22Jun, 2017

From the Call to #BoikotIndosat: We Learn Why Paying Attention to External Communications by Employees Really Matters

public relations, From the Call to #BoikotIndosat: We Learn Why Paying Attention to External Communications by Employees Really Matters-Public Relations Portal and Communications Business News Indonesia

By: Ayu Meganingrum – Business Group Director of Fortune PR


The hashtag boycott Indosat is trending on social media few weeks ago, and this affects the company’s reputation. What can we learn from this case? And why sharpening employee communication really matters for companies in today’s digital era?

The Internet has made it much easier for employees to spread information and raise their voice today. There’s might a chance that your employee can innocently post inappropriate updates, as well as unprofessional images and videos on their social media platform. If your employees’ privacy settings are not activated, it’s easy for the general public to have access to their feed and immediately get a bad impression to them and your company.

In relation to external communications by employee, we can learn from the most recent case. As stated on Tempo[1], a Facebook user by the name of Riko M. Ferajab (RMF), later identified by netizens as the Manager of Business Intelligence and Reporting at Indonesian telecommunications provider Indosat Ooredoo, wrote a couple of statuses on May 30th 2017. On his wall, he stated that the current government regime is by far the worst ever and he hopes that Habib, a title for FPI leader Rizieq Shihab, will take over as the nation’s leader. In his opinion, whoever criminalizes ulaas and create lies about Muslims must be dragged to court and hanged.

This post caused a lot of controversies from netizens. Through Twitter, netizen forwards the post to Alexander Rusli, the CEO of Indosat Ooredoo. Rusli denounces RMF’s posts for being against the values of pluralism under the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. He stated that steps for sanction have been taken and does not tolerate employees who are against the country and its government. But on June 5th 2017, Rusli’s response created a backlash of its own as other netizens managed to make boycott Indosat hashtag the top trending topic on Twitter. The criticisms filed against Indosat Ooredoo is that they shouldn’t punish RMF just because he has different political opinion as he was defending Islam and that they are against the criminalization of ulamas.

Clearly that this case is a reputation crisis for Indosat Ooredoo. But if we observe their response, we can see that they took a quick action and response to the crisis well. Indosat Ooredoo took the first step by approaching the problem using the cover both sides perspective by looking at the situation externally and internally. According to Katadata[2], Indosat Ooredoo did not fire or even persecute RMF, but rather interrogate and advise him about his actions related to the company’s regulation.

Indosat Ooredoo also quickly inform the public through the media by issuing an official press release[3] on the same day, stating the company’s support to Indonesia’s unity. The company acknowledges that every employee is free to express their political opinions, but through the company’s Collective Labor Agreement which serves as an internal regulation prevents their employees from spreading provocative and sensitive content online in the name of the company. The company also stated that they are actively reminding their employees about the regulation. We can observe that they managed to respond well by sending out a diplomatic press release.

As Indonesian business society is more and more rely on digital and social media; and social media have become common communication tools, business today needs to have preventive actions. So looking at the case above, a big multinational companies like Indosat, must implement their code of conduct regarding social media ethics. This does not only apply only to Indosat, but every company today should have a social media policy. This policy should be formally written in the form of Standard Operating Procedure, it should be in-line with the company’s culture, and must be socialized internally to all employees.

In the field of external communications in the digital era, it is important to let employees know the difference between “speaking on behalf of the company” and “speaking about the company”. Keeping the employees on track and socializing information internally to all stakeholders is crucial. By providing clear guidelines regarding online and digital policy to all the employees, companies will be able to ensure that their brand is enhanced and that their reputation is not damaged by opinions placed online by an employee. The company can also educate their employees about netiquette or network etiquette. So cases like RMF will not happen again in the future.

[1] https://bisnis.tempo.co/read/news/2017/06/06/090881790/seruan-boikot-ramai-di-twitter-begini-penjelasan-indosat

[2] http://katadata.co.id/berita/2017/06/06/terancam-boikot-indosat-bantah-persekusi-terhadap-riko

[3] https://indosatooredoo.com/id/about-indosat/corporate-profile/press-release/statement-tentang-penyampaian-pendapat-secara-bijaksana

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