Wednesday, June 21, 2006

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.

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