Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pentagon PR

PR for the Department of Defense is a very complicated business. There are numerous stakeholders. Different audiences have conficting interests, to put it mildly. My good friend at Federal Information Management blog sent me this story about the Defense Deparment’s latest PR program:

Pentagon's Fine Line: War Machine, P.R. Machine

The Pentagon's "America Supports You" program employs Pentagon staff and private PR contractors to coordinate activities that support the armed forces. "Freedom Walk" marches, letter-writing campaigns, even supplements in kids' Weekly Reader, are all paid for by the Pentagon itself.

What is the point of this? To persuade our troops that we support them? Or to persuade the civilian population that our troops are being supported?

... Much of the publicity work has been farmed out to a private firm, Susan Davis International. For the first year of America Supports You, the firm signed Pentagon contracts for at least $2.7 million.

I wonder how many proper helmuts you could buy for $2.7 million?

Incidentally, there is a very good DOD PR blog, D-Ring PR.


Steve Field said...

Wow, very flattered by the tip to my blog, D-Ring PR, Alice. Thank you. I have just found yours and am very impressed as well.

I can't personally speak to America Supports You because I work in Army Public Affairs, just one component of the Department. ASY is managed by the Department of Defense Public Affairs, so it is above my level.

Personally, I consider it my job to help tell the story of the Army and the American Soldier to the American people. It is not about persuading people to support the people serving in our Army (they already do). Nor is it to persuade Soldiers that they are supported by Americans (they know this too). Rather, our "PR" job is to facilitate the communication channels that make sure that the American people have the opportunity to connect with the men and women serving them -- showing their appreciation at a Soldier homecoming or sporting event, hearing a Soldier talk about her deployment to Afghanistan at a public event, or speaking candidly to a Soldier about career opportunities in the Army. Moments like these remind Americans of our great country and provide a huge morale boost to Soldiers.

In other words, it is about connections. And relationships.

Thanks again for the post. I am adding your blog to my list of "must reads."

Alice said...

Thank you for your kind words. I read your post about the Army Rangers competition (I think it was the Rangers) and I thought your comparison to triathlons was telling. Of course as a civilian one knows that military training must be tough, but it is an entirely different matter to read just how tough it is.

I like to think my blog, in its own way, also helps readers make connections with that part of the civil service and their contractors who make sure the technology of our government works.