Shifting Perspectives is an interview series exploring the stories of journalists who have made the move to a career in communications.
Tell us about your role in communications
- Who: Didit Putra Erlangga.
- Previous journalism role: I covered a range of areas at the Kompas Daily for almost 15 years.
- Current role: Corporate Communications Manager at Erajaya Swasembada.
My role at Erajaya Swasembada involves building the company's reputation. I ensure all of our external communications efforts are designed to further the development of the business.
I have joined Erajaya Swasembada at an exciting time. The listed company is undergoing an aggressive expansion strategy to expand its retail network to various cities in Indonesia. Erajaya is also growing in alignment with four key verticals: Erajaya Digital, Erajaya Active Lifestyle, Erajaya Food & Nourishment and Erajaya Beauty & Wellness.
This role gives me the opportunity to learn, grow and understand the retail industry. It also allows me to work with a diverse range of sectors including technology, business, sports, culinary, beauty and health.
What inspired your career change?
I started in the media industry as a Journalist for Kompas Daily, one of Indonesia's most influential traditional media outlets. After almost 15 years as a Journalist, I reached a point where I was considering options for growth by moving into the corporate world.
Over the past seven years of covering technology, I've learnt a lot about this dynamic and evolving industry. In 2020, I joined Xiaomi Indonesia and learnt a lot about the branding side of the PR industry before moving to retail and distribution company, Erajaya Swasembada.
Interestingly, I got to know Erajaya Swasembada during my time as a Journalist covering the technology sector. That's why as soon as the opportunity to join the business was presented, I wasted no time in contacting them.
What differences have you observed between the two industries?
The two industries I've worked in have similarities and differences that have taught me a lot. The most important difference is how to position yourself in the organisation. When you're a Journalist, you work in a newsroom with independence from other divisions. Once we enter an organisation in a corporation, we need to position ourselves according to the division's function and work hard to fulfil the team's objectives.
The next difference is in perspective. The media industry relies on a responsibility to the public through ethics, while companies operate and communicate in accordance with the corporation's agenda.
How has your view of the PR industry changed since leaving journalism?
For me, I think the more appropriate term is "enriched" rather than "changed". Before I shifted from journalist to communication practitioner, my perception was built on my brief interactions PR agencies. Once I decided to move over in 2020, I learnt a lot, including the significant amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into planning and preparing a message before it is delivered to the media.
When it comes to fostering good relationships with the media, my experience as a Journalist certainly helps in interacting with media partners. However, it must be admitted that currently, the entire industry is also facing changes caused by the global economic situation, and technological developments, including the pandemic. These factors have made interactions with the media more complex, and in turn, have also created new challenges for the PR industry.
Now that you are on "the other side", what advice do you have for journalists?
The most important thing I want to share is the importance of understanding that technology has changed news consumer habits. As important actors in enlightening the public, journalists need to understand technological developments and mitigate their impact on the media industry.
At the same time, I would also like to debunk the misconception that PR practitioners are the ones who have to come forward first for every problem that occurs or deliver sugar-coated messages from the companies they represent. PR practitioners and PR agencies are partners who can help journalists get the information needed to write their articles.
That's why building connections with PRs is a great way to help understand current industry issues and provide audiences with useful insights. The good news is that PRs are always ready to have a chat over a cup of coffee.