US Defense Dept. Recognizes Power of New Media

Just as blogs made it easy for people to understand and appreciate the benefits of using the internet to communicate directly with a network of like-minded people, the emergence of digital media communications technologies that make it possible for anyone to reach a broad or influential audience are frustrating the US Dept. of Defense in its war in Iraq.

“More than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. . . we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of [Muslims].”

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York last week, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the following technologies have created a new reality with respect to how wars are fought, and perceptions are influenced:

  • E-mail;
  • Blogs;
  • Blackberries;
  • Instant messaging;
  • Digital cameras;
  • A global Internet with no inhibitions;
  • Cell phones;
  • Hand-held video cameras;
  • Talk radio;
  • 24-hour news broadcasts; and
  • Satellite television.

In my opinion, it seemed his speech was designed to build an argument for the Pentagon to implement a direct communication program — in addition to press briefings. Rumsfeld said he felt the media provided a lack of context in their coverage of the conflict.

So now it’s not corporations and advertisers who realize that an organization’s ability to communicate directly with its key audiences without being required to pass through a media filter is a key to its competitiveness. The Department of Defense has caught on as well.

When I first had the idea for iPressroom, which gives an organization everything it needs to communicate directly with constituents via the net, blogs didn’t exist. Then blogs appeared, and people got excited. They were cheap, they were easy and for the first time public relations and marketing people got charged up about direct, online communications. And blogs are a great tool for personal expression. But they do not provide the type of functionality that DoD needs if they’re going to try and launch their own online news network.

A simple online newsroom won’t do either. The DoD would need video on demand, audio on demand, the ability to RSS enable all content, integrated email distribution, tracking, measurement, analysis, and probably a lot more.

What’s interesting to me is that a number of iPressroom clients have simply changed the menu heading in their online pressrooms to reflect a more democratic approach to content distribution. Yes, they still use SEO agencies and content marketing consultants to assemble their press releases and new clips, but they’re adding broadcast centers, feature news, podcasts, e-newsletters and other direct communications initiatives, using the same tools they had previously used for online media relations.

And because they have a tool like iPressroom at their fingertips, they can do all of this with a keystroke oir two. They don’t have to call in the webmaster or the IT people and argue for budget. They already have everything they need.

Up until now, most of our clients have chosen not to blog themselves. Instead, they monitor other blogs, comment on them when they feel it’s necessary. But to keep themselves relevant to digital conversations, they simply RSS enable those communications they have created that they believe are relevant to the blogerati. So when you search the blogosphere in Technorati or IceRocket, their viewpoint is included.

Once the benefits and importance of using the internet to communicate directly with audiences is widely accepted, I predict that most organizations will prefer a more integrated, flexible online communications platform like iPressroom, while the blog will remain the champion of individual communications.

Consumer-generated media is the first step toward what I believe will be the age of corporate-generated media.

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