Thursday, June 4, 2009


I'm often asked, "What are you going to do after you retire?"

Well, there is no doubt in my mind I'll do something in the communication field. There's no doubt that's what I'll do because it's the only thing I know how to do.

I have thought about reinventing myself but I really don't have the skill to fix things or the will count things. Plus, I believe my PA rule #9 applies, "Every job is a PA job," so why bother trying to do something else.

What I have learned is that we have developed ourselves well professionally. Our maturity that comes from being given responsibility and authority at an early age--that continues to increase through our careers--is unmatched anywhere else. Also--and just as critical--the plethora of issues we get the opportunity to handle forges our PR skills and credibility. Our mission is more critical than ever and we have the right preparation and problem-solving abilities to handle anything that's thrown at us.

I'm all for change when it's needed. I even hope I can recognize when change is necessary. But for now I'd rather continue to help communicate reinventions.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Assessing Research

It seems to me we have a tendency to overlook the tools of research and assessment in the classic PR model: Research, Plan, Execute, Assess.

We're fortunate at SAF/PA to have very sharp Airmen in our Plans division. They provide a robust research and assessment capability that becomes the foundation for executing many of our communication strategies and tactics.

One piece of research we've been using for the past several weeks is from the Pew News Interest Index. Pew examines "News Awareness by the American Public."

Pew conducts a national survey of adults asking them what is the one story they followed the most closely in the news over the last week. In professional research parlance the question falls under the category of "unaided recall." That means the respondents don't have a choice of options to pick from--they have to remember on their own what stories they paid attention to during the last week.

For example, since mid-April, the economy and Swine Flu have dominated the results; between 30-to-40 percent of the respondents listed those as the story they most closely watched. On a graph, our Plans division then charts out the military stories respondents indicated. Since April, issues such as CIA interrogations, Iraq, Pakistan, detainee abuse photos, Iran and the terror debate made the chart. None of them scored more than 11 percent in the survey and most were down around the 5-to-6 percent levels. The pirate issue with the Maersk Alabama was the lone exception with 34 percent of the respondents saying they most closely followed that story from 17-20 April.

What this tells me is that most folks outside of Washington, D.C. don't really think about the things we focus a lot of effort on here at the Pentagon. So, how should we use this information? What I think we need to learn from this information is determining what our real target
audience(s) should be for a given issue, determine how that audience likes to receive their information and then communicate with them accordingly. Gone are the days when a communication plan lists audiences as Media, Congress, Influencers, Great American Public. Not everybody has time to deal with our issues. We have have to find out who does and who cares, and ensure they get our messages.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A'Twitter at the Front

Twitter has found its way to the front-lines in Afghanistan. Check out AP reporter Jason Straziuso's piece today about how U.S. forces are using Twitter to inform audiences about battlefield results. Straziuso's article ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer and was carried in the Early Bird.

Straziuso reports that U.S. forces are using Twitter to give instant battlefield updates, usually hours before official news releases are sent to the media. He quotes Col. Greg Julian, the top military spokesperson in Afghanistan as saying, "There's an entire audience segment that seeks its news from alternative means outside traditional news sources, and we want to make sure we're engaging them as well."

Military forces in Afghanistan are also using other social networking sources to get information out quickly. As Straziuso's report says, the Taliban have primarily conducted an information war while U.S. forces have lagged behind. The use of social media is a direct tactic to counter Taliban misinformation about the status of the war.

We entrust our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with great responsibility and authority over the lives of their people and with the best weapons to conduct battlefield missions. They do so under clear Rules of Engagement (ROE). As the ramp-up of forces continues in Afghanistan, we need to consider arming them with the ability to quickly communicate and with ROI (Rules of Information) to win the information battles as well.

Thank You.

Monday, June 1, 2009


I really don't know what happened. I kept saying I'll get to it tomorrow. One tomorrow turned into 65. I'm glad to say the tomorrows and the blogpause is over. I hope there's someone out there still following.

Here's what's kept me busy over the last couple of months.

* We implemented the new policy that allows media coverage at Dover AFB for the return of our fallen service members. It started on April 5 with media covering the return of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Meyers from Hopewell, Va. Nearly 40 media representatives from 18 different media outlets covered the return of SSgt. Meyers. Since then the numbers of media covering returns have dropped off significantly. I'm very proud of all the Air Force PA professionals who have taken part in ensuring the media operation for the returns is done professionally and with respect to the dignified transfer. They have gotten nothing but the highest of praise from AF leadership.

* We announced the preferred basing alternatives for Global Strike Command and the new Cyber Numbered Air Force. These announcements are but one step in the process of securing a new home for these commands. The important aspect for me personally is that we're watching history being made for our Air Force. Global Strike Command is a direct result of the reinvigoration of the nuclear enterprise in the Air Force and a testament to the great work being done at all levels to ensure our nuclear mission is safe, sound and secure. The Cyber NAF will be on the cutting-edge of cyber operations for the U.S., defending important computer systems from attack.

* We also welcomed our new director of Public Affairs, Col Les Kodlick. Col Kodlick is a career PA. His first priority is resources and he's carrying on the fight to properly staff our career field in this dynamic communication environment. He brings the freshness of the field and the experience of a tried and true professional to the job. I know we'll be doing more with Les.

Again, the blogpause is over. I look forward to future postings.