SUPER PR Lessons We Can Learn from The Case of Mario Teguh

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“Aw man, I see Mario Teguh on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Line Today, blogs, print media, online media, and now THIS WEBSITE??”

Whoa, calm down, dude! Gossips, rumors, and drama aside, let’s face it: this is indeed an interesting case for PR practitioners and PR enthusiasts alike.

For you guys who’ve been spending your life in a cave, I’ll give you the gist of it: Mario Teguh is a well-known motivational speaker with years of experience and his own TV show. He often talks about love, career, building a happy family, being a better person to friends and God, sugar, spices, and everything nice. SUPER! Oh and “super” is his catchphrase.

One day, 30-year-old Kiswinar attended a talk show and opened his door to the past to bare it all for us: Kiswinar is Mario’s abandoned son (or so he claimed). In truth, the rumor has circulated far before Kiswinar’s talk show, but as you can see, unlike food, information has no expiration date if too many people are interested in it.

What gives? What PR lessons can we learn from this family drama? Basically, a combination of social media-mainstream media crisis leads to these:

1. You’re not as good as you think

Mario’s expectations: People will say “He’s very kind and loving. If he did something like this, there must be a good reason!”

Reality: People said “HA! I knew that he’s all talk!”

Remember an Indonesian proverb we all learned back in elementary school: Karena nila setitik, rusak susu sebelanga (English equivalent: One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel)? This is it. No one gives a damn about your previously-clean slate. People are drawn to other people’s mistakes. People sing the praises for heroes in a ceremony, but they’ll talk about someone else’s mistakes any day of the week. So, how to ensure that we act like angels all the time? Well, we can’t. But, luckily:

2. Crisis can be turned into an opportunity

Hey, now everyone’s looking your way and this is absolutely great! It’s time for you to take advantage of the spotlight and show everyone how “good” you actually are. In Mario’s case, imagine if he admitted that Kiswinar is actually his son without losing months of precious time and billions worth of contracts. Remember, a solution that works wonders on your first day of crisis might not work as miraculously a day later... not to mention months! (Really, Mario?)

3. Key message! Key Message!

Clients, grab that briefing book now. There’s a reason why your PR consultants always nag you into actually reading, discussing, and confirming your key messages. Mario, in this case, often stressed how important a DNA test was to confirm whether Kiswinar is really his son. Later, he dismissed the DNA test, saying it’s irrelevant to the case. On another occasion, he, quoting his ex-wife, saying “My ex-wife said that he is not my son,” only to say later on that “I never said that Kiswinar is not my son.” These kinds of inconsistency fueled an outrage among netizens. Hear, hear! This is why you should know your key messages by heart, no matter what happens. Stay true to them.

5. The death of Twitter could be the death of you

“Huh! Why did this escalate to Twitter?”

Guess when Mario Teguh’s case started to get hot? It’s Someone idolized Kiswinar enough to Google him up and find an old discussion forum from years back, stating that Kiswinar’s actually Mario’s son. He brought the thread up to and BOOM! The chain of sharing began! A famous TV show with a pretty high rating decided to invite Kiswinar to talk more about this, and things snowballed.

Back in the old days (I’m not that old, though), it was easier to look up what people were talking about you by clicking on Twitter’s search box. But how are you going to do that on Instagram, or perhaps, Twitter connects you to the world, and it’s easier to detect early signs of an issue on Twitter. Now, as Twitter has become a perfect place to hide dead bodies, very few people are making conversations there. In other social medias, issues brew in small circles, slowly but surely, until someone pulls the trigger and bring them up to the mainstream media. As you can see, no one’s quoting anyone from Twitter anymore here in Indonesia! (Though I personally think that social media is not the best way to get quotes for your news).

Now, the new challenge for each and every one of us who strives to maintain our reputation: How to ensure that you’re following the right people, reading the right things, making sure that you’re not leaving something important behind, especially when they’re talking openly (without your knowing), ready to throw a Molotov at you?

What an exciting era we’re living in!





The writer is an enthusiastic Associate at Praxis who believes that KEPO (Knowing Every Particular Object) could save lives.

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