BUMN must be ready for crisis

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Crisis is common to be experienced by both big and small companies. Crisis can be a threat for every company in maintaining its reputation. Recently a lot of crisis fell upon BUMN (state-owned enterprises) such as: a viral post regarding “hand-written menu” on Garuda Indonesia, black-out on PLN and online transaction failure on Bank Mandiri.

In response to the cases, the Department of Communication Studies of Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia (AJCUI) held a scientific discussion with the theme of “Case Study of BUMN Crisis: Multi-Perspectives” at Campus 3, BSD on Friday (23 August 2019). The notable speakers in the discussion were Dr. Agustinus Prasetyantoko (Economic Expert of ACJUI), Daniel Rembert (Pricewaterhouse Coopers), Benny Siga Butarbutar (BULOG), and Abdul Manan (Chairperson of AJI); while the moderator was Dr. Dorien Kartikawangi (Head of Department of Communication Studies AJCUI).

Dr. A Prasetyantoko said that at the moment BUMN was developing by acquiring some development projects, and therefore a fact which stated that BUMN had become a conglomerate came to existence. It was a positive thing as national income would rise but it could also be a negative thing as it could bring jealousy from other economic actors and bring national debt.

“It cannot be avoided that it will bring jealousy from other industries. Besides, due to the rapid development, BUMN’s capital alone is actually not enough and they have to owe debt and it might bring some risks for BUMN,” said the economic expert and the rector of AJCUI.

Dr. A. Prasetyantoko also stated that BUMN position was not easy as it must adjust to the public and industrial expectation. Therefore, a good management was a must. However, besides improving the management, BUMN must also improve the communication while facing crisis.

“BUMN needs to improve its management, both from internal management and external communication in order to face crisis better. A good crisis management will improve the value of the company and the trust from government and public. A good governance, without good public communication, will not bring any impact,” said Dr. A. Prasetyantoko.

On the other hand, Daniel Rembert observed the case from management strategy perspectives. He said that BUMN was not really ready in facing any crisis and tended to not have special strategy in facing it. Furthermore, the function of public relations to calm internal and external public was also not put to maximum use.

“BUMN doesn’t have any previous training in facing crisis. They should have acted better and thought of the recovery process. In a crisis recovery process, it will not only improve the company management but also its reputation because reputation is for sure important,” said Daniel.

Similar to Daniel, Benny Butarbutar elaborated that BUMN was not ready in facing crisis and tended to avoid conflicts so that it brought a negative perception from the public and media. Because of that, they needed to realize the importance of PR’s role in confirming circulating rumour and issues.

“Crisis or conflicts must be faced, not be avoided. BUMN is not really aware of the role of communication so that they do not put the PR in the right place. Through this, we can see the importance of capacity building of a public relation in BUMN, especially in building public perception. On the other hand, a PR must dare to face media to confront circulating issues,” explained Benny.

Meanwhile, as the representative from media, Abdul Manan elaborated that basically media serves the public interest and public have the rights to know of what is happening. The news delivery is also according to the standard of mainstream media, which emphasizes value of the news based on the facts.

“Journalism in the core is ‘bad news is a good news’. When we published news about BUMN, it is not that we want to harm BUMN, but we just published news based on verified facts,” said Manan.

While joking, Manan said “What’s the difference between a journalist and a PR if we just publish good news about the company. That’s not our job. Basically our job is to find truth of an incident.”

The incidents happening on BUMN had become quite an issue. Therefore, integrity and strategic management must be improved. On the other hand, public communication must also be improved. Through this discussion, students were expected to be able to think and analyse critically, especially in the digital era. Moreover, students were also expected to have sensitivity towards existing issues. The role of a PR is also not less important when facing crisis. Students of AJCUI Department of Communication Studies are expected to be professional and highly qualified PR.