Monday, November 16, 2009

Here's hoping that my military public affairs colleagues learn how to use social media tools to help them respond quicker

One of the things which military public affairs people do very well is adapt and learn from disasters. After reading a Defense Systems article online, I had to chuckle that the Army media relations folks were using Facebook to tell the media that they were inundated with calls from them.
In 1994, I worked as a media relations supervisor in Allied Forces Southern Europe during the Bosnian crisis. After Air Force jets shot down three Serbian planes, our telephones were swamped so badly that one of the telephone operators had a runner come to our office to tell us that the New York Times reporter was frustrated that they couldn't reach us.
With my boss' help, I was able to get extra lines installed within four hours.
Now, Twitter and other social media tools allow crisis public affairs professionals to quickly open up new communication channels. I don't want to become a "Monday Morning Quarterback" with my public affairs colleagues, but I am hoping that when they hold their next conferences that they look at the lessons learned from the Fort Hood tragedy to better the process.
I believe that public affairs professionals can easily master social media channels and learn how to quickly respond to crisis issues like the one at Fort Hood. Here's hoping that the military public affairs senior leadership understand that social media tools allow them to manage the communication process when the next crisis arises.

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