Unspun was lunching with the corporate communications chiefs of one of Indonesia’s largest and most respected companies when the conversation turned to the Polri-KPK fracas. He shook his head and asked how could the Police commit PR suicide so often and constantly over the past few weeks.
“Who’s advising them on the PR?” he asked. “It’s a disaster.” Unspun replied that they probably didn’t have anyone competent advising them, otherwise they would not be in such dire straits.
Today, the straits widened. Splashed on the front pages of newspapers was the photo (like the one below in Seputar Indonesia) of “Buaya-Cicak” originator and the man discredited by the recent tapes released by the KPK, Chief of Detectives Susno Duadji heartily doing the “commando shake” with Police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri.
Unspun has no idea what went through the Police and Police Chief’s mind but the message that most people would take away from that photo, especially when accompanied by headlines such as “Susno’s resignation only temporary”, is that the Police have struck a deal with Susno to protect him from the fallout from the KPK tapes.
Susno, in photographs and video, comes across as a thoroughly unlikeable character. His appearance on TV, testifying before Commission III, gives the appearance of an unctuous and arrogant man so amoral he does not realize that he may have done any wrong. In the testimony he glared at the camera with his eyeballs almost hidden by his upper eyelids, giving him a sinister air.
That, and given his Buaya-Cicak outburst, as well as arrogant statements over the past few weeks should mark him out as someone that the current Police Chief Bambang should avoid being seen with. In PR terms he is poison. Touch him or get near him and your image dies.
Bambang should have been told by his aides and advisers not to be seen together with Susno, much less to shake hands with him. But he did and as such his image and the image of the Police has been tarnished further as the public sees this unsavory character looking contentedly truimphant as he shakes the hand of the Police Chief.
This is a pity because Bambang seems a decent sort of fellow.
In his televised testimony before Commission III last night he came across as reasonable, rationale and, yes, even likeable. Sure, he did not answer many of the questions asked by the Commission members but he is in a difficult position, inheriting other people’s problems and trying to make the best of things to protect the Police’s image. Besides, the Commission members were so happy listening to their own voices that they were giving speeches instead of asking pointed questions and weren’t even paying attention to the answers.
So what would you do if you were Bambang or the Police force?
If Unspun was asked the question then he’d say that they need to use Bambang’s assets to regain the trust of the public. He can pull it off, as a credible spokesperson and public face of the Police force if he receives the proper advice and training.
He should, to begin with, put a distance between himself and anyone implicated in the KPK case. He should also unequivocally pledge full cooperation with Team 8 to get to the bottom of things and promise to clean house in the Police. Yes, Unspun is aware that he’s said similar things at one time or another but this is the importance of delivery.
Delivered well – with authority, clarity and focus – messages get through. Delivered among a plethora of other information and in an unfocussed manner the message is usually lost to the audience. Bambang and the police would do well to get someone professional and competent who could advise them on how to manage their public image well.
Otherwise the already tarnished image of the Police will plummet even further and be at the receiving end of the wrath of angry citizens.