Organizational Ethnography Analysis: Participation of Islamic Religious Leaders in Handling Covid-19 through Integrative Communication


Fatwas and Islamic law, both through direct da'wah and through the media (mass and online) of religious leaders, were urgently needed so that the procession for handling COVID-19 victims by the Bogor City Government does not violate the rules of Islam and community culture. Haryanto (2019) said that the Bogor City Government's lack of understanding of the content of religious regulations, especially religious tolerance, was very significant. The results of the Institute Setara Survey in 2018 determine the top 10 cities in West Java, Indonesia, as intolerant cities, one of them being Bogor. Surprisingly, the city of Bogor is designated as having the highest level of intolerance, with a score of 5.21 (Haryani, 2019). Not surprisingly, during the COVID-19 era, the sectoral ego phenomenon arose from several Islamic religious leaders who had a less harmonious relationship with the local government. For example, on the rules for the burial of COVID-19 victims' bodies, holding salat (prayer) at mosques, and celebrating Islamic holidays, among other things.

As in question above, a study from Sazali et al. (2015) reports that there are indications of sectoral ego that can block communication channels to various other government agencies in developing religious issues. Therefore, the problem of proper handling of COVID-19 must, of course, continue to be pursued by the Bogor City Government and its public relations officers through conducive and harmonious cooperation with religious leaders (Junaedi et al., 2021). Therefore, the public is not confused and constrained to deal with COVID-19 through various confusions of information and religious issues concerning treating victims of the pandemic. The role of Islamic religious leaders in handling COVID-19 in Bogor City can be described as follows: a) Islamic religious leaders are vital in assisting, supervising, and conveying correct information in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those related to religious issues (Hall et al., 2020); b) The persuasive power of religious leaders is considered capable of fortifying and suppressing misleading news or hoaxes, and even crimes due to this pandemic crisis, because of their charismatic nature and authority which can persuade many unproductive public actions, both Muslims and nonmuslims in patron-client relationships. (Suprima et al., 2021); c) Islamic religious leaders are a broad and sharp source of knowledge and knowledge about the reality of Covid-19, which has implications for the construction of public perceptions and actions in this worrying pandemic condition (Imbar & Momongan, 2020; Rosidin et al., 2020); d) High public participation in preventing Covid-19 will not be achieved if the government keeps a distance from religious leaders (Siregar and Ongku, 2020), because the destruction of values, economy, socio-psychological, and society can at least be handled with a holistic and religious approach (Setyowati & Cahya, 2020).

Meanwhile, researchers offer problem-solving in collaboration with public relations officers in the Bogor City Government with Islamic religious leaders through activities such as: a) Encouraging the mitigation of significant epidemics together as an integrated force, considering the characteristics of religion that can internalise all aspects of community life (Auliana Putri & Fakhruddin, 2021); b) Together, we build ourselves as agents of change in increasing knowledge and attitudes and assisting the success of community development. Apart from Bogor or in the territory of Indonesia, even in the United Arab Emirates, according to Kamil (2020), during the Covid-19 pandemic, public relations must emerge to solve the challenges faced by individuals and organisations due to changes in the nature, size, and movement factors, leading to crises and problems, especially the destruction of values, trust, and property; c) Public relations the government continues to seek practical and conducive ties with various parties: the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive as long as it is not controlled by "money"-oriented interests to avoid corruption and conflicts with the community (Bykov et al., 2016). According to the Bogor City Government's development vision, namely 'A City of Comfortable Services with Civil Society and a Trustworthy Government' (Tim RKPD, 2015); d) The role of public relations of the Bogor City Government is very significant in embracing Islamic religious leaders related to the Joint Regulation of the Minister of Religion and the Minister of Home Affairs Number: 9 of 2006, Number: 8 of 2006. (Novianti et al., 2020) and Regarding Guidelines for the Implementation of the Duties of the Head Regional/Deputy Regional Heads in Maintaining Religious Harmony, Empowering Religious Harmony Forums, and Establishing Houses of Worship (Sazali et al., 2015) as a form of integrated communication approach.

The collaboration and synergy built between public relations officers in the Bogor City Government and Islamic religious leaders in dealing with COVID-19 certainly requires an appropriate approach, strategy, method, and instrument; therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore and analyze integrated communication between public relations officers at the Bogor City Government with Islamic religious leaders in dealing with this dangerous pandemic using the organizational ethnography (OE) method. The OE is a function, capability, or design, especially those related to culture and organization or community, also involving the technological or media instruments needed in this 4.0 era (Cunliffe, 2010). Côté-Boileau et al. (2020) have used organisational ethnography to study health care because world health care is still underdeveloped, so the OE method is used as a design to see the development of health care.

The significance of the integrated communications (IC) approach is that in era 4.0, IC practices are more dynamic, logical, and focused on solving organisational/institutional problems so that organisations achieve progress not only with campaigns or marketing but also with overall operational goals. Doorley and Garcia (2007) explain that IC is a comprehensive communication practise. It has all media elements (offline and online) and a strategy to unite all aspects of the organisation and its resources to achieve organisational goals and image.

From the description of the problem of the research above, three critical questions that researchers must answer immediately arise, namely: a) What is the role of the organisational ethnographer in encouraging and facilitating Bogor city government public relations officers with Islamic Religious Leaders to implement integrated communication tools in dealing with the Covid-1 crisis? b)What is the involvement of organisational ethnographers in accommodating and identifying the different cultures and values of Islamic religious leaders and government public relations officers in handling Covid-19 through integrated communication practises? C) How do organisational ethnographers transform programmes and models in handling the Covid-19 crisis with public relations officers and Islamic religious leaders through an integrated communication strategy?

Based on what has been said above, it can be said that the contribution of this research provides opportunities for researchers to be directly involved in implementing the theories and methods offered to the resource persons. (R2) Theoretically, the researchers guide the integrated communication in handling Covid-19 by public relations officers in the Bogor City Government in collaboration with Islamic religious leaders explored through organisational ethnography (OE) will later be very beneficial for the development of science and research, especially in the field of communication. If this data collection is successful, the researcher will make it a role model for implementation on a broader scale, namely, for public relations practitioners, academics, researchers, activists, preachers, politicians, and others. Therefore, the organisation can have more direction and develop according to the culture and needs of society.

Literature Review

This study uses a review of the literature by several previous authors to build a deeper understanding of the central topics and issues surrounding organisational ethnography in the field of public relations and religion in the era of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Niemann-Struweg (2014) explains that integrated strategic communication in the relationship between the organisation, its stakeholders, and the post-2000 business environment is essential to ensure that the organisation can be seen as a unit to achieve its goals. Therefore, implementing a unified communication model for the post-2000 business landscape needs to be designed attractively and effectively to answer and explain more accurately the challenges and specific business opportunities.

Christensen et al. (2008) state that marketing organisations increasingly understand the importance of an integrated communication (IC) function that can align symbols, messages, procedures, and behaviours across formal organisational boundaries. Often organisations exercise tight, centralized control over communications and other administrative processes. Therefore, the various negative potential consequences of such tight controls need to be resolved with IC. Kamsteeg et al. (2021) explain that OE has a role in the dire situation of the Covid-19 pandemic to encourage and offer new opportunities for ethnographers to understand and provide a way out of the crisis in organisations as ecologists who have power in society so that they can return to their everyday lives.

Burton et al. (2018) state that the practise of management of religious organisations is carried out to motivate justice and carry out distinctive religious traditions. The Religious Society of Friends seeks to articulate organisational ethnography (OE) better to understand the practise of religious and spiritual organisations. Previously, the Quaker business had experienced management confusion between 'insiders' and 'outsiders' and between 'believers and nonbelievers.' However, after researching using OE theory and practise through in-depth conversations or interviews with Quaker account members about ways of making decisions, it turns out that the problem can be resolved. In conclusion, OE is significant for future research on destabilising organisational areas.

These studies have some of the same goals but differ in context and form. The similarity is that integrated communication is a perspective capable of solving organisational problems conceptually and instrumentally (Johnston & Everett, 2014: 159). Meanwhile, the OE approach complements itself theoretically and methodically in involvement and deeper exploration of the research object. The difference is in the context; even though it has an organisational object, the context can be applied to the context of culture, politics, and religion/spirituality (Kostera & Hardin, 2021). Unfortunately, OE has not been widely known and used by researchers, academics, or even business or organisational practitioners, because the literature and research results in the OE field are still limited. Perhaps more exciting research on locality and the global world in business, politics, and even religion using IC with the OE method can complement similar studies.


Research context

At this stage, the researcher chose organisational ethnography in this study to directly assist and oversee the implementation of integrated communication carried out by public relations with Islamic religious leaders, specifically in handling the Covid-19 pandemic in Bogor City. Three public relations officers carried out this integrated communication, involving about 5 Islamic religious leaders and 5 community members affected by COVID-19 in 3 subdistricts: Bojonggede, Cibinong, and Tajurhalang in west Java. Public relations officers with Islamic religious leaders carry out research on integrated communication that is likely to have a social impact and a strategic programme. The implementation of integrated communication must describe the objectives, means, public relations officers of the Bogor City Government and Islamic religious leaders, and the implementation of integrated communication in detail, including social media. Every 3 months, evaluation and monitoring of integrated communication activities of public relations officers and Islamic religious leaders through interactive discussions in Zoom and field and in-depth interviews. Organisational ethnography also develops evaluations through open and critical meetings with public relations Officers, Islamic religious leaders, and the public in dealing with Covid-19.

This integrated communication activity of the public relations officer involving Islamic religious leaders emphasises the packaging of messages in the below-the-line media and social media, with the support of communication experts in their home educational institutions such as the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) and the University of Indonesia (UI) and local and national NGOs. This vast network of communication experts and activists is intended to support the acceleration of the crisis recovery programme due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Most public relations officers and Islamic religious leaders were not optimal before implementing integrated communication in their institutional roles and functions.

Research Design

This study presents an organisational ethnography (OE) analysis as qualitative research that is exploratory and interpretive (Cavana et al., 2001). Hammersley and Atkinson (2007) say that this approach emerged as a cultural answer and interpretation of important issues and events in integrated communication: less responsive and rational in solving problems of organisational members in dealing with environmental culture objectively.

Because OE is field research through participant observation techniques (Kostera & Harding 2021), that is, researchers collect data through close observation with 3 public relations officers, 3 Islamic religious leaders, and 5 communities as cultural/community groups in Bogor City in dealing with Covid-19, so they do a way to involve themselves intensively in integrated communication activities (socialisation), campaigns, media dissemination, and dialogue about Covid-19 within six months to gain a deep understanding of the IC activities of these resource persons in the community. Therefore, researchers can obtain first-hand and novel insights, namely how the insights of public relations officers, Islamic religious leaders, and the community in dealing with Covid-19 are recorded by recording situations/events at the location of public relations officers on duty (Bogor City Government Office), Islamic religious leaders (at the Bogor Indonesian Da'wah Centre, and the school where they teach), and the community (their homes and workplaces in Bogor City) and record the activities, events, settings, or behaviour of the informants, either directly or face-to-face or through media (cell phone and internet).

The interview technique carried out by the researcher is a semi-structured type which, according to Pambayun (2013), is an interview guide carried out to find problems more openly, where between 3 public relations officers from Bogor City Government, 3 Islamic religious leaders, and 3 communities were asked for their opinions and ideas in depth about handling Covid-19 through an integrated communication approach. Researcher interview questions were prepared before the scheduled interview, starting with the resource persons who were conducted flexibly to a certain extent while maintaining predetermined research guidelines. Questions can be started from the section chosen according to their circumstances and preferences. They can develop further/deeper according to the perspectives, experiences, and expectations of the public relations officers, Islamic religious leaders, and the community in handling COVID-19. The data for this study included observations (approximately 75 hours) and 5 in-depth interviews, meaning that according to Creswell (2021), the method of face-to-face questioning between interviewers and respondents (public relations officers, Bogor City Government, Islamic religious leaders, and the community) with or without using an interview guide where the interviewer and informant are involved in their activities in dealing with Covid-19 through integrated communication, both through socialisation and the media (mass and online) for 6 months. At the same time, the data analysis step examines the data obtained from the words and actions of organisational members or members of a culture that is regulated through their direct experiences, social actions, speech, and additional data (Lofland et al., 2006). So, the public relations officer and Islamic religious leaders are allowed and want to talk to each other freely and openly under the direction of the researcher. Analysis and theory generation are applied inductively to generate an understanding of the explored theory, its origins, and the nature of integrated communication as an organisation's response to the prevailing environment. (R1)

Ethically, researchers strive to do their best in accordance with the cultures and values of the society that are also contained in organisational ethnographic principles. R2, according to Hesse-Biber (2011), is very important so that researchers can be closer to the object of research and resource persons to find out how their attitudes, values, and existence should be applied at every step in the study. Understanding these ethics indirectly makes the approach process with the public relations officers of Bogor City, Islamic religious leaders, and the community more accessible because several ethics are applied, namely: a) Respect for human dignity is the researcher considers the rights of the subject/resource persons (public relations officers of Bogor City, Islamic religious leaders, and the community) to obtain research information openly in the Bogor City Government, and have the freedom to make choices and are free from coercion to participate in this research activity; b) Respect for privacy and confidentiality is to respect the privacy and confidentiality of the subject (public relations officers of Bogor City, Islamic religious leaders, and the community), here the researcher appreciates if the subject does not want to reveal his name or personal identity in this study. So, there was a mutual agreement to carry out this research beforehand.

Verification and validity of data is carried out by triangulation, which has several stages (Creswell & Creswell, 2021) in the following Table 1.

Stage Job Description Time Implementation
Subject selection process Public relations officer and Islamic religious figures, as well as the community; 1 Week Observation, Interview, and Discussion
Identification of subject matter Understanding and experience of Public Relations Officers, Islamic religious leaders, and the public in handling COVID-19 2 Months Interview (twice) and Discussion
Analytical coding The description and topic of the case of the Public Relations Officer, Islamic religious figures, and the community in handling COVID-19 sought their attributes, positions, departments, locations, gender, age, qualifications, and length of work. Initial topic coding by investigating expressions, sentences, and paragraphs into topics and categories that emerge from field data.The Public Relations Officer, Islamic religious leaders, and the community all share cultural experiences and values that will guide their behaviour in dealing with Covid-19. 1 Month Interview and Discussion
Data interpretation. Identify the cultural influence of Bogor Islamic Religious Leaders on the Bogor City Government process in dealing with COVID-19 and related communities. 3 months Discussions and field analysis
Table 1.Verification and Validity of Data.Source: Processed by Researchers (2023)

The researchers designing the knowledge structures and schemas that represent the shared cultural knowledge of participants in the Bogor City Government were identified to provide a conceptual foundation for the development of integrated communication. (R2)


The involvement of researchers in determining the participation of all informants (public relations officers, leaders of Islamic religions, and the community) interviewed (n = 13) were residents of Bogor City who handled the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in local government institutions. In focus, they support the function and role of integrated communication as their main task to public relations officers in the Bogor City Government who are in managerial roles. Their affiliations are presented in Table 2. All are connected to the program and, through interviews, provide input and information about their duties and responsibilities in handling Covid-19 together with Islamic religious leaders and the community. Each interview lasted an average of almost 2 hours (120 minutes) and, by Zoom, visited the public relations officers' offices or the workplace cafes from November 2020–to July 2021 in the following table 2. (R2)

Subject/Resource Informants/ Position The InformantEducation The Informants Task
Researchers (R2) 1. Head of the News Subdepartment (public relations officer) Undergraduate Press releases, press conferences, collaboration with the press/media (online and offline), making news in online media, bulletins, etc.
2. Head of Subdirectory of Documentation and Publication (Public Relations Officer) Undergraduate Recapitulating online and offline news, inventorying activities/events, etc.
3. Head of Sub-Department of News (as public relations officer) Undergraduate Public services, processing public opinion, monitoring issues in the community, etc.
Researchers (R2) 1. Manager of the IslamicEducation Foundation (as Islamic religious leaders) Postgraduate (M.Sc) Covid-19 Task Force
2. Management of MUI Bogor (Islamic religious leaders) Undergraduate Educating the Public about Covid-19
3. Management of Nahdlatul Ulama Bogor (Islamic religious leaders) Undergraduate Community outreach and facilitation
4. Head of Islamic Religious Institute (Islamic religious leaders) Undergraduate Preaching to the community
5. Head of Mosque Management (Islamic religious leaders) Undergraduate Protecting and supervising the mosque
Researchers (R2) 1. Food merchant(Community Representative) High School Giving his views and experiences on the role of government and Islamic religious leaders during a pandemic
2. Journalist (Community Representative) Undergraduate Giving his views and experiences on the role of government and Islamic religious leaders during a pandemic
3. Farmer (Community Representative) High School Giving his views and experiences on the role of government and Islamic religious leaders during a pandemic
4. Student activist(Community Representative) Student Giving his views and experiences on the role of government and Islamic religious leaders during a pandemic
5. School Guard (Community Representative) High School Giving his views and experiences on the role of government and Islamic religious leaders during a pandemic
Table 2.Informant RecruitmentSource: Processed by Researchers (2023)

Researchers encourage Islamic religious leaders to appear in the media and to play an important role as role models in handling COVID-19. (R2) because, especially during a pandemic, they are not well-known figures in the national media, only filling social media and preaching and educating more in mosques, Islamic boarding schools, and the surrounding environment. In general, the criteria and capacity of the representative community were very appropriate to be chosen to provide input and data on integrated communication of public relations officers because their activities in the community are intense and continuous. In addition to an appropriate educational background with an integrated communication approach. As a disclaimer, they do not know the public relations officers of the Bogor City Government and the Islamic religious leaders that the researchers chose to maintain impartiality in this study. (R1)


The insider dimension in this study is public relations officers, and outsiders are religious leaders who live in the Bogor area and participate in socialising in the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, ethically, researchers noted, assisted, identified, and guarded if insiders and outsiders in the assessment did not use genuinely objective and accountable views because of the values, background, and historical traps attached to insiders and outsiders.

The description above indicates that there are many views from outsiders (religious leaders) that previously could not be accepted by insiders (public relations officers) regarding the handling of COVID-19, which relied on traditional and spiritual values, and so did many insider views (public relations officer) who are seen as unimportant by outsiders (religious leaders) because they are considered too technical and medical, apart from subjectivity that ensnares insiders. According to researchers, if this is allowed to drag on, it will only cause a misunderstanding, which can lead to conflict. Dissatisfied with the current reality of Covid-19, experts and researchers are trying to identify and develop methodological structures (organisational ethnography) and approaches (integrated communication) to solve problems surrounding the management of this pandemic.

Thus, organisational ethnography (OE) offers a pro-active and empathic approach. In this study, OE tries to hack and eliminate the element of subjectivity by analysing two fundamental issues between the emic perspective that arises from insider studies (public relations officers) and the ethical perspective that emerges from religious leaders (outsiders). Therefore, researchers guard outsiders (religious leaders) to have an objective and accountable view and have scientific validity from an insider's point of view. This OE tries to put the two frameworks in a neutral frame. This OE approach is an intersubjective solutive effort to position researchers at the margin of appreciation as a borderline between public relations officers (insiders) and religious leaders (outsiders). This unbalanced position will eventually perpetuate stereotypes that arise from ignorance and attitudes full of negative prejudice about one another. (R2)


Implementation of Integrated Communication

The analysis indicates that implementing integrated communication includes internal and external activities, as Kelley et al. (2021) called it. Internal activities such as preparation for an event to distribute medical devices are carried out through press releases, press conferences, and others, both on official online media such as ( and as well as news and dialogue once a week in offline media (central: TV Megaswara, Radio Kisi FM, Radio Lesmana, RRI) and (local: Radar, Metropolitan, Lingkar Bogor, Bulletin Kalawarta, etc.) as well as outside the city of Bogor (Republika, Sindo, Media Indonesia, and others). This medium can be said to be effective, as has been reported by Adriani et al. (2017), although it has not been maximally used due to resource constraints. Researchers observe and provide direction in the use of media, both electronic, print, and cyber, to public relations officers and Islamic religious leaders to uphold ethics and be selective in disseminating information, disseminating unverified Covid-19 data to the public domain, being wise in setting the time for media or online broadcasts, prioritise the public's right to know, and pay attention to checks and balances. (R2)

Vos and Henny (2005) explain external activities involving Islamic religious leaders, such as conducting socialization and participating in discussion activities held by welfare councils for mosques, Islamic boarding schools, madrasah, MUI (Indonesian Ulama Council), Bogor Indonesian Da'wah Centre (Pusdai), and others. Public Relations Officer 2 said: “Everyone is fighting a 'vicious' virus and must be fought spiritually. The institution realises that Covid-19 doesn't just attack thoughts and feelings but faith." Thus, Islamic religious leaders are the foremost fortress in saving people's mentality and belief. According to Lubis (2012) research, it is hoped that public relations is not always an image but is serious about building cooperation with all parties.

The researchers discussed and participated in the activities of an Islamic religious leader who was considered to have close ties to the community, namely, Community Education Merpati (MEM). They say that the Bogor City Government has collaborated with religious leaders for a long time, and only during this pandemic period have all activities been shifted to handling COVID-19. Together with the researchers' Islamic religious leaders, they also visit hospitals and walk the streets, meet people to preach to comply with government regulations: wearing masks, washing hands, and maintaining distance (3M). (R2) This is very difficult because not all people want to obey, especially traders in the market, school students, transportation drivers, and beggars. Kartikawati (2021: 49) supports the observation of this Islamic religious leader 3 that people's attitudes are difficult to control, especially their emotions and healthy behaviour.

As well as the community, the researcher appealed and observed (R2) that community 4 expand and facilitate access to hand washing with soap in public places; anticipate on the commuter line; spray disinfectants for every house and transportation location; coordination with the health office and community health centres, from subdistricts to neighbourhood units; arrange a Car Free Day; keep an eye on the school not to crowd. Topikurohman (2021) reports that there are many examples to illustrate that “through dialogue, fostered by civic-minded communicators” and other goodwill, “much can be done to dispel common fears and misconceptions that fuel 'uncivilised' discourse and open hostility.”

Integrated Communication Optimisation Challenges and Obstacles

The application of dynamic integrated communication aims to advance both organisational goals and all social goals so that it can adapt to the circumstances or contexts of the organisation's internal and external organisations to maintain the reputation and image of the organisation (Doorley & Garcia, 2007). In addition, researchers also provide an understanding of integrated communication as an essential tool and approach to use because it has stages and models that are circular, not traditionally linear, rigid, and tend to be more concerned with one party or stage, as stated by Kliatchko (2005). Researchers suggest public relations and Islamic Religious Leaders jointly converge their views and actions in overcoming COVID-19 openly and fairly in their discussions, also supported by below-the-line (reklame, poster, banner, folder, etc.) and above-the-line media (TV, radio, national newspaper, and magazine, etc). (R2) Lubis et al. (2020: 89) report that when discussing the optimisation of interactive media, Islamic Leaders must decide on the intensity, accuracy, honesty, and accuracy of the institution's information content regarding Covid-19 issues, which are considered inadequate in providing news and are biased in response to public input and opinion during the process handling Covid-19.

Islamic religious leader 2 follows the directions of the researcher to use the social and conventional media facilitated by public relations for the city government. Together they can provide information and all kinds of news that explain each stage of the development of the Covid-19 case by utilising the experience of IT officers in the institution and continuously improving instruments from before. (R2) Muchammadun et al. (2021) reported that IT is for Islamic leaders always to provide accurate information and all activities related to government policies.

Community 2 dialogues with researchers that there is often important news that is still difficult to access so that the community and Islamic religious leaders and community representatives can determine the suitable stage for the pandemic. Sriramesh et al. (2013). If responsible people, such as managers and public relations professionals, are to achieve significant support, they must maximise the most powerful weapons, the holders of culture and society. Yezli and Khan (2021) explain that honest and open news is needed to create healthy relationships with all parties.

The organisational ethographer (researchers) advises public relations officer 3 explains that it was affirming the role of public relations in presenting factual and accurate information, also checking and rechecking before the information is given to the media for the public to reduce public opinion that is confusing about Covid-19 news in their area. In particular, for information on handling corpses and funerals according to Islamic law for COVID-19 victims, the institution will invite Islamic religious leaders for discussion. Previous research has reported that Islamic religious leaders have become essential gatekeepers in the community for policy implementation (Barmania & Reiss, 2020: 17).

Jalaluddin (2019) stated that community development is the obligation of all components of the nation, local governments, and Islamic religious leaders to jointly formulate, implement, monitor, and evaluate democratically. Another study by Tumpal (2020) reported that the community is the most important party to be involved in an empathetic manner because recovery is determined mainly by the degree of their awareness of COVID-19.

In response to public relations officer 3, who was interviewed, especially for handling COVID-19, the Bogor Regional Government has made policies internally (between top and bottom management), which are considered to make it easier for Islamic leaders to maintain ties with local governments. The current pandemic in Bogor is a challenge for the government to understand better what has been issued and announced by the Mayor and Governor of West Java for the public relations section. As a complement to the statement of public relations officer 3, Simon et al. (2021: 234) report that all public relations programs have been coordinated with the health office, social service, regional government, religious institutions, community elements, etc., to eliminate gaps to create social strength.

Opportunity and Strategy

As stated by Public Relations Officer 1, public relations officers, in their significant role in institutions, often have to inspire the community to always gain the support of the highest leadership of the City of Bogor by encouraging the issuance of Bogor Mayor Regulation No. 27 of 2021 concerning the Enforcement of Restrictions on Community Activities (PPKM). Micro in the context of controlling the 2019 disease Coronavirus Pandemic in Bogor City through "testing, tracing, and treatment" (3T). In an integrated manner, this implementation is conveyed to various media and levels of society, including Islamic Religious Leaders, both individually and in religious institutions. As stated by Stacks et al. (2019), a leader must fully stand at the forefront of his subordinates and society to create the systemic transformation demanded by the institution.

Islamic religious leader 4 reports that integrated relationships cannot be achieved without clear and strong policies from the leadership and run only at the middle or lower levels of the organisation. How can we, as religious people (asatiz or preachers), follow if we are not given examples and directions that can be their guide? Aula (2020) confirmed in his study that the figures of religious leaders are the four pillars of a society that are firmly adhered to; therefore, they must have solid examples and morals.

Community 4 also said that social separation was being implemented at all locations, but the offices were still busy, and the school had not closed, resulting in chaos. Pambayun and Permassanty (2021) say that the purpose of public relations is to manage and resolve 'chaos in public social organisations' through open communication and negotiation and according to 'the principles of the art of living well (ethics)' until finally, 'achieving alignment of interests.

Islamic Religious Figure 1: There is a problem with patients who have not been confirmed positive but have had to go to the hospital and be treated for COVID-19, even though they have not been swab tested. The hospital is said to be complete, although there is still a lot of space. This creates confusion because policy must emerge from above and cannot be just verbal and memos. Public relations officers must commit to integrating and removing obstacles that prevent integration (Mulyana et al., 2019).

Young (2014) says that organisational problems can be an opportunity to improve communication skills for energetic and progressive public relations in IT, public speaking, message design, and media production and as drafters, innovators, research, and strategic partners of the community and decision-makers. The researchers observed that the activities of public relations officers and Islamic religious leaders must increase high willpower and be accompanied by quality self-ability in handling COVID-19 in Bogor to jointly deliver success in achieving a good solution. In addition, it is the will and ability to achieve success together and respect and maintain each other's capacities. From this observation, the researchers designed a view of integrated communication between public relations and Islamic public relations in the Bogor area. (R2) Overall, the results of this study can be described in Figure 1 below. (R1)

Figure 1.Integrated communication model in handling COVID-19 in Bogor Government Public Relations Officers.Source: Processed by Researchers (2023)

Results and Discussions

This article explains that the study of organisational ethnography (EO) as part of the activities of researchers as sources and facilitators (R2) to public relations officers in the Bogor City Government to gain the participation of Islamic religious leaders in the fight against Covid-19 must be taken seriously as an institutional, cultural, and spiritual problem. And this research offers an appropriate perspective because the concept and its instruments have succeeded in crossing the issues of cultural, social, and religious (Islam) boundaries between organisational (public relations, Bogor City Government) as internal parties and Islamic religious leaders as well as the community as external parties (Mukharom & Aravi, 2020: 243). The need to work across binary boundaries (internal and external) becomes very significant, clear, and urgent when the practise of public relations of the government or bureaucratic organisation itself is less able to deal with the pandemic problem in the people of Bogor City, which are predominantly Muslim and still hold religious values with respect strong. By involving the significance of integrated communication in involving Islamic religious leaders in organisational decisions or practises, it means that the Bogor City Government works in an integrated manner according to the institution's vision and mission in the midst of this "extraordinary" case. Researchers have highlighted the contribution of the previous organisational ethnography (OE) analysis and integrated communication approach regarding Covid-19 but have found it very rarely. However, at least researchers can refer to Hardjana (2012) on “Organisational, culture, and Communication in the Interactive Era” and Smith et al. (1999) 'How to Build a Culture in communication organisation.' Meanwhile, in the context of health, researchers found Irving and Tourist (1994), "service managers in health" in culture community; Srivastava (2022), "activities management."

OE is considered appropriate for public relations (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007) in the Bogor City Government with Islamic religious leaders through functional collaboration and media management (mass and social) and can unravel social problems that have occurred so far during the COVID-19 crisis. This means that the OE and IC as a complementary approach (Kamsteeg et al., 2021) that has been carried out by public relations officers in dealing with COVID-19, although not optimal, has been carried out quite well and conductively, both through local and conventional media (local radio and television, banners, posters, etc.) and social media (Instagram, Facebook, web). This proves that the Bogor City Government programme has succeeded in building comprehensive communication built on synergies with Islamic religious leaders and the community through communication measurements by their staff. They are following the explanation of Vos and Schoemaker (2011) that conflict and public distrust in the handling of COVID-19 by a government that is not based on Islam can be lost or erased through dialogue and media relations owned by the Bogor City Government to cross the binary opposition: sacred/secular, insiders/outsiders, and trust/distrust. In essence, there are attempts to deconstruct such boundaries. (R1)

Research through OE involving subjects (public relations officials, Bogor City Government, and Islamic religious leaders) in carrying out integrated communications in the Bogor City area during the COVID-19 period successfully achieved synergy and harmonious cooperation between them. OE is considered appropriate for public relations in the Bogor City Government with Islamic religious leaders through functional collaboration and media management (mass and social) and can unravel social problems that have occurred so far during the COVID-19 crisis. This means that the OE and IC that have been carried out by public relations officers in dealing with COVID-19, although not optimal, have been carried out quite well and conductively, both through local and conventional media (local radio and television, banners, posters, etc.) and social media (Instagram, Facebook, web). This proves that the Bogor City Government programme has succeeded in building comprehensive communication built on synergies with Islamic religious leaders and the community through communication measurements by their staff. They are following the explanation of Sugiyanto et al. (2016: 55) that conflict and public distrust in the handling of COVID-19 by a government that is not based on Islam can be lost or erased through dialogue and media relations owned by the Bogor City Government to cross the binary opposition: sacred/secular, insiders/outsiders, and trust/distrust. In essence, there are attempts to deconstruct such boundaries.

In the engagement of organisational ethnographers (researchers), the opportunity and strategy for its implementation can address the "ignorance" of public relations officers to have a better understanding of the open collective approach that is the core of this perspective (Yanow, 2009: 192). (R2) They become empathetic and persuasive to external parties, such as religious leaders and other stakeholders (Rosidin et al., 2020: 45). Additionally, through ethnographic organisational research, the roles and functions of public relations officers in socialising and campaigning for the prevention of Covid-19 were revealed logically and actually. Careful observation of the activities of Islamic religious leaders involved in socialisation and dialogue with the community with spiritual abilities and experience using the media. So, the integrated communication approach through organisational ethnography carried out by public relations officers develops a further understanding. The researcher finds that through "being on location" (with the informant), according to Daymon & Hodges (2009: 433), will find the truth and deepen how they behave, express emotions, express thoughts, and act in accordance with the vision and mission of the Bogor City Government as well as the values prevailing in society culture. For example, when dealing with people who protest because of the problem of handling bodies that died due to exposure to COVID-19, which is different from Islamic rules and culture so far, public relations officers must deal with them not only professionally but through their cultural approach and values by discussing them with religious leaders (Prawoto et al., 2020: 410).

Figure 2.Organisational ethnography chartSource: Processed by Researchers (2023)

Future Research and Recommendations

Future research will focus more on several organisations, many programmes, and various Islamic religious leaders so that it will be more conducive to a comprehensive understanding of the issues involved. Practically, this research will provide a systematic and directed guide for institutions and communities concerned with cultural and religious issues related to the pandemic. Social implications, this research indicates that building cultural and spiritual awareness with a more integrated communication approach can help the implementation of harmonious cooperation and accelerate the recovery of large-scale crisis conditions, especially those involving many government institutions, religious organisations, communities, and health parties. And, in originality/value implication, this research is the first study that uses organisational ethnography on the application of integrated communication of public relations officers in the City Government environment that involves Islamic religious leaders in handling the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, uniting various institutional, cultural perspectives with the beliefs of a religious community and trying to produce works by moving organisational ethnographic ideas forward with the difference that lies in the local context and a little religion to be developed further by the next researcher.

During research and accompanying this investigation, the investigators through the OE provided criticism and input that the public relations officer (PRO) in the Bogor area was still unable to recognise and anticipate the potential arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis through integrated communication. Although the equipment and media are adequate, the limited resources make the implementation less than optimal. To accelerate and rebuild image and reputation during the COVID-19 crisis, the ability to communicate with Islamic religious leaders in two ways. On the other hand, the media plays an essential role in ending this pandemic crisis. This is the common thread of ongoing collaboration between public relations officers and Islamic religious leaders handling COVID-19 in Bogor. Regional leaders must also be fully involved, not just employees or their task force, to build reputation and community empowerment more quickly (community sustainability). Researchers observed that this COVID pandemic must be seen from the size of the crisis and its impact. Public relations officers must be able to equip their knowledge of culture and media mastery and community relations with para-Islamic religious leaders to face the pandemic crisis together. Both parties can know this to understand their critical points better and stakeholders to avoid a pandemic emergency. Public relations officers handling the COVID-19 pandemic and using integrated communication, which is physical, involving Islamic religious leaders, can be done through local and spiritual culture.


This research focuses on collaboration between researchers and informants, such as the Bogor City Government public relations officers. As organisational ethnographers, researchers introduce and facilitate public relations officers to implement integrated communication in building participation with Islamic religious leaders in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Researcher assistance through integrated communication, both with digital media and conventional media, so that people make changes toward a society aware of the dangers of COVID-19. Theoretically and conceptually, organisational ethnographers encourage public relations officers to involve Islamic religious leaders in handling Covid 19, starting the dialogue, interviewing, taking notes, analysing, interpreting, and formulating a design of an integrated communication approach that is in accordance with the culture and values of Bogor people. Although not a new theory or concept in the study of communication science, the integrated communication approach has become a new tool for public relations officers in Bogor, especially very meaningful during this pandemic period. As a theory with various forms, integrated communication by organisational ethnographers (researchers) can elicit a positive response from leaders, Islamic religious leaders, and the community towards handling the Covid-19 pandemic in an integrated and synergistic manner. Public relations officers who tend to be bureaucratic, administrative, managerial, and technical can combine with Islamic religious leaders' cultural and spiritual approaches.

Furthermore, the religious and traditional environment of the Bogor community can become a basis for role models for other regions outside of Bogor, not only in handling the pandemic but also in other fundamental problems experienced by the community. The integrated communication approach introduced by researchers is considered understandable in dealing with various religious issues that are changing rapidly due to technological advances because it appears that the facilitation carried out by researchers can transform the improvement of organisational life for public relations officers and religious people by creating synergistic and sustainable collaboration in the future. Focussing on the phenomenon of spiritual life, in the end, it is necessary to design a "religious-based organisational ethnography" as a response to the development of new forms of organisational ethnography. This is the same as the emergence of religious, transcendental, spiritual, and communication (Islam, Christianity, Hinduism).

Practically, the ethnographer organisation can explore the dynamics and problems of the organisation, ranging from communicators, messages, media, audiences, and the effects of organisational communication management, both at the City of Bogor government and the Islamic religious leader scale. This OE method logically captures and reveals the daily activities of organisational actors, especially during the Covid-19 period, indoors and in the field, which is an endless process with many actors (public relations, Islamic religious leaders, the community) that can lead in a different direction. Different, directed by the ethnographer's ability to follow organisational processes and demonstrate his or her ability to participate in them.

Acknowledgment Statement: Authors are responsible that anyone named in the Acknowledment agrees to be named.

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have influenced the work reported in this study.

Author contribution statements: Nurhayani Saragih: conceptualization and methodology; Suraya Mansur: conceptualization, methodology, and formal analysis; Ellys Lestari Pambayun: investigation, wrapping of the original draft, and visualization; Topikurohman: validation, data curation, and supervision.

Funding: The Research Collaboration Implementation Fund, allocated by Mercu Buana University, is associated with the cooperative effort involving the Communication Science Program at Mercu Buana University and the Dakwah Program at PTIQ Institute. This collaboration is formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or Agreement Note between Mercu Buana University (UMB) and PTIQ Jakarta Institute, bearing reference numbers No. 02-5/IA/RESEARCH/KDN/182/II/2022 (UMB) and PTIQ/001/FD/IX/2022.

Ethical Consideration statement: Not applicable. This study did not include human or animal studies.

Data Availability Statement: All relevant data are available within the manuscript.

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