Endra Saleh Atmawidjaja, The Ministry of Public Works and Housing: Consistency in Building Trust
25 June 2019
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Endra Saleh Atmawidjaja, The Ministry of Public Works and Housing: Consistency in Building Trust
Public Relations is not something we cannot learn. But it must be practiced correctly and consistently if we are sure of the strategy.
Roni/PRINDONESIA

JAKARTA, PRINDONESIA.CO – From the two-hour exclusive interview with Ratna Kartika dan Dwi Siti Romdhoni, it can be concluded that Endra’s background as an engineer and his hobby of playing chess are the keys to his success. Why? Here’s the excerpt.

What was the spontaneous reaction that came from you when you received the mandate as the Head of Public Communication Bureau of KemenPUPR?

I said to the Minister (Basuki Hadimuljono), “Sir, I’m a big zero in this field. I have no understanding at all about public relations.” At the time, he only asked one thing: learn. Since then, I became acquainted with public relations.

What is your educational background?

Since high school, I was educated in a physics environment. When I went to college I chose the Environmental Engineering Department, Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). A year after graduating in 1996, I was hired to work at KemenPUPR, to be exact at the Directorate General of Human Settlements. Until 2000, I worked more in the engineering field. After that, I was positioned in the planning and programming field for 15 years. In that field, I no longer take care of physical matters or building but planning, making narratives and the urgency of why infrastructure must be built. Then in 2006, I was positioned in the Public Communication Bureau.

What are the departments that the Public Communication Bureau in charge of?

There are four departments. Communication Strategy, Publication and Library, Public Relations, and Leadership Reporting. For those relating to the information Management and Documentation Officer (PPID), complaints, reports, requests for data/information are in the Communication Strategy. Publication and Library is related to exhibition, advertorial, internal magazine, managing PUPR TV, and website.

Meanwhile, Public Relations is related to media relations, press releases, social media that are more dynamic and interactive. One more important thing is the Reporting Leadership. It’s the information hub. All the material for the minister is here. This team then processes the material that has been received for ministerial purposes such as remarks, exposures, keynote speakers, work meetings, coordination meetings, cabinet meetings, meetings with the House of Representatives, work visits and so on.

When you were first given the task of managing these four departments, what was your concern?

I must be able to see the four divisions as one unit of business process. Now, the material from the leader’s reporting is directly used by the PR department to use as a release material. From the release, then it’s processed for social media, video, and so on. The material can also be used by publication and library for the internal magazine for feature, an advertorial in the printed media, or for exhibition needs.

All the performance of each department will be checked and in some cases, the material is used by the team in the Communication Strategy department. So, every department doesn’t need to look for data themselves. All the process is one door and processed here. There are no releases that are out other than the releases that are created by the Public Communication Bureau.

To achieve that target, surely competent HRs are needed. About the competency, is it also an issue in the Bureau that you lead? 

We utilize the best optimum use of resources. The key is to maximize HR and collaborate by using the network that we have. Endra then opened his hand-phone and showed a short video called Si Manis Jembatan Ancur. The video which was adapted from the legendary movie and soap opera, Si Manis Jembatan Ancol was created in collaboration with Kolaborasi Asyik volunteers

I believe, we can sharpen the competence. Moreover, every department in our bureau already has its own Key Performance Indicators. Work is no longer only based on ministerial activity. That way, they’re encouraged to hone their competence. For me, public relations is not something that we can’t learn, but it must be practiced correctly and consistently if we have already sure about the strategy. If there is a mistake, do a corrective action immediately.

To be honest, the real challenge is that it takes time for us to change the character of our friends. Almost all the employees here are engineers who are typically not accustomed to working under the spotlight, let alone craving for reporting. We are like Musamus (Ant House). Ants adhere to principles,” Don’t ask about my work but look at my work. Working silently but suddenly the result soared to space, without damaging the environment.”

On the other hand, there is a phenomenon of openness and pressure from the public that demands transparency. So, this openness is also one thing that is interesting because it’s new to us. We also give understanding to our friends that this openness is not because KemenPUPR to be popular, but it’s merely a form of a report from us to the public. We don’t need popularity because our duty and function to build the public works and housing is an obligation and cannot be replaced by other ministries.

How do you think about the current Public Communication according to the Minister and institution?

In that case, I think it should be asked directly to the Minister. Our duty is only to report back to the public starting from how the program is arranged, started, worked on until finally it was completed and can be enjoyed and understood by the community.

Actually, to measure how strategic our role can be seen from the support of the Minister. Such as involving our bureau in every activity to his willingness to listen and consider each of our proposals. Of course, all the proposals that we offer are based on research that we measure the impact. A simple example, when the Minister is over-exposed, he is willing to receive our consideration to slow down a little.

From there we believe that the Minister has given his trust to us and he knows that we will not waste the trust that he has been given to us. That we will always guard this ministry against anything that can harm our reputation, such as making wrong decisions, statements that create blunder, distrust, and controversies.

Meanwhile, the support from the institution can be seen from the easiness when we ask for data. We will normalize the data that comes to the Leader Reporting into reports or information that is light, interesting, touching, and special because it is equipped with a series of processes in the form of photos, short videos, and storytelling so that it’s easy to digest, and the public can appreciate the benefits. The information that we prioritize is the process.

What messages that you often convey to the team?

First, focus. Don’t let new problems occur from our institution just because we are not focused when we are working. Second, be sensitive towards the environment so that we know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

Third, complete the data and context as a form of education so that the public does not only understand, but also knows the needs and benefit from the program or policy that is implemented by the government. Fourth, always curious and willing to learn because competence can be learned.

So, have you adapted to public relations activities?

Hmm, the work knows no time here. We must always be ready for 24 hours. My hand-phone is always on, I must continue to explore new knowledge and information, and build a wide network.

Do you still have free time?

That’s something that is missing ever since I was here. The time for my family is decreased, my children also protested once, especially the youngest who is still in grade 4 of elementary school. So, if there’s free time, even though it’s little, I always spend it with my family. Usually, we go out just to watch a movie together. Recently we watched Robin Hood.

To give understanding, I often tell them about my activities. I also share stories about the achievements that we have achieved. The hope is that they have an understanding and a sense of pride.

Do you like music?

I like it. I am even the type of person who sleeps while listening to music. But the habit must be stopped because my five and children must sleep in silence. That habit can only be done when I was on an out of town duty.

What type of music do you like the most?

 I like pop-rock like Queen, The Police, Duran-Duran, U2. I first knew about Queen in 1977, since I was in grade 1 of elementary school. A while ago, I also took the time to watch the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody.

In the past, there was a time when I liked jazz such as Casiopea, Dave Grusin, Mezzoforte – a jazz category which I consider not to heavy and can still be enjoyed by regular people like me. But, I don’t really like rap music. I also like contemporary music such as Coldplay, Ed Sheeran.

What dreams do you want to achieve?

I want to bring KemenPUPR public relations to become public relations that meets professional standards and qualifications, and our work is recognized, competence, totality, and focus – which to achieve these dreams, it can’t be managed in civil servant ways. (rtn)

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