Friday, June 30, 2006

".... It's not a gift from government!"

On June 23 Maverick had the privilege of having Ulin Ni'am Yusron visit our office for Friday's sharing session. Ulin is a journalist from the weekly publication KONTAN who is currently serving as the sub-committee head of labor union affairs in the Indonesian Journalists Alliance (AJI). As a journalist / activist, Ulin shared his views on a very interesting topic: 'Indonesian press freedom'.

"The state of the press anywhere in the world is very much affected by the country's politic," said Ulin in his opening. During Soeharto's time Indonesia had limited publication (with just around 250 print media and only 6 TV stations all over Indonesia). Everything was heavily regulated by the Soeharto regime in the form of Departemen Penerangan. The end of Soeharto era also marked the end of the SIUPP (media publication license) requirement era, which led to euphoria in the media industry. In a short time, the country had amassed around 2,000 media, but many of them later collapsed due to stiff competition and financial difficulties. Today, there are at least 30 TV stations for public to enjoy. The significant increase in the number of media has shown how easy it was for anyone to set up their own media company, although we've also witnessed how quickly they fold.

What does this mean for Indonesian public? Well, the public now has plenty of papers or TV programs to choose from. But let's not forget that there is always two sides of a coin; "the phenomena has also created irresponsible media," said Ulin.

Ulin expressed that although freedom of the press seems limitless, journalists often still face threats and intimidation; some even have been killed on the job in this era. He also mentioned a few examples including the case of Tempo magazine vs Tomy Winata and IndoPos journalists. The good news however, is that these incidents give some lessons for the media to be cautious and do their 'home-work' extensively before publishing it.

More challenges for today's media

In the Soeharto era, the press had a clear enemy, which was the government. Now the press is faced with various obstacles because it has its own war and enemies to fight. That is, if they still had the energy and courage to fight.

The first enemy is the lack of journalism skills and knowledge of the Indonesian press. With the dramatic increase in the number of media, the demand for journalists also increased. At the time when there were only around 250 media in the country, only 3,000 journalists were needed. Imagine the number of journalists needed to support 1500-2000 media! But one important question remained to be answered. How do you come up with people that meet the qualifications of good journalists within a very short period of time? As a result, the press no longer prioritizes quality but stresses more on meeting deadlines and market demand.

The second enemy is the low wages. How is it possible to expect journalists with full idealism and independence while they are constantly thinking about their next meal? Not to mention additional transportation expenses that some had to bear when covering press events. It is not surprising to see the fact of many journalists expect to receive the 'envelope' from their sources as "insurance premium" for news coverage.

The third enemy in Indonesia's press freedom is the intervention from media owners, powerful businessmen, and of course the general public. Everyone can easily sue a media or journalist for what they write. Civil laws outstrip the Press laws. Corporate players demand media to write only positive stories because they have paid much money for placing advertisement in the media.

"My role as the head of sub-committee labor union in AJI is to reinforce the journalists morale, and at the same time fight for better recognition towards journalists," said Ulin. "Journalist is also human being with social needs that need to be filled; I realize what AJI is doing is not an easy job; sometimes it happens where we have fought very hard for a media that's being intimidated by a powerful businessman, but in the middle of our fight, elements of the media "made peace" and compromise with the enemy. Not much we can do if those we intended to help, refuse to help themselves," Ulin continued his concern of the real condition.

With his team, Ulin also did a study on how 'bodrex' or bogus journalists operate. "For two months we were undercover as bodrex to see how these fake journalists enter the field and make money from there. Unfortunately due to lack of funding, the results of the study is never published.

What made the Mavericks proudly smile is when Ulin genuinely said that not all PR professionals are like the Mavs. Many of them rub the media the wrong way, such as by pushing them too much to publish a press release that perhaps contain minimal news value and that they would do anything including bribing the journalist to make it happen. "That's not the right way to reinforce a responsible journalist," he said.

Ulin expects that PR and media should understand each other's duties and responsibilities and know where to draw the line. "Let's be friends in life but when it comes to a professional area, show some respect by letting us make decision on what is news and what is not."

Two hours seemed very fast because Ulin shared his views in a very relaxed and open manner; and typical true activist: no fear!

And I still like his quote:

"We fought hard to get the freedom we enjoy today; it is not a gift from government!" (Ulin Ni'am Yusron, an Indonesian journalist activist)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Defense Minister Juwono has started blogging

Corporate communicators, journalists and PR hacks in Indonesia take note: your Defense Minister has just started blogging. What are you going to do about it?

If conversations with professional communicators in Indonesia are anything to go by, the answer is probably nothing. The typical attitude, especially for those over 40, is that blogs are for angst-filled teenagers writing syrupy prose and bad poetry on the Net.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Blogs are very likely to change the way businesses and organizations and businesses communicate, especially when it comes to crisis and issues management. The rise of the blogging phenomenon as a potential force in society is well documented in publications such as Fortune, Tom Freidman’s The World is Flat and Naked Conversations, a book co-authored by Robert Scoble, best known as Microsoft’s appointed blogger, and Shiel Israel.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has apparently taken all this seriously and has started blogging from April. So far he’s made five postings, the first was personal and on the arrival of his grandson. His other postings were about the US Secretary of Defence, development planning and the debate on Pancasila.

His last posting, however, is particularly interesting from a issues management point of view and can be a precursor of how businesses, organizations and personalities may try to engage their detractors in the future.

Titled Military Businesses and the Reform Process, Juwono rebuts the points raised by a Human Rights Watch report of June 2006 called Too High a Price: The Human Rights Costs of the Indonesian Military’s Economic Activities.

So what does he achieve?

Read more

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BBC Jakarta New Correspondent

Welcome to Indonesia Lucy Williamson.

Lucy just arrived from London on Monday last week, replacing Rachel Harvey who’s now back in London doing grown up reporting for BBC Domestic TV. A little tip about Indonesia, it’ll be useful after you finish your Bahasa Indonesia course in Yogya. Things might be too calm and almost boring here at some points but never lose your guard, cause when you least expecting it a mountain might suddenly decide to erupt or the sea might want to take a too closer look at the land and take people for a violent swim in the process.

Well those are the clear examples. There is also daily confusing news you’ll have to deal with, like…. police caught someone related to terrorism: is he a suspect or just a witness, is he detained or arrested is he even dead or alive…you’ll see.

Surely you will have lots of fun here. At least we have 13.776 beautiful islands for you to travel (some underwater during high tide) and about thousand gazillion people who care about everything and nothing at the same time.

Good Luck and see you around


Bye Bye BBC Chicks

Three and a half years in Indonesia, Rachel and Becky flew back home yesterday(June 26th 2006). Yes, those foreign correspondents come and go all the time, but this time it was damn difficult for me trying not to cry.

I worked with them since they arrived here in 2002 till about 3 months ago.

Those chicks are the best people you could ever work with, smart, funny, a bit crazy, caring, respectful to others (it’s a rare quality and a very important one when you have to travel everywhere and meet all kind of people and get stories out of them) and what great talents!

I’ve never seen a reporter like Rachel who could do rants about anything on camera (try, ask her to talk about dog poo, for example) for I don’t know, a full 2 minutes?! Without a single emmm or eeerrr or repeating information. She’s always so smooth and clear. The only time I saw her choked was when she did a radio stand up on the roof top of an only building left standing in Kampung Jawa, Banda Aceh looking out to the totally tsunami wiped out village and tried to put what she saw into words.

Girl, you are an awesome gob on a stick ;D

And Becky…everybody loves Becky. She surely knows her way around all those cables and fancy broadcasting equipments. That is one girl who can do everything. BBC’s producer who’s always ready to help anyone in those too often chaotic moments for TV and Radio and make things right, but then we all know it wouldn’t be broadcasting without things getting screwed up with no apparent reason once in a while. And I was always ready to supply her with a nice kretek fag when things got a bit too much.

For me they’re a lot more than just people I worked with. You can’t possibly spent more than 3 years traveling all over Indonesia together, sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, running out of rooms in the middle of nights because of earthquakes, listening to people’s dramatic stories from one island to another, drinking beers, playing cards, arguing, and a lot of other things without feeling close to each other.

So now Rachel soon will appear on BBC News 24, and be famous. Becky will be a producer for BBC World Service Radio..and I’ll be working here in Maverick. It’s the end of an era for BBC Jakarta office….he he

It was a great 31/2 years Bubu n Bebek, thanks to you both.

I know you guys will do fantastic back in London and you don’t need no luck for that.

I miss you guys so much…

Bu bu loo

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bang Yos: Start “Acting Metropolitan”

Today is Jakarta’s 479th anniversary, and last night Bang Yos pleaded the 13 million plus Jakartans to start “acting Metropolitan”. In his speech during the Kick-off party of the month long festivities, Bang Yos called on the people who have lived and claimed to be a resident of the Big Durian to behave like modern city folks and not just like “villagers who vandalize public property in the capital city”.
On the vandalizing subject, he was also referring to the labor rally turned violent in early May of this year, when hundreds of workers destroyed city properties along the protocol roads including an attempt to torch a Transjakarta bus.

For “un-metropolitan behaviors”, Sutiyoso gave examples such as littering and jaywalking. He also added that
Jakarta is already a big mess as a result of the uncontrollable flow of urbanization, especially when those who come are “unqualified and unproductive” according to city standards.

Reading about his speech, I couldn’t help thinking that his “Acting Metropolitan” plea is geared more towards those who are less privileged in the city, while we know that some citizens who drive around in fancy new cars or big chopper bikes are also “kampungan”. Well, those who are less privileged tend to imitate or look up to the behaviors of those who are perceived to be at the higher social strata. So, perhaps in his final year of his second term, Bang Yos should be tougher in enforcing his rules and values to those who are supposed to know the rules already - those who have experienced the “better” cities in the world, and those who know how other citizens work together in making their city a better place to live.

Indonesia is a country that never misses to be in the top 10 lists for everything bad, and a major city like Jakarta also gets some reputation acknowledgement. A Recently, New York based Reader’s Digest magazine published their survey on the “35 Most Courteous Major Cities In the World”, putting New York City at the top, while Mumbai, India is the least courteous. Although the method of survey seems too sketchy and non-scientific, Jakarta is ranked at no. 8 from the bottom of the list. What do you say about this?

Lapindo Could Have Been More Responsible

Mudflow spreading from a gas drilling in Sidoarjo has now become a disaster. Thousands of displaced persons are seeking refuge in shelters. Many afraid that diseases emerge from lack of sanitation will start to take life. During his visit to the affected area in Sidoarjo last Tuesday (20/6), Vice President Jusuf Kalla called Lapindo Brantas to be responsible for the damage the company inflicted thus far.

Why now? Why we ask for a company's responsibility only after disasters occur?

This is actually reflected in the way we tend to define corporate social responsibility. For many Indonesian, CSR often equals to community development. That is why, when people think of CSR, what comes across to their mind is activities like donations, community involvement, or even capacity building to community.

On the contrary, CSR should not only be limited merely to company's external social activities. But it should also be reflected in the ways in which a company posits itself within the community and how it conduct a business within a society. CSR should be incorporated in a company's business strategy.

If we have this mindset, CSR would also include various issues like company internal regulations, accountability and transparency, as well as corporate governance. Also included are procedures to prevent accident, and standard measures should be taken suppose accidents occur. All of these will be developed to prevent surrounding community suffer negative consequences from such work-related accidents. CSR will also become a tool for a company to prevent major disaster like what we have currently in Surabaya.

Regardless the result of police investigation, Lapindo Brantas has failed to have a good CSR policy. The damage has been done. The company has to bear the consequences of the devastating mudflow that now has covered hectares of land and crippled the environment and economy in the area.

All of these could have been prevented.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thoughtful gestures from our clients

We’ve received lots of ‘thank you’ phone calls and emails from our clients because of the ‘coffee packages’ we sent them yesterday.

And surprisingly, this morning we received a hamper full of ‘nasi uduk’ from Citigroup Indonesia’s Corporate Affairs Team! What a thoughtful gesture.

Being well known for their big appetites, the Mavericks couldn’t resist themselves from finishing the scrumptious meals sitting on the table. Here’s a snapshot.... (before we pig out, that is! ☺)

Maverick 4th Anniversary

On June 2002, Maverick was born with just 6 personnel on board. Four years had passed and Maverick has succeeded to grow bigger, stronger and crawling its path to be a foremost PR firm in Indonesia.

Each year, we celebrate our anniversary with a conventional client gathering, which doesn’t sound too Mavericky, but since we’re in the people business, then getting our partners together in these occasions seem appropriate enough.

This year, on our 4th anniversary, we decided to do something else: Send COFFEE to our clients; 4 bags of fine coffee from Java, Toraja, Aceh, and Flores.

Why coffee? The philosophy is that choosing the right Public Relations firm for you is very much like picking out great coffee beans.

You start by trusting your instinct; using smell and sight. Pick the freshest beans that suit your taste, perhaps a local variety that is sought international due to its quality.

This month we celebrate Maverick’s fourth anniversary and we want to thank our clients, business partners and the media for your continuous support. We hope that this rewarding relationship will continue to grow as Maverick moves beyond its fourth year.

Media calls for a boycott to a PR Firm

On Thursday, June 15, 2006, Rakhmat Baihaqi, a journalist from Seputar Indonesia daily, launched a widespread e-mail barrage that has quickly inundated numerous communications and media-related mailing lists with comments. His e-mail calls on his fellow Stock Exchange journalists to boycott one of the oldest Public Relations (PR) firm operating in Jakarta, Indopacific. This whole fiasco started when Rakhmat Baihaqi and his fellow journo Ardian from Detikcom were denied entrance to a media briefing organized by Indopacific. In the e-mail, he claims that a Public Relations Officer from Indopacific didn’t allow him and his colleague to enter the Sari Husada media briefing because the event was limited to 8 media only.

Rakhmat further expressed his anger and disappointment in his e-mail. According to him, the PRO knows him very well and for him it is an absolute insult to be turned-down and treated like what he refers to as ‘media ecek-ecek’ or “small insignificant media” that only gets called whenever Indopacific conduct a light event such as product launch for their clients. Even worse, for Ardian, this is the third time he has been rejected by the same PR firm.

Radityo Djadjoeri, moderator of the mediacare mailing list, believes that if the boycott call is accepted by other journalist, it would create such a panic for Indopacific, as mounts of press releases sent from them would go straight into the garbage bin. “Imagine if no journalist showed-up in the press event conducted by Indopacific; if this really happens, it would become such a tragedy for the Indonesian public relations history,” added Radityo in his email. But interestingly, he also wrote that this is only a minor case and questioned whether it is needed to call for a boycott since it was only “miscommunications matter” from the PRO. He suggested that Rakhmat talk to the PRO or vice versa. “I am sure it’s just a small mistake. PRO is also human being after all,” he said.

In his e-mail Radityo also included quotes from an anonymous PR practitioner, who said that people should not make a big deal of the case. The source, he said, stressed that the ‘bules’ or expats working in Indonesia must really understand the ‘Indonesian approach’ in doing things because what works in Europe or US, could be the opposite in this country. (I hardly see the relevance of his opinion on the case, though! Perhaps the context was excluded from the email...) Furthermore, the PR practitioner added that the reason could also be that the PRO is under lots of stress, which resulted in certain rudeness to the journalists. “If she used more appropriate wordings, the journalists might not be insulted,” he said.

Next comments comes in the mailing list was from, who obviously put herself (or himself?) on the Indopacific side. Anggun changed the original subject of the email from ‘Ajakan Boikot Indopacific’ (Boycott calls for Indopacific) to a much more friendly subject ‘Wartawan Love Indopacific’ (Journalists Loves Indopacific). Anggun expressed her concern and also said it was not a big deal. “No need to react with such ‘iron move’ by the journalist,” she wrote in her e-mail. She urged the people concerned to learn from what happened and not to solve such miscommunications with arrogance.

Mas Irom, wrote that indeed miscommunications sometimes happen between PR and media, but he didn’t understand why they limit the number of media to attend a press event? Shouldn’t every journalist have equal access? If everything is done in the right way, it would not affect the PR budget whatsoever.

We believe that there always two sides of every story, and what’s been heavily discussed has been the disgruntled journos side that was poured into an email that has spread so quickly in lightning speed. Surprisingly though that until this is posted in our blog Indopacific has not released any statement through cyberspace nor other channel to respond to the allegations.

Yes indeed… this case is a good learning for all of us…
Will keep you posted if there’s any interesting development on the story.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Something to be proud of

The thing I'm proudest of is to be able to leave the office for two or three weeks with almost no contact and enjoy peace of mind while I'm on holiday since I know that when I get back the office will still be shipshape.

I think its one of the highest achievements a business proprietor could hope for: a kick ass office that runs itself. It wasn't always like this and Maverick took three years before we managed to begin shaping a team that works like a dream machine. I think this is because my partner Lita and I learned from our mistakes and refused to compromise on quality.

The people we recruit are usually signed on to a 6-month contract. During this time they prove themselves. We use a Caree Journal that the staff fill in themselves. There are all sorts of parameters we've put in. One of them is a record of how much the staff network. Another is a record of the books they've read for the months they've been with us. Then they are asked to evaluate themselves in terms of professional skills, interpersonal skills, creativity and drive. We then have a discussion with them to see if our perception agrees or differs from theirs in these crucial areas for a successful PR carreer.

Those who score satisfactory overall may have their terms extended so they can prove themselves. Only those tho score good or extraordinary get recruited. We repeatr this process every six months. Each timethe staff builds on their journal entries and we check our perceptions against one another.

This method of performance evaluation has proven extremely effective. One other thing that Lita and I have done is to be stoic about insisting on both attitude and perofrmance. Our experience is that staffers will work out only if they have both the right attitude and performance. If they have one without the other the organization is looking for trouble if it settles for them.

The result is that we have a team that I'm extremely proud of. I'ts a team whose productivity, gung ho and kick-ass attitude places them way above many other Indonesian organizations. I'm also willing to wager their efficacy against foreign PR firms.

So what this really means is that I can enjoy my holiday and that's what life should be about. I hope that Lita and I can swing it so that when the time is right they can alsy have as good a holiday as us while the others in teh office cover for us.

So, some photos as a tribute to the hardworking Mavericks in Jakarta.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Do You Believe in Blog?

“I don’t read blogs. People I know don’t read blogs. I don’t think blogs mean that much. Or probably I’m just too old for that.”
(President Director of one of the biggest pharmaceutical manufacturer; an informal conversation during networking events)

Mavericks read blogs. Furthermore, we believe in blogs.

That’s the reason why we decided to go blogging at the first place. Though some corporation people are still skeptical about blogs, the trend keeps emerging.

Hermawan Kartajaya, the marketing guru, has his own blog. So does Al Ries and Laura Ries, the author of The Fall of Advertising and The Rise of PR. Even Business Week has published a long article (the article looks like blog postings) explaining why you must start blogging now. Moreover, this reputable business magazine has also launched their own blog called

NIKE, a well-known brand in the world, have tried a new medium for their advertising and marketing communications. Yes, a blog! Cooperating with Gawker Media, a small company that operates blogs about culture and politics, Nike-Gawker launched their ad-blog: Art of Speed. Through this blog, Nike showcased the work of 15 talented young filmmakers commissioned to interpret the idea of speed—and The New York Times carry the news.

Of course, not all blog are worth reading. But if you could find blogs written by opinion leaders, who use them to talk directly to your public, you will find it amazingly interesting and beneficial for you. And there's a plethora of blogs on the blogosphere that are unique and even surprising!

If your company produce syrup spoon or baking pan, you should monitor this blog: Natural Cooking Club. It is a blog for those who loves cooking and shopping for cooking utensils. The blog members have their own 'baking-pan hunt' during weekends, and they even went to Japan in search of spatula, kettle, and other kitchenware. In this blog, they discuss enamelware as if they were gossiping about the famous Hope diamond.

PostSecret is a gallery-blog that touches those who read it, creates hysteria, and captures media attention instantly. This blog has been featured in several media all around the world, including Indonesia (Media Indonesia). The blog encourages people to submit a postcard anonymously to a specific PO BOX number, with their deepest secret written on it. Regularly, the moderator scans and publishes several selected postcards—sharing these secrets to the whole world while creating an irresistible buzz.

Hey, what about you? Do you have your own peculiar blog? Or have you heard of some?

Deciphering the Journo Codes of Ethics

The Indonesian Press Council (Dewan Pers) organized a seminar to further spread the 2006 Journalism Codes of Ethics last Wednesday, 14 June 2006. The event was also used to discuss the importance of a standardized organization for journos, as well as to increase the authority of Dewan Pers.

This seminar was certainly not exclusively intended for members of the press, as I was just one of many PR practitioners in the audience that also saw corporate representatives actively participating.

Atmakusumah Astraadmadja from the Dr. Soetomo Press Club delivered a presentation on the design and implementation of the 2006 journalism code of ethics (KEJ 2006), replacing the previous Indonesian Journalists Code of Ethics (KEWI) that had been used since June 2000. This latest declaration was ratified by the Press Council, and agreed upon by 29 press clubs on March 14, 2006.

The KEJ 2006 is more comprehensive than the KEWI, as it now underlines the importance for Indonesian journalists to maintain balanced coverage, and the issue of media sensitivity, such as respecting news sources' traumatic experience especially when presenting explicit pictures, voices, and footages.

Since this post is not and must not be a complete transcription of the seminar, these are some key points that might be useful for PR practitioners like us, just to refresh our minds:

1) News articles must be balanced; each side or party related to the topic has equal opportunities to explain their positions on the issue.

2) Journalists must not have any hidden agenda, by which he or she intentionally writes the article to discredit any particular party.

3) Three deadly sins of journalists that can cost them their profession:

a. Plagiarism
b. Receiving bribe
c. Writing/producing news based on lie or false/fake information.

Next speaker at the stand was Bambang Harimurti, the Corporate Editor of Tempo magazine. Bambang provided practical information on what to do when we caught a journalist doing the three aforementioned points: Report directly to the Chief Editor of the publication, and then to the Press Council.

During the discussions, Bambang shared his experiences being a journalist. I think this is the most interesting part of the event. He delivered it very well, full of passions. Relaxed, yet informative and not boring :). He succeeded in making the participants awake. Well done!

The third speaker was Uni Zulfiani Lubis, a member of the Press Council. She delivered her presentation on "Etika Jurnalistik Televisi & Regulasi Penyiaran". Her working experience in the TV industry has brought an extensive knowledge and enabled her to share some of them to the audience. She also encouraged PR practitioners to be critical and responsive especially when handling clients in crisis situations.

In general, there was no new information that I got from this half-day seminar. All information was common sense and well known for those who worked in the industry. It would be better if the Press Council could wrap the seminar in a more creative way, so that it wouldn't look like one of those parliamentary meetings. Just a Nila thought..

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Global Communications on Our Sharing Session

As part of Maverick's weekly activities, last Friday the Mavericks welcomed a very nice and humble man from Bisnis Indonesia, M. Sarwani. He has been with the publication since 1994, in charge of different desks until his current task editor of the financial desk.

He went to an international conference/course for journalists in Seoul, South Korea, some time ago, meeting and sharing experience with other journalists from other parts of the world. In his presentation, M. Sarwani spoke about Global Communications with sample of cases from China, India, the Americas and Korea.

Maverick always has an intimate relationship with the media, as Ong himself was a journalist. In the past half year, Maverick has welcomed two more journalists as its associates. And we're expecting one of Mas Sarwani's colleagues from Bisnis Indonesia to join us soon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Good Things Always Start From Good Discussions

I participated in a CSR training organized jointly by Ikatan Akuntasi Indonesia (IAI) and CSR Asia last week. The training went for two whole days. It was very interesting and very fruitful.

It was started with the presentation and Q&A of what is CSR. Not surprisingly, CSR means different thing to different person. But Erin, our facilitator from CSR Asia, correctly emphasized that it is the ‘sustainability’ factor that separates CSR from other social activities conducted by private companies.

Noke Kiroyan of Newmont Pacific Nusantara delivered his speech after lunch. He noticed the tendency to closely associate CSR with Community Development (CD) in Indonesia. This is interesting since CD often involves huge amount of money, and in many cases only big companies have the luxury of having such program.

Does it mean that CSR is only for big, and mostly extractive, companies?

A lot of people in Indonesia have this question in their head. We, at Maverick, actually have been working to find a way on how to make CSR works for small and medium enterprises. We believe that corporate should move into a new terrain that is called Corporate Social Leadership (CSL). In CSL, we believe that CD activities should always be aligned to a company’s core business and expertise.

In fact, we have been implementing our own CSL program through communication capacity building training with several non-profit organizations.

Richard Welford, the other facilitator from CSR Asia, attempted to broaden our mind on the second day by emphasising that CSR should not only be limited to external activities, but also internal issues. CSR should also be incorporated in corporate policies. It means that CSR should also be reflected in their daily operation. This can be as simple as thinking about recycling your printer toner to providing a decent working condition for your employees.

Reporting is another issue that companies tend to forget. CSR is not a charity that when one hand does, the other hand should not know. CSR requires transparency and accountability. Therefore, reporting CSR becomes the next logical step that a company should consider. Reporting is actually process that leads into different kinds of report – media coverage, annual report, or even blog. Therefore, in reporting you also have to engage your stakeholders.

All in all, it was a training packed with good and eager participants. What has been lacking from this kind of event is actually the government. Companies have increasingly been interested in helping the government to conduct their obligation to the people through community development program; what should the government do to facilitate this?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Maverick in Sindo

Maverick was featured again in a local newspaper. This time it's in Seputar Indonesia on Saturday, June 10, 2006. Evi Agustin, the Sindo journalist, wrote a clear potrayal of what Maverick is really about as a PR consultancy. I don't think most people understand what we as PR consultants really do for our clients. This article will help to enlighten you.

Evi wrote in her intro, "Unlike most of the other PR consultancies, which only specialize on media relation, Maverick is there as a part of the overall business strategy of a company [their clients]." This statement is true because media relation is only a small part of PR. Most people still under the assumption that PR is merely media relations. Many PR consultancies encourage this misconception by only having capabilities in media relations.

However, in Maverick, we dip our feet deeper beyond the surface and specialize in strategic counsel. We are usually involved from the point of translating a company's business strategy into a communication strategy to obtaining its communication objectives through well planned activities. By this, we provide our client with "Clear thinking, Clean Execution."

Thank you Evi for the very well written article.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Life after journalism: Murray Hiebert

Canadian journalist Murray Hiebert found in 1999 that he was making rather than reporting the news after filing a story about the Malaysian Judiciary for the Far eastern Economic Review. He was convicted and sent to jail for what many observers felt was oversensitivity by the Malaysian Government toward press criticism.

After serving a reduced sentence in Malaysia he was posted to Beijing to write for the Wall Street Journal. With the Wall Street Journal's presence in Asia crumbling, Murray has now left journalism to become Senior Director, Southeast Asia of the US Chamber of Commerce's East Asia Department.

Murray was in Jakarta last week to accompany his boss, Daniel W. Christman, the Senior Vice President, International Affairs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Its a new appointment but we wish Murray well in his life after journalism. We're sure he'll help guide the US Chamber to even greater involvement with their counterparts in Southeast Asia, even as the Bush administration stumbles about with its foreign policy.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

PERS: Kebablasan dalam Kebebasan?

I was visiting a business radio station last week to arrange a live talk show. The talk show was to be broadcast live in 9 cities all over Indonesia. The topic of the discussion was PERS: Kebablasan dalam Kebebasan? It was raised to address emerging issues that some Indonesian media are hiding behind "press freedom" to casually publish inaccurate, unbalanced and irresponsible news to the public.

Ignatius Haryanto and Ulin Ni'am Yusron were invited as guest speakers for the talk show.

Ignatius Haryanto (Mas Hary or KumKum--that's how his friends call him) is a Director of Lembaga Studi Pers dan Pembangunan. He used to be a journalist in Tempo before finally pursuing his interest in the development of the Indonesian press, media and democracy, media ownership, and other press issues in general. Mas Hary is well-known for his critical writings in several publications. He is also a friendly person, and he has a thorough knowledge about media and democracy.

Ulin Ni'am Yusron is a journalist in business tabloid KONTAN, and he is also Ketua Divisi Serikat Pekerja AJI (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen). Ulin used to be a very funky journalist with his braided hair, but that day I was surprised to see that his braided hair was gone, replaced with a crew-cut hairstyle. Great to know that he hasn't lost his funkiness, though :)

Some interesting information emerged as the discussion went on.

It is true that after the Indonesian Press secured its freedom in 1998, the quantity of publications in Indonesia has tripled, resulting in a shortage of professional journalists. That's the reason why several media hire almost anyone as journalists, even those who know very little about journalism. This has resulted in many journalists, having no clear idea about how journalism works, mixing fact and fiction in their writing. Their lack of knowledge in journalism also translated into a lack of respect in the code of ethics of the Press. This is where Press starts to get confused between kebablasan dalam kebebasan.

According to Mas Hary, a journalist is allowed to find personal information about public officials. They are allowed to investigate whether a public official had an affair, and find out whether he used national budget to 'fund' his pleasure. Journalists, however, have no right to violate the privacy of private individuals. Celebrities are not public officials. And it is Desy Ratnasari's right to say "no comment" to infotainment journalists.

The most interesting opinion expressed, and one that might be useful for you, was that someone who feels mistreated by a journalist or a publication could complain to Dewan Pers. According to Mas Hary and Ulin, it is more effective to bring your case to Dewan Pers instead of suing the media in court. Dewan Pers has the right to sanction media that violated the journalistic code of ethic; and your case could be solved even faster and more effectively (plus, without having to worry on how much should you pay the lawyers if you brought this matter to court!).

As the discussion went on, the 'President Advisor of Republik BBM', Effendi Ghazali, joined the talk show via phone. He quoted a saying that stated: it is time for the press to use the term "freedom for" instead of "freedom from". It means, nowadays, press should no longer trapped in the hysteria of freedom from the government or freedom from being banned. It's time for press to think about how to use their freedom responsibly for greater public good.

Hmm, what do you think about Indonesian media? Is it a "freedom-for" or "freedom-from" kind of media?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Welcome to Yasha

Maverick welcomes Yasha, who starts his first day as a Maverick today.

For those who watch Metro TV in the morning, Yasha Chatab is a familiar face. Since 2004, he was the anchor and reporter for Metro This Morning, Metro TV’s English News and Metro Pagi.

When asked about his motivation in leaving the glamorous TV world to join a PR Consultancy, he explained that it was time for him to move on. After spending more than four years in radio and TV, moving to PR seems to be the next natural thing to do, he said.

Yasha holds a Bachelor degree from University of Houston, majoring in Business Administration, and will soon get his Master degree on Communications Management from the University of Indonesia.

In his spare time, Yasha loves to eat out, write for his blog and go to the gym.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

When Eyes Talk

If you are giving a lecture, what can be more rewarding than getting critical questions and starry eyes of the students that actually indicate their brains are processing the information they receive from the lecturer?

My friend, who is an MBA lecturer in several top universities in Jakarta, called me couple of days ago. He said that he would like to invite me to speak about Corporate Social Leadership (CSL) in his Organizational Behavioural class at Tarumanegara University’s MBA program this Saturday.

I was so excited. This was actually a golden opportunity for me to have a discussion with MBA students about a new concept that all Mavericks believe it should go mainstream: CSL

This morning I went to the University and delivered the presentation – after circling around the university looking for a parking slot (gosh, the university is being renovated, and it was so difficult to find empty parking slot there!). During the presentation, I outlined the ‘history’ of social activities conducted by corporations throughout the time. It was all started long time ago when those rich people started to donate some of his/her money to social foundations. Afterwards, I continued to explain about the CSR and CSL. I also exemplified some CSR and CSL cases.

There were some interesting questions the students raised. For example, a student asked about how to avoid culture of dependency and how to shift into a new corporate-community relationship when such dependency occurs. Some students also raised his/her skepticism on a do-good company. How can a company be good if their intention is actually to get profit as high as they can! Other students posed a challenge to CSR as a voluntary activity and believed that government should regulate this domain.

We had this kind of discussion for about two hours. It was so rich and fruitful. At the end, students went out of the class with their own conclusion in mind. But it was so good to see them exchanging arguments about CSR, and see those starry eyes – their eyes talk!