International Public & Corporate Communications Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News Issue # 2 - 2012
FOREWORD This newsletter is aimed at providing Public Affairs practitioners with a short selection of recently published stories, papers, etc. which may be useful to remain abreast of new trends or to stimulate a debate on the opinion expressed by the authors. External sources are linked and any copyright remains with the authors.
In this issue:
SC, IO, PD: what in a name? Information Operations (IO) is much like Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), but in a military environment, so there are other tools available with purposes and capability that are otherwise illegal. Another thing that IO should strive to include is coordinating kinetic activities in support of information effects. If I really want to send a message to a country I’ll park a carrier battle group off your coast or roll a tank convoy through your village. Even better is providing jobs in your village, region or country. IO is not perfect, no part of warfare is. But most forms of kinetic warfare, as in bullets and bombs, have evolved to a point where we are only tightening shot groups. Sure, we will have exponential leaps in warfare with our global strike program, directed energy weapons and invisibility camouflage, but these will be more incremental than revolutionary. Where we can vastly improve is in Information Operations, Strategic Communication (SC) and Public Diplomacy (PD) – informing and influencing foreign audiences. These fields are still mostly an art form – our gut tells us how an audience will respond whereas we honestly don’t know if we should be targeting their perceptions or conditions.
edited by ComIPI www.comipi.it
The future of military information-support operations
Essential media tips: -
Should you really communicate immediately in a crisis? p. 14
5 ways to reframe a non-news event to attract reporters p. 14
How to develop accurate measures of effect for StratComm p.16
No comment? By Franco Veltri Jim Bianchi, President, Bianchi Public Relations, Inc., started three months ago a discussion on LinkedIn, challenging the PA community to answer the question: “No Comment. We've all been taught to avoid saying that in media situations. What are the best substitutes for “no comment” that you’ve heard or used?” He got 228 comments, most of which deserve wider dissemination. I will attempt here to summarize the entire discussion and recommend a selection of proposed ‘answers’. As this was mainly a ‘cut and paste’ exercise, recommend to join the group Public Relations and Communications Professionals on LinkedIn and read the original tread. As a premise, let me state that, in my view, the best approach is to identify - in advance - the subjects that we will not be able to comment on and prepare a ‘survival kit’ of potential answers. That will constitute a baseline on which to build further answers as situations develop. Bridging answers to key messages may appear the standard winning technique but I fully agree with a comment ‘out of the choir’ by Ange Frymire Fleming: bridging may not always work as it may show a lack of understanding of media's intentions, needs and responses. It can also reduce interview time, trust and credibility. Key-message development and delivery MUST be strategic and...flexible, which almost sounds counter-productive if you believe that you only have 3 things to say about anything and everything. Another controversial aspect refers to deadlines. Most of us were taught that the standard statement to be given when we cannot answer a question should include asking for the reporter’s deadline (with implication we will do our best to provide answer in time). However, the discussion has shown that in the era of 24/7 news cycles this is often an outdated problem. With major market television outlets doing 10-12 shows in five day
parts, and print and wire service reporters using social media to post story developments, omissions and delays can leave unsettling gross impressions. Back to the discussion, there is of course a generalized consensus on the need to avoid stating not to have a comment (keeping in mind, however, that while everyone wants to avoid having nothing to say, saying “no comment” is better than making an untrue or inappropriate comment). Here are a few related comments: Absolutely never, ever, ever say you don't have a comment. It's like a day without sunshine, or cereal without the milk, or admitted defeat or defiance... The big thing is to maintain your integrity and always follow through. A no comment does not help either side. The reporter does not have a source, and the PR person representing a company or individual looks like they are hiding something. Truthfully, there's no reason to give a "no comment." If the reporter is a total stranger, and he's pressing, you have to be non-confrontational and do one of two things...offer him or her an alternative source--that got me out of a lot of scrapes, or honestly say you probably can't give any information at this time...and always, always call the reporter back with something, not necessarily what he or she wants, but something that might lead the reporter elsewhere, to some other source of information. However, if you give "Something that might lead the reporter elsewhere, to some other source of information," you are effectively asking him to seek out your worst enemy, your company's competitor, someone with an axe to grind or, at the very least, someone with less direct knowledge about the situation. That's just inviting trouble because, since you weren't cooperative, the media has NO incentive to spare you any embarrassment or hardship. Having reaffirmed that we need to provide a better answer even if we cannot provide what the questioner is waiting for, it is also clear that there is no simple answer that works in every situation. The proper response is dictated by the nature of the question, to whom it is directed, and whether 2
the question can appropriately answered as asked by the person to whom it is directed when it is asked.
and can share it – I have the answer and here it is. 2) You don’t know the answer – I don’t have the answer but I’ll get it for you. 3) You know the answer, but are not able to share it for one of several reasons (confidentiality, prematurity, privacy, litigation concerns, disclosure regulations, policy, etc.) – I know the answer but I cannot discuss it, and here’s why.
The best response whenever possible is to answer the question asked if it is a reasonable question, if it is appropriately directed to you, and you have an approved and reasonable answer. If the question is reasonable and appropriately directed but you don’t have an immediate approved answer, promise to look into the matter and get back to the reporter.
If you can't answer the question for a legitimate reason (e.g a personnel matter or under litigation) say so. If the question is misdirected, steer the reporter in the right direction. The best strategy here is pause-answer-stop. By pausing, you can control emotion and take time to think.
“I’ll look into to this and get back to you.” Don’t promise an answer because you may not be able to provide one. If there is something relevant to add: “I don't the answer to that question, but what I can tell you is that..."
If you can’t answer a valid question for a valid reason: “I’m sorry, but I can’t answer that questions because ... (e.g. personnel matters are confidential, the matter is under litigation, the investigation is still ongoing, etc.)
If a question is overly argumentative or points in an unproductive direction: “That’s an interesting question, but I think the real issue here is … “
If a question is unreasonably hostile, transparently unwarranted and/or insulting: “I’m not going to dignify a question like that with a response” or “A question like that doesn’t deserve an answer.” In TV ambush situations just walk away.
When a question asserts or assumes facts that are untrue or can’t be substantiated: “I can’t answer the question you ask because it’s based on false or unsubstantiated information. Based on what I know, here’s what I can tell you.”
If a question asked is actually a biased statement of opinion masquerading as a
If the question is relevant and appropriately directed but based on facts that are inaccurate or unsubstantiated, or if the question is biased or a statement of opinion masquerading as a question, responses such as the following are in order: “You have raised an important issue, but I can’t answer your question as you asked it because you have assumed facts that are not correct (or unsubstantiated). The real question from my perspective is … “ “The issue you raise is important, but the question you asked is really a statement of your opinion. If you want to have a serious discussion of this issue, I’d be happy to do so.” If the question is simply way off base it’s okay to say so. Here are a few proposed approaches: As media trainer Eric Bergman (http://www.presentwithease.com) says, there are three possible situations relating to every reporter’s question, each with an acceptable answer: 1) You know the answer to the question
If you don’t know the answer or you are unsure whether you are authorized to answer the question:
question: “That’s not really a question. It’s a statement of opinion. If you have a factual question to ask, I’ll try to answer it.”
Samples of additional short phrases that may substitute ‘no comment’, based on your situation: o
(for those who work for government activities) The best response ever is using the "Bleiker Life Preserver" method. Devised by Hans Blieker in 1989, the method was designed for public officials when asked about their involvement in public projects. However, it is easily adapted as a method of responding in a crisis situation. Just say, "We recognize this is a serious issue. We are the right people to address this issue, and we're being sensible, responsible and reasonable in our response. We're listening carefully to the public on this and we're hoping to minimize any hardship and suffering because we care." In a crisis, a simple statement acknowledging the situation should be given. This avoids "no comment" and acknowledges that you recognize the need to cooperate with the media and inform the public. Post a statement on your website, tweet it, blog it and give to the press. Specific situations in which you can legitimately choose to not communicate:
I'm not the right person to handle the question, but I will locate them for you and make sure they call. o The case is sub judicae. I cannot comment due to legal restrictions BUT let me take your details so I can get back to you with any relevant info o We are currently investigating the incident . There is a potential for further fall-out. I have to await confirmation from on the ground specialists. o The information is time sensitive or scientific/complex in nature and an incorrect answer may cause unnecessary alarm or harm. I am currently awaiting specialist input by subject matter experts. o I appreciate your question, but I do not have enough information at the present time to give you a meaningful response. o We are still in the process of getting all the information. It is therefore too early to give a definite response at this time o I'd rather answer that when I'm in possession of the full facts, as we would rather not mislead anyone with half a story.
1. The issue in question is before the courts or under investigation. 2. Securities legislation (i.e. financial market laws) would be violated. 3. Employee, client, patient confidentiality would be breached (or some other form of privacy legislation). 4. Sensitive competitive information would be divulged. 5. A news blackout has been imposed on union negotiations. 6. Next of kin have not been notified. 7. Issues of national security. 8. You are not the appropriate source of information on the matter.
The future of MISO By Col. Curtis Boyd From the official website of the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and School (http://www.soc.mil/swcS/SWmag/archive/SW2401/SW2401T heFutureOfMISO.html?goback=%2Egde_816587_member_1191 75180)
In 2005, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked whether the term psychological operations, or PSYOP, still had utility in the information age. His point was that the information age posed many branding challenges for PSYOP that adherence to the code of conduct and the Army values simply could not overcome. Earlier this year, absent any improvement in brand image, Admiral Eric Olson, commander of the United States Special Operations Command, directed that the term PSYOP be changed to military informationsupport operations, or MISO.1 But the simple name change can neither eliminate the association of PSYOP with its pejorative predecessors — propaganda and psychological warfare — nor correct the contemporary perception of PSYOP as potentially underhanded and unethical. It is possible, however, that a better appreciation of the historical baggage might lead to a more complete understanding of the challenges facing the MISO force and its future. This article will offer a review of PSYOP's history; take a brief look at definitions; show the relationships of PSYOP to public affairs, or PA; information operations, or IO, and public diplomacy, or PD; and suggest new ways we might think about PSYOP (now MISO). Although PSYOP has been repeatedly misunderstood and misrepresented, MISO, as a means of informing and influencing foreign audiences, remains as relevant in peace as in war and as vital to our nation's defense as ever before. This discussion is intended to create a dialogue that may generate solutions to many unresolved issues and serve as the beginning of a more comprehensive vision and mission of our MISO force and its function. Pejorative past: the truth The documented history of PSYOP begins with the World War I activities of its antecedent, propaganda.2 In World War I, PSYOP "came into its own as a formal activity," said retired Colonel Frank Goldstein.3 During that period,
the three shades of propaganda — white, gray and black — appeared in a variety of unclassified and classified government programs aimed at motivating popular support for the war and demoralizing the enemy. It is important to understand that as propaganda moves from shades of white to black, the source of the propaganda becomes less obvious, until, in black propaganda, the source is unknown. The most memorable and successful World War I white-propaganda themes communicated that the war was necessary to "keep the world safe for democracy" and that it would be "the war to end all wars." Ultimately, the propaganda campaigns waged by the U.S. and its allies also had unintended consequences. On occasion, propaganda waged at home exaggerated the truth to such an extent as to be construed as disinformation. The deceptiveness of those tactics almost eliminated our government's credibility, even among sympathetic U.S. audiences. For example, rumors of the Germans making soap out of dead bodies at the "Corpse Conversion Factory" only temporarily aroused war fervor and later aroused suspicion of U.S. government information.4 By the end of the war, the American public had become indifferent to rumors and disinformation. During World War II, the U.S. adapted its organizational structure to make the newly named psychological warfare, or PSYWAR, more acceptable. As in World War I, white propaganda still aroused popular support for the war effort, but it was placed under the control of the War Advertising Council. The more sensitive shades of gray and black propaganda were handled separately by the Office of War Information, or OWI. The War Advertising Council organized corporate sponsorships and facilitated partnerships with the media and various advertising agencies to increase popular support for a variety of government programs ranging from the census to the draft. Its successor, the Ad Council, is notably remembered for some of America's most famous icons and catch phrases: Smokey the Bear, McGruff the Crime Dog and "Friends don't let friends drive drunk."5 Meanwhile, the OWI, with its subordinate Psychological Warfare Division, focused its propaganda efforts on confusing, delegitimizing and demoralizing foreign enemy audiences. Understanding the public's sensitivity to black 5
propaganda, the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, took control of those programs, which were eventually assimilated by one of the OSS's successors, the CIA.6 During World War II, both white propaganda and the full-spectrum propaganda of PSYWAR gained a respectability that World War I propaganda had not. Its use continued during the postwar reconstruction era as consolidation propaganda (similar to today's MISO support to stability operations). Despite the precipitous postwar decline of staff expertise in Washington, D.C., PSYWAR and propaganda teams remained active in many headquarters in European and Pacific theaters.7 At the time, the prevailing opinion was that PSYWAR's ability to influence foreign audiences exceeded the boundaries of combat and the tactical battlefield, and that a more expansive definition and operational construct were needed. Understanding the limitations of PSYWAR and the need to communicate U.S. goals and objectives to foreign audiences, President Harry Truman's administration viewed the job as one not exclusive to the military. To provide a capability for conducting peacetime propaganda and to oversee the standing-down of the War Department's OWI, Truman established the Interim International Information Service, or IIIS, within the Department of State. Soon the Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs replaced the IIIS and formed the nucleus of what later became the United States Information Agency, or USIA, in 1953.8 While the USIA gave the U.S. government a way to communicate U.S. goals and objectives to foreign audiences, the military continued to struggle for a more expansive PSYWAR role that could support military operations and overseas interagency initiatives during peacetime. In 1959, Murray Dyer suggested political communications as an umbrella term for concealing the three separate branches — psychological warfare, information and propaganda — of PSYWAR. In a 1952 campaign speech in San Francisco, Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke of the value of PSYWAR: We must adapt our foreign policy to a "cold war" strategy … a chance to gain a victory without casualties, to win a contest that can quite literally save peace. … In this war, which was total in every sense of the word, we
have seen many great changes in military science. It seems to me that not the least of these was the development of psychological warfare as a specific and effective weapon.9 From then on, psychological warfare rose to national strategic significance in an East vs. West war of images and ideas — the Cold War. As retired Colonel Al Paddock shows in his book, U.S. Army Special Warfare: Its Origins, maintaining PSYWAR as a viable capability during World War II and afterward was a constant but worthwhile battle that gave us the ability to influence foreign audiences in a manner favorable to U.S. nationalsecurity objectives. It is not surprising that in the same year as Eisenhower's speech, the Psychological Warfare Center was established at Fort Bragg, N.C., in recognition of PSYWAR's importance and credible ability to influence foreign audiences in war and peace. The Army appreciated the need for talented young officers who had the education, experience or aptitude for the art of influence to join the PSYWAR ranks, and the PSYWAR Center, later the Special Warfare Training Center, began providing the Army's cadre of professional "psywarriors" who would later take their understanding of the art of influence to war in Vietnam. By its very nature, PSYWAR fit well with combat operations, but during the post-combat consolidation and stabilization phases, its credibility began to erode. As during the postWorld War II period, there were efforts to disguise PSYWAR as something else during the less-thanhostile phases of military operations. Paddock says that in Vietnam, counterinsurgency, unconventional warfare and guerrilla warfare could not have been waged effectively without PSYOP as a valuable enabler and force multiplier. From Vietnam to the present, psychological operations have risen to respectability and credibility within our Army and the Department of Defense. While there was another postwar lull in interest in PSYOP after Vietnam, the most profound increase in numbers and interest in PSYOP forces occurred during the mid- to late 1980s. The impact of President Ronald Reagan's National Security Decision Directive 77 (1983), the Department of Defense PSYOP Master Plan (1985) and the Goldwater-Nichols Act (1987) provided permanent PSYOP staff authorizations within the Joint Staff, the Department of the Army and the U.S. Special Operations Command, as well as the permanent establishment of two reserve6
component PSYOP groups, an enlisted military occupational specialty (37F), the recognition of the importance of PSYOP planning at combatant commands and the modernization of PSYOP equipment â€” all improvements that were absent during any other postwar period in our military history.10 The activation of the 4th PSYOP Group headquarters and four battalions during Vietnam, the activation of the PSYOP Regiment in 1998, the creation of the PSYOP Branch (37A) in 2006 and the existence of three PSYOP groups today show remarkable steps ahead in the Army's ability to convey messages to affect foreign audiences' behavior.11 In 1962, the term psychological warfare changed to psychological operations to address the demands of a "more expansive role" in general and to meet the mission demands of counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare in particular. In today's operating environment, the Army finds itself asking a similar question about PSYOP in the war on terrorism. The question now is whether or not MISO will serve as an appropriate substitute for PSYOP and a new term of reference for DoD's most credible inform-and-influence capability not only in the war on terror but in all forms of military and interagency engagements. Facts For the purposes of this article, our analysis and definition will remain within the Army's domain. That is not to suggest that what was PSYOP and is now MISO is not a joint force or capability. MISO is inherently joint, yet the forces and capabilities to execute it for the DoD reside predominantly in the Army. There are more than 2,000 active-duty PSYOP Branch Soldiers, most of whom are assigned to the Army Special Operations Command's 4th Military Information Support Group (formerly the 4th PSYOP Group), and twice that number are assigned to the two Army Reserve groups (the 2nd and the 7th). Those active-duty and reserve forces conduct operations planned to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups and individuals.12 More simply stated, MISO is communications to influence human attitudes and behavior. The targeting of foreign governments,
organizations, groups and individuals is the most revealing feature of the more detailed definition, because it reflects intentions and potential actions that extend beyond the tactical level of war and are not exclusive to combat. Likewise, the mere idea that we might convey "selected information" parallels methods akin to those of propaganda (a lesson for a revised MISO definition). In the information age, PSYOP's relevance across the continuum of conflict and functionality at multiple levels of warfare was tenuous, at best. On the one hand, there was and still is no debating the relevance of PSYOP at the tactical level. One cannot convincingly argue that there is such a thing as strategic PSYOP, because no senior government official will ever admit that they conduct propaganda. In fact, in 1999, thenSecretary of State Madeline Albright closed the USIA to ensure that she and the rest of the State Department dissociated themselves from any possibility that propaganda was being developed and disseminated anywhere on behalf of the U.S. government.13 While one might argue that the U.S. government cannot separate itself from propaganda by simply eliminating an agency, the argument itself is beyond the analytical scope of this discussion. Other attempts to disguise operational- and strategic-level propaganda have increased confusion and reduced the clarity of our message.14 Likewise, while one can see opportunity by changing the name PSYOP to MISO, there will still be lingering suspicion and innuendo given the gradual changes in lexicon, doctrine, training, education, leader development and force management that will occur over time. Does MISO's reach extend across all levels of war? The combatant commands and the interagency are typically not inclined to refer to "PSYOP" when they are considering influencing populations in their area of responsibility. At the operational level, the preference is to conceal PSYOP's apparently untruthful tendencies and unscrupulous underpinnings. White or "pure" PSYOP has been disguised as "Military or Defense Support to Public Diplomacy," "International Public Information" or, in some other instances, simply IO, to lessen the scrutiny and allegations that might come with using PSYOP in a peacetime environment.15 7
The U.S. government, through the State Department, uses PD as a means of "engaging, informing and influencing key international audiences about U.S. policy and society to advance America's interests which is practiced in harmony with public affairs (outreach to Americans) and traditional diplomacy to advance U.S. interests and security and to provide the moral basis for U.S. leadership in the world"16 (one might think MISO could harmonize with PA, too).17 Does today's MISO parallel PD? In years past, PSYOP and diplomacy did not easily mix, but the desire to inform and influence foreign audiences was of mutual concern. Despite good intentions, PSYOP's negative connotation and brand image required PD to collaborate cautiously, assume a safe distance and maintain deniability, or risk guilt by association. So how then did the former practices and principles of PSYOP get synchronized with those of "well intentioned" diplomats and our so-called PSYOP specialists? Simply put, PSYOP had to become more compatible and persuasive by using other names to refer to itself, demilitarizing its lexicon, and describing its functions as more inclusive of commercial activities, public relations and cross-cultural-communications constructs. De facto, the military information support team had become synonymous with the PA and PD partnership, which had markedly increased accessibility, reduced suspicion and lessened the potential for guilt by association â€” providing sufficient basis for today's MISO. Accordingly, support of regional combatant commanders and U.S. country teams' theatersecurity cooperation initiatives has been provided by a military information-support team. Similarly, as contingency operations like Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan transitioned to less-than-hostile phases of operations, PSYOP task forces changed to softer, more sophisticated productdevelopment and â€“dissemination, under the guise of information task forces, further relieving accessibility challenges, misgivings or suspicion. As if things were not confused enough, PA, PSYOP and PD have been categorized as influence operations, strategic communication, perception management, soft power and strategic influence.18 Retired Colonel Fred
Walker adds, "We might use the term 'persuasive communications' to mean the same thing as psychological operations."19 MISO is a reasonable compromise, given the many nondescript and confusing terms of reference that might be used to encapsulate what PSYOP once was and what MISO really has the potential to be. Friction The various terminologies sometimes complicate our understanding and hinder our ability to redefine PSYOP in the information age so that we can introduce a more inclusive concept like MISO. Information operations, for example, are the integrated employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial decisionmaking while protecting our own.20 The simplest way to think of the difference between information operations and historical PSYOP is that IO is the integrator, whereas PSYOP was the instigator.21 In an article that retired Major General David Grange wrote on Bosnia, he used information operations and psychological operations interchangeably. Similarly, in a book about the war planning for Iraq, Bob Woodward points out how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred repeatedly to PSYOP from leaflet drops to Commando Solo broadcasts as information operations. Nathaniel Fick, author of the book, One Bullet Away, stated in an oral presentation about his experiences in Iraq that as he and his recon platoon crossed into the southern portion of the country, nine out of 10 Iraqis surrendered without fighting, which he contends was the result of an "intense IO campaign that dropped leaflets and broadcasted surrender appeals."22 Similarly, there are many flag officers and senior Pentagon officials who cannot comfortably use the term PSYOP in forums in Washington and elsewhere, so, in its place, information operations has become a more appropriate and subtle substitute.23 There is much discussion about the future of IO in our Army, and suffice it to state that if it is economically and operationally practical and purposeful to retain this redundancy, then there is no need to assume that there are any efficiencies to be gained from combining the IO and PSYOP 8
officer corps. On the other hand, if there is evidence that IO and PSYOP redundancies or staff fratricide do exist, then we should pursue a construct that builds a MISO plus IO (and PA) career force from the bottom up. There is no question that affecting adversary decisionmaking begins with a psychological appreciation of the target audience. That said, then it logically flows that MISO gains the advanced understanding of IO tools and techniques to further discourage or defeat the target of influence. Therefore, the convergence of the two officer career fields offers practical, purposeful and economic solutions for DoD and our nation. Speaking in 2005 to the Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, General Doug Brown, the former commander of the United States Special Operations Command, said, "Dissemination of truthful information to foreign audiences in support of U.S. policy and national objectives is a vital part of the specialoperations force's effort to secure peace."24 Admiral Eric Olson, the USSOCOM commander, has repeatedly made the same point, which he has stressed emphatically in the replacement of the term PSYOP with MISO. Admiral Olson has made the point that MISO has no business associating itself with such ventures as deception that rely on misperceptions and misinterpretations of the facts among target audiences (MISO must and will be truth-based). The Geneva-Hague Convention's laws of armed conflict outline the legal and ethical limitations for the conduct of military operations, including PSYOP. Moreover, DoD regulations, instructions and policy directives outline PSYOP permissions, as well as release and approval authorities. Joint Pub 3-53, Doctrine for Joint PSYOP, and other doctrinal publications reiterate the legal limitations on psychological operations. Ultimately, the authority to conduct PSYOP resides with either the president or the secretary of defense. While the Posse Comitatus Act (1878) establishes strict legal limits for the use of the military in
the continental United States in general, the Smith Mundt Act (1948) more particularly restricts the use of PSYOP within our borders.25 For MISO Soldiers to conduct operations within the continental U.S., the secretary of defense must issue a deployment-and-execution order that delineates the objectives, themes, timing, duration and types of information to be disseminated in support of military operations or lead federal agencies. Therefore, MISO authorities to deploy and execute operations are tightly controlled and are kept within the acceptable norms of American culture. Today, the Department of Defense conveys truth through two messengers: PA and MISO. PA assets consist largely of staff assistants, journalists, correspondents and small detachments capable of gathering and disseminating military news for domestic consumption. MISO (AC/USAR PSYOP), by contrast, has larger tactical and operational units with the skills and resources needed to capture, develop, produce and disseminate multimedia products that can be used to inform and influence foreign audiences. Because MISO and PA must have the trust of the target audience, and because trust and credibility depend on facts, truth forms the foundation of both MISO and PA.26 Absent the untruthful stigma of PSYOP, MISO offers PA a vital partner in DoD's capacity to craft a unified message and speak with one voice. Regardless, each of DoD's messengers subscribes to truth as a critical ingredient in securing and shaping a credible relationship with its audience. PA and MISO claim proprietorship to the same truth, yet one might ask, "If PA and MISO tell the same truth, then why are there two messengers and two distinct military career fields?" Having a wall between PA and MISO is counterproductive during an era when we are experiencing persistent budget cuts, manpower reductions, and declining brand loyalty and image in a more media enriched, culturally diverse, and technologically sophisticated global market. If correctly defined, MISO might offer some relief from propaganda's pejorative past and find itself even more inclusive of PA-like competencies, cooperation and collaboration.
Today's self-proclaimed purists in PA, PD and the national media detest any association with propaganda, yet they "spin" messages without full disclosure. PD promotes U.S. foreign-policy objectives by "seeking to understand, inform and influence foreign audiences and opinion makers, and by broadening the dialogue between American citizens and institutions and their counterparts abroad."27 As Joseph Nye states, "Skeptics who treat public diplomacy as a euphemism for broadcasting government propaganda miss the point. Simple propaganda lacks credibility and thus is counterproductive."28 The Pentagon has stated: "The media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception in the United States." PA officers steer media toward stories, interviews and photo opportunities, all intended to have the desired influence and affect.29 Even the Army has recognized the importance of information to the current and future fight. Army Field Manual 3-0, Operations, states that information is the commander's business. The 2004 Defense Science Board's Study on Strategic Communication examined the relationship between PD, PA and white PSYOP in order to create consistency of message and maximize our national tools of influence.30 There is little question that prejudice stems from PSYOP's origins in propaganda and psychological warfare, although with time, that stigma has become more fiction that fact. Assuming that we could isolate the functionality of pure PA and dark PSYOP (deception) at opposite ends of an information continuum, we could use MISO in the middle as an operational construct that links the core competencies of foreign public and community relations, media operations, public information and communication, military marketing/advertising/branding, and crisis communications as the informational and influential means of communicating our military's message.31 END: MISO in the middle The brighter side of PSYOP's historical record highlights some incredibly ingenious, innovative and imaginative methods for winning the "hearts and minds" of select foreign audiences and compelling many enemies to surrender without fighting. Current operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan are full of such successes. PSYOP assumed a leading role in the formation of the information task forces in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and employed a myriad of inform-and-influence techniques, from traditional face-to-face keyleader engagements to leveraging leading-edge technologies for delivering more precise and more purposeful messages. From surrender appeals to weapons buy-back to national-pride programs to publicizing federal and local elections, PSYOP has delivered convincingly credible and truthful information for effect. Ninety-five percent of psychological operations have reflected factual and truthful information, full disclosure without manipulation and a genuine intent to inform. The remaining five percent were either unacknowledged communications or outright blunders that tended to capture the most criticism and public interest, yet they typically were not performed by uniformed PSYOP personnel.32 MISO lacks any ability to counteract those misrepresentations that tend to overshadow the tens of thousands of more influential messages and positive informational activities that have been employed from Iraq to Indonesia. In the contemporary information environment, the term PSYOP has become inextricably tied to political "doubletalk" akin to deception, disinformation and other lies or falsehoods. An understanding of MISO today has to consider the weight imposed by the historical baggage of propaganda, PSYWAR and PSYOP. While the bright side of the historical record is full of some incredibly ingenious and imaginative ways to influence foreign audiences in divisive, coercive and persuasive ways to compel them to surrender without fighting, there are also some less favorable memories of trickery and disinformation representative of the darker side of PSYOP history. From World War I until Vietnam, PSYWAR was generally reserved for "wartime use only." From Vietnam until the present however, the size and capabilities of PSYWAR's successor PSYOP force have increased three times over their original configuration, and improvements in technology have increased, as well. The combination of those two factors and the competencies of the PSYOP officer branch and enlisted career field have increased the military's power to inform and influence exponentially. To achieve the positive brand recognition needed to maximize MISO's 10
potential to inform and influence, however, we continue to use euphemisms to disguise historical PSYOP terms. Umbrella terms like strategic communication, strategic influence, military support to public diplomacy and information operations are confusing references to our ability to communicate a persuasive or truthful message to a particular audience and more often than not have been simply euphemisms for PSYOP. Despite the best of intentions, possible linkages of the umbrella terms with PSYOP risked sacrificing message credibility with the target of influence. MISO, by contrast, assumes more truthful connotation and clear associations with methods of communication, as well as greater interface with IO and PA to create the intended inform-or-influence effect.33 While PA might claim that its message is intended for U.S. domestic audiences and international media, current operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere suggest otherwise. Operational lessons learned and future concepts indicate that PA is able to persuade with a purpose and can partner with a transformed MISO force in order to effectively speak with one voice. To assist the warfighter, MISO can communicate intent, confirm or deny the adversary's perceived ideas, introduce new facts and new ways to interpret the situation, and counter disinformation coming from outside sources. In February 2005, the U.S. Joint Forces Command published a future-concepts paper that stated that PA has a vested interest in maintaining an ability to develop and deliver timely messages and images to produce desired effects. Similarly, the Army's Field Manual 3-13, Information Operations, states that PA shapes the information environment by preparing command themes and messages aimed toward the belligerent government, hostile forces and its civilian population.34 Reading between the lines, it appears that the PA approach has become quite compatible with MISO synchronization and with communicating the truth to gain the desired effect. A MISO, IO and PA partnering would have six important effects: (1) It would eliminate unnecessary redundancies in manpower and function at all echelons (G7); (2) It would increase the level of talent and sophistication in each of the career fields (officer and enlisted) in
an overarching information corps; (3) It would normalize the narrative, create message consistency and improve content; (4) It would increase message timeliness, precision and relevance; (5) It would close the gaps between MISO, IO and PA and leverage the best talents of all three; and ultimately, (6) It would reduce operational redundancies and provide a common lexicon upon which we could finally speak and ally more closely.35 Historical PSYOP and PA could be opposites that attract by virtue of having MISO in the middle to fill the Army's inform-and-influence capability gap (as PD has done for the State Department). Likewise, IO and PSYOP have worked at crosspurposes, lacked compatibility, confused commanders and unnecessarily complicated operations. At this juncture, unity of effort and singleness of purpose seem practical and prudent, given competing fiscal and manpower requirements. An IO and PSYOP/MISO merger is both meaningful and mandatory, given lessons learned, and most probable, given future operational demands.36 All considered, message consistency, precision, content, relevance and timeliness will seal the information seams with a renewed standard of influencing excellence: IO, PA and MISO all-inclusive.37 Ultimately, MISO must speak to more than just PSYOP: It must be more inclusive, be compatible with information-age constructs, employ IO tools and techniques, adapt to emerging technologies and be resilient to perpetual scrutiny from those suspicious of government authority or DoD sources of information. An inclusive MISO construct would capture the many methods (IO/PA) of informing and influencing. MISO cannot be completely appreciated without clear association to multimedia, marketing, masscommunications, crisis and public communications, and community or public relations that would counteract any preconceived notions that MISO is nothing more than PSYOP by another name. MISO must be more: inclusive, convincing, compelling, persuasive, accurate and truthful. MISO cannot be connected with the sinister or misleading aspects of its ancestry. MISO must have only one shade of truth â€” white.38 This article has discussed four important nuances regarding our historical PSYOP. First, by definition, PSYOP was always more than simply tactical operations â€” MISO will make that even more obvious. Second, the historical record validates 11
PSYOP Group provided the 4th Group backup from Okinawa; Alfred H. Paddock, U.S. Army Special Warfare: Its Origins (Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 2002), 160; Paddock, "No More Tactical Information Detachments," 28-29. 12. Joint Publication 3-53, Doctrine for Joint Psychological Operations (Washington, DC, 5 Sep 2003), I-1. 13. Madeleine Albright, "The Importance of Public Diplomacy to American Foreign Policy," U.S. Department of State Dispatch, 10, no. 8 (October 1999), 8-9; Albright can be credited with the final dismantling of the United States Information Agency, an integral component of the U.S. government's ColdWar propaganda apparatus. Colonel Curtis Boyd is the chief of staff at the JFK 14. See Admiral Michael G. Mullen, "From the Special Warfare Center and School. Chairman: Strategic Communications, Getting Back to Basics," Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 55, 4th quarter Notes 1. For Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision, see 2009, 2-4. For an assessment of strategic PSYOP, see Cora Sol Goldstein, "A Strategic Failure: American Office of the Secretary of Defense, memorandum Information Control Policy in Occupied Iraq," Military dated 3 December 2010, Subject: Changing the Review, March-April 2008, 58-65; see also Dr. Carnes Term Psychological Operations to Military Lord, "The Psychological Dimension of National Information Support Operations. 2. For an excellent historical review, see: Paul M. A. Strategy," in Goldstein and Findley, Psychological Operations: Principles and Case Studies, 73-89. Linebarger, Psychological Warfare (Washington, 15. William J. Clinton, "International Public D.C.: Infantry Journal Press, 1948). 3. Frank L. Goldstein, "Psychological Operations: An Information," Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-68 Introduction," in Frank L. Goldstein and Benjamin F. (Washington, D.C.: The White House, 30 April 1999). 16. Department of State Web site, Public Diplomacy, Findley, eds., Psychological Operations: Principles <http://www.state.gov/r/>. and Case Studies (Washington, D.C.: U.S. 17. Refer to Reorganization Plan and Report, Submitted Government Printing Office, 2002), 13. 4. Phillip M. Taylor, Munitions of the Mind: A History by President Clinton to the Congress on December 30, 1998, Pursuant to Section 1601 of the Foreign Affairs of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, as contained in Present Era, (Manchester, England: Manchester Public Law 105-277, for insight into the Department of University Press, 1995 [2nd ed.]), 80. 5. Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Weapons of State's combining of PA and PD functions. 18. Susan L. Gough, "The Evolution of Strategic Mass Deception (New York: Penguin Group, 2003), Influence," U.S. Army War College strategic-research 12. paper, 7 April 2003. See also: Kim Cragin and Scott 6. William E. Daugherty, Psychological Warfare Casebook (Baltimore, Md.: John Hopkins University Gerwehr, "Dissuading Terror: Strategic Influence and the Struggle Against Terrorism," (Santa Monica, Calif.: Press, 1958), 128-30. 7. For an insightful comparative analysis of PSYWAR Rand Corporation, 2005). 19. Fred W. Walker, "Truth is the Best Propaganda: A in the European theatre during World War II and Study in Military Psychological Operations," National PSYOP support to OIF, refer to: Dr. Cora Sol Guard, October 1987, 27. Goldstein, "A Strategic Failure: American 20. Joint Publication 3-13, Information Operations Information Control Policy in Occupied Iraq," (Washington, D.C.: 13 Feb 2005), 132. Military Review, March-April 2008. 21. For more on the expansion of the role of PSYOP in 8. Daugherty, 135-39. the Information Age as cyber-centric and "net ready," 9. Daugherty, 28-29; the second portion of the see Raymond Jones Jr., The Role of U.S. Psychological citation was taken from JP 3-53, I-1. Operations in the New Global Threat Environment 10. Alfred H. Paddock Jr., "No More Tactical Information Detachments," in Frank L. Goldstein and (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University, 23 February 2007). Benjamin F. Findley, eds., Psychological Operations: 22. Oral presentation for Harvard University, National Bureau for Economic Research, Economics of National Principles and Case Studies (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002), 29-32. 11. The 6th PSYOP Battalion, activated in 1965, formed the nucleus of the 4th PSYOP Group, which by 1967 had expanded to four battalions. The 7th
operational- and strategic-level effects and the need for coordination — full-spectrum MISO. Third, the use of PSYOP during peace or operations other than war always necessitated the use of euphemisms — MISO can be more easily understood. Fourth, PSYOP, PA, IO and PD have more similarities than differences — MISO is the connective tissue that can link all of them. In the end, the purpose of MISO will be to inform and influence foreign audiences with cultural precision and the intended effect — there are no other credible DoD options.
Security, former Marine Captain Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away 23. Paddock, "No More Tactical Information Detachments," 25-50. His historical review establishes a base from which to understand MISO more succinctly. 24. Testimony of General Bryan D. Brown, U.S. Army, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, before the United States House of Representatives; Committee on Armed Services; Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats And Capabilities, regarding the specialoperations command budget request for fiscal year 2005, March 11, 2004. http://www.house.gov/hasc/openingstatementsand pressreleases/108thcongress/04-03-11brown.html>; Internet accessed 5 February 2006. 25. Smith-Mundt Act, U.S. Code. Title 22, Chapter 18, Sec. 1461 (1948). Available from <http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode 22/usc_sec_22_00001461----000-.html>. Internet accessed 5 February 2006. 26. For more discussion about the truth of PSYOP: Fred W. Walker, "Truth is the Best Propaganda: A Study in Military Psychological Operations," National Guard, October 1987; Scott Lucas, "Campaigns of Truth: The Psychological Strategy Board and American Ideology, 1951-1953," International History Review 18, no. 2 (1996), 253-394; Wilson Dizard, Strategy of Truth: The Story of the United States Information Service (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs, 1961); Douglas Waller, "On the PR Battlefield," Time, 13 June 2005, Vol. 165, Issue 24, 13; Director, Joint PSYOP Support Element, Colonel James Treadwell's quote: "We're always going to tell the truth." 27. Joint Pub 1-02. 28. Nye, n.d. 29. Rampton and Stauber, 185; see also: Tammy L. Miracle, "The Army and Embedded Media," Military Review, Sept.-Oct. 2003; Bill Van Auken, "Bush Administration Defends Use of Covert Propaganda in US," World Socialist Web site, 17 March 2005; Accessed 4 February 2006, <http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/mar2005/pro p-m17.shtml>. 30. Joint doctrine manuals lack reference to propaganda, the Army doctrine manuals reveal that Army propaganda is based in truth: white propaganda - message source is known; gray somewhat known; and black - unknown. 31. Documentation delving into the how-to and "playbook" aspects of the PSYOP craft are detrimentally scarce. See Scott Gerwehr, Elizabeth F. Williams and Russell Glenn, "Influencing Outcomes: Psychological Operations in Urban Conflicts. (restricted draft)," DRR-3148-A (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Arroyo Center, November 2003), 73-74.
32. Nelson McCouch III, Army Public Affairs Objective Force (Carlisle Barracks, Penn.: Army War College, 4 March 2003). 33. Retired Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege offers "military public relations" as an alternative to PSYOP support to the general-purpose force (indicative of a PA and PO mission/function overlap, G7). See Retired Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege, "Rethinking IO: Complex Operations in the Information Age," Military Review, January-February 2008, 14-26 (http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives /English/MilitaryReview_20081231_art006.pdf), accessed 2 January 2011. 34. Joint Forces Command, Joint Public Affairs Support Element: Improving Public Affairs Capability for the Joint Force Commander (Norfolk, Va.: USJFCOM, February 2005), 5; Field Manual 3-13, Information Operations (Fort Leavenworth, Kan., November 2003), 2-23. 35. For a similar discussion of merging IO/PO (+) career fields, see Major George C.L. Brown, "Do We Need FA30? Creating an Information Warfare Branch," Military Review, January-February 2005, 39-43. 36. See also Colonel Randolph Rosin, "To Kill a Mockingbird: The Deconstruction of Information Operations," Small Wars Journal, 2009 (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docstemp/283-rosin.pdf), accessed 2 January 2011; and Major Walter E. Richter, "The Future of Information Operations," Military Review, January-February 2009, 103-13 (http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives /English/MilitaryReview_20090228_art013.pdf), accessed 2 January 2011. 37. Joint Pub 1-02; Additional consideration includes: develop Strategic Communications career force to capture PSYOP, IO and PA into a single career track, whereby everyone enters initial-entry training at Fort Meade; and those with a SOF option go to Fort Bragg for the PSYOP Specialist Course, while others continue as journalists or IO generalists. After ILE and JPME II, officers are designated as strategic communicators for continued utilization at the joint, combined and interagency levels. 38. Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, "Summary of a Study of Strategic Influence, Perception Management, Strategic Information Warfare and Strategic Psychological Operations in Gulf II," Oct. 8, 2003, also available at <http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/whispers/d ocuments/truth_1.pdf>.
says there’s a major exception to that rule: “If there’s further risk or danger to others, you must respond.” Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on Management, agrees, writing: “Warning signs of June 26, 2012 crises do not necessarily require an immediate response, but they should be monitored closely. “When a crisis strikes, you need to The perceived credibility of online chatter is as or communicate immediately.” more important than its frequency. An That piece of crisis communications advice is a organization needs to assess on a case by case perennial favorite from PR professionals, a basis whether the volume, variety and credibility nugget of irrefutable wisdom that few people of online chatter has moved a situation to the dare challenge. I regularly give readers and level of imminent or actual crisis and respond clients the same advice, and even included that accordingly.” sentence in my article “Seven Rules to All three crisis pros are exactly right. Responding Remember When a Crisis Strikes.” “immediately” is almost always the right call for But as I look back at that sentence, it strikes me crises in which reporters are already calling you in as incomplete and in desperate need of further droves. But for smaller “crises,” sometimes it’s explanation. more important to be ready to respond than to Here’s the problem with that sentence: It actually respond. doesn’t define what a “crisis” is. Does that advice mean that you should respond to every allegation some random dude hurls at you on Twitter? Or that you should respond immediately to mini-crises that may never be known to more than 12 people? And how can you tell the difference between a true brewing crisis and a small annoyance that will quickly flame out on its own?
Should You Really Communicate Immediately In A Crisis?
To help answer those questions, I reached out to three respected crisis communicators. They offered smart suggestions to help guide you in the earliest moments of a “crisis.” Melissa Agnes, a crisis professional who blogs at MelissaAgnes.com, distinguishes between a crisis and “light buzz.” For a crisis in which “the word is out and people are talking, you need to release your statement ASAP,” she writes. But if there’s only “light buzz,” where there’s “a possibility that it might just die down on its own, you have room to monitor and wait to see if a response (and what type of response) is really necessary.” She rightly points out that “responding too quickly might provoke a crisis that otherwise may not have happened.” Jeff Domansky, known as The PR Coach, agrees, saying that, "Reacting too soon, or overreacting, can accelerate a crisis unnecessarily….try the RSP approach. Ready. Set. Pause. Get the facts. Prepare key messages. And then use your judgment on when it’s best to speak." But Domansky also
5 ways to reframe a non-news event to attract reporters By Becky Gaylord | Posted on Ragan’s PR Daily: June 26, 2012 If you’ve been in media relations for longer than, say, a month, you’ve probably come across that delicate situation in which a client wants to publicize something that just doesn’t warrant publicity. I’m talking about the ribbon-cuttings, groundbreakings, store openings, anniversaries, and small-product launches. They’re a big deal to 14
your client (who is paying you), but chances are good they will not resonate among the journalists you pitch regularly—at least not those at daily metro papers or big online news sites. It comes down to this old adage: Man Bites Dog makes the news. Dog Bites Man rarely does— unless the story has a twist. Your job is to take a Dog Bites Man pitch and give it a twist that makes it more exciting, interesting, or unexpected.
hospital, one that had become decrepit and vandalized, into a place where children will learn, seniors will live, and residents will gather.
Here are five ways to do that:
4. Reframe which media to pitch.
1. Widen the angle.
Often, if the metro daily paper won’t cover something, a smaller publication will happily make space for it. After the story runs, it can be shared on social media and promoted on the client’s website. In other words, the story can get a larger audience even if the initial publication had a smaller circulation. Also, don’t forget about online sites, which have more capacity than broadcast or print outlets.
Combine the not-so-big news with other elements that, together, are big enough to warrant coverage. Say a nonprofit client just hired a new No. 3. Meh. That’s not a story. But if that’s combined with several new board members and two promotions—including a communications director, which reporters and editors will need to know about—now you’ve got something. This happened to one of my clients. The changes occurred over several weeks, but we wrapped them together into one news release—and three different news outlets ran stories.
We pitched and wrote an op-ed piece explaining the project’s importance that ran the week after the ribbon-cutting (which, you guessed it, didn’t get covered.) The op-ed attracted far more notice and reaction than a ribbon-cutting ever could have. The point, after all, was to publicize the project.
5. Level with the client.
Be honest but tactful about what the media will consider newsworthy. You are the expert, and you have been hired for that knowhow. Make sure to explain your approach. If it doesn’t include 2. Don’t use traditional media. sending a news release, let the client know why. Not only does sending a news release just to Document and publicize the event in a different appease the client waste resources, but it also way through social media. Use Instagram. Send unwisely raises expectations for publicity. tweets with clever Twitter hashtags, and create mini-conversations in fewer than 140 Some PR people favor writing a “news” release characters that partners can retweet. Create a even when there isn’t news. Journalists can be a Storify story before an event from the lazy, snarky bunch—I know; I was one for about promotional social media sharing you’ve used. 15 years—and they sometimes fall for pranks Make a word cloud with the client or event’s when something newsworthy was actually just logo. The point is, you can hoot and holler and faked. But they rarely run with something when create a buzz on your own, and you don’t need the release doesn't contain real news in the first journalists or bloggers to do it for you. place. 3. Create a real news hook. This tactic involves coming up with something newsy that gets coverage associated with the not-so-newsy event. A client recently had a ribbon-cutting that I knew the press would ignore. But it was the kickoff for a major fundraising campaign for a multi-million-dollar community project: redeveloping a landmark
Have you found a way to reframe a Dog Bites Man pitch into something different? Becky Gaylord worked as a reporter for more than 15 years before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC.
How to Develop Accurate Measures of Effect for Strategic Communications [Note by the editor: one of the main difficulties to be faced by professional communicators is to quantify the effectiveness of their activities in a multi-dimensional information environment, separating effects attributable to communications from those related to actions or external factors. This sometimes leads to concentrating on what can be measured and less on what really matters. This draft – conceived for promotional purposes - proposes sound approaches, even if it still recommends selecting ‘measurable’ objectives.]
intentions which don’t go on to result in any change in behaviour. Overview of the Fulcrum Strategic Methodology At Fulcrum Strategic we recommend focusing on three areas for developing, delivering and revising Strategic Communications strategies. Area 1: Develop a Sound Strategy – so you know where you are going. Be very clear about the operational mission and context in which it is to be delivered. Work with your customer / boss / operations colleagues to develop a single, unified strategy of which Strategic Communications is an integral part with a clear vision of success.
Area 2: Develop SMART Objectives – so you know how far you have got. Make all the objectives of your strategy SMART - Specific, Measurable, This draft document has been provided for the Attainable, Relevant and Time bounded. benefit of the Strategic Communications community, feedback and comment Area 3: Use Direct Marketing Techniques – so you appreciated along with opportunities to know exactly who from the target audience is publish the final version. Please feel free to coming with you on the journey. Wherever use and develop the concepts but please do possible use Direct Response Marketing credit David James and/or Fulcrum Strategic techniques. If as a result of your communications appropriately – it’s a small world... Fulcrum activities a member of your target audience Strategic Ltd is a new communications phones an advertised information line they have consultancy available for subcontracting to changed their behaviour in a way you can reputable organisations that care about measure. This small measurable change in results. behaviour is the beginnings of a dialogue and relationship that can enable transformational Introduction change. There has been a lot of discussion within the Strategic Communications sector about how Area 1: Develop a Sound Strategy to measure the effectiveness of our efforts. The key to measuring the effectiveness of your Having hard metrics for what Strategic Strategic Communications activities is getting the Communications activities have achieved is strategy right from the outset. In particular you not only vital for the evolution of our will need to think carefully about the vision of strategies but also for the credibility of the success, setting realistic measurable milestones entire discipline. and setting up the right mechanism to gain The difficulty faced by most Strategic accurate feedback to keep the strategy effective. Communications professionals is twofold. The With this method you have to be very clear about first is that getting any kind of measure is what your parent organisation’s operational extremely difficult, often dangerous and objectives are and work with the operational usually involves engaging local agencies of elements to develop a joint integrated strategy. unproven repute to produce polls, surveys and Strategic Communications MUST be integral to the focus groups. The second is that as any overarching strategy or you will achieve nothing marketing professional will tell you the sustainable. causality link between attitudes and intentions If your boss, customer or operations partner does and behaviours is minimal at best. This means not involve you closely in the development of that you can spend a lot of time and effort their strategy then you have failed to influence measuring changes in attitudes and expressed your most important target audience. 16
If you are stepping into an existing role then you must build the communications strategy to support and achieve the operational objectives – do not do your own comms thing separate from ops. Actions and words must speak in harmony. If, as is often the case, there is no real strategy just overarching policy and a bunch of tactics then the enterprise will fail and your communications will not be strategic they will be tactical. This is a problem I’ve seen over and over again, if you don’t know where you are going and how you are going to get there no measure of effect will have any real relevance.
viable, positive alternative. As in Iraq and Afghanistan winning the initial war was relatively easy – I say that with the utmost respect for those who paid a high personal price – filling the power vacuum we created and winning the peace is much harder. The lack of coherent strategy that survives the constant handover takeover of relatively short tours is to my mind one of the biggest factors that makes Strategic Communications inefficient if not ineffective.
Area 2: Developing SMART Objectives It is very easy to say you can measure the effectiveness of your communications by “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route developing a series of SMART objectives. It is to success. Tactics without strategy is the much harder to actually develop them. noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu. I would highly recommend reading Kaplan and Norton’s work on Strategy Maps, Balanced The development of strategy is beyond the Scorecards and making the intangible tangible. scope of this document but the three key Once you have a coherent strategy you will find it components that need to be remembered for is possible to develop a whole range of metrics to this approach are: measure progress towards milestones on a Balanced Scorecard. 1. You need to understand the environment We will get on to Direct Marketing techniques and human terrain and systems to identify which are the surest and best method of where tactical effort will deliver strategic developing hard metrics for measuring success results. but there are other techniques which can be used when direct marketing techniques will not work. 2. From your understanding of the context and The best way to explain this concept is with an the mission you need to develop a very clear example: picture of what success looks like. Specifically: Your organisation’s mission: Counter Narcotics in Afghanistan a. What physical entities and activities that The temptation for many communications exist now will have ceased to exist in your professionals would be to receive the mission and vision of success? then begin planning a variation on the same b. What physical entities and activities that campaign that has been running in various guises do not exist now will have begun to exist in since 2002. It’s a well worn format; half the your vision of success? billboard/clip has nasty opium poppies with death and destruction, the other half has a wheat field 3. From your vision of success you need to full of life and hope, there’s usually a child with an make SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, uncertain future. Relevant and Timebounded) joint operational Has it worked? Well yes, our polls and surveys and communication objectives. This means show it has excellent recall, retention and developing a clear roadmap of getting from comprehension rates. The opium farmers who are where we are now to where we want to be, polled get it, they agree opium is bad, they say with clearly defined milestones along the way. would now like to start planting wheat. Has opium production reduced? No. So has it really been I’d like to add a brief note about strategy and successful as a Strategic Communications activity? developing a vision for success. In counter No. insurgency, counter narcotics and counter In this example I’m not going to work through an anything else campaigns success is not the entire strategy but let us make the assumption defeat of the problem it is the victory of the that one of the SMART objectives we have 17
decided upon will be the closure of all overt opium bazaars in our Area of Operations (AO) within three months. Our intent is to make trading in opium feel like a criminal activity and force it underground. The objective is SMART because we will know if we are 100% successful in three months if there are no more overt opium bazaars in our AO. I think anyone could now work out a comms plan and measures of effect for this objective because it is so SMART, but let’s walk through some ideas. 1. Press call with local governor and chief of police where they declare a new war on drugs. Measures of success will be number of media outlets covering the story, chatter from the bazaars. 2. Counter Narcotics Police raid largest opium bazaar in the province. Extensive use of helmet cameras and media teams for both intelligence gathering and communications activities. In a video news release Governor and Chief of Police stride into bazaar and say ‘told you so.’ Measures of success; number and tone of media outlets covering the raid, number of ‘businessmen’ phoning the Governor and Chief of Police to complain, changes in pattern of life at other opium bazaars.
how the opium industry will respond to such pressure. And as you can see for this to be successful communications and operations must be acting together. I further believe that communications alone can deliver strategic effect but the actions of operational elements must not be allowed to undermine the effort. For Strategic Communication professionals working for organisations with access to intelligence assets there are a huge range of ways to develop highly effective measures of effect for SMART objectives. This can work for counter terrorism, counter insurgency, counter IED, counter narcotics and whole range of other activities such as economic development, engaging warring factions in dialogue etc. Obviously I won’t go into detail here. Please contact me to arrange a consultancy. Area 3: Use Direct Marketing Techniques
Let’s go back to the original counter narcotics campaign and make one simple change; add a call to action. “If you want to know how to make good money by growing wheat instead of opium dial 12345.” If you have a different telephone number for each radio station, TV station, different billboards and posters then whichever telephone number delivers the most responses indicates your most effective medium. Make changes to the time slots, 3. Overnight poster campaign in all other copy, images, channels, chosen programme and bazaars whether they are involved in opium or duration to run a public service announcement not. Posters declare that there is a new war on and you’ll begin to find out which media, at which opium traders and that lawful traders should time for which message delivers the best results. report opium dealers to the authorities. This is If you have just sponsored a business show a perfect moment to move into direct promoting alternative livelihoods, don’t mess marketing techniques. To achieve this the about with focus groups and polls trying to poster must have a dedicated telephone evaluate the success of the show, run the PSA in hotline for members of the public to inform on the break and see if it gets more responses than anyone trading opium. The measures of effect the same PSA run in a cooking show. now can include the number of people calling The same principle applies if you have just the telephone hotline and passing accurate, sponsored a police show and want to improve the actionable intelligence plus changes of life at public image of the police and increase the bazaars. recruitment – run a police recruitment PSA in the breaks. If nobody calls for more information on I believe this is probably enough elaboration on how to join the police after watching your show, that particular example. But let us be clear, your messaging has not hit its mark; if the line’s closing the overt opium bazaars is a tactic not a red hot you’ve delivered. strategy. Achieving this SMART objective will If when people phone the information line it’s only be effective if it is part of a wider engaged, answered by someone who has not overarching strategy that takes into account been trained, the automated system is only half 18
built, or the information provided is terrible then your attempt to open a dialogue with your target audience and build a relationship will fail. This is very important because we need to provide our target audience with enough information and material support to make life changing decisions. Our end goal is to change behaviours not just attitudes to achieve this we must keep providing compelling information about why the change is in the best interest of the audience and access to tangible support. Again I stress this communication activity, that has gained the target audienceâ€™s attention and interest, needs to be part of a wider integrated strategy or it will fail. You Ops partners need to stand ready to walk your talk or the entire credibility of the communications activity will be fatally undermined. Having a campaign encouraging members of the public to report the emplacement of IEDs is great until someone calls the hotline and the police donâ€™t turn up until after the device has been detonated. Why would anyone bother calling a second time? The key to good use of Direct Marketing techniques is to use media to draw key influencers into a relationship using direct contact via the telephone, SMS, email. Gathering and analysing the details and responses to the ongoing dialogue via a database provides incredible detail about what communications are effective and where we are on our journey to transformational change. The use of Direct Response Marketing techniques is not only highly effective for measuring the effectiveness of communications it also provides an invaluable research and analysis capability. If you use the telephone as the primary contact method callers can be greeted with a number of automated menus. Add a prize question and find out if they understood key messages from your communications, give them a choice of prizes and find out their motivations, incentivise them to take part in an automated survey or agree to be called back for qualitative research.
In this document I have only touched upon the incredible potential of Direct Marketing Techniques for more effective Strategic Communications. I look forward to the opportunity to work with organisations dedicated to excellence in the fields of Strategic Communications and Smart Power.
About the Author David James worked in TV news for seven years before joining the British army in April 2001. He served on tours of Baghdad, Basra and two in Kabul being awarded the QCVS for exceptional work in Target Systems of Systems Analysis and Effects Based Targeting. He completed the All Arms Commando and Psychological Operations Courses amongst others. On leaving the army he worked on a number of Government and Defence procurement projects as a Subject Matter Expert in Intelligence, Targeting and Information Management and Exploitation. In 2009 he set up the social enterprise Mountain Unity and lived and worked amongst the Afghan people providing marketing, PR and business enabling support to grassroots Afghan businesses in remote areas. In 2010 he also took a position in Afghanistanâ€™s largest media group becoming Senior Strategy Manager for Strategic Communications. He has recently established Fulcrum Strategic Ltd, a communications consultancy dedicated to working with outstanding partners to deliver exceptional results. firstname.lastname@example.org
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