Extending Public Affairs Outreach through Social Media at the US Department of Defense
The decision by the US Department of Defense to embrace social media marked a significant turning point in its communication strategy. This transformation was underscored by an official social media policy, which explicitly prohibited the blocking of access to social media indefinitely on their nonclassified network.
The policy shift reflected a proactive approach to adapting to the changing digital landscape and recognizing the importance of engaging with the public and military personnel through online platforms. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to delve into the origins and motivations behind this pivotal decision in a detailed blog post, shedding light on the strategic thinking underpinning this move towards greater openness and transparency.
The value of this podcast lies in the compelling narrative of a fundamental shift within the US Military’s communication approach – a shift from the traditional command and control structure towards a more dynamic and adaptive network strategic communications hierarchy.
This transformation mirrors broader changes in how organizations, including the military, engage with their audiences and stakeholders. It recognizes that effective communication in the digital age necessitates a more interconnected and responsive approach, where information flows more freely and collaboration is encouraged. This podcast explores the intricacies of this transition, offering valuable insights into how the US Military is evolving to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing media landscape.
“We’re in the churning point, [and we’re moving] from a hierarchical to a networked structure,” says Jack Holt, director of emerging media at the US Dept. of Defense, who I sat down with at the PRSA International Conference in DC for this podcast.
According to Jack, when it comes to social media, DoD is moving from command and control to a more distributed network hierarchy, which depends heavily on teaching service members not so much about social media skills but rather the path to peace in a networked world.
In addition to its applications in public relations and public affairs consulting, social media networked information technology offers a profound opportunity to enhance knowledge management within organizations and safeguard organizational intelligence. This becomes especially crucial when service members regularly transition between various operations and commands. By leveraging social media tools, organizations can streamline the sharing of valuable knowledge and insights among team members, ensuring that critical information is readily accessible to those who need it, regardless of personnel changes and shifts in responsibilities.
One noteworthy topic of discussion is the Blogger Roundtable at DoD Live, which exemplifies the military’s efforts to engage with social media influencers and experts, fostering dialogue and exchange of ideas. Additionally, the significance of social media training cannot be overstated, as it empowers personnel with the skills needed to navigate and harness the potential of these platforms effectively.
The interview delves into the online effectiveness of groups like Al Qaeda, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive understanding of their digital strategies to counteract their influence. The use of video, as exemplified in events like the Gaza Flotilla Raid, highlights the evolving role of multimedia content in shaping public perception and disseminating information.
Finally, the discussion also touches upon the delicate balance between speed and accuracy in social media communication. While the immediacy of social media allows for rapid dissemination of information, organizations must prioritize accuracy to ensure the credibility of their messages and decisions. These diverse topics underscore the multifaceted nature of social media’s impact on organizations and their ability to navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape effectively.