to reveal any questions in public relations fields. One of the ways to encourage the creation of theories is applying variety of perspectives in conducting research.

Tulisan ini diadopsi dari thesis Ph.D saya. Untuk lebih detailnya, silahkan anda baca buku saya Public Relations & Crisis Management: Critical PR, Etnografi kritis dan kualitatif (2012), Prenada Jakarta

 

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PUBLIC RELATIONS: KEARIFAN JAWA UNTUK “MANAGING BY WALKING AROUND”

Komunikasi “Blusukan, Sambung roso, gethok tular” dalam praktik PR

Oleh: Rachmat Kriyantono, Ph.D

 

Ikuti serialnya di buku saya yg terbaru “Teori Public Relations Perspektif Barat dan Timur: Aplikasi dalam penelitian &  praktik”, diterbitkan oleh Prenada Media Jakarta, 2014

cover Teori PR.

Agar bisa melaksanakan fungsinya (menciptakan sistem komunikasi yg baik; melayani kepentingan publik; menjaga moralitas dan perilaku organisasi), maka public relations mesti diberi kesempatan melaksanakan peran manajerial (ikut serta dalam upaya manajemen isu & alternatif solusinya; fasilitator komunikasi antara manajemen & publik dan sebaliknya; fasilitator pemecahan masalah (Lattimore, dkk, 2007, h.53; White & Dozier, 1992, h.104). Salah satu upaya sebagai fasilitator komunikasi adalah mengobrol dan berdiskusi secara langsung dengan karyawan untuk menampung keluh kesah dan opini karyawan. Diharapkan muncul jalinan komunikasi dua arah yang terbuka sehingga bisa melokalisir permasalahan yang ada. Kegiatan mengobrol secara dekat dengan karyawan ini dalam konsep barat dikenal dengan “managing by walking around”. Dalam perspektif lokal, masyarakat Jawa telah mengenalkan konsep komunikasi “blusukan”, yaitu berkomunikasi face to face dengan mendatangi secara langsung publiknya. Ada kedekatan personal –tidak ada jarak fisik- sehingga bisa mendekatkan jarak psikologi, ada komunikasi “sambung roso” (sambung rasa, dari hati ke hati) yang menimbulkan ikatan emosi (empati) yang kuat. Komunikasi “blusukan” ini juga perwujudan adanya prinsip kebersamaan tanpa beda status “manunggaling kawula gusti”, yang dalam perspektif barat disebut “walking in the shoes of the public.” Melalui blusukan, public relations bisa gethok tular (word of mouth communication) secara langsung informasi dari manajemen sehingga meminimalkan salah persepsi. Selain itu, public relations bisa menyetop rumor yang memang tersebar cepat melalui gethok tular dari orang ke orang. Upaya gethok tular ini penting untuk menangakal rumor berdasarkan prinsip “lawanlah informasi dengan informasi”.

Bagi karyawan, komunikasi sambung rasa ini dapat dimaknai bahwa organisasi “nguwongke”, yaitu menempatkan karyawan bukan dalam konteks hubungan kerja rasional yang berdasarkan untung-rugi, tetapi, menempatkan karyawan sebagai mitra yang tidak terpisahkan dalam operasional organisasi. Budaya Jawa mengajarkan curiga manjing warangka, warangka manjing curiga”, pemimpin perlu memahami aspirasi bawahan, mengenal dengan baik kondisi bawahan, dan mau menyantuni mereka dengan baik. Sebagai sebuah “corpus”, organisasi bagaikan sebuah keluarga yang harus saling memperhatikan, mempercayai, mengasihi, dan saling menjaga antaranggotanya (ingat konsep asah, asih, asuh di atas). Setiap anggota organisasi harus saling mengingatkan agar tidak ada yang bertindak salah, sewenang-wenang atau melanggar aturan, yang akhirnya bisa menjatuhkan organisasi keseluruhan. Saling mengingatkan mencakup upaya berbagi dan saling menampung keluh kesah sekaligus berupaya menyelesaikan masalah. Diharapkan, masalah dapat diselesaikan antaranggota dan tidak sampai dilaporkan ke media massa. Sebisa mungkin, anggota organisasi bisa menjaga nama baik anggota lain dan organisasi, seperti konsep Jawa “mikul dhuwur, mendhem jero(menjunjung tinggi kebaikan orang tua dan merahasiakan semua keburukannya; “orang tua” dalam konteks organisasi luas pengertiannya: bisa mencakup pimpinan, karyawan yang lebih tua, dan seluruh anggota organisasi) atau kearifan Madura “ja’ metta’ buri’ etengnga lorong (jangan memperlihatkan pantat di jalan raya; pantat diartikan sebagai rahasia yang harus dijaga).

 

Komunikasi “blusukan” dapat efektif menghasilkan kondisi sambung rasa, maka perlu memperhatikan dengan cermat semua komponen komunikasi.  Bagaimana strateginya? Ikuti serialnya di buku saya yg terbaru “Teori Public Relations Perspektif Barat dan Timur: Aplikasi dalam penelitian & praktik”, insya allah terbit di bulan depan, diterbitkan oleh Prenada Media Jakarta.

PUBLIC RELATIONS & JURNALIS

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The Excellence & News Objectivity Models as the Models for Harmonious Relationship between Public Relations Officers & Journalists

This paper has been accepted to oral presentation in the 5th International Conference on Language, Media, and Culture (ICLMC), Seoul, South Korea, 12-13 April 2014. This paper is derived from the final report of my program society empowering (pengabdian pada masyarakat), funded by Indonesia directorate of higher education 2013. The original program was workshop & socialization of Excellence Model & Objectivity Model to PR Practitioners and Journalists. The program was held on 25-27 of October 2013 in Faculty of Social & Political Science Brawijaya University Malang Indonesia.