Military Communicators on Unified Storytelling

December 2019
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On Oct. 20, attendees were treated to a thought-provoking panel on the experiences, challenges and best practices of military communicators. 

“You have to talk to people where they are — in the language that they use and the channels that they’re on,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Hastings, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, past assistant secretary of defense, public affairs, who also moderated the chat. Here are a few takeaways from the discussion.

• On the importance of the truth: “The information environment we have now puts a challenge on us. We have the burden of truth. We have to make sure what we’re doing is truthful, forthright, meaningful and accurate.”
Capt. Brook DeWalt, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, U.S. Navy, director of public affairs operations, Office of the Secretary of Defense

• On the role of communications: “We cannot afford to be disconnected from the people we serve. Last year’s defense budget was about $700 billion, and we need to be able to show you why that is important.”
Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas, chief of public affairs, U.S. Air Force

• On creating a unified message: “[You can] keep people on message by having monthly communication synchronization meetings where you ask, ‘What are strategic opportunities?’”
Col. Kathleen Turner, media relations chief, U.S. Army

• On storytelling: “We ask every Coast Guard man and woman to tell their story. We’re bureaucratically multilingual; wherever we are, we work with whomever it is we need to work with.”
Rear Adm. Melissa Bert, director of government and public affairs, U.S. Coast Guard

• On military values: “Values like honesty, fairness and truth guide what we do. We must support the right to free expression and freedom of speech.”
Brig. Gen. Sean M. Salene, director of communication, U.S. Marine Corps

photo credit: albert chau

Return to Current Issue #PRSAICON Recap | December 2019
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