Tracing the History of Public Relations in Indonesia with AES Forum

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Why is tracking the history of public relations important? In other countries, the history of public relations only has the context of each country. This study has a lot of enthusiasts. Its also many writers write textbooks, but there are not many issues in the history of public relations.

“Some books have written descriptions of the history of public relations / PR in Indonesia. The problems are they lack social, political and cultural contexts,” said I Gusti Ngurah Putra. Ngurah is a scholar from the UGM Department of Communication Sciences. He speak on Saturday (22/8) at the Forum Amir Effendi Siregar (AES) which was broadcast live on the Uniicoms TV Channel.

Books and Reference of History of PR                                                 

Books from other countries have discussed history according to the context of their country. For example, Ngurah cited the book entitled The Unseen Power, Public Relations: A history. Scott M. Cutlip wrote it up to 832 pages in thickness about the history of PR. Jacquie L’Etang also wrote the history of public relations in England in a book entitled Public Relations in Britain.

Meanwhile,  the history of PR in Indonesia is still not seriously worked on. According to Ngurah, if the writing of public relations history does not start, there is a fear that it will be difficult to access data and informants.

“There are only a few expert informants from the early actors or public relations pioneers in Indonesia. Another challenge is that documents related to PR practices and developing ideas are not easy to obtain,” explained Ngurah.

He gave a marker about who could be the starting point of indonensian PR in history. For example Prof. Alwi Dahlan, who founded a public relations consultant in Indonesia, “then there is Wicaksono Noeradi, a public relations practitioner who attended the School of Journalism in the United State. Then Amiruddin, PR of PT. Astra,” he added.

How Public Relations in Indonesia Early

In its history, public relations during the independence and Soekarno era were more focused in particular issues. Soekarno focused on building a new spirit as a new nation. According to Ngurah, public diplomacy is Indonesian PR focus at the beginning of the republic. It also focus on international relations, said Ngurah. Ngurah completed his Masters study and studied Indonesian PR at the University of Canberra, Australia.

Not only that. “Foreign oil companies in the early 1950s such as STANVAC, Shell, Caltex, BTM to Indonesia are often seen as the beginning of the emergence of Corporate PR in Indonesia,” he said. At about the same time, several companies or state institutions such as the Police, RRI and Garuda Indonesia also started having a Public Relations section.

In the 60s, this year was the forerunner to the development of PR in Indonesia. The term “purel” as an acronym for PR is getting more and more popular than the term “public relations”. Then in 1962, PM Juanda’s Cabinet presidium instructed each agency to form a public relations division.

Further developments, said Ngurah, during the New Order era, government agencies began to have a public relations department. The Ministry of Information / Deppen also performs a public relations function for the government.