International expertise, diversity and creativity: key elements at the center of Public Relations practice in Indonesia
Prita Kemal Gani, Chair of PERHUMAS
This month we approach the reality of Public Relations practice in Indonesia with Mrs. Prita Kemal Gani, Chair of PERHUMAS, the Public Relations Association of Indonesia, who gives us some insights on the world of PR in this key Asian country.
Could you give us an overview on the practice of public relations in Indonesia? What are the key challenges for Indonesian PR professionals?
The practice of PR in Indonesia is quite advanced and modern, as Indonesia is one of the most important countries in G20 and a member of G7.
In 2011, Indonesia experienced chairing ASEAN community. During that time, over 2000 international events were conducted in Indonesia, so the PR practice in Indonesia has experiences in handling international affairs.
Not to mention, there are also many international PR consultants who are practicing and operating in Indonesia like Burson-Marsteller and Weber Shandwick, Edelman, Ogilvy and etc, therefore these international PR consultancies bring the technologies and expertise in to Indonesia.
There are also many international PR schools and there are 210 universities offering faculty in communication majoring in PR, so Indonesia has many PR graduates who are equipped with PR skills and knowledge.
The key challenges of PR practitioners are that many people in Indonesia still cannot differentiate between marketing and PR. So many companies demand a lot of PR work to turn into sales and profits, whereas PR work is intangible and takes some time to enjoy the benefits.
PR Practitioners sometimes face challenges to present unethical companies that create CSR programs which are sometimes for publicity only and not for its real cause which is supposed to be helping the community, company and all their staff accordingly.
PR tasks are to inform about the company’s achievements but there are many Indonesian conglomerates or tycoons who are still traditional and prefer to be far from the public eyes, as they think that by informing about their achievements, they are bragging.
Indonesia is a multiethnic country with around 300 ethnic groups and more than 700 different languages and dialects. How does this diversity affect the practice of PR and communication?
Being a multi-ethnic country makes Public Relations practice in Indonesia even more creative. Therefore public relations education in Indonesia includes subjects such as sociology, anthropology and Indonesian communication system as part of the curriculum, so that PR graduates are equipped with the techniques of communication with various group ethnics in Indonesia or understand the public of public relations.
You are the Chair of PERHUMAS, the Public Relations Association of Indonesia, and you are a woman. How difficult is for women to participate and contribute to the development and success of the PR industry in Indonesia, given that it is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation?
Indonesia is a very modern country and had been led by a female President Mrs. Megawati Soekarno Putri from July 23, 2001 to October 20, 2004. There are many women CEOs and ministers, and also in the parlamentary therefore being a woman chairperson at Perhumas isn’t a problem.
But obstacles might arise for women in PR because sometimes we have to work till late at night such as preparing an event or handling a crisis or the need to visit site office that is hard to reach or give speeches in other cities. These tasks are quite hard for a woman.
For working mothers in PR, the above tasks might also be quite inconvenient, as we have to leave our families behind.
Let’s focus on PERHUMAS. What is the role the association has been playing in the Indonesian PR and communication industry since its foundation?
The role of PERHUMAS is, as a hub for PR Practitioners in Indonesia, whether it’s PR in hospitality industry, mining, social industries or even government organizations, all can be members of PERHUMAS.
The activities include networking, training & development, research and sharing sessions, seminar and conferences.
PERHUMAS has initiated a friendship agreement with regional PR associations like PRIA (Public Relations Institute of Australia), IPRS (Institute of Public Relations of Singapore), SPRA (Shanghai Public Relations Association) and IPRM (Institute of Public Relations Malaysia), etc.
PERHUMAS has also played an important role in PR education in Indonesia by encouraging universities to offer PR subjects in their curriculum and to form PERHUMAS student memberships, so the students are introduced to PR knowledge during the early years in the university.
PERHUMAS is also doing advocacy in Public Relations code of conduct to encourage PR practitioners to follow the ethics.
What are the main benefits of being a member of PERHUMAS? What are the main services you provide?
The members can improve their knowledge and skills in PR by attending the activities conducted by PERHUMAS i.e. CEO conversations, coffee morning, seminar, workshop, conference, research, journal, book publication, accreditation program and etc.
On your website you promote the PERHUMAS PR Accredited Program. Could you give us an overview on this Program? Who is it designed for?
The accreditation program is to prepare PR practitioners to be more professional, competent, acquire standard working procedures and follow ethics in Public Relations.
We initiated this accreditation program, so that the PR practitioners in Indonesia will become skillful, knowledgeable, confident, credible, recognized and most importantly, is to get public support for their practices.
The accreditation program prepares PR practitioners with minimum of 5 years practice for AMIPR, and 7 years for MIPR, while FIPR (Fellow Indonesia PR) is only given by invitation for those who have contributed to the development of PR in Indonesia. IAPR (Indonesia Accredited PR) status is given only to the board members of PERHUMAS.
Only IAPR holder is eligible to do assessments for PR professionals with recommendation from AMIPR (Associate Member of Indonesia PR) and MIPR (Member of Indonesia PR).