Recently, an Indonesia stand up comedian, Kemal Palevi, was bullied by netizens and labeled as a sexual harasser after asking about the size of an underage woman’s underwear through his vlog (video blog) on YouTube. His reputation as a famous comic was further at stake after he responded to the bullying defensively through several points on his Twitter “lecture”. Although a few moments later Kemal apologized through his Twitter account, the public was already disappointed.
The monumental incident related to issue management and reputation has become a reflective moment for an incident that has also captured public attention, namely the demonstration of a taxi driver demanding a blockage of online-based transportation some time ago.
The promotion of free taxi trips issued by Blue Bird Group the day after the chaotic demonstration still leaves some big questions; what considerations prompted the company to issue the promotion? Some have interpreted this decision as an indirect ‘apology’ from the management because it is suspected that the driver was heavily involved in the action. The company itself prefers to call this promotion a form of concern and compensation for customers affected by the demonstration.
However, the growing public opinion poses a threat to the reputation of the Blue Bird Group, which has been well known. The public assessed that the promotion decision was taken in a panic to simply polish the image instantly and did not show the company was serious about apologizing.
In the public sphere, instead of demanding free taxi services, the actual expectations are more visible, namely the fear of reduced security guarantees after seeing the unexpected actions of drivers on the streets, hopes of improving company HR management, improving taxi ordering technology, and sincere apologies. from the company.
The promotion coldly emerged the hashtag #PercumaGratis on social media as a form of netizen campaign that were against against the company’s response – which was not smooth in its implementation. This indicates a mismatch of steps taken in dealing with crisis situations.
In a situation like this, a company must be able to first understand the issues and trends that develop from public opinion in a strategic manner. When done properly and correctly, issue management has an important role in understanding an issue and then formulating a communication strategy in times of crisis, so that it becomes an opportunity to reach the true expectations of the public.
If a company is unable to understand an issue and identify the real expectations of stakeholders, a reputation that is threatened is a necessity. Reputation is based on how good or bad an organization meets stakeholder criteria or expectations (Timothy and Holladay, 2010).
Nowadays, awareness of the importance of issue management has often gone unnoticed by many companies in Indonesia. The threat to Blue Bird Group’s reputation, which is considered to be less sensitive to issues, is not the first in Indonesia and it is almost certainly not the last if there is no significant change in the perspective of the business world in understanding issue management.
Last year, Lion Air experienced a similar thing when there were consecutive flight delays that led to passengers stranding so they had to stay at Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 of Soekarno-Hatta Airport. A new apology was made via the company’s Twitter account the next day. However, there is still no clear information regarding the ticket return mechanism requested by passengers. Until the end of the incident, the company leadership did not appear to explain the event to the public, thus making passenger empathy even less.
In that case, understanding the expectations of passengers who demand accurate information about returning tickets immediately should be understood and become a strong consideration in decision making. Constantly apologizing, empathizing with passengers and mobilizing all the airline’s social media accounts and official websites to disseminate accurate information, would be actions that better illustrate understanding of the expectations of those affected by the crisis.
Issue Management and Reputation
Good issue management requires good faith and strong commitment from all components of the company, and is supported by supporting activities such as analysis and monitoring of news that develops in the media (media monitoring). Companies can identify who the influential actors spoke, their current concerns, and how the public responded to them. Even public opinion that influences sentiment on social media cannot be ignored.
In the context of the Blue Bird Group, media monitoring can play a crucial role in helping identify issues that have the potential to harm the company’s reputation so that it needs to be addressed immediately and issues that can be ignored. Today, for example, the mainstream media can take some of the tweets of influential figures on Twitter and turn them into news references.
Such tweets can be traced more deeply and have the potential to contain information about stakeholder expectations which is valuable for the company in order to structure key messages in response to and / or post-crisis. That way, communication strategies including messages to be conveyed in a crisis situation can be formulated more accurately while accommodating the expectations of stakeholders so that risks to reputation have hope to be minimized.
In the context of advances in information technology, when the public is increasingly connected and clearly expresses their views and complaints on social media, companies are currently faced with various benefits as well as challenges. On the one hand, companies can more easily find out what the public thinks and the general view of their products and / or services. On the other hand, companies must also be more careful in managing this information and are required to be more sensitive in understanding and determining attitudes towards developing public opinion.
Regardless of who is right or wrong, when the company manages to properly monitor the development of issues, respond responsively to the public, and immediately apologize for any possible mistakes, stakeholders will undoubtedly appreciate the good faith.
Ultimately, it is important for companies to listen more to their stakeholders, be it through online and offline channels, understand issues and capture their expectations accurately, then immediately execute strategic communications strategies. These things can ultimately minimize the risk of being impacted by a company’s reputation due to the development of an issue and opinion in the community.
Meizar Ahmad Assiry was a media analyst at Kiroyan Partners.
Source: Selasar.com, June 17, 2016.