Posts Tagged ‘Critical public relations’

Buku baru saya “Public Relations, Issue & Crisis Management”

dari hasil penelusuran di Google, Riset Critical ethnography on Crisis Management belum dipublikasikan orang. Tulisan ini menjadi yang pertama membahas etnografi kritis dalam crisis management.




By Prof. Rachma Ida, Dra., M.Comms., Ph.D

This book demonstrates original idea to research crisis mana-gement and the responses of the local community using a critical ethnography approach in Indonesian context. There have been not many studies done in the field area of, citing the author’s statement in this book “Public relations issues and crisis management,” applied this methods. The research in this book is not only interested in exa-mining the crisis management of the company, the government of Indonesia and the reaction of the community, particularly the victims, but it is also successfully engaged with the issues of socio-cultural changes and the political economy interest played within the context of the so-called “Lapindo” disaster.

The research in this book also provides the amount of primary materials and interview excerpts with the victims and other relevant sources that have been involved with the incident and those who pay their concern to the mudflow problems. Some historical developments of the mudflow incident and pictures included in the research give a sense of how terrible the incident has turned out and how bad the physical and socio-cultural impacts for the communities surrounding the area and the society at large. These elements marks the distinctive or characteristic the research in this book.

The methodological approach attempted by the author is appreciated, as it is not easy to get involved in such community, doing interviews and gather information from the victims who live in a temporary residential, some of them even live with appaling condition, and inviting them to participate in the focus group discussion. Eventhough some aspects – the setting of focus group discussion, how the condition of the victims at the time of discussion and other concerning matters regarding emotions and psychological situation- need to be more explaned. Somehow the research allows the reader to gain an understanding of the unkind victims’ reactions and what sort of critical opinion the victims hold. As to my knowledge so far, their voices are marginalised by the mainstream media in Indonesia.

The author has attempted sufficient discussions in some areas such as the political interest between the government and the company, the contradiction of the presidential decrees, the manipulation strategies to mitigate the mudflow disaster attempted by Lapindo company, the various media comments, and wide-ranging criticisms and attitudes held by the victims, both by those who are benefitted from the mudflow tragedy and who are suffered mostly.

In summary, this book significantly adds of the discipline of Communication, particularly the application of critical ethnography in the field area of Public relations and crisis management. The research in this book will also become a potential example for research in the field area studied, since I acknowledge that this methodological approach is rarely attempted by the Communication scholars and researchers in Indonesia.

Prof. Rachma Ida, Dra., M.Comms., Ph.D.

Ketua Program S2 Media & Komunikasi FISIP Universitas Airlangga

Guru Besar Media Komunikasi Budaya Universitas Airlangga Indonesia

Master of Communications Edith Cowan University Western Australia

Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Curtin University Western Australia

Critical Public Relations

Critical Public Relations

Rachmat Kriyantono, Ph.D

School of Communication UB Malang

Critical public relations can be defined as the use of critical perspective in public relations. Public relations research based on critical perspective has been emerged within the last decade (L’Etang, 2005; Mickey, 2003; Motion & Weaver, 2005; Pasadeos, Berger, & Renfro, 2010; Toth, 2002). Critical public relations “has challenged current assumptions, defined and critiqued a “dominant paradigm”…, applied critical theory… and critiqued policy and practice.” (L’Etang, 2005, p. 522). This challenges and critics lead to public debates which aim “to raise the social consciousness of forms of oppression.” (Mickey, 2003, p. 6).  Critical perspective criticizes the domination of Excellence theory because excellence theory does not contain power-control aspect when discussing public relations phenomenon (Wehmeier, 2009) and fails to reveal primacy of powers in the construction of relationship between organization and public (Gower, 2006; Curtin & Gaither, 2005). Some literatures (such as Botan & Hazleton, 2006; Gower, 2006; Greenwood, 2010; Holtzhausen & Voto, 2002; Pasadeos, et al, 2010; Trujilo & Toth, 1987) stated that there is a struggle of paradigm between the dominant paradigm that is represented by excellence theory versus critical paradigm, including postmodernism.

From Thomas (1993) and Littlejohn & Foss (2008), critical perspective assumed that realities contain dominations and repressions as a result of unbalance power in society. This domination, repression and unbalance power are constructed in social interactions. Therefore, this critical perspective aims to promote emancipatory, freedom and equality by revealing social situations that marginalize others and by synthesizing theoretical & practical aspects to support social changes.

In the organization and public relations contexts, based on Toth & Trujilo’s (1987) ideas, critical perspective views that organization as an arena of struggle of powers, influences, and controls. Public is perceive as coalitions and constituents who has different needs, values and perceptions. Communication is used to disseminate organization’s ideologies, to bargain and negotiate with those various coalitions and constituents. Critical scientists attempt to expose repressive aspects -as a result of powers and dominations in organization- in order to offer alternative views for radical changes in organization-public relationship.

From descriptions above it can be concluded that critical perspective is needed to develop public relations study. In general, critical public relations has a function to maintain balancing relationships between organization and its public to reach harmony. Harmony means that both parties agree to build mutual understanding and cooperation. This function can be reached by doing research:

(a)    To reveal hidden realities in public relations practices by asking what ideologies, powers, and interests represented in public relations programs.

(b)   To criticize and to challenge current assumptions in public relations arena. For instance, public relations is assumed as a gatekeeper that bridges organization’s and public’s interests. Is it factual? or is it a jargon of image projection as symbolic hegemony?

(c)    To criticize public relations policies or practices, including a reflection of the role and responsibility of public relations in democratic society. L’Etang & Pieczka (1996), cited in Mickey (2003), stated that public relations practices are often not followed by critical reflection from critical theories, Marxism or postmodernism. Public relations is perceived focus more on search ideas of problem solving, but not to be interested in self-reflection. Fourth, as mentioned by Grunig (Motion & Weaver, 2005, p. 49): “a need for critical researchers and theorists is to more clearly outline how their approaches contribute to advancing not only public relations theory, but also research and practice.”

(d)   Critical perspective is an intellectual responsibility for scientists to reveal truth by critically against public relations practices that humiliate human values.

(e)    To reach equality regardless race, gender and ethnic.


In practical aspects, critical perspective will influence how public relations activities should be done. Therefore, public relations activities can be conducted with the aims of:

·      Supporting public’s interest and increasing power and influences that public has in the market competition.

·      Stimulating public’s awareness to participate. Public relations also stimulates organization to pay attention ethical aspect and social responsibility, i.e. through corporate social responsibility programs.

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


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




Bagian ini berisi presentasi saya di depan Dekan, PD dan dosen-dosen FISIP UB. Isi presentasi adalah deskripsi hasil studi S3 yang saya lakukan dan kontribusi studi saya bagi pengembangan Ilmu Komunikasi, khususnya Ilmu Public Relations. Kontribusi tersebut mencakup: menawarkan pendekatan baru bagi kajian PR di Indonesia, yaitu critical PR; menawarkan metode critical ethnography dalam kajian PR di Indonesia; menerapkan dua teori khas PR dalam penelitian PR di Indonesia: Situational theory of the publics dan situational crisis communication theory. Semoga bermanfaat.

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