Risma, Mayor of Surabaya: The Obstacles of Building Trust

PRINDONESIA.CO | Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Humas harus mengerti semua, humas harus tahu lebih dulu.
Dok. Pemkot Surabaya

SURABAYA, PRINDONESIA.CO - Actually Risma has seen the strategic role of public relations (PR) for a long time since before she became a mayor. However, because when she was still a civil servant, she did not have PR. So,she communicated everything herself.

Rismaseriously mobilized the function of public relations when she served as mayor, eight years ago. There are two key messages that she conveyed to public relations so that they can function optimally. First, public relations must understand everything. Second, public relations must know first because they are the leader's funnel, eyes and ears.

They are also in charge of explaining everything the government has done. "If I think something is not right, they are my first spokesperson. Public relations must be able to explain what is not true to the public," she said to AsmonoWikan, Lila Intana, and MellisaPurnamasari from PR INDONESIA in her office, the Surabaya City Hall on Friday (6/4/2018).

Public Relations must be able to explain if indeed something (problem) is true and straightens out if it's wrong. "It should never be manipulated," she said firmly. Before delivering information to the public, public relations should have qualified data.

On the other hand, public relations is also the key to the success of building trust in the community. Risma is very serious about trust. She also said that it was difficult to build trust in the early days of her leadership. The news in the media tended to be unfair. There were parties who judged her both institutionally and privately.

At that time, she asked public relations to explain and straighten out incorrect information. In fact, if necessary - because it has been very detrimental –she ordered to take legal action. She took this decisive step solely because she did not want herpeople to be confused, because if there is no trust in the government, there will be no participation from the people.

Another important factor for building trust is of course real work. So when shereceives a report, she immediately checks the truth and then solves it as quickly and effectively as possible, especially if the urgency is not negotiable, such as the matter of life and death. "If we really work for the community, then they will not be easily shaken with anything and relatively do not need to spend a lot of money," she said. This is the second aspect that affects trust. When the community has felt the benefits of the service and believes in the government, the community will not be easily provoked.                                    

Give Understanding

Another important thing in building trust is explaining (programs or problems) to the public. The effort of giving an explanation or understanding to the community must be carried out consistently and repeatedly.

In order to understand, don't feel like you are the most right. Invite the community to participate in thinking and understanding the root of the problem. One of the examples was when Risma responded to the public’s complaints about floods. "Maybe my work is not 100 percent correct (because there are still floods). But you can see, I found piles of rubbish and there was even a mattress in the pile. How is this?" she asked back.

Actually, Risma admitted that the lower class community was relatively easier to accept and make changes than the higher class. Meanwhile the middle segment is the one that is difficult to move in a better direction. The factor is because they are used to being in a comfort zone. To this particular segment, she usually has to explain in more detail from the background to the goals that need to be achieved, and listen more.

In providing understanding, Risma uses all communication channels. Although, personally she sees more benefits if the communication is done directly and face to face. "They can feel what we want, and I can find out how they respond as well," she said. However, this cannot be done often because of time constraints.

Later at the end of her tenure, approximately in 2020, Risma imagines that her citizens are already prosperous and not confused. It means, they are not confused in finding a school for their children, not confused when sick, not confused to make a living, and not confused when retiring.

To the leaders in this Indonesia, Risma emphasized the importance of approaching the community. One of them is with quality communication. Namely, convincing the public that everything that the government does aims to make better changes. (asw/rtn)