The year 2020 is quite exciting for the development of public affairs in Indonesia. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the second half of this year, several important events were held at the national level that confirmed public affairs as a practice that received special attention from businesspeople.
On October 15, the Indonesian Public Affairs Forum was officially launched in a webinar entitled The Role of Public Affairs in a Changing World. Six weeks later, on November 25, the Indonesian Public Affairs Conference (IPAC) was held for the first time, an event that had been planned long before. On November 11-12, a joint event was held by the chamber of commerce representing European Union businesses in Indonesia, EuroCham, and Kiroyan Partners for the training of executives of EuroCham member companies through the Public Affairs Master Class.
PR INDONESIA Magazine No. 68 the November 2020 Edition comprehensively explores the Public Affairs theme with the main story entitled The Public Affairs Challenge: Organizing Stakeholder Ecosystems. The contents of the edition in question are mainly a broad and in-depth discussion of public affairs. Towards the end of the year, the Indonesian Public Affairs Forum held its second event on December 17 with the theme “Public Communication Building Optimism in Indonesia 2021”.
All these developments indicate that in 2020 the momentum for the development of public affairs has been achieved in Indonesia. It can be concluded that the need for corporate public affairs functions has been recognized by the Indonesian business community. Based on our observations, apart from among international companies that have previously been in touch with public affairs in their home countries, among state-owned companies and some government agencies, this understanding has begun to spread. However, it appears that private companies have not paid much attention to this function. Indeed, not all companies require special corporate functions to handle public affairs, as described below.
In IPAC last November, I showed a slide that compares a company to fish. This description explains how the company operates and the role of public affairs as the company seeks and takes advantage of business opportunities.
Internal and Reputation
As stated above, companies are like fish swimming in an ocean of business opportunities. The bigger the fish, the greater the chance and ability to swim far in search of business opportunities, even to other continents. However, on its way, it will encounter local issues, sectoral issues, and cross-sectoral issues.
If it travels beyond national borders, it will encounter cross-border issues that must be managed and resolved. In addition, in operating a company, it is necessary to pay attention to local and national culture and norms, as well as international culture and norms if the company is large and operates internationally. Technological developments will also affect the operation of the company.
Business opportunities are exposed to the economic dynamics created by the activities, actions, and reactions of suppliers, competitors, and customers to the company’s activities and operations. Media, political parties and organizations, and civil society (including universities) interact with each other and create socio-political dynamics. The biggest and most influential player is the government. The executive and legislative bodies through the issuance, administration, and enforcement of laws and regulations provide the signposts for company operations.
If the company crosses borders, the legal signs in other countries also impose restrictions on the company’s journey. In navigating the ocean of business opportunity, a company must always interact with its stakeholders. This activity is depicted by the white field surrounding the fish as a parable of continuous activity to pay attention to stakeholders and align their expectations with the company’s operations through communication activities.
There are two more factors that are very important for the operation of the company, namely internal issues, and reputation. In the fish trope above, the reputation is described as the dorsal fin which keeps the fish stable in the water. Without a dorsal fin, the fish will lose balance. Likewise, a company that loses its reputation will lose balance, and if it drags on, it will lose control and sink.
Indonesia’s social and political order changed drastically in 1998 with the resignation of President Soeharto which paved the way for the reform era and resulted in socio-political changes that are still ongoing today. The fish themselves may not change, but the environment around them and all the elements in them change drastically and are increasingly dynamic. Companies need to monitor changes in their surroundings closely and adjust the way they operate in line with changes that occur.
The year 2021 is in sight. The COVID-19 pandemic and countermeasures will still have an impact on business operations. It is unrealistic if we expect the situation to recover next year, the company’s operations will clearly still be overshadowed by this outbreak.
Economic growth will not return to what it was before 2020. Job Creation Law No. 11/2020 will be complemented by implementing regulations and thus create its own dynamics, in addition to other legal products that are on the agenda of the government and the DPR. The international situation is not much different either. All of this will color the company’s journey across the ocean of business opportunities.
Chairman & Chief Consultant, Kiroyan Partners
This article has been published in PR Indonesia magazine 69th Edition, issued on December 2020, page 52-53.
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