We begin a series of occassional posts about the goings on in the Indonesian social media scene by Ndoro Kakung, who’s joined Maverick as an advisor. Today’s post is about the controversial billboard put up by the Anies-Sandiaga camp that caused a kerfuffle on Twitter over the weekend.
The gubernatorial election for Jakarta began last Friday (28/10/2016) and the candidates and their supporters have not wasted any time in getting their message across in the form of leaflets, posters, billboards, banners, photos, videos, and so on.
In this flurry of activity one of the candidate-pairs, Anies Baswedan and his deputy Sandiaga Uno, reaped perhaps more than their fair share of controversy when they put up billboards featuring a photo of both of them with a prominent slogan beneath that proclaimed “Jakarta Milik Kita, Mari Bung Kita Rebut Kembali!” (“Jakarta is Ours, Let’s Seize it Back!”)
The slogan, with its use of the aggressive verb “seize” immediately sparked questions from the Twitterverse as it reminds Indonesians of a couple of lines in the nationalistic song Halo Halo Bandung in which it calls on Indonesians to seize back Bandung (occupied by the Dutch) that is on fire.
Twitter user @jelantik5 questioned the billboard’s messaging: “Excuse me Pak @aniesbaswedan & Pak Sandiaga Uno, could you tell us who’s colonized Jakarta until it has to be seized back?”
— Agung (@Jelantik5) October 29, 2016
Despite having their Twitter handles mentioned in the tweet, both Anies and Sandiaga did not respond to the question.
Their silence did not stop other Twitter users such as @AndiMartin_
— a.m (@AndiMartin_) October 29, 2016
“Jakarta milik kita” maksudnya milik kalian berdua? “Mari rebut kembali” Lah, rebut apanya.. pic.twitter.com/MfQGHRVn3V
— Gubernur KW (@GubernurKW) October 29, 2016
— Pinneng (@pinneng) October 29, 2016
from asking the same question. Still Anies and Sandiaga, as well as their campaign teams and supports, kept mum over the issue.
On Sunday, when many Indonesians have more spare time to check their social media accounts, the issue surfaced again after @AroonP asked @Pandji, (921,000 followers), a standup comedian as well as an official spokesperson for the Anies-Sandiaga ticket: “Masbro @pandji, any comment? Seize Jakarta from whom? ”
— PnoorA (@AroonP) October 30, 2016
@AroonP Sejauh ini belum ada, Anies-Sandi memang tidak mau jadikan isu sara sbg bagian kampanye & ingin kembalikan ke dlm program & gagasan
— Pandji Pragiwaksono (@pandji) October 30, 2016
This time the questioners got some traction. Pandji replied on Twitter, “We” refers to us, the citizens, to seize the city from the developers and corporations who use Jakarta for their own advantage. Case in point: Reclamation.”
The conversation between @AroonP and Pandji also involved @ernestprakasa into the mix. The account that is believed to be owned by actor and stand up comedian, Ernest Prakasa currently has 389,000 followers. Ernest is also known as one the stand-up comedians like Pandji. They even had a role together in the movie Comic 8.
Pandji’s mention of the word “corporation” and “reclamation” hit a nerve with some of the Twitterati and raised more questions. Which is the corporation he meant? And what has the reclamation project got to do with anything?
Other Twitter users professed surprise by Pandji’s sudden anti-corporate stand because, they pointed out, Pandji has been the recipient of various sponsorships and engagements by corporations.
Anda punya pendapat apa tentang reklamasi, Pandji? Apakah sudah pelajari semua data dan dokumen yang ada? Apakah Bluebird bukan korporasi? https://t.co/sLZ6b54WLh
— Poltak Hotradero (@hotradero) October 30, 2016
@hotradero (an account apprently owned by Poltak Hotradero), an employee of the Indonesia Stock Exchange who has more than 88,000 followers, asked “Do you have any opinion about the reclamation, Pandji? Have you already studied all data and documents? Isn’t Bluebird also considered as a corporation? The last remark was an apparent reference to some influencer work done for Blue Bird by Pandji.
Soon, the issue had escalated into a storm in the social media teacup, with other accounts such as @agussari and @imanbr joining into the fray.
Lucu emang kalo dengar retorika anti korporasi dari orang yg hidup dan mata prncahariannya dari sponsor dan endorsement korporasi.
— Agus Sari (@agussari) October 30, 2016
Sebagai Anieser jawaban Panji kurang taktis. Sebaiknya dikurangi kegiatan world tour stand up comedy agar fokus. Pertempuran sudah dimulai https://t.co/IRTXL8JAzx
— Iman Brotoseno (@imanbr) October 30, 2016
Like so many other Twitwars that have flared in Indonesia, however, the billboard issue subsided after Pandji asked for time to discuss the matter first with Anies-Sandiaga.
@hotradero Nanti, utk jelasnya mohon waktu utk gue diskusikan dgn Mas Anies-Sandi supaya punya jawaban yg lebih komprehensif bang.
— Pandji Pragiwaksono (@pandji) October 30, 2016
There is a truce for now but the lesson that the politicians may pick up is that they need to manage issues that may crop up from anything they do or say, be it in billboards or rallies.
When such things become issues it is up to the team as a whole – the candidates, their social media administrators, as well as their spokespersons and surrogates to be responsive with a unified message or stand. In communications this is called getting your messaging right, aligning your messages and then maintaining message discipline among everyone that has exposure to the public at large. This is something that the politicians have yet to learn to do.
It’s always interesting to see how the media usually understands crisis and how it can be lived and diced.
This tendency has us learning about social media crises, PR crises and, in the excerpt below from Campaign, a cybersecurity crisis.”
Culture leaves many Asian companies unprepared for a cybersecurity crisis
Strict adherence to hierarchy means Asian companies have been slow improve crisis planning around information-security, according to FireEye’s global comms chief.
Asian brands continue to make slow progress in cybersecurity crisis planning, due to the lack of awareness about the issue and continued mistakes around how to respond, according to Vitor D’Souza, vice president of global communications at security-software provider FireEye.
D’Souza said that in almost every case of a cybersecurity breach that FireEye has been involved with in Asia, “in terms of communications planning, they did not have any at all”.
“They would have what they would call a ‘business continuity plan’, which is totally different,” he said. “It has nothing to do with crisis.” Coupled with this lack of preparation is a tendency in Asia to cling rigidly to company hierarchy in a crisis, which can be a big mistake if the person handling the crisis is not the most knowledgeable about the situation.
“In Asia, company hierarchy is very important,” D’Souza told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “What I see a lot is that there’s this immediate push toward the chairman or CEO to handle the crisis. But the education of the C-Suite in Asia regarding cybersecurity, just in terms of awareness, is not at the same level as other regions.”
Brand reputation can be severely damaged if a top-level executive is put before the media without sufficient knowledge of the crisis, and it is done to the communications team to ensure that does not happen, said D’Souza.
Such distinctions are misleading. The way we see it at Maverick wither your company is facing a crisis or it isn’t. If you’re facing one it doesn’t matter if the action is being played out in social media, on the internet or in the conventional media, you have a crisis. That’s it.
We think that the difficulty the media has is in its careless use of the word “crisis”. To them, any incident that may impact the reputation and/or the bottom line of a company or brand is a crisis. While this definition is not necessarily wrong, it is too simplistic.
Under this definition five or even 50 people tweeting bad things about your company could constitute a crisis. Yet common sense suggests it’s not yet a crisis. What about 200? Maybe yes or not. Often its not yet a crisis if the people tweeting about it aren’t influential. This is the case especially in Indonesia where the swarm moves from topic to topic with the attend span of a gnat. Responding to such tweets may escalate the issue instead of doing something positive for the brand.
So when can an incident be clarified as a crisis? In our opinion, the key to the answer to that question lies with the cord CONTROL. A company is in a crisis-like situation when it has already lost control of a situation or is in imminent danger of losing control.
If you go by this definition, crisis management is then the art and science of bringing control back to the company facing a crisis-like situation. We feel that the wild be a more intelligent approach to crisis management rather than classifying it into a PR crisis or Social Media Crisis or Cybersecurity Crisis.
A crisis is a crisis. What you need to bring under control or to restore control to the situation is a carefully selected and well trained core crisis management team (which should normally not be helmed by the CEO, because someone has to run the company even during a crisis) and pre-planned response plans and SOPs so that the team has access to pertinent and verified facts, able to analyze them and take the necessary actions, including effective communications, to bring the situation under control.
Last year, when the Rupiah was falling alarmingly and Indonesia’s economy looked increasingly shaky, Bisnis Indonesia chief editor Arif Budisusilo was confronted by a young reporter who felt that the nation’s premier business newspaper was being too pro-Government.
“’What’s with our coverage? Are we speaking on behalf of the Government? Have we been given projects by the Government? The young reporter demanded to know,” said Arif, who’s also known as AB, the first two syllables of his full name.
The young reporter was indignant because he felt that Bisnis Indonesia had not been critical enough in its reporting of the government’s handling of the economy.
Then, explained AB, Bisnis Indonesia had adopted the policy that it is to no one’s benefit if all it did was report on the anxiety, fear and pessimism felt by businesspeople. “If we did just that, then all we would do is to make businesses more anxious and worsen the situation.”
“What we decided to do then was to try instead to push the government to do something to stabilize the Rupiah and to introduce economic packages that would benefit Indonesian society.
“If Bisnis Indonesia had focused only on reporting the bad news and we influenced many people then the economy would worsen and investors would not want to come here. Who would suffer then if not ourselves as a society?” he asked.
It is this obligation to protect the country’s national interest that forms the basis of much of AB’s thoughts about the role of journalism that Bisnis Indonesia needs to adopt at this time in Indonesia’s development.
National interest, however, is different from nationalism, says AB.
Nationalism is being politicized by some sectors and all about importance of Indonesians in all matters and in its more extreme forms is about excluding foreigners from entering Indonesia and controlling its human resources.
National interest, however, is about how to secure maximum benefits for Indonesians, in which foreign investors can freely participate. The more the better so long as they help to create more added value for Indonesia, such as opening up factories here, following the regulations and not being engaged in transfer pricing.
This distinction has given him an interesting interpretation of issues, such as the call to ban the sale of alcohol by religious groups.
Excessive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol, said AB, would affect the quality of human resources in Indonesia. The key to prevent this from happening, however, is not a wholesale ban but for the government to be clear about the laws that regulate drinking of alcohol.
“In America, Malaysia and Singapore, for instance, the consumption of alcohol is well regulated. They are clear on who can buy and who can drink alcohol but when Indonesia tries to regulate this, it is met with screams from one and all.
“Some use nationalism to confront this issue,” he said. The national interest here, he added, is how to protect the quality of Indonesian human resources. “When it was mandated that the sale of alcohol would be stopped at supermarkets, they protested noisily. Why? Because their sales would drop. To me the people that protested were expressing their personal interest, not the national interest.”
He nonetheless thinks that Indonesians are sometimes too quick to react and protest and this is where the media comes in as an agent of education for the populace.
While there is much to do and new challenges are constantly being thrown at Bisnis Indonesia because of digitalization and social media, AB remains confident of the future because of BIG Media (Bisnis Indonesia Group Media).
“Our business is to sell information about the economy, business and supporting activities,” he said, adding that BIG Media is positioned to deliver these through multi-platforms.
In print the group has Bisnis Indonesia, Solo Pos and Harian Jogja. Online, they have Bisnis.com, Kabar24.com, Solopos.com and Harjo.com. They also have an extensive database at bisnis.com of the financial reports of listed companies that cooperate with the paper.
In print, Bisnis Indonesia also has a strong position because 97% of its customers are subscribers. Of its subscribers, 80% come from corporations, not individuals. “The readership at workplaces ranges between five and 10 people so although we publish 30,000 copies, our readership – according to Nielsen, stands at about 120,000.”
Nonetheless, the paper is not standing still in a quest for a younger readership and this is reflected in its use of lively headlines that are not typical of staid business papers. When Lion Air reported a spate of troubles its headline was “Lion Lagi, Lion Lagi”.
The group also has a radio station in Jogja, and Bisnis TV that delivers its information via streaming over the internet. “This is because research has informed us that the viewership of network TV, cable TV and Pay TV has been in decline” because of the move toward mobile.
Apart form BIG Media, the group also offers BIG Services, which focus on services such as research, consultancy and event organizing.
The Business Indonesia Learning Center, which focuses on training such as media management, communications management, personal finance and wealth management, completes the group’s offering.
Although the group is in a comfortable position AB, however, is only aware of the changing nature of newspapers because of social media.
The biggest challenge to him as the editor-in-chief is to ensure that the news they report is done so in the proper context. “This is because the sources of information are more driven by social media. Anyone can create and manipulate information in social media.”
A few of us from Maverick learnt more about data journalism in the form of a five-week course provided by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong.