COMMUNITY RELATIONS AND THE U.S. ARMY
By
Paul R. Hayes
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for t...
Community Relations 2
Table of Contents:
Part I – Introduction……………………………………………………………………………..….Page 4
-Background
-Purpose...
Community Relations 3
I - Sample Installation Community Relations Program……………………………………………...81
Community Relations 4
Part I - Introduction
Background
“Environmentalists fight Army expansion. The U.S. Army is at odds w...
Community Relations 5
commuters. As a result, the Army is required to negotiate with the county to reduce the number of
pe...
Community Relations 6
problem is still being “cleaned up” today among the
communities that neighbor the Hudson River (Shar...
Community Relations 7
Embedding: A program by which a reporter is placed with a unit for the purpose of covering their
act...
Community Relations 8
Part II - Literature Review
Like any research project inside or outside of the Army, it is essential...
Community Relations 9
money at the community (Braman, 1980).” The next work of use to Army PAOs is Corporate
Philanthropy ...
Community Relations 10
Relations scholars defines in detail the process by which publics are defined (Grunig, 1978). The a...
Community Relations 11
Part III - Research Methodology
Research Questions
Prior to initiating research, several research q...
Community Relations 12
data from the U.S. Census was undertaken. Finally, secondary research of books, articles, and schol...
Community Relations 13
2. Installation community relations representative (if available or named), e-mail, and phone
numbe...
Community Relations 14
5. How do communities view their neighboring installation?
6. What do Army installation PAO’s view ...
Community Relations 15
1. How do successful corporations conduct community and media relations at “satellite”
installation...
Community Relations 16
6. Of the media outlets available in your local community (broadcast, web, print), which do you
fee...
Community Relations 17
Executive Communications Team
- Media training for GOs and SES
- Holiday and special event speech
w...
Community Relations 18
Executive Communications Team
- Media training for GOs and SES
- Holiday and special event speech
w...
Community Relations 19
Communications Within OCPA
“Push vs Pull”
PushPush PullPull
•Daily “Stand-to”
•Annual World Wide Pu...
Community Relations 20
daily “Stand-to.” Stand-to subscribers receive a one page update on communication themes and messag...
Community Relations 21
relations officers. The final method of “pulling” information would be to contact the person direct...
Community Relations 22
What Army PAOs Have to Say – Survey Results
For this project, the descriptive purpose of the PAO su...
Community Relations 23
Method of Contact
Phone, 59.52%E-mail, 23.81%
Personal visit,
4.76%
Other , 11.90%
Phone
E-mail
Per...
Community Relations 24
Inteaction With Media
Daily
49%
Weekly
39%
Annually
0%
Never
0%
Other
5%
Monthly
7% Daily
Weekly
Mo...
Community Relations 25
Access Granted to Local Media
Controlled
76%
Other
7%
Unrestricted
0%
Closed
0%Restricted
17%
Unres...
Community Relations 26
Finally, of note was one respondent who felt a combination of methods and flexibility was required ...
Community Relations 27
Ranking Information Dissemenation Techniques
1 2 3 4 5
Leaks
Unit or soldier blogs
Official install...
Community Relations 28
 Board of Visitors meetings. These periodic briefings by installation leadership to
local leaders ...
Community Relations 29
Type of Coverage
Overly supportive
16%
Overly critical
5%
Tabloid
7%
Other
2%
Objective
70%
Objecti...
Community Relations 30
Weekly papers often run items regarding the installation without seeking comment
from the installat...
Community Relations 31
Has the Media Ever….
Lied to you?
11%
Withheld
information?
32%
Deceived you?
25%
Been completely
h...
Community Relations 32
How Are You Treated By the Local Media?
Respected
90%
Other
10%
Feared /
avoided
0%
Ignored
0%
By f...
Community Relations 33
This question relates to research question five which questions the nature of the PAO / local
media...
Community Relations 34
Characterize Your Working Relationship With the Media
Informal / formal
mix
78%
Other
5%
Hostile
0%...
Community Relations 35
opportunities falls largely in the second
and third main group. Offering these
activities is especi...
Community Relations 36
Of those PAOs surveyed, all
responded they offered
interviews with SMEs and
installation leadership...
Community Relations 37
How Frequently Is The Press
Offered Story Pitches?
Annually
0%
Daily
21%
Weekly
47%
Monthly
29%
Sem...
Community Relations 38
How Often Do You Invite Local Media to Installation
Town Hall Meetings?
Annually
7%
Daily
0%
Weekly...
Community Relations 39
Engagement Preferences
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40%
Combination
Interviews
Media Days / Visits...
Community Relations 40
Media Days:
 “Media days, especially those where we take a new reporter to the beat and let them p...
Community Relations 41
 “All. Feeding the media story ideas and opportunities not only tells the Army story, but it also
...
Community Relations 42
releasable under existing regulations. The news media and the public are
restricted from areas wher...
Community Relations 43
Those responding to the survey
overwhelmingly chose to characterize their
relationship with their s...
Community Relations 44
 Periodic open houses and an active installation tour program (see para 7–5).
 Participating in n...
Community Relations 45
School / Youth Engagement Activities:
Adopt a school
program
JROTC Tours Area schools mentoring
pro...
Community Relations 46
Question 13. How do PAOs conduct research?
In addition to providing guidance on community relations...
Community Relations 47
Those who selected
“other” as their choice
provided insightful
comments. Most of
those selecting ot...
Community Relations 48
How do PAOs meet these objectives? What philosophies guide them in their daily operations
that help...
Community Relations 49
PAOs suggest using the talent within the installation to help. Enlist volunteers,
empower subordina...
Community Relations 50
about an installation qualified them to complete the survey. Additionally, the military
beat appear...
Community Relations 51
While another PAO added that while they get information – it might not
always be what they need.
“W...
Community Relations 52
While both Army doctrine and industry practices recommend building strong
relationships between PAO...
Community Relations 53
 When you interview troops, try to develop sources for longer-
term use, even if it’s for nothing ...
Community Relations 54
What Can Be Learned From Industry – Interviews With John Deere and Toyota
Major corporations conduc...
Community Relations 55
money” at the community does more harm than good. Instead, these corporations try to lower
their pr...
Community Relations 56
Research is difficult – but required. Research and soliciting feedback is difficult for any
public ...
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army
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Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army

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A capstone thesis prepared for matriculation in the Iona College Mass Communication Studies Master's Program.

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Writng Sample - Community Relations and the United States Army

  1. 1. COMMUNITY RELATIONS AND THE U.S. ARMY By Paul R. Hayes A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Public Relations Iona College New Rochelle, NY December 2007 APPROVED: ______________________________________ Project Advisor ______________________________________ Program Director DATE :________________________________
  2. 2. Community Relations 2 Table of Contents: Part I – Introduction……………………………………………………………………………..….Page 4 -Background -Purpose -Key Terms Part II – Literature Review……………………………………………………………………….………8 Part III – Research Methodology……………………………………………………………….………11 -Research Questions -Methods Part IV – Findings and Analysis -Army Community Relations Organization…………………………………………………...17 -What Army PAOs Have to Say – Survey Results…………………………………………….22 -What Installation Media Have to Say – Survey Results…………………………………..…49 -Interviews with John Deere and Toyota……………………………………………………....54 Part V – Summary and Recommendations for Future Research……………………………………..57 References……………………………………………………………………………………………...…59 Appendices: A – PAO Survey……………………………………………………………………………………….....62 B – Media Survey………………………………………………………………………………………...67 C – Installation Demographics…………………………………………………………………………..73 D – Installation PAO Contacts…………………………………………………………………………..74 E – PAO Survey Invite…………………………………………………………………………………...75 F – Media Survey Invite…………………………………………………………………………………76 G – Corporate Interview Request…………………………………………………………………….…77 H – Army Community Relations Policy – CH 8, AR 360-1……………………………………………79
  3. 3. Community Relations 3 I - Sample Installation Community Relations Program……………………………………………...81
  4. 4. Community Relations 4 Part I - Introduction Background “Environmentalists fight Army expansion. The U.S. Army is at odds with environmentalists and ranchers over a plan to more than double its Pinon Canyon, Colo., site to 635,000 acres (UPI, 2007).” “Fort Meade Expansion Ignites Fears. 5400 new workers will clog roads and crowd schools residents say (Washington Post, 2006). These headlines could be a nightmare for any Army public affairs officer. When communities unite against their local installations, media coverage such as the above and public protests may soon follow. How does the Army, PAOs, and installation commanders not only accomplish their goals, but maintain a strong positive relationship with surrounding communities? The answer, in short, is successful community relations practices. In the recent past, the Army has had numerous communications challenges with communities neighboring their installations. Some of the more contentious issues were: 2006: Fort Carson announces plan to expand its Pinion Canyon Maneuver Area by some 635,000 acres. The plan would impact some 40,000 persons and over 500 farms and ranches. Community opposition is strong and has spawned websites (www.pinoncanyon.com), physical and online protest videos, and numerous unflattering articles accusing the post of neglecting its neighbors, “strong-arming” land-owners, and “gobbling-up” un-needed land (PCEOC, 2007). 2005: Army announces in Base Realignment and Closure Commission report that it plans to relocate over 20,000 workers to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County Virginia. Community leaders and neighbors of Fort Belvoir clamor that county roads and infrastructure cannot support the influx of new Colorado Springs Action Allicance protests Pinion Canyon expansion. Photo from CSA website - http://www.csaction.org/.
  5. 5. Community Relations 5 commuters. As a result, the Army is required to negotiate with the county to reduce the number of personnel to be transferred (McCouch 2007). 2006: Environmentalists use Federal Court ruling to block entry of “Stryker Brigade” into the state of Hawaii. Community and environmental activists claim the Brigade’s vehicles will cause unnecessary environmental impact on the islands’ ecosystem and should be stationed somewhere else. The Army is forced to re-submit environmental impact statement and the issue is still unresolved (Hoover, 2007). 2007: Protesters sue in federal court to obtain entry onto the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The Democratic Alliance of Orange County sought permission to protest the graduation address of Vice President Cheney. Although denied their request, some 500 protestors and counter-protestors picketed outside the posts gates during graduation exercises (Doherty, 2007). Despite such public demonstrations, objections, and protests, Army Public Affairs Officers do their best to rapidly get out the facts and tell the Army’s side of the story. This project will attempt to identify best practices from industry and the Army that will assist Public Affairs professionals in countering the effects of such events. Purpose of the Study From 1947 to 1977, the General Electric Company (GE) discharged as much as 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from its Hudson Falls and Fort Edward facilities into the Hudson River. Since 1976, high levels of PCBs in fish have led New York State to close various recreational and commercial fisheries and to issue advisories restricting the consumption of fish caught in the Hudson River (EPA, 2007). The communities of the upper Hudson River to this day continue to view GE and its representatives as an “enemy.” According to one GE executive, this community relations Protesters and police meet outside the gates of West Point. Times Herald Record, 27 May 2007 – Michele Haskell Stryker Protest, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Craig Kojima Photo
  6. 6. Community Relations 6 problem is still being “cleaned up” today among the communities that neighbor the Hudson River (Sharon, 2007). More and more companies are recognizing the importance of community relations. Major corporations such as John Deere and Toyota spend millions in donations, salaries, and programs to maintain their reputations in their local communities (Dillon and Salley, 2007). Subtracting the monetary spending, does this effort translate to the government sector? In particular, what efforts does the U.S. Army take towards building and maintaining community relations with the cities and towns that border its installations? The purpose of this study is to (a) examine how the U.S. Army as a whole conducts community relations, (b) identify organizational structures and personnel at Department of Army level in place to conduct community relations, (c) identify how Army installation Public Affairs Officers conduct community relations at a lower level and how they utilize the press and other programs to communicate with their local communities, (d) identify how the Army’s community relations practices stack up against industry leaders in community relations, and (e) identify what lessons can be learned from industry leaders and can they be applied by Army Public Affairs practitioners. Key Terms CONUS: Continental United States. CRD: U.S. Army Community Relations Division. This division falls under the Chief, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs. This division plan and conducts marketing for the Army, community relations and outreach activities with key audiences, and specialized executive communications programs. Doctrine: Doctrine are the approved set of texts, rules, regulations, and training manuals that dictate how the Army “does business” in a given area. Army Public Affairs doctrine specifies how PAOs are trained and should conduct public affairs activities. The GE Hudson Falls Plant discharged PCBs into the Hudson River (Photo from EPA)
  7. 7. Community Relations 7 Embedding: A program by which a reporter is placed with a unit for the purpose of covering their activities. The reporter eats, sleeps, works, and travels with the unit wherever it goes. A journalist embedded with a unit is called an “embed.” Installation: An installation is an U.S. Army fixed and self-contained community. These are comprised of camps, forts, barracks, depots, arsenals, and proving grounds. Multiple units (division, brigade) or activities (finance center, safety center) may reside on the post as well as personnel housing. Installation Public Affairs Officer: This person (may be either Department of Army civilian or officer) is responsible for planning, executing, and assessing public affairs for the entire installation. OPSEC: Operational Security. Information, briefings, documents are classified based on OPSEC. Secret documents or briefings may only be accessed by those with a secret clearance. PAG: Public Affairs Guidance. Official Army position on a given subject. Usually, the Army publishes PAG when it expects a query on that subject (treatment of patients at Walter Reed Hospital etc.). PAO: Public Affairs Officer. U.S. Army term for officer assigned to perform functions of command information (internal communications), media relations, and community relations. Satellite Installation: An installation geographically separated from corporate headquarters. In the case of the U.S. Army, all installations located away from the Pentagon would be satellite installations. For Deere and Company, a satellite installation would be any factory or corporate function located outside Moline, Illinois. SME: Subject matter expert. For example, if media have a question about environmental compliance on an installation, a PAO will likely contact the post environmental compliance officer to answer questions as the SME.
  8. 8. Community Relations 8 Part II - Literature Review Like any research project inside or outside of the Army, it is essential to peruse important literature on the subject. In this project, academic journals, professional journals, and textbooks were reviewed prior to conducting interviews or writing surveys to add scope and background to the problem. While not a comprehensive list of all community relations literature, the following list of helpful articles went the farthest to put the entire project into perspective. These articles not only assisted in this project, but could also become recommended reading for Army Public Relations professionals seeking a deeper understanding of community relations. The first group of literature pertained to handling activist organizations within local communities. Strategic Use of the Media in Successful Community Activism: Case of Concerned Neighbors in Action is an example which stresses the importance of utilizing the media in creative and strategic methods when you don’t have a huge public relations staff available for community relations. This work is of critical relevance to Army Public Affairs Officers who usually have one person to assign to community relations projects. Additionally, the article provides the perspective of the community activist – the group usually opposing Army installations and their policies (Simmons, 2003). Another example of dealing with local activists is found in Succeeding When Environmental Groups Oppose You (Bodensteiner, 2003). This article serves as an important primer for Army Public Affairs officers on how activists – environmental or otherwise – operate. The author argues it is of benefit to engage activists in an ongoing manner and “bring them to the table” as opposed to ignoring them out of hand. The second grouping of literature deals with measuring feedback within local communities. Public affairs officers have limited resources with regards to measuring opinion within their local communities. These works provide insight on how this might be accomplished. Feedback in Community and Government Relations highlights the importance of soliciting and measuring feedback within communities to accurately adjust community relations programs. The author provides numerous examples of how to accomplish this and ways to improve positive sentiment without simply “throwing
  9. 9. Community Relations 9 money at the community (Braman, 1980).” The next work of use to Army PAOs is Corporate Philanthropy and Corporate Community Relations: Measuring Relationship-Building Results (Hall, 2006). This study investigates the impact of corporate philanthropy and community relations programs on the relationship between a company and its customers. Most importantly it demonstrates how this relationship can be measured. For the Army, this study is important evidence that the more its neighbors know about its interest and activities within the community, the stronger the relationship with its neighbors will be. The final grouping of literature includes several detailed case studies. One of the advantages of case studies is the amount of detail provided on a given subject. These community relations case studies provide important lessons for the Army’s PAOs on community relations. Community Relations: How an Entire Industry Can Change its Image Through Proactive Local Communications (Smith, 2003) examines how an intrusive industry (construction firm) changed its behaviors to nurture good relations with its neighboring communities. The paper also outlines a number of best practices or “tools” that are essential for good community relations. Another detailed case study is What Policy Makers Can Learn from Public Relations Practitioners: The Siting of a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facility in Cortland County, New York (Coleman, 1989). Army installation commanders often find themselves within a firestorm of public criticism over a number of issues. This case study is an excellent example of how to improperly address community concerns and the ramifications of distancing corporate policy makers from trained public relations professionals. Community Relations and Risk Communication: A Longitudinal Study of the Impact of Emergency Response Messages is another study which proposes that there is significant benefit for corporations to inform neighboring communities of what to do in case of a disaster at their neighboring manufacturing plant (Heath and Palenchar, 2000). This study is of relevance to Army installations as they too have serious risk communications concerns (terror, hazardous waste) which should be shared with local communities. The final community relations case study is Defining Publics in Public Relations: The Case of a Suburban Hospital. This work by one of the most respected Public
  10. 10. Community Relations 10 Relations scholars defines in detail the process by which publics are defined (Grunig, 1978). The author uses research to argue that focused research is the best method to determine a corporation’s key publics – not common sense. This study is also a valuable source of research techniques which may be used by Army Public Affairs professionals.
  11. 11. Community Relations 11 Part III - Research Methodology Research Questions Prior to initiating research, several research questions were developed to help define the scope of this project. The primary research questions to be answered were: 1. How do successful corporations conduct community and media relations at “satellite” installations? 2. How successful is the Army in conducting media / community relations? Other supporting research questions were: 1. What are the demographics of Army installations within the Continental United States (CONUS)? 2. What scholarly literature has been written on building and sustaining a successful community relations program? 3. How is the Army organized to execute community relations programs? 4. How do local media covering army installations characterize their relationships with their installation public affairs office? 5. How do installation PAOs view their neighboring media? 6. What is the tone of media coverage for selected army installations? 7. How do media and PAOs routinely communicate with each other? 8. How often do media and their PAOs communicate with each other? 9. How do communities view their neighboring installation? 10. What do major corporations view as best practices in community relations? Research Methods To answer the research questions, various methods of research were used. Research consisted of both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (survey) methods. Additionally, review of demographic
  12. 12. Community Relations 12 data from the U.S. Census was undertaken. Finally, secondary research of books, articles, and scholarly journals was used throughout the project. Demographic Research: Prior to answering any research questions, the project required identifying a sample of Army installations. A consolidated list of Army installations within the U.S. was compiled (Appendix C). This list was expanded to include the installation’s demographic data, neighboring communities, and local media. Once the demographics for all Army installations were compiled, the sample needed to be narrowed. Some towns or cities had multiple installations (ie Washington D.C.). For these locations, only one installation was selected for research to eliminate redundancy. Installations that were so small as to not have a public affairs office were also eliminated. In the end, 47 installations and their surrounding communities were selected for research. Continuing with the research of Army installations, further anecdotal evidence was compiled using census data, installation websites, and community websites. For each installation, the following data was found: 1. Nearest three towns or communities 2. Population of these communities 3. Total possible audience adjacent to installation 4. Installation population to include military, families, civilian employees, reserves, and contractors After identifying all demographic data, information was needed about the installation public affairs staff. Utilizing the Army’s Global Public Affairs Directory and verifying with the installation PAO’s website, the following information was collected: 1. Installation PAO name, e-mail, phone number
  13. 13. Community Relations 13 2. Installation community relations representative (if available or named), e-mail, and phone number. As a result, a population of 81 public affairs officers was identified for use in surveys at a later time. The final step in initial research was to identify the weekly and daily newspapers that covered the Army installations. Using the internet search engine News Voyager and Cision (formerly Bacons), a list of papers for each community neighboring the installations was developed. Next, reporters who routinely covered the installation were identified. To accomplish this task, an archival search for each newspaper was performed. Searches were conducted on each paper’s website to identify articles written about the installation and who had written them. In some cases, multiple writers covered the installations. In other cases, the articles were “unattributed.” In a few cases, there was a dedicated installation “beat reporter.” As result, if a reporter had written an article in the past year about the installation he was included in the master database. A final population of 90 reporters was identified for use in later surveys. Surveys: Once the installation database was organized and e-mal addresses for the sample population were obtained, the process of surveying began. The two surveys undertaken for this project were descriptive in nature. According to Wimmer and Dominick in Mass Media Research, descriptive surveys, “attempt to describe or document current conditions or attitudes – that is, to explain what exists at the moment (179).” For this project, the descriptive purpose of the survey was to identify how the Army interacts with its neighbors and local communities. To answer this question, a survey was designed to provide answers to the following research questions: 1. How do installation PAOs view their neighboring media? 2. How do media and PAOs routinely communicate with each other? 3. How often do media and their PAOs communicate with each other? 4. What is the relationship between PAOs and their local media?
  14. 14. Community Relations 14 5. How do communities view their neighboring installation? 6. What do Army installation PAO’s view as “best practices” in community and media relations? With the assistance of two former installation PAOs and current Army Public Affairs doctrine (all field manuals, regulations, and government texts pertaining to public affairs), a 14-question survey was designed and refined. (Appendix A.) The survey was broken into two parts. The first section asked questions that attempted to identify the PAOs relationship with local media and the type of coverage the installation received. The second section asked the PAO to gauge the installation’s relationship with its surrounding communities. Both sections utilized multiple choice, open ended, and ranking type questions. Of these 81 “invitees,” 45 invitees completed the survey (56% response rate). All surveys were taken and compiled using Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com) The second survey created was also descriptive. The media survey (Appendix B) was created with the assistance of a local beat reporter who covered an Army Installation. This survey attempted to identify media views of their neighboring installations. How well did the media “get along” with their local PAO? What was the media’s view of the installation’s relationship with the local communities? The media population was initially sent an e-mail invitation (Appendix F) to participate in the survey over a two-week period. Based on a low initial response rate (3 of 90), a reminder e-mail was sent to all invitees asking them to complete the survey. After only two additional responses, a final reminder was sent asking for participation. Respondents were also asked to provide a reason if they could not participate. In the end, only 5 of 90 (5.5%) media invitees completed the survey. Interviews: One of the advantages of an intensive interview is that it can provide a wealth of detailed information that allow the respondent to elaborate on their opinions, values, motivations, recollections, experiences, and feelings (Wimmer and Dominick, 135). As a result, intensive interviews were selected as the method for helping to answer the following research questions:
  15. 15. Community Relations 15 1. How do successful corporations conduct community and media relations at “satellite” installations? 2. What do major corporations view as best practices in community relations? Three corporations were identified as industry leaders in community relations. All three companies selected had recently received awards or recognition for their corporate philanthropy, public relations, or community relations efforts. The companies were:  Deere and Company:  Toyota Motors Manufacturing of Indiana (TMMI)  General Electric, Schenectady In addition to being industry leaders, the companies also resided in communities that were very similar to Army installations. Deere and Company Headquarters, located in Moline, IL (Quad Cities), is comparable in size and demographics to Fort Carson and its surrounding communities. TMMI and its nearby town of Princeton, Indiana resembles Army posts such as Fort Knox and Fort Sill with very small neighboring communities. Finally, GE of Schenectady (NY Capital Region) is comparable to Fort Drum with its neighboring community of Watertown. The directors of community relations for each one of these companies were contacted and negotiations began on time, date, and locations for interviews. Letters (Appendix G) were sent with specific questions and suggested topics for the interviews. The main topics addressed during the interview were: 1. What would you say is your philosophy of community engagement? 2. Can you describe for me some examples of your company’s guiding philosophies in action? 3. What would you say are some examples of your most successful projects within the community? 4. What have you found are the best quantitative measures to determine local public attitudes? 5. Do you have some favorite practices in media engagement?
  16. 16. Community Relations 16 6. Of the media outlets available in your local community (broadcast, web, print), which do you feel are the most valuable in communicating with key local audiences? Of the three companies contacted, interviews were confirmed and conducted with Toyota and Deere and Company. Coordination with GE required 14 phone calls and 9 e-mails between 30 March and 11 June 2007. After all coordination, and a verbal promise of an interview, my request was finally handled by GE’s New York director of military recruiting. In the end, GE refused to honor the interview request as they believed the study was an attempt at a job interview – not legitimate research (Sharon, 2007). Interviews were conducted at the Moline, IL headquarters for Deere and Company and the TMMI plant in Princeton, Indiana for Toyota. Traveling to the company headquarters was preferable as additional supporting interviews could be conducted with local directors of chambers of commerce and media if available. Questions for these individuals would hope to answer the following questions: 1. What makes (insert company name) a good neighbor in your community? 2. What would you say (company) stands for? 3. What types of things does (company) do within the community that you wish other companies would emulate? In addition to the interviews of corporate communications professionals, select interviews were also conducted with critical Army personnel serving in community relations positions. Interviews were conducted in New York City with the Army’s New York Outreach office and its staff. Additionally, an interview was conduct with the head of Army Community Relations at the Pentagon.
  17. 17. Community Relations 17 Executive Communications Team - Media training for GOs and SES - Holiday and special event speech writing - Worldwide Public Affairs Symposium - GO speakers bureau Community Relations Team - Joint Civilian Orientation Conference - Joint Service Open House - Public Service Recognition Week - Interservice ComRel Liaison - Aerial Requests - Non-aerial Requests Marketing Team - Outreach Council - Golden Knights Liaison - The U.S. Army Field Band - Commemorations - The U.S. Army All-American Bowl OCPA Liaison - USO Liaison - CFSC and Army Entertainment Liaison - Sports Outreach - Outreach Web site/ Calendar - Soldier of the Year/NCO of the Year - Accessions Command Liaison Community Relations Division 22 personnel Pentagon OCPA-NY - Outreach in NYC metro area - Outreach in Northeast - Book and publications lead OCPA-LA - Outreach in Los Angeles - Movie industry lead OCPA-SE - Outreach in FL, GA and PR - Based in Tampa OCPA-MW - Outreach in ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, IA, MO, IL, WI, MI, IN, OH - Based in Chicago None available or published Mission Authority and Communications functional and project project only distributed communications (e-mail, telephone, VTC) Core Functions None available or published Installation PAOs (x 61) -1 – 5 persons -Responsible for Community relations, Command information, media relations at each installation --Reports directly to Installation Commander Part IV - Findings and Analysis How is Army Community Relations Organized? One of the most critical research questions of this project was to determine how the Army currently is organized to conduct community relations. Using interviews and the U.S. Army Community Relations (COMREL) Division’s own documents, it was determined that community relations within the Army is challenged by both the scope of its mission and its own organizational structure. The mission and core functions of the Community Relations Division (CRD) are not officially stated on any of their websites or communications. From reviewing their contact list and lessons gained in interviewing one of their subordinate divisions, a proposed mission that covers their activities is: Community Relations Division plans and conducts marketing for the Army, community relations and outreach activities with key audiences, and specialized executive communications programs. To accomplish these activities, CRD is organized into seven teams consisting of 22 personnel stationed across the United States. As opposed to the project oriented organizations of Army’s Media Relations and Plans Divisions, CRD is functionally organized. The Marketing Team handles appearances by high-profile Army units (Golden Knights, Old Guard Drill Team) at sporting events and coordinates annual all-Army outreach events such as Army Birthday and Soldier of the Year. Additionally, each of the Army’s 61 forts, arsenals, and barracks nationwide has public affairs offices (3-5 Army civilian employees) which handle community relations for its respective OPCA Community Relations Division
  18. 18. Community Relations 18 Executive Communications Team - Media training for GOs and SES - Holiday and special event speech writing - Worldwide Public Affairs Symposium - GO speakers bureau Community Relations Team - Joint Civilian Orientation Conference - Joint Service Open House - Public Service Recognition Week - Interservice ComRel Liaison - Aerial Requests - Non-aerial Requests Marketing Team - Outreach Council - Golden Knights Liaison - The U.S. Army Field Band - Commemorations - The U.S. Army All-American Bowl OCPA Liaison - USO Liaison - CFSC and Army Entertainment Liaison - Sports Outreach - Outreach Web site/ Calendar - Soldier of the Year/NCO of the Year - Accessions Command Liaison Community Relations Division 22 personnel Pentagon OCPA-NY - Outreach in NYC metro area - Outreach in Northeast - Book and publications lead OCPA-LA - Outreach in Los Angeles - Movie industry lead OCPA-SE - Outreach in FL, GA and PR - Based in Tampa OCPA-MW - Outreach in ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, IA, MO, IL, WI, MI, IN, OH - Based in Chicago None available or published Mission Authority and Communications functional and project project only distributed communications (e-mail, telephone, VTC) Core Functions None available or published Installation PAOs (x 61) -1 – 5 persons -Responsible for Community relations, Command information, media relations at each installation --Reports directly to Installation Commander installation. Missions and community relations activities at these installations are determined by the local installation commander – not the director of the Army’s CRD. CRD is challenged by this organization. The first challenge is that it is scattered across the country. It has offices in the Pentagon (marketing, community relations, and executive communications), New York (OCPA – NY), Chicago (OCPA – MW), Los Angeles (OCPA – LA), and Tampa (OCPA – SE). These satellite offices are manned with two to three personnel and rely on electronic mail, phone, and annual meetings for communications with the chief of the CRD. Specific missions of these satellite offices vary, but generally their mission is to “identify high-profile targets of opportunity and engage organizers and planners in events that showcase today’s Army and its Soldiers (Misurelli, Buczkowski, 2007).” Additionally, each of the Army’s 61 forts, arsenals, and barracks’ PAO offices further disperse the organization. Missions and community relations priorities at these installations are determined by the local installation commander – not the director of the Army’s CRD (McCouch, 2007). The Army’s community relations programs are also challenged by the division of labor within CRD. CRD’s division of labor is organized around functions (marketing, outreach) rather than around projects (Army birthday celebration, 4th of July events). When looking at the overall organization chart for CRD it resembles a “flat” organization. The Chief of CRD, COL McCouch, retains span of control over four functional areas. These few layers between the chief and the functions, in theory, should reduce waste and “enable people to make better decisions (Greenberg, 2005).” In some cases, however, CDR
  19. 19. Community Relations 19 Communications Within OCPA “Push vs Pull” PushPush PullPull •Daily “Stand-to” •Annual World Wide Public Affairs Seminar •Messages to the force via e-mail •Weekly “balcony brief” •Daily “Stand-to” •Annual World Wide Public Affairs Seminar •Messages to the force via e-mail •Weekly “balcony brief” •Earlybird •AKO resources: •“Data depot” •“Notes from the Blogosphere” •PA homepage •PAG •Division AKO pages •“Editorial Roundup” •File sharing directories •Individual unit PAO pages •Requests for information to each division •Earlybird •AKO resources: •“Data depot” •“Notes from the Blogosphere” •PA homepage •PAG •Division AKO pages •“Editorial Roundup” •File sharing directories •Individual unit PAO pages •Requests for information to each division can be a tall organization. Working directly for the director is a deputy. This deputy normally reviews initiatives from each team prior to the director making a decision. Additionally, each of the Division’s teams is organized in a similar manner. Further lengthening the organization are the installation commanders and their staffs who can serve as buffers between a CRD initiative and the installation public affairs officer. As a result, CRD is really an example of a “tall” organization. The impact of this structure is seen in several examples. The first example is the issuing of community relations or public affairs guidance (PAG). The function of PAG is to create standard messages, talking points, and clarify official positions of the Army on a given issue. One example might be guidance on setting up media days in local communities. Once a staffer in the division has created the PAG for the issue, it must be approved by his division chief, passed higher through the Office Chief Public Affairs (OCPA) deputy chiefs and usually returned for changes. Once changes are complete, it is forwarded again to the OCPA where it is eventually approved and signed by the general in charge of Army Public affairs. Only then can it be distributed to the force via electronic means. This process is not timely and can result in delays in providing “official Army positions” on critical community relations issues. Both the Community Relations Division and OCPA have developed methods to help speed this process using websites and discussion boards. Communications within the organization – variety of methods Communications within CRD and its subordinates is accomplished by multiple methods. The easiest way to describe these methods is by using the terms “push” and “pull.” Pushing information to the force occurs when guidance is sent unprompted to members of the Public Affairs Community. One example of “pushed” communication would be the
  20. 20. Community Relations 20 daily “Stand-to.” Stand-to subscribers receive a one page update on communication themes and messages focus for the day. Additionally, the update includes key articles and links to communications relating to the Army. Another method of pushing information to the force is the use of e-mails from COL McCouch. This occurs only when the issue is of such great importance that it warrants mass distribution. This method was used prior to the launch of the “Army Strong” campaign. The Annual Public Affairs Conference is also used to push community relations information to the force, but is usually sparsely attended by those outside the Washington D.C. area. The final method of pushing information to the force is the weekly “balcony brief.” The balcony brief is chaired by General Cucolo and attended by all the division chiefs within OCPA. This meeting is used to synchronize messaging, coordinate projects across all divisions, and publish weekly guidance. Members of the Community Relations Division such as OCPA – NY receive the minutes from these meetings electronically. The other way of distributing information to the force is through “pull” methods. These methods work much like a grocery store. Any public affairs officer working on a community relations project can access the CRD’s website. This website provides access to CRD products event information, community relations guidance, and contact information. Another “pull” method is the community relations file sharing directory. Located within the AKO (Army Knowledge Online) community pages, this directory allows PAOs to access presentations and information packets created by other community Community Relations Division’s Website
  21. 21. Community Relations 21 relations officers. The final method of “pulling” information would be to contact the person directly who created the community relations project or activity. An example of this was when I created my directory of installation community relations officers. Names and contact information were found in the “Worldwide PAO Directory” which allowed me to contact each PAO directly. In all, The Army’s Community Relations Division is organized mostly around functions. While this organization is helpful when it comes to designing and completing projects, it is not manned or organized to ensure they are accomplished at the lowest level (installations). For an Army community relations initiative to be successful, it falls mostly on the shoulders of the individual installation Public Affairs Officer to pull the correct information and ensure it is accomplished to standard.
  22. 22. Community Relations 22 What Army PAOs Have to Say – Survey Results For this project, the descriptive purpose of the PAO survey was to identify how the Army interacts with its neighbors and local communities. To answer this question, the PAO survey was designed to provide answers to the following research questions: 1. How do installation PAOs view their neighboring media? 2. How do media and PAOs routinely communicate with each other? 3. How often do media and their PAOs communicate with each other? 4. What is the relationship between PAOs and their local media? 5. How do communities view their neighboring installation? 6. What do Army installation PAO’s view as “best practices” in community and media relations? Survey Summary The installation PAO survey provided a variety of insights into how they conduct media and community relations. They survey overall indicates a number of conclusions in these two areas.  Media Relations: Most PAOs utilize a wide variety of methods to engage local media in their surrounding communities. The results also suggest that relations between the PAOs and their local media are good with nearly all stating their coverage as “objective” or “overly supportive.” Perhaps this quality relationship is due in part to 88% of PAOs indicating they engage each of their local media on a weekly or daily basis. Finally, PAOs utilize a number of current media relations practices that are also recommended by industry practitioners and public relations texts.  Community Relations: Overall, PAOs characterize the relations between installations and their surrounding communities as good with nearly all (96%) describing the relationship as “excellent” or “satisfactory.” In addition to this positive relationship with their local communities, PAOs expressed that maintaining and promoting this relationship is absolutely critical to the Army’s success. The PAOs recommend utilizing
  23. 23. Community Relations 23 Method of Contact Phone, 59.52%E-mail, 23.81% Personal visit, 4.76% Other , 11.90% Phone E-mail Personal visit Other a number of programs suggested by Army doctrine and regulations. In addition to these programs, however, PAOs are creating and executing imaginative engagement activities that suggest a proactive approach to community engagement. In all, installation PAOs across the Army feel they have met with success in media and community relations. These PA professionals indicate that hard work, personal interaction, and quality programs are critical to these successes. Individual Question Analysis Question 1 – What is the primary method of contact between yourself and your local media? This question was utilized to gauge how PAOs communicate with their local media. Current Army public affairs doctrine recognizes the importance of utilizing many forms of communication with local media. But with the recent explosion in electronic media, what is the installation PAO’s preferred method? Of the PAOs surveyed, the majority prefer to contact local media by phone. E-mail remained the second preference while making a personal visit to the media was the least favored option. The “Other” that made up 11 percent of the responses collectively agreed that the primary method should include a combination of two of the choices. One respondent highlighted this belief by stating, “Phone and email weigh the same. We always follow up with one or the other.” Question 2. How often do you talk to your local media? Current Army Public Affairs doctrine does not address the frequency by which PAOs should conduct routine media calls. Additionally, Army doctrine does not discuss the importance of building
  24. 24. Community Relations 24 Inteaction With Media Daily 49% Weekly 39% Annually 0% Never 0% Other 5% Monthly 7% Daily Weekly Monthly Annually Never Other strong relationships with the press. In their book Guide to Media Relations, Irv Schenker and Tony Herrling suggest routine calls are critical to establishing relationships with local reporters. These relationships, they state, are absolutely necessary and an investment. “Once you have made the introductions, you need to keep in touch with this audience. Create occasions for interaction. But keep these kinds of events low- key, non-pitch events. Laying a solid foundation with the press corps that covers your organization ideally allows you to build trust and goodwill among reporters with whom you interact (Schenkler and Herrling, 2004).” While the Army doesn’t highlight the importance of routine communication with the media, most PAOs acknowledge (88%) that they communicate with their local media on a regular (daily or weekly) basis. Those selecting “other” did so to point out they talk to the media “twice a week.” Question 3. How would you describe the access you normally grant local media to units, commanders, or subject matter experts (SME) on your installation? This question was selected to help answer how much access to the installation and its units is given to the local media. The Army has long recognized the importance of providing access to media to accomplish the following “information objectives”:  Ensuring an understanding of the role of America's Armed Forces in American society.  Ensuring an accurate perception of the particular military situation or mission.
  25. 25. Community Relations 25 Access Granted to Local Media Controlled 76% Other 7% Unrestricted 0% Closed 0%Restricted 17% Unrestricted Controlled Restricted Closed Other  Ensuring an understanding of individual and unit roles in mission accomplishment.  Establishing confidence in America's Army to accomplish the assigned mission in accordance with our national values.  Establishing confidence in and support for American soldiers (U.S. Army, 2000). But how much access should be given and how is it measured? Should media be allowed to wander unaccompanied on an installation? Should reporters have minders at their side when interviewing troops? The survey presented this question to installation PAOs by asking what type of access they granted local media. Their choices were:  Unrestricted – local media are cleared by phone or e-mail and allowed un-escorted access to the commander, unit, or SME to whom they’d like to speak.  Controlled – Local media request a meeting with a specific unit or commander, and the PAO sets up the meeting and escorts the media during the process.  Restricted – Local media requests a meeting with a specific unit or commander, the PAO selects an appropriate unit for the media to speak to, and he escorts them to the meeting.  Closed – Access to units, commanders, training, and SMEs are normally denied due to security, OPSEC, or other reasons. Results of the survey revealed that a large majority of PAOs practice “controlled” access for press. Restricting access of the local media ranked second with no PAOs using either closed or unrestricted practices. Those that selected “other” stated their approaches fell equally in the controlled and restricted categories.
  26. 26. Community Relations 26 Finally, of note was one respondent who felt a combination of methods and flexibility was required to accomplish the Army’s goals of media access. “There is no ‘cookie cutter’ approach that works in each situation. Depending on the news angle/story line, any, all or a combination of the approaches may be used to achieve the desired effect.” Question 4. What methods of disseminating information to the local media are most useful when getting a story out about an event or topic on your installation? When Army public affairs professionals set out to accomplish strategic communications for their commanders, they do so in a complex environment. The Army recognizes that a “proliferation of personal computers, the World Wide Web, the Internet, online services, fax machines, E-mail, cable television, direct broadcast, satellites, copy machines, cellular and wireless communication and many other information technologies have created an endless stream of data and information that flow into a world filled with images, symbols, words, and sounds (Army, 4-2).” How do installation PAOs manage these channels to ensure their messages get out? Are methods such as press releases viable? Or do installations need to monitor and disseminate information on blogs and specialized websites? PAOs were asked to judge the usefulness of the following seven information distribution methods:  Direct phone calls or meeting with local media  Press release to local media  Setting up interviews with unit personnel, commanders, subject matter experts  Post newspaper  Official installation or unit website  Unit or soldier blog  Leaks
  27. 27. Community Relations 27 Ranking Information Dissemenation Techniques 1 2 3 4 5 Leaks Unit or soldier blogs Official installation / unit w ebsites Post new spaper Setting up interview s w ith unit personnel, commanders, subject matter experts Press Release to local media Direct phone calls or meetings w ith local media Usefulness Of those that responded, PAOs seemed to favor harnessing direct contact (either by phone or meeting), a press release, and an interview with a subject matter expert to publicize an upcoming event or story. All three of these methods received ratings of over 4.0. Of interest in these results, however, is the use of blogs. Installation PAO’s gave use of blogs an average usefulness rating of 1.84. In fact, several respondents offered that their installations did not utilize a website nor allow blogs on the installation. This rating is surprising given the US military’s recent recognition of blogs as an important tool to both connect with the public and monitor audience attitudes. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) even created a blogging task force which conducted an in-depth study and concluded: “Today, CENTCOM Public Affairs actively engages more than 400 blogs operated by a variety of core and non-core audiences. It’s important to understand this medium. We must have in place proactive processes to rapidly counter misinformation about our operations, policies and processes that occur within the blogosphere. By doing this, we can better inform and educate the audiences that operate in this growing medium (USCENTCOM, 2006)” In addition to rating the given methods of disseminating information, the respondents were also asked to provide any other methods that they thought were of value. These ideas included:  Press Conferences. These can be very useful in dealing with high profile cases. 1=Useless / never used 5= Most useful
  28. 28. Community Relations 28  Board of Visitors meetings. These periodic briefings by installation leadership to local leaders are open to the public and media. However, specifically inviting the media is useful and demonstrates trust and encourages a working relationship.  Media Advisories. These are much more efficient in getting coverage of post messages and/or stories. Advisories are brief, giving just enough information to entice media to do their own story.  Periodic media operations. These can include meetings with incoming and outgoing commanders, media tours, morale calls, media leader luncheons which all promote and enhance personal relationships.  Build a customer base for the PAO website. Once local media realize the PAO website is an accurate and timely source of information, they get accurate facts more quickly. Question 5. What is your perception of the coverage your installation receives from local media? Within their communities, PAOs recognize the importance of monitoring local press for coverage of their installation. Part of the mission of PAOs is to recognize that, “the vast majority of both civilian and military media representatives are committed to providing responsible, accurate, balanced coverage,” of military operations. Regardless of this mission, do PAOs feel their installations are being covered fairly? Are media outlets providing credible presentation, or are they overly negative/positive? Installation PAOs were asked to gauge the coverage of their installation by local media by labeling the coverage as:  Objective – local media provide coverage that is fair. They report equally on good and bad events and can be counted on to research their stories prior to going to print.  Overly supportive - Local media are more “cheerleaders” than objective reporters. They cover the installation in a positive light only and could be more critical at times.
  29. 29. Community Relations 29 Type of Coverage Overly supportive 16% Overly critical 5% Tabloid 7% Other 2% Objective 70% Objective Overly supportive Overly critical Tabloid Other  Overly critical - Local media report only on the bad events that happen on post. While these stories are usually well researched and investigated, they paint a picture that only negative things happen here.  Tabloid - The local media rarely research the stories they print. They rush to print stories they view as “scandalous” that serve to build an “us versus them” mentality in the local community. Seventy percent of the respondents noted that the coverage of their installation was objective. Add to this another 16% who deemed their coverage as “overly supportive” and some 86% of all installations are getting positive coverage in their local papers. Worth noting, however, 13% of those surveyed believed their local papers covered the installation in a tabloid or overly critical manner. When asked to clarify this negative coverage, some respondents noted coverage that was, “Regrettable, sensational, semi-factual or less than fair.” Of all responses, however, one PAO distinguished between the coverage of weeklies and major daily publications. Their premise highlights a growing concern among public relations professionals of the difficulty in managing media who, “..are increasingly and uncritically publishing and broadcasting information from individuals who fail to have credentials, who are self-anointed or self-appointed, and who have done virtually nothing to authenticate the information they convey(Lukaszewski, 2007).” The PAO lamented, “The dailies (Washington Post, Examinar (sic) Times) are objective and seek to provide balanced coverage. The weeklies routinely serve as a mouth piece for county supervisors who have an agenda to promote without regard to the facts.
  30. 30. Community Relations 30 Weekly papers often run items regarding the installation without seeking comment from the installation.” Question 6. What are the ethical practices of the local media covering your installation? This question also attempts to identify the level of credibility between the PAO and their local media. Do they trust their servicing media? When the PAO gives a quote or responds to query, are their responses accurately represented in the media outlet? The Army and industry both agree that mutual trust and credibility between media and public relations professionals are essential. One media relations specialist stated, “credibility is your ultimate product…should your reputation for credibility ever be damaged, should you be caught in a lie, you’ll be a long time repairing the damage (Schenkler and Herrling).” Similarly, if a PAO believes his / her local media is not trustworthy, they might be less inclined to get accurate coverage of stories and messages. In this survey, PAOs were given four choices to explain how they viewed their local media. Their choices were: Has your local media ever:  Lied to you. Told you something that was not true  Withheld information they eventually printed in a story that painted the installation or a unit in a negative light?  Deceived you. Did not lie, but did not provide full information that eventually led to a crisis.  None of the above apply. All my dealings with the local media have been honest and truthful.
  31. 31. Community Relations 31 Has the Media Ever…. Lied to you? 11% Withheld information? 32% Deceived you? 25% Been completely honest and straightforward? 32% It is discouraging to see that 68% of all PAOs surveyed felt that their local media had been less than completely honest and straightforward in their dealings. This percentage is also confusing. How can 86% of PAOs believe they receive objective or overly supportive coverage when only 32% of them believe their local media are completely honest and straightforward? This discrepancy could be the basis of future research on the subject. Question 7. Personally, how are you treated by the local media? This question also attempts to describe the relationship between PAOs and their local media. Once again, the credibility of a PAO is critical. Army public affairs recognizes that there are multiple benefits to getting information out in a timely and accurate manner. It goes without saying that PAOs who are respected amongst their local press should have an easier time communicating key messages and themes rapidly and accurately than those who cannot get their calls returned. PAOs were asked to represent their treatment by selecting from the choices below.  Respected – I’m treated as a professional public relations specialist and public servant  Feared / avoided – Some event (or dealings with a predecessor) has caused the local media to avoid talking to me, and when they do, I am treated very skeptically.  Ignored - I’m treated as if my installation is not newsworthy or too insignificant to be taken seriously.  Other
  32. 32. Community Relations 32 How Are You Treated By the Local Media? Respected 90% Other 10% Feared / avoided 0% Ignored 0% By far, the vast majority of those responding noted they believed they were respected by the local press. None of those responding felt they were ignored or feared / avoided by the local media. However, 10% of those responding noted “other” as their treatment. Those who responded with other noted a variation in treatment which included:  “Respected if they understand our position and mission but reporters who do not work with us on a continuous basis get frustrated with us because they do not have unrestricted access.”  “Missing category: gatekeeper. Every gate entering post says that the post PAO is the person a journalist must come through to conduct newsgathering on post. That role is established in AR 360-1. The local media understood that role and followed our ground rules, because they knew we could limit the access they needed to do their jobs. We returned that respect for their adherence our guidelines by not being jerks about it and granting frequent access to post in almost all circumstances.”  “Almost impossible to answer. Our local print media is a sensationalist tabliod. Our local TV and radio stations, however, are very fair. National and international media have great professional relationships with our office.”  “Depends on the reporter. Some treat me respectably, some ignore me, and some act as though I'm bothering them or hampering them.” Question 8. Describe the type of working relationship you have with the local media covering your installation.
  33. 33. Community Relations 33 This question relates to research question five which questions the nature of the PAO / local media relationship. How do the PAO and his local reporters work together? Are they friendly to each other? Are all dealings formal and rigid? Or do they informally meet for a cup of coffee to discuss stories or background information? Army doctrine is somewhat structured when it comes to defining the PAOs relationship with media. There are a wealth of Army publications that dictate “media ground rules.” These ground rules revolve around what can and cannot be said, what information can and cannot be released, and what locations a reporter can and cannot access. No time is spent discussing the relationship between the PAO and reporter. Is it ok to have a casual cup of coffee with your local media? What are the advantages of nurturing relationships with your local media? Community relations specialists recognize that when spokespersons practice openness, accessibility, truthfulness, empathy and engagement, they have a better opportunity to manage coverage and opposition within their communities (Lukaszewski, 10). For this survey, PAOs were asked the following: “Which description best characterizes your relationship with the local media covering your installation?”  Formal – Strictly professional and “by the book” – All information and quotes “on the record.”  Informal – routinely meet with the media in informal settings such as lunch or coffee to share story ideas, background information, and “off the record” opinions.  Informal / formal mix – a mix of the two above.  Hostile – Don’t speak with the local media.  Other – please explain. Of those responding, 78% described their relationship with local media as a mix of formal and informal techniques. A formal relationship ranked second at 10% among respondents followed by 7% who favored a strictly informal method. No respondents admitted to a hostile relationship although 5% stated they had a relationship that fell outside the presented options.
  34. 34. Community Relations 34 Characterize Your Working Relationship With the Media Informal / formal mix 78% Other 5% Hostile 0% Formal 10% Informal 7% Those who delineated “other” explained relationships that more than likely fit the “informal/formal” mix category. One respondent highlighted the concern of what to do with an “untrustworthy” reporter. How do you treat someone you know you have to talk to, but don’t trust? “Totally depended on the individual reporter. Some reporters you could engage informally with and not worry. Others had to be handled with a long set of steel tongs and asbestos gloves. Reporters who merited the latter treatment were the ones who created quotes from me or misrepresented what was happening on our installations. If I didn't trust the reporter to do their job according to basic standards of the journalistic 'profession,' then I was going to approach them very carefully. Having completed graduate school in journalism, I often understood those standards better than they did.” In the end, some who have examined the problem of the media vs. PAO relationship suggest that a strong professional relationship built on mutual respect and understanding is key to creating, “a trust and confidence between the two that will result in fairer media coverage of the military and greater media access.” (Willey, 1998) Question 9. How do PAOs engage local media? This question once again attempts to answer research question six. What do PAOs view as best practices in media and community relations? Media and public relations experts agree that to maintain a quality relationship with local media; a spokesperson should utilize multiple channels to engage the media (Schenkler and Herrling, 19). These channels should include a mixture of three main types 1) releases, 2) individually targeted channels, and 3) broadly targeted channels. The offering of engagement
  35. 35. Community Relations 35 opportunities falls largely in the second and third main group. Offering these activities is especially important for community relations on military installations as it is often the only window some locals have into the post. In this survey, PAOs were asked the following: Which of the following engagement opportunities does your installation offer and at what frequency?  Media days (visit training, installation tour)  Attendance at installation town hall meetings  Editorial boards  Interviews with installation leadership (post commander or garrison commander)  Story pitches  Unaccompanied access to select events  Interviews with subject matter experts (SME)  Embedding with units  Other Schenkler and Herrling’s Channels
  36. 36. Community Relations 36 Of those PAOs surveyed, all responded they offered interviews with SMEs and installation leadership. Close to 80% of those surveyed offered some variety of story pitches (90%) and media visitation days (78%). Embedding of reporters was the next most frequent technique of media engagement with 59% of PAOs offering that option. However, less than half of all respondents offered editorial boards (39%), unaccompanied access to events (37%) and attendance at town hall meetings (37%). Once the preferred techniques were identified, at what frequency were these opportunities offered? Since interviews with SMEs and installation leadership were offered by all those responding to the survey, how often were these engagement activities offered? Most PAOs stated they gave local press greater access to SMEs than they did to leadership. This is seen in that interviews were usually granted with SMEs on a monthly (44%) and weekly (44%) basis. This is contrasted with leadership interviews which were more often given semi-annually (49%) and monthly (31%). Of those surveyed, very few granted daily access to either SMEs or installation leadership. How Frequently Is The Press Offered Interviews With Subject Matter Experts? Semi-Annually 3% Monthly 44% Weekly 44% Daily 6% Annually 3% How Frequently Is The Press Offered Interviews With Installation Leadership? Annually 11% Daily 3% Weekly 6% Monthly 31% Semi-Annually 49% Do You Offer the Media..... 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100 % Town hall meetings Unaccompanied access to select events Editorial boards Embedding Media days Story pitches Leadership Interviews Subject Matter Expert Interviews Percentage Responding Yes
  37. 37. Community Relations 37 How Frequently Is The Press Offered Story Pitches? Annually 0% Daily 21% Weekly 47% Monthly 29% Semi-Annually 3% How Frequently Is The Press Offered Attendance at Media Days (visit training, installation junket)? Semi-Annually 34% Monthly 13% Weekly 9% Daily 6% Annually 38% How Often do you Offer Local Media the Opportunity to Embed with Units? Semi-Annually 20% Monthly 25% Weekly 0% Daily 20%Annually 35% The next most popular engagement activity was utilizing story pitches. Of those PAOs that pitched stories, almost half (47%) offered these pitches weekly while 29% pitched monthly. Surprisingly, 21% of PAOs pitched stories daily to their local media outlets. Very few (3%) offered pitches twice a year. The next most popular engagement activity for PAOs was the use of media facilitation days. These events usually include a combination of briefings, training visits, and access to soldiers. Of those offering media days, most did so on an annual (38%) or semi- annual (34%) basis. The remainder of those surveyed offered them on a monthly (13%), weekly (9%) and daily (6%) basis. The next method of engagement for PAOs is the embedding of media. Embedding usually occurs over an extended time period and normally requires the media representative to travel with the unit into a combat theater. While this was not the most popular method of engagement among PAOs (only 59% offered), those who did offer the opportunity did so
  38. 38. Community Relations 38 How Often Do You Invite Local Media to Installation Town Hall Meetings? Annually 7% Daily 0% Weekly 0% Monthly 21% Semi-Annually 72% How Frequently Does the Installation Conduct Editorial Board Meetings? Annually 60% Daily 0% Weekly 0% Monthly 0% Semi-Annually 40% How Frequently Is The Press Given Unaccompanied Access to Installaiton Events? Semi-Annually 29% Monthly 29% Weekly 14% Daily 7% Annually 21% with somewhat varied frequency. Some offered the opportunity monthly while others offered it only twice a year. Some (20%) offered to embed reporters daily. The data did not support a preferred frequency of how often to offer a local reporter the chance to embed. The three remaining media engagement activities (editorial boards, unaccompanied access, and town hall meetings) were also favored by relatively the same percentage of PAOs (39%). Those that extended invitations to installation town hall meetings for local media did so most often on a semi-annual basis. The next most popular frequency was monthly (21%) and annually (7%). No PAOs offered attendance at town hall meetings on a weekly or daily basis. Editorial boards were also utilized by 39% of the respondents. Of those using editorial boards, a majority utilized them annually (60%) while all others offered them on a semi-annual basis. No respondents offered the engagement activity on a daily, monthly or weekly basis. The final engagement activity consisted of unaccompanied access to events on post. Of those responding that this activity was offered, there was no clear majority. Respondents offered the activity
  39. 39. Community Relations 39 Engagement Preferences 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% Combination Interviews Media Days / Visits Meetings With Local Officials Pitches Unaccompanied Access monthly (29%), semi-annually (29%), and annually (21%). A minority of respondents offered unaccompanied access on a less frequent weekly (14%) and daily (7%) basis. Question 10 – Which engagement activities do PAOs view as most beneficial? Based on the results of question nine, PAOs utilize a number of community and media engagement activities. Which of these, however, do they view as most effective? With only 1-3 public affairs personnel available in their offices to plan and coordinate these activities, which engagement initiative provides the most, “bang for the buck.?” PAOs were asked in this question, “Which of the above (those listed in question 9) media engagement activities do you view as most successful in developing a good working relationship with you local media? Why?” The most poplar options for PAOs were utilizing media days and visits (37%) and offering interviews with SMEs and unit leadership (34%) After these options, 14% of respondents stated that it was best to utilize a combination of engagement techniques. The remaining respondents stated that building relationships with local officials (9%), utilizing story pitches (3%) and granting unaccompanied access to events (3%) were the most effective ways to engage local media and communities. Not surprisingly, the PAOs had numerous reasons for selecting their most effective engagement activities. Some reasons included:
  40. 40. Community Relations 40 Media Days:  “Media days, especially those where we take a new reporter to the beat and let them peek behind the curtain to better understand who we are, what we do, and how they can cover us, and story pitches (usually held informally)”  “Media Days with hometown newspapers of deploying units result in some of the best presentations of the mobilization and deployment process we have seen. These are best when usually put in the words of junior Soldiers.”  “With media days we were able to focus on a particular facet of life on the installation and allow the reporters to ‘live it’ for a day.” Interviews with SMEs and Leadership:  “One on one interviews are the best - they are the most personal and show trust for the reporter.”  “Setting up interviews with SMEs works best. Anticipating their intent and staffing the proper SMEs and visuals for stills/b-roll makes their job easier and thus builds a better relationship.”  “Interviews with SMEs work the best. These strengthen the credibility of the individual, the organization and public affairs; provides opportunity to pitch other story ideas before and after the interview; good barometer for journalist's style and trust for future engagements” Combination of Methods:  “None works well alone. A PA professional, with command support and involvement, has to use them all in order to be successful”.  “A combination of all with a mix of interviews with command leaders and story pitches. In our medium sized market, local media appreciate us streamlining important issues that appeals to our various publics. They also like to have direct and personal access to our command group.”  “The bottom line is all. It must be a mix to ensure the complete Army story is told.”
  41. 41. Community Relations 41  “All. Feeding the media story ideas and opportunities not only tells the Army story, but it also improves relationships with the media. I always say, ‘You don't want to meet your local media the first time when there is a crisis.’” Personal Meetings with Local Officials and Media:  “Our periodic meetings with local officials offer a great opportunity to show our commitment to forthright communications. By allowing them in to see what we are doing, media are much more receptive to our releases and advisories.”  “Developing a good working relationship with media is an ongoing process which crosses all the above activities. To me the most critical ingredient is the personal integrity of the PAO professional. The media has to believe the PAO will not lie to them and will provide ‘maximum disclosure with minimum delay’.” Unaccompanied Access and Story Pitches: While these two engagement activities were selected, respondents did not expand upon their selection. Of interest, however, were the comments of one respondent on the use of unaccompanied access: “If a journalist isn't working under embedded media ground rules, unaccompanied access is a violation of AR 360-1. All media should be escorted, even to on-post football and basketball games by the school staff/information officer. It's a reminder to the reporter that military installations, while like a city, are special because of their activities in support of national security.” This statement, however, is not true. AR 360-1 does not prohibit unaccompanied access to public events on installations. In fact, the regulation states: “News media representatives may visit those areas of an installation normally open to the public when the subject matter is of local interest or deals with news events that happen without prior planning or knowledge and the information is
  42. 42. Community Relations 42 releasable under existing regulations. The news media and the public are restricted from areas where access must be controlled for criminal justice purposes (U.S. Army 2000).” Question 11. Does your installation “get along” with its surrounding communities? As mentioned in the opening of this project, some installations suffer through protests and challenges from a variety of activist organizations. But do all Army installations share these problems? More importantly, how do PAOs rate their installation’s relationship with the local community? Specifically, respondents were asked, “How would you characterize the current relationship between your installation and its neighboring communities?” PAOs were then given the following choices:  Excellent – The post is involved with numerous community events (festivals, parades) and supports local charities, non-profits, and benevolent organizations. The post hosts the community and attempts to create a lasting “partnership.”  Satisfactory – The post is involved with the community, but could do much more. The community is hesitant to engage and slow to react to our concerns. There is a mutual respect between the community and the installation.  Poor – Relations are not good. We do not engage the community unless a crisis arises there. There are very few engagement activities and these are not resourced by the community to be successful. There is not a mutual respect between the installation and the community.  Hostile – Relations could not be any worse. Community and installation goals oppose each other. The prevailing attitude of the community and its leaders is that things would be better off without the installation here.  Other (Please describe the relationship your installation has with its local community)
  43. 43. Community Relations 43 Those responding to the survey overwhelmingly chose to characterize their relationship with their surrounding communities as excellent. A remaining 17% of respondents characterized their relationship as satisfactory. No PAOs stated their relationships as poor or hostile. Of those that selected other, one provided insight that might mirror the concerns of other installations. The respondent noted that even though the relationship between the community and installation was satisfactory or excellent, there was no way the installation could provide all the community thought it needed. This comment highlights the community’s frustrations: “Overall our relationship is satisfactory to excellent. The issue is not the amount of support we provide, which is considerable in the community events realm, but the unceasing amounts of support they request that we cannot legally provide. The community is unwilling to accept this fact.” Question 12. What are some tactics you utilize? Army guidance and regulations concerning community relations are sparse at best. In AR 360-1, The Army Public Affairs Program, only allocates 3 pages of 107 to the topic of community relations. (see Appendix H) Within these pages, the Army suggest some tactics of community engagement to include:  An active speakers bureau program.  Ongoing liaison with organizations (including those at local, State, and regional events).  Participatory membership in civic, business, and professional organizations.  Using exhibits, bands, color guards, and other ceremonial units in the public domain. Characterize the Relationship Between Your Installation and the Local Community Poor, 0% Hostile, 0% Other, 5% Satisfactory, 17% Excellent, 79%
  44. 44. Community Relations 44  Periodic open houses and an active installation tour program (see para 7–5).  Participating in national holiday observances.  Supporting overseas host nation activities (American youth, holiday, and traditional programs). But do installation PAOs actually use these recommended programs and activities? In the words of one PAO: “Rather than the passive “respond to request” for support by the Army envisioned in AR 360-1(e.g., bands, color guards, marching units for parades, equipment displays), the installation establishes an aggressive, proactive community outreach program to support the local community and foster understanding and support of Army programs and activities through active, personal, hands-on participation in all aspects of community life.” From the survey results, most PAOs share this active approach. Below are samplings of some of the respondent’s top three tactics of community engagement. (see next page)
  45. 45. Community Relations 45 School / Youth Engagement Activities: Adopt a school program JROTC Tours Area schools mentoring program Participation in local school events Local State University / Installation day: Host competitions, information briefing for nearby university students and leaders Soldier reading programs in local schools Host adventure camps for community youth Arrange donation of computers to local youth groups Local Opinion Leaders Engagement Activities: Getting community leaders to key events on post Scheduled visits to installation by opinion leaders. Conduct historical tour for local opinion leaders Conduct periodic meetings with military affairs committee / Chamber of Commerce Annual visit of Leadership Oklahoma (a year-long class of state leaders of business, industry, education and government.) They visit to learn about the military's impact on the state. Establish board of advisors from local elected officials Establish volunteer participation in local groups to include: neighborhood boards, city, county and state advisory committees, land use commissions, State Department of Land and Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, Community service and volunteer groups, AUSA, MOAA (former TROA), Scouts, and school partnership groups Liaisons on local boards (city council, school, etc.) Media Roundtable with Installation Commander BRAC Board of Advisors (quarterly; sort of a COMREL Council) Attend county fiscal court / zoning meetings Army Visibility Activities: All installation concerts open to local community Ceremonial mounted color guard sent to nearly all local communities for their festivals / parades Demonstrations by installation teams / units to include static displays of equipment. Armed Forces Day celebration. Soldiers and units provide participation. Cultural, environmental, and hunting access to installations and training areas. Installation provides guided tours on special days or events Torchlight Tattoo and Armed Forces Day Establish special events [Largest July 4th activity; dinner theater offerings, Cinco de Mayo, etc.] to which the community are invited to. Other Engagement Activities: Participation in community economic development events Promote attendance at local job fairs Community/Business Appreciation Night Host community update breakfast (annual) Create installation- community council And meet quarterly Develop partnership between installation and local library Interface among emergency response organizations on and off-post “Adopt a site” programs. IE: memorial, cemetery, park Develop installation speaker’s bureau Create installation civilian employee appreciation events Develop Co-Op programs between units and local businesses
  46. 46. Community Relations 46 Question 13. How do PAOs conduct research? In addition to providing guidance on community relations activities, AR 360-1 also provides recommendations for research of local opinion and attitudes. The Army recognizes that, “Community surveys and analyses are helpful in developing a sound community relations program (U.S. Army, 2000).” It does not, however, provide any suggestions, examples, or doctrine to help PAOs conduct this analysis. The only help the Army provides is an outdated regulation, AR 600-46 “Attitude and Opinion Survey Program” which was published in 1979. Respondents, therefore were asked specifically, “Which of the following qualitative and quantitative measures do you find helpful in determining community attitudes towards your installation? (check all that apply)” The PAOs were given the following choices:  Phone surveys  Content analysis of local media coverage  Interviews with opinion leaders  Attendance at community meetings  Informal surveys conducted by attending local events  Hosting installation town hall meetings  Call-in-line (CG’s hotline)  Focus groups  Web surveys  Mail surveys  Analysis of local blogs  Phone surveys  Other - please specify Based on the survey results, content analysis of local media coverage was the most frequently used method with 68% of respondents utilizing it as a research practice. Interviews with opinion leaders and attendance of community meetings were also popular as they were utilized by over 50% of respondents. The more labor intensive research methods, surveys and meetings were utilized less frequently. Of these methods, only hosting installation town hall meetings were utilized by PAOs over 40% of the time. Phone, mail and web surveys as well as analysis of local blogs were utilized by PAOs less than 10% of the time.
  47. 47. Community Relations 47 Those who selected “other” as their choice provided insightful comments. Most of those selecting other suggested “personal contact,” “daily interactions with locals and constant engagement with community leaders, as their preferred method of research. Additionally, three respondents noted that they did not conduct research, did it poorly, or were not organized to conduct analysis of any kind. Question 14. What is your philosophy of community relations? Even though the Army spends very little time in manuals and regulations addressing community relations, it does define its objectives for installation community relations programs. These objectives are:  increase public awareness of the Army’s mission ,policies and programs  inspire patriotism  foster good relations with the various publics with which the Army comes into contact at home and abroad  maintain the Army’s reputation as a respected professional organization responsible for national security  support the Army’s recruiting and personnel procurement mission (U.S. Army 1997) How Do PAOs Conduct Research? 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% phone surveys analysis of local blogs mail surveys web surveys focus groups call-in line (CG's hotline) Other (please specify) installation town hall meetings informal surveys conducted by attending local events community meetings (zoning boards, city council, etc.) interviews with opinion leaders content analysis of local media coverage
  48. 48. Community Relations 48 How do PAOs meet these objectives? What philosophies guide them in their daily operations that help them meet a myriad of challenges? Respondents were asked the following hypothetical question: “Hypothetically, you have been asked to teach a class to a group of new public affairs officers on community relations. Based on your professional experience, how would you describe to them your philosophy of community relations and engagement?” While it is impossible to list each response, there appeared to be similar themes among all.  Engagement. Installations and their leaders need to be engaged in the community. PAOs should ensure this engagement is proactive – not passive. “More often than not, your engagement activities are the face of your installation in the community’s eyes.”  Participation. Community relations is a PAO planned and leader executed program. The installation commander and their subordinate leaders must show an interest in the community. Getting leaders to participate is difficult and some will not be willing to give up their time. But when they do participate, “they are perceived as a genuine community partner, willing to roll up their sleeves and assist in programs that may not be seen as directly benefiting the military.”  Personal contact leads to credibility. Personal contact with community leaders and citizens in general builds a mutual respect and builds the perception that you care. Sometimes personal contact means telling the bad with the good. Ideally, this contact is in person and by phone – not e-mail. When leaders and soldiers are up front and active in their communications, it builds, “mutual respect leading to truthful, productive relationships.”  You are not alone! Often PAO offices are staffed with 2-3 people. Successful community relations cannot happen if it is just the PAO participating in the program.
  49. 49. Community Relations 49 PAOs suggest using the talent within the installation to help. Enlist volunteers, empower subordinate units and encourage others to participate.  Support the local community. As much as possible, support the local community’s requests for personnel, equipment, participation, and other forms of support. Realistically, the community must understand you cannot support every request, but should be willing to listen to every request. As one PAO stated, “Not all installations have assets they can throw at the community – which is not necessarily a bad thing as you quickly see the community turn when the assets are not available.”  Don’t be afraid. PAOs stress knowing all applicable regulations and doctrine. Beyond that, however, they suggest imagination is the only limit to communications with the local community. Utilizing breakfasts, meetings, speakers bureaus all help when getting the word out on installation activities and news. Installations should strive to remain transparent within the limits of regulations. Opening the post for dinner theater, concerts and youth sporting events are all creative ways to help the community understand what happens behind, “those guarded gates.” What Installation Media Have to Say – Survey Results As discussed in Part IV – research methods, a parallel survey was developed to gauge the effectiveness of Army media and community relations by engaging the media that cover Army installations. Initially, over 100 survey invites were sent to local print media. Only 6 invitees completed the survey by the required completion dates. The low response count to the survey prevents utilizing data for conclusions. The lack of responses and reasons given for not completing the survey, however, provide some insights in and of themselves.  Lack of a dedicated beat reporter. In some cases, reporters responded to the survey invite that they no longer covered the installation or did not feel writing one article
  50. 50. Community Relations 50 about an installation qualified them to complete the survey. Additionally, the military beat appears to be one of the least popular beats. For instance, one paper utilized five reporters for five articles covering an installation over a period of a year. This “beat coverage by committee” was seen in at least one other installation where a former military beat reporter left six months ago and still has not been replaced.  Military reporter participation in beat coverage. Some installation Public Affairs offices retain their own specialists that serve as reporters for the installation newspaper. Installation Public Affairs offices often partner with small local print publications for assistance in printing, typesetting and other technical aspects of publishing a weekly newspaper. As a result of these agreements, some Army installation public affairs specialists may serve as reporters for these small local dailies. This is especially prevalent when covering “on-post” stories. In several cases, invites to these reporters were returned with the reason of not being “allowed” to complete surveys. Regardless of the low response count, those that did participate provided feedback on their relationships with the local installation that could prove helpful to installation PAOs. These insights focus in two main areas.  Communications with local media. Those responding to the survey noted a high frequency (daily and weekly) communication with their local PAO. Additionally, all responded that requested information was provided in a timely manner in order to meet their deadlines. One respondent noted, however, that the process of information gathering sometimes becomes cumbersome. “PAOs haven't actively withheld info, but have required me to file FOIA requests for info they were directed not to freely distribute. Also, by serving as go-betweens w/ subject matter experts in answering questions, they have slowed info-gathering, to the point that stories on deadline sometimes cannot get all questions answered in time”.
  51. 51. Community Relations 51 While another PAO added that while they get information – it might not always be what they need. “We get lots of stuff we don't need from PAO pitching ‘feel good’ stories. Response to important stories varies from good to avoidance in most cases, but we do have situations where they call us, tell us there is a big problem going on we'll find out about eventually, and give us their perspective in advance. In other words, we sometimes get treated properly, depending mostly on which one of several people is in charge.”  Mutual respect. In the PAO survey, respondents agreed that mutual respect was an important part of successful relations with local media. Those responding to the survey noted that they felt respected by their local PAO. Only one respondent countered this attitude noting: “Historically our installation has not respected the local media at all. We now have two reporters with backgrounds in Army Public Affairs who have worked for much larger media outlets in the civilian sector, understand what PAO should be doing, and are not hesitant to demand that we be treated according to Army regulations. That has solved most of the problems”.  Building a good working relationship with the PAO. All reporters noted they were provided with engagement opportunities consisting of story pitches, interviews, and media days. In general, these opportunities to interact with the installation population and PAO helped build a good working relationship. Once again mirroring the PAO survey, interviews were favored by most of the respondents. Contrary to the PAO survey, however, one reporter felt greater access was the answer to building strong relationships noting: “Any event that allows unfettered access to NCOs and soldiers-- without a PAO listening in--is best, whether it's a town hall-style meeting, a training activity or deployment ceremony.”
  52. 52. Community Relations 52 While both Army doctrine and industry practices recommend building strong relationships between PAOs and local media, one reporter felt it wasn’t that important. “Two of our reporters, including me, are former Army Public Affairs personnel who have spent many years in the civilian media as well. We don't need to develop a good relationship -- we demand that the regulations be followed since we know the way thing are supposed to be done and do not tolerate garbage.”  Building strong relationships with the community. All of the respondents felt the installation retained an excellent relationship with the surrounding communities. Some reasoned this was due to healthy variety of engagement programs such as media / community leaders breakfasts, hosting youth events, leadership attendance at local events, and inviting media and community leaders to training events on post. One respondent , however, hinted that land issues – much like those seen at Fort Belvior and Fort Carson could possibly damage this relationship. “Biggest issue is potential purchase of private land to expand the post's training area. Army doesn't want to talk about which lands it may want to buy and that creates great distrust with surrounding landowners. No real solution though.”  Advice for fellow “installation beat” reporters. The final portion of the media survey offered the respondents the opportunity to provide advice to reporters covering an installation beat. How best does a reporter interact with the PAO and the installation leadership?  Read military newspapers to see what issues are cropping up at other installations.
  53. 53. Community Relations 53  When you interview troops, try to develop sources for longer- term use, even if it’s for nothing more detailed than confirmation purposes.  Remember that the military are also public servants and what they do, how they do it, and what it costs are all information the public has an interest in knowing.  Establish a professional and eventually a private relationship with the PAO, to include asking for a post briefing and windshield tour of the fort.  Go to events, no matter how mundane they seem, to build a relationship with the fort's people. The more they see you the more they will trust you.  Treat those in uniform and the civilian workforce with respect.  Engage early and often. Try to convince them you're serious about covering them thoroughly and accurately, and that even if they try to brush you off you aren't going away.  The best advice would be to learn as much as possible about the Army. Almost anyone we would hire would be a former soldier or a spouse, but if we hired a true civilian with no military experience, we'd urge them to spend as much time as possible trying to learn about military life. For former soldiers with no PAO background, we would tell them to learn the regulations and demand that they be followed -- nicely at first, other-than- nicely if needed. Having more reporters respond to the media survey would have been ideal. The comments and anecdotal data the few respondents provided were useful and beneficial to the overall project. Of most value in their comments were their recommendations for their fellow installation beat reporters. Throughout all their comments, it is evident that these reporters not only value a healthy relationship with their installation PAOs but respect the work they and the installation’s soldiers do.
  54. 54. Community Relations 54 What Can Be Learned From Industry – Interviews With John Deere and Toyota Major corporations conduct community relations much like the Army. As a result, two major corporations’ community relations practices were examined to determine if the Army could apply any lessons from these industry leaders. The following are the key lessons learned from interviews of community relations managers at both Toyota and Deere and Co. Use volunteers within your organization. Much like the Army, public and community relations divisions within corporations are not heavily staffed. Both Deere and Toyota Manufacturing Indiana (TMMI) consisted of only two people. With such little manpower, it is essential for the community relations manager to enlist the support of volunteers within the company. In the case of TMMI, it would be ideal for someone from the company to attend each chamber of commerce breakfast, school board meeting, city council hearing, and zoning board session. Attendances at these events help the company understand all the issues facing the local community, thus making them a better neighbor. Since this would be impossible for the community relations personnel to accomplish on their own, TMMI enlists volunteers from their workforce to attend. One employee may already be a member of the school board. Another employee may be a city council member. Periodic reports and suggestions from these volunteers help the community relations manager, “cover more ground” and gather feedback from a greater audience. The TMMI community relations manager even recommends building a contact and tracking list for all these volunteers in order to recognize and coordinate their efforts. How to be the “300-pound gorilla” in the room without anyone noticing. Both TMMI and Deere and Co. are the largest employers in their respective communities. In addition to this they are also the wealthiest corporations in their local communities. In the words of one Deere employee, “We could out-spend any of our fellow local employers for public relations – but why would we want to do that?” Both TMMI and Deere and Co. agree that using money is not the best answer to solving community relations issues. In some cases they agree that “throwing
  55. 55. Community Relations 55 money” at the community does more harm than good. Instead, these corporations try to lower their profile when it comes to spending money. They want to be good community citizens, but don’t want to be obtrusive. Both corporations recommend very strict guidelines to contributing money, time, and assets to local community events and causes. In the case of TMMI, they will not sponsor youth soccer or baseball teams. They see these sponsorships as establishing a precedent that they could not sustain over time. Instead, they helped to build a local youth soccer complex for all youth soccer team to utilize. Deere and Co. approach money and donations in the same manner. The company led an effort to revitalize downtown Moline by purchasing land and donating it to the city for use as a convention center. Both companies believe that they can be better community partners by partnering with the community – not forcing money or projects on them. Maintenance of political and community relationships is personal. Another area in which both Deere and Co. and TMMI agree is in maintaining relationships within your local community. Both community relations directors suggested the Army promote strong personal relationships with the local community and its leaders. Personal, in their minds, equates to visiting and phoning local officials as opposed to e-mails and text-messaging. One community relations manager stated, “When they see you at the little events, not just the big one, they know they have a partner in the community.” TMMI echoes this sentiment by stressing attendance at small local events that mean a great deal to residents. One example is 4-H. In a small rural community, 4-H and fairs are very important. TMMI stresses participation and support of these events with the community relations director spending large amounts of time there. Attendance not only means showing up, but also talking to residents in attendance and soliciting feedback on TMMI’s efforts within the community. Both TMMI and Deere stress that sending press releases and moving on to the next issue is not a good approach. Personal calls, notes, and follow-up on issues are required to advance relationships within the community.
  56. 56. Community Relations 56 Research is difficult – but required. Research and soliciting feedback is difficult for any public relations professional. TMMI and Deere and Co. have limited staff and small budgets to conduct research within their local communities. Both companies, however, stress that research is essential. For TMMI, research includes charting the amount of participation in local events, numbers of volunteers within the community, and maintaining detailed notes from community meetings. While this research will unlikely find itself in a chart or quantifiable diagram, it is valuable for providing feedback and recommendations to superiors. Deere and Co. conducts research in many of the same ways. Many times, the director of community relations returns from local meetings and events and writes a quick synopsis for her superiors. Again, while this information is not quantifiable, it may contain a valuable piece of information that will assist a superior in making an upcoming decision. Finally, both corporations religiously track press coverage for

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