Nation Branding Needs Issue Management Team

PRINDONESIA.CO | Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Maria Wongsonagoro, President Director of IPM Public Relations

By Maria Wongsonagoro, President Director of IPMPublic Relations


In the June 2016edition, I explained the purpose of Nation Branding, which is to measure, build and manage a country's positive reputation. Including leader reputation, business, investment, tourism, society, commodities, and many other attributes.

Indonesia is currently also actively implementing Nation Branding. It's just that the world is experiencing a crisis. The world's eyes focus on horrific terrorism events such as in Nice (France), Florida (US), Autaturk (Turkey), etc. In this situation, how about the Nation Branding program and activities of Indonesia? Indonesia already has a strategy and action plan to secure the country. What I want to discuss here is safeguarding reputation in terms of public relations (PR).

Crisis can occur to any country. Therefore in terms of PR and communication, we need to anticipate with Issues Management. The basis of Issues Management is handling various kinds of issues before the crisis (early warning system). So that the negative impact of the issue can be reduced in the shortest possible time. In Japan for example, earthquake issues are handled well through procedures, training, and simulations if an earthquake occurs.

Implementing Management Issues can begin with an inventory of potential crisis issues. In Indonesia there are various issues such as terrorism, SARS, forest destruction, corruption, regulation inconsistencies, investment climate, etc.

Let’s take terrorism as an example. The steps in the effort to secure the Nation Branding are, first, by forming the Issues Management Team. The team consists of members representing the security, political, economic and other related fields. Second, analysis of the security situation of the authorities concerned so that the Issues Management Team can package the information needed if an event occurs and the government needs to provide official information. The analysis of the situation also needs to pay attention to public perception toward the issue, both domestic and international public.

Third, determine the positioning of the event. For example, condemning the perpetrator, hunting down the perpetrators, etc. This is determined through the key messages. Fourth, assign a spokesperson. Fifth, prepare several standby statement scenarios. This standby statement is the official information and disseminated as quickly as possible. In a meeting organized by PR INDONESIA Magazine, it was revealed that 5 minutes after the suicide bombing in Thamrin, the first Twitter was spread. Whereas the official explanation of the government is losing fast to the tweet post.

Change Mindset

The Issues Management system needs to be implemented in each ministry, led by the Head of Public Relations. Each issue is managed according to the procedure, provided with analysis, the ministry's positioning and suggestions for handling it. The reports from ministries/institutions are in the form of complete principal reports (weekly) and executive summary (every day).

The national Issue Management Team then summarized all the reports and made document briefings containing situation analysis, positioning, key messages, targeted stakeholders and the communication strategies, the spokesperson assigned, as well as the portion of the document recipient's assignments to communicate the issue. For example, the President or national spokesperson conveys matters related to policy, while the Minister conveys technical matters referring to key messages.

In securing Nation Branding, the implementation of the Issues Management system is constrained by obstacles. The biggest obstacle in the government communication systems is changing the mindset, skills, and knowledge about PR that have not mature, and have not been able to think strategically in establishing effective communication strategies. This obviously requires sufficient time.

Many parties try to improve understanding of public relations, such as the media (including PR INDONESIAMagazine), educational institutions, and senior PR practitioners. It is only that more effort needs to be made. Because competition is not only in the fields of trade, tourism, or other fields. It is also in the field of public perception, especially the international public perception.