The early conception of this MM Communication program was inspired by the global implications of Excellence theory of Grunig et al, stating that in the graduate level, more strategic approach should be provided if communication is expected to be more effective in organisational perspectives. Public relations should be treated as a strategic management function rather than merely technical function alone.
Trisakti University, one of the renowned private universities in Indonesia, established a unique program Master of Management in Communication in 2005. In this university, Communication is blended as a concentration of Management science. The curriculum was gradually developed from a decade of study in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004 and the Gold Paper Public Relations Indonesia (Ananto, 2007). From these studies, there came up with a conclusion that the more advance the practice, the greater tendency that the practitioners had various academic background, a multi – discipline, not necessarily communication alone. Perhaps, it remains argumentative that public relations in Indonesia is an open profession.
The early conception of this MM Communication program was inspired by the global implications of Excellence theory of Grunig et al, stating that in the graduate level, more strategic approach should be provided if communication is expected to be more effective in organisational perspectives. Public relations should be treated as a strategic management function rather than merely technical function alone. Only by understanding the management of an organisation, how it works and where it is going as stated in the vision and mission, a communication practitioner can think, speak and work together with other senior managers in an organisation.
A study in the doctoral level (Ananto, 2004), gave more confirmation as empirical evidence to the theory of Grunig (2001), stating that public relations would be more effective in the participative rather than in the authoritarian environments. This study in Indonesia found out that:
- The practice of public relations ingovernment offices was found strictly guided by rules and regulations. It was unlikely for each personnel to exercise his full potential, creativity and independent in attitude. This restriction seemed to be the most signi cant handicap for public relations personnel who worked in government offices.
- Private organisations, by nature, consist of busy individuals and paid less attention to research or environmental scanning that public relations could contribute. These business people were more concerned with market development and profit oriented activities. It is not surprising that in private companies, public relations function had more responsibility as support to marketing efforts directing to gain wider market share.
- Among the multi-national companies, one popular issue is corporate social responsibility. This concept raised some argumentative public opinion as the Indonesian government has stated that CSR is an obligation for companies particularly those industries dealing with natural resources such as oil, gas and mining exploration. There was an increase in public scrutiny in this group, therefore the practice of public relations was bound to be managerial and strategic compared with the other two types of organisation.
Traditional public relations practice can no longer be able to support the companies in gaining public confidence. Propaganda should be replaced by two-way communication or dialogue if the target of communication is to build public trust. In many cases in Indonesia, the challenge of practicing public relations in strategic way has just begun when crisis happens. The findings clearly supported the statement raised by Cutlip, Centre and Broom (2006), that
“Public relations office will only be useful to management, as management want it.
If management think public relations in a small way, it will occupy a small place in the organisation, and its contribution will be small. If public relations is important, it will occupy a prominent place and its contribution will be significant.”
Through this Master of Management in Communication, this program strives to be a Centre of Excellence in public relations education, a model of communication education by reinforcing strategic thinking in managerial world-views.
A balanced of curriculum of Management and Public Relations challenges the graduate students to confront with temporary issues in management theories, public relations problems, policy and planning, research, measurement and evaluation in nance and non nancial aspects, with the emphasis on the dynamic and challenging Indonesian situation in national and international perspectives.