Promoting ASEAN as an attractive destination for investors, tourism, and trade is the role of public relations; hence, the ASEAN Public Relations Conference is being held in Kuta, Bali, on September 20-22, 2017.
To this end, Communication and Informatics Minister Rudiantara has encouraged the role of public relations to promote the economic potential of countries in the ASEAN region.
After opening the ASEAN Public Relations Conference, Rudiantara remarked that the role of "public relations" in Indonesia is very strategic as a driver in the ASEAN region, considering the fact that in addition to being a large country, Indonesia contributes to almost 40 percent of the economy and is home to 40 percent of the population in Southeast Asia.
ASEANs economic growth of nearly five percent is one of the indicators to attract regional investment in the region, according to Rudiantara.
In addition, cultural diversity and human resource potential, reaching a total of about 600 million people, make the ASEAN region a strategically attractive market.
Moreover, Rudiantara noted that public relations at the government level as well as in the business environment are facing the same challenge in the form of the increasing influence of social media along with technological advancements.
The minister said that though social media offers speed, the data provided by it may lack accuracy.
"The information landscape has changed due to the dynamic growth of social media, a challenge in providing information instruments for the welfare of the nation and creating opportunities to innovate," Rudiantara emphasized.
In addition to promoting ASEANs potential and competitiveness at the global level, ASEAN Public Relations is also encouraged to create a communication protocol between countries in Southeast Asia.
The communications protocol can be applied at the government, inter-business, and practitioner level to avoid inter-country problems in the ASEAN region.
In the meantime, ASEAN Public Relations Network President Prita Kemal Gani remarked that the first public relations conference of the ASEAN will evaluate the advantages of countries in the region.
Gani said each of the 10 ASEAN countries has the potential, character, and advantages, and if these strengths are combined, they will become an extraordinary economic power at the global level.
"What we do is people-to-people connectivity. If we do not know each other or do not want to forge a good relationship, then we will be divided. Hence, we have to work together," she pointed out.
Gani further explained that the ASEAN Public Relations Network was established in June 2014 and was based in Jakarta. Its members come from different companies, public relations agencies, communication institutions, universities, national public relations associations, and public relations professionals throughout Southeast Asia.
"Top corporations, institutions, and organizations from abroad and various sectors should place ASEAN as their goal," Gani noted while giving a speech at the opening of the ASEAN Public Relations Conference on Thursday.
Gani remarked that countries in Southeast Asia have abundant resources, supported by human resources reaching 600 million, with relatively stable economic and political conditions.
"To this end, at this first public relations conference, we invite all to build a strong reputation amid global competitiveness," she emphasized.
According to Gani, public relations officials have a role in disseminating information and helping governments in each country to prepare for the transformation of their communities, create connectivity, and encourage cooperation.
She said the 10 countries in the ASEAN have their own character and manner of working at the community level amid buoyant economic growth in the region; hence, a strategy should be formulated in order to offer added value to compete at the global level.
"For instance, Indonesia has creative advantages, Malaysia is diligent, while the Philippines is warm, and if these are combined, the 10 countries will become extraordinary," she explained.
Gani added that Indonesia, as one of the founding countries of the ASEAN, is expected to lead in literacy and promote investment in the region.
She stated that currently, the network of public relations officers in countries of the ASEAN region reaches about eight thousand.
Meanwhile, Director General of Public Information and Communication at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology Rosarita Niken Widiastuti stated that public relations and communication are the key to increasing public understanding and participation in order to strengthen the position of the regional organization at the global level.
Widiastuti delivered the statement at a discussion as part of the First ASEAN Public Relations Regional Conference held in conjunction with ASEANs 50th anniversary.
"This conference is certainly relevant to our communication in defining ASEAN, its aspirations, and what distinguishes it from other regional groupings," Widiastuti stated.
According to Widiastuti, several topics discussed at the conference are closely related to the development of the ASEAN, which is currently progressing to position itself among global communities.
"Indonesia, as the founding father of the ASEAN, clearly has a strong and competitive position due to its demographic and geographic aspects, which are among the most abundant and rich in the region," Widiastuti added.
The first ASEAN Conference brought together international delegations, from academics to practitioners, to discuss several issues, specifically related to the participation of ASEAN in the global arena.(*)