Transforming the known unknowns into the known knowns

the original piece was published by The Jakarta Post on August 20, 2015 

Although he said it more than a decade ago, Donald Rumsfeld was right. '€œThere are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don'€™t know.'€

Confused? Me too, when I first heard it. But after years of watching people making their existence in this 70-year-old country, Rumsfeld'€™s mantra simply proves that asymmetric information has led us to pick and choose incomplete information regarding Indonesia. Most of the time, we chose bad news over good news, influencing us to believe that the country is going nowhere. We then become pessimistic and in more frontal form, we become cynical, even to our own faith. 

As a scout, I believe this is what happened to the organization I dearly loved. After the New Order regime was toppled in 1998, Gerakan Pramuka (Indonesian Scout Movement) was perceived dead. When I and a team of four researchers conducted a study at the end of last year on what needs to be transformed in Pramuka, we discovered two major findings. 

First, people'€™s recollection of Pramuka in the old days was so mesmerizing. The nostalgia of how this civil organization had contributed to the building of national character was so thick it was as if it was an inseparable part of their youth. 

In contrast, most of the 120 respondents, mostly adults, were shocked upon learning that Pramuka still exists. They thought this organization was dead, or at least in a state of coma. 

Pramuka is in fact still alive, but probably not kicking. 

The fact that Pramuka currently has more than 20 million active members is beyond the respondents'€™ imagination. The fact that their children actually wear Pramuka uniforms at least once a day on school days goes unnoticed. The fact that every year, on Aug. 14, National Scout Day is commemorated sounds like an imaginary tale. 

What actually happened?

In the age when the millennials rule the world and their gadgets are weapons of mass influence, Pramuka simply disappears among the multiple screens. This is to where Rumsfeld'€™s quote rings true.

Pramuka needs to shout and scream to re-introduce itself as a remedy for juvenile problems.

The thing we know that we know '€” that Pramuka is still around '€” has emerged into the thing we know, but do not know. Just because Pramuka does not appear regularly in the media, it fails to resonate its activities to the masses and it does not succeed in engaging the most important of stakeholders of Pramuka, who are kids, teenagers and their parents. 

This is a chronic asymmetric information phenomenon that causes imbalanced competition in the market of youth activism. Pramuka has lost its phase in keeping up with the abundance of aggressive marketing campaigns for online games and other youth consumer products. Worse, it has even lost its market to juvenile delinquency. Many Indonesian youth receive more information about access to illegal drugs than about the variety of exciting activities that Pramuka can offer. 

The study, conducted in six major cities, reveals the need for Pramuka to transform itself and do what it takes to make it more visible, audible and noticeable among the crowd. 

Today, Pramuka has to compete to be visible in all communication channels, without relying on a single face. It needs to find its way to be on the front page of newspapers by understanding the simple 5Ws and the 1H, the news elements that journalists have to fulfill. 

Pramuka needs to show up on the silver screen, or cinema, by emphasizing the contextual benefits of being a scout '€” that a Scout is cool, fun and active. It needs to exist on social media, telling people that '€œWe'€™re alive and that you, the society, are an important part of us.'€ Pramuka needs to shout and scream to re-introduce itself as a remedy for juvenile problems and social exclusion, whilst promoting patriotism, protection of the environment and volunteerism. 

This time, Pramuka needs to adopt the mantra of the public relations world: '€œEvery organization is a news organization.'€ Thus, every Scout group is the media and every scout is the newsmaker. After all, the Edelman Trust Barometer, a global study on trust toward organizations, says '€œPeople need to see or hear something three to five times in different places and different sources before believing it.'€

The recent campaigns on #wsj2015 in Japan, where almost 500 Indonesian Scouts made a scene and once again highlighted Indonesia on the world map, the #HariPramuka54 campaign where a congratulatory note on Pramuka Day trends on twitter, and the #OrtukuIdolaku campaign, in which Pramuka members are showing off their ultimate love of their parents, are good starts to meet the communication challenges. The call by the chief of the Scouts, Adhyaksa Dault, to all Indonesian Scouts to showcase our works, '€banyak kerja, banyak bicara'€ (work much, talk much), is to ensure the public know that we are here for them, not for our own fun. 

Being famous is not the goal. Making the competition fairer, providing equal information for youth to choose between a variety of positive activities and shaping a more perfect competition in the market of youth activism is a must. It is solely to enrich the options for the youth of Indonesia to get active and prepare themselves in welcoming the promising era of the demographic dividend, which we will reap in the next decade. 

Transforming Pramuka from a known unknown into a known known is inevitable. It'€™s part of our pledge and directives. Happy Pramuka Day! Salam Pramuka (Scout greetings)!

The writer is an associate director for communications marketing firm Edelman Indonesia and a national commissioner of program planning and cooperation of the Indonesian Scout Movement. 
Gerakan Pramuka.
link to the article