How Do You Solve A Problem Like Prabowo?

By N Mark Castro

prabowo

We all know that the country is currently divided pending resolution on Prabowo’s expected legal challenge on the announcement of KPU declaring Jokowi as the 7th president of the Republic of Indonesia.

That said, what’s next for Prabowo? Read the rest of this entry

The Irony of Philippine Politics: Marcos Family vs Binay Family

By N Mark Castro

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Philippine Politics: The hypocrisy, the downfall, and the Marcos vs Aquino saga

By N Mark Castro

bongbong

The only storytelling you need to tell is the truth.

And there’s no sugar-coating or spinning something that we’ve all lived through. Even to this day. Which is why Oscar Tan’s piece on Alienating the Youth from EDSA and Conrad de Quiros’ reaction piece, saying that Oscar’s piece lacked perspective.

The problem is we’ve spent years glorifying a failed past instead of confronting the ugly truth about Philippine politics since EDSA I. Read the rest of this entry

Case Study: The Problem with Jakarta International School’s (JIS) Saga

By N Mark Castro

indonesia-canada-education-crime-children-files_r_44367195

Every crime has a narrative: guilty, not guilty, stupid, logical … it all comes with a story.

And now the two teachers – Neil Bantleman and Ferdinan Michael Tjong — from Canada and Indonesia, respectively — are in custody of the Jakarta Police.

The problem with this story is how everyone bungled up the entire incident. Read the rest of this entry

Prabowo Clarifies Commitment to Democracy

By N Mark Castro

Prabowo-PresidenkuIndonesian Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto responds to inquiries regarding his perceived anti-democratic statements made earlier. In this post, Prabowo said:

“I think sometimes or many times my comments have been taken out of context, or not in the complete version. I was asked in that session; that was a session concerning culture. I was asked by the delegation, a senior cultural figure in Indonesian society. He asked me what my opinion was, because in our national ideology – Pancasila – the wording of the clause to describe our version of democracy, we call it kerakyatan[meaning government by the people, for the people] – in the version kerakyatan is guided by what we call hikmah melalui permusyaratan perwakilan [short hand interpretation for a reference for the Fourth Principle of Pancasiila], consultative discussions by representation.

Read the rest of this entry

Case Study: The Incoherent Message of President Aquino on the National Artist Award Issue

By N Mark Castro

nora

The problem with President Benigno S. Aquino III — among others — is that he has produced a succession of conflicting messages into his presidency that has opened himself endlessly vulnerable to criticisms.

It doesn’t help that his own (mis)communications department had been fodder for critics due to its own incompetence in managing issues and delivering news.

Comes now the highly controversial exclusion of much-loved entertainment icon Nora Aunor for the highly-coveted National Artist award. Read the rest of this entry

In Southeast Asia, What’s The Importance of Policy/Political Briefings to a CEO?

By N Mark Castro

Let’s admit it: there’s much uncertainty on Foreign-Direct Investments (FDIs) across major emerging markets in Southeast Asia.

Thailand is currently under Martial Law with no clear indication as to its end yet may impact even Burma’s oil and gas sector. The only good thing is that coups are so common in Thailand it’s become a norm that the market can withstand.

Despite the ongoing political crisis in the Philippines, US investors are still keen on expanding its interest there. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s recent visit to Manila indicated its strong faith in the market as she was accompanied by energy and mining giants Chevron and Rio Tinto, as well as insurer ACE Ltd., and Risk Management Consultant Marsh & McLennan.

Indonesia is set to elect a new president in a few weeks and, despite the continuing stumble of the rupiah against the dollar, all major industries are on a wait-and-see attitude as to who will emerge as the elected leader of the largest economy in Southeast Asia.

You might ask what does politics have to do with business and that’s a fair question, but in Southeast Asia, it’s everything to do with business.

Economic policies all the way to ministerial decrees are crafted at times on short-sighted and populist solutions that impact long term market conditions. It is also not surprising that even presidents enact conflicting directives.

Imagine if you’ve invested heavily on conservation campaign as part of your CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiative. Your PR | Marketing department recommended it, sales are happy about it, research showed it would be welcomed by your stakeholders, and even finance knew it’s needed, and your board is happy that you’re doing what’s right as a corporate citizen.

You’ve invested on the infrastructure, the funding, the manpower, and even touted it to the press.

But since you lacked a sustainable plan that covers political trends that impact your bottom-line, you end up with this mess.

You can’t blame your PR | Marketing department because they’re busy promoting your brand. Research only covers what your competitors do. Sales are just busy selling your products. In other words, you just stepped in one of Southeast Asia’s unique business environment — politics.

As a CEO | President in Southeast Asia, you must be equipped with all news coming in from different departments. You can’t afford to extend the reach of your department even if you want to cut cost. For instance, as your PR | Marketing team deals with media relations, they’d be stretching themselves dealing with ministries, agencies, or lobbyists, especially in a field where they could be eaten alive.

Your Solution:

1. Hire a Corporate Political Adviser - even banks nowadays engage government liaisons to discuss policies. Professional service industries are often wired to the latest political news so they can align their advocacy or adjust if necessary. Think of lawyers, doctors, and even engineers operating in Southeast Asia, especially with the advent of ASEAN integration.

2. Be with the news not ON the news - unless you’re promoting your brand, you wouldn’t want to be the scapegoat that local politicians are hungry for to serve as public fodder. Know whichever media are operating in the country you’re in. For instance, majority of the media in Southeast Asia are owned by people with deep political interests. In Indonesia, TV wars have already outed their political inclinations. A quick look at the ownership will also reveal their political memberships. Not affiliations, memberships. In the Philippines, the biggest political party is ABS-CBN TV station, having produced several senators and a vice-president. So next time you switch on that TV, be sure to know which side you’re listening.

3. In Southeast Asia, it’s never the same as the West - some investors have left the region disappointed with how things have turned out. Horror stories in Vietnam abound how easy it was for business to be shut down because of a mere slight. Even insurance giant Manulife was declared bankrupt by the Indonesian courts simply because of technicality.

The first rule when you land in Southeast Asia where you’re greeted by your own driver and your wife at home is treated royally by the household help is — forget what you know in business school. Southeast Asia promises to be one of the most thrilling business experiences you’ll ever have, but it’s all about the relationships you foster along the way. Even a security guard can open the doors for you straight to the company CEO from whom you couldn’t get an audience through proper channels.

So while you may have your ducks in a proverbial row, ask yourself: who’s briefing you on what’s really happening now?

Blunder Upon Blunder on the Prabowo Campaign

By N Mark Castro

prabowo

With presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto steadily gaining ground with his campaign, it pains me to see how the communications team of Prabowo fail to enlighten their candidate of the repercussions of his statements at Jakarta’s Taman Ismail Marzuki.

According to the report, “Prabowo began by saying that Indonesians had a tendency to be overly influenced by Western ideas such as democracy.” Read the rest of this entry

Communications Lessons in the Prabowo Campaign

By N Mark Castro

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Right now the biggest opponent of Prabowo isn’t Jokowi but himself.

His strong nationalistic rhetoric isn’t resonating with the younger voters as they know that it isn’t the foreign investors that’s screwing the country but the elected and appointed officials.

“Corruptors will have no place in Indonesia,” Prabowo yelled, while flanked by Suryadharma and Bakrie.

Isn’t Suryadharma being pursued by the highly trusted KPK for his alleged role in the graft case of the haj funds?

And then there’s Bakrie.

Prabowo recently attacked Jokowi saying: “We need to elect a leader who is not a puppet. A leader who cannot be bribed or influenced by foreign entities…”

Totally misplaced comms strat.

Jokowi was successful as a mayor with no taint of foreign influence. As a popular governor, the only allegation of graft is from the procurement of defective buses that’s weak at best since it targets only the governor yet does not include the mayor, budget control management, planning and control team, which stands to reason why KPK isn’t pursuing anything.

Where’s the influence of foreign entity/entities?

If Prabowo continues to open this can of worms, what will be revealed are the accomplishments of Jokowi as a public servant while Prabowo shows how he’s never held an elected position.

While Prabowo engages in high level speeches, Jokowi is out jogging with the masses.

How could Prabowo’s team blow up their momentum so much?

Strategic Communication Tips 

1. Avoid Mudslinging - If you don’t have factual evidence, fact-checks, complete and sustainable plan, do not engage in mudslinging. A taint of veiled rumor can come from some quarters to instill doubt but it should never come from you unless you have credible data. The public will soon tire of baseless accusations and the cross-hair will be brought back to you.

2. Stick To The Message – All politicians are elected based on one premise: how to sell Hope. Your Action Plan may be well and good but if you can’t simplify the message, reiterate the message, and reinforce it at all times, people will be confused where you stand. Look at tobacco industry, they’ve never veered away from their message that it’s cool to smoke despite all the pronouncements that they will kill you. This is the reason why no government on earth has managed to beat them in delivering their message. And they hire professional advertisers, too, while governments continue to use their student council employees.

3. Optics – Like it or not, as a politician, you will be judged by a larger number of people based on your visual message rather than your rhetoric. Hitler, Mussolini, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton — regardless whether or not you like them — were able to sell to their countrymen their message that emanated from their perceived power. Hitler mesmerized his entire country to send their children to engage in horrific acts. Mussolini turned a small country into a fascist state. Bush sold to the world Weapons of Mass “Distraction”, evil axis, and other jazzed up words. Clinton, well, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Let’s admit it, how people see you is a message that you will continually either reinforce or change. How are you doing that?

Always do an internal check on the visual and verbal messages you are projecting or saying. Once you’ve identified it, stick with it and sell it. You can repackage it, rehash it, enhance it, but never veer away from it.

That’s how you shape people’s minds. That’s how you win an election.

 

Weakness in the Jokowi Campaign Messsage

By N Mark Castro

prabowo campaign rally
Why hasn’t Jokowi left Prabowo to eat his dust?

Prior to the formal campaign trail, Governor Jokowi Widodo topped all ratings with his massive popularity. Several weeks later, we see that the entire contest is still a toss-up between two candidates. Never has an election excited so many yet too close to call between the two.

What Went Wrong Read the rest of this entry

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