Can even the best PR Experts help the Government?

And it is clear that government officials need to learn PR skills, or hire PR persons, to help them building positive image on behalf of Indonesia.

As Advisor of Association of Public Relation Practitioners (Perhumas), Irawan Abidin wrote, “Ideally, they (PR professionals) should work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as their target public is located abroad. That will take some doing, some time and some expense. But it is obviously cheaper and much more effective than hiring an international PR firm, and over the years will bring a great deal of benefits, including the growth of mutual understanding between and among nations.”

– Jennifer Siddharta in Should Indonesian Officials Hire PR Experts? at

If Unspun had written this opinion piece he’d be accused of penning a self-serving article. But he has not and Jennifer Siddharta has said what should be said at GIV.

That the Indonesian Government has appalling PR is beyond doubt but one cannot help but wonder if the right cure is a PR expert.

If PR means the advice, strategy and execution – that includes media training, messaging, media monitoring as well as its social media equivalents – then even the best PR experts may not be able to help.

This is because the root cause of the officials’ PR gaffs is not for lack of PR skill but in the mindset and the logical systems that they go through life with.

What sort of a mental process was it that prompted Jusuf Kalla to blurt out the absurd and defensive we-give-them-11-months-of clean-air statement?

Other than concluding that Kalla almost certainly has a closed mind set, Unspun feels unqualified to diagnose his problem further.

True, the best PR experts should be part psychologists as well as a wide range of interests but what if Kalla and the other officials have such a world view that no amount of persuasion can change their ways?

In a corporation you’d go to the boss man and tell him that he either has over them to stick to the script, to muzzle them or to sack them.

That is why corporations are usually more efficient that governments.

But given the political layout as it is this cannot be done. So the interesting thought experiment is this: If you are a PR expert and approached by the government to help them with their PR to get the ministers on message would you 10 take on the job? and 2) if yes, what conditions would you insist on?




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