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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 :

Community Relations 2

Table of Contents:

Part I Introduction……………………………………………………………………………

-Background

-Purpose

-Key Terms

….Page 4

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

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I -

Sample Installation Community Relations Program……………………………………………

81

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Background

Part I - Introduction

“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).”

Pinon Canyon, Colo., site to 635,000 acres (UPI, 2007).” Colorado Springs Action Allicance protests Pinion Canyon

Colorado Springs Action Allicance protests Pinion Canyon expansion. Photo from CSA website - http://www.csaction.org/.

“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

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).

statement and the issue is still unresolved (Hoover, 2007). Stryker Protest, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Craig Kojima

Stryker Protest, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Craig Kojima Photo

Stryker Protest, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Craig Kojima Photo 2007: Protesters sue in federal court to obtain

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).

Protesters and police meet outside the gates of West Point. Times Herald Record, 27 May 2007 Michele Haskell

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

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Community Relations 6 The GE Hudson Falls Plant discharged PCBs into the Hudson River (Photo from

The GE Hudson Falls Plant discharged PCBs into the Hudson River (Photo from EPA)

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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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Research Questions

Part III - Research Methodology

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

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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:

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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?

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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.

22 personnel Community Relations Division Pentagon Marketing Team Community Relations Team Executive Communications
22 personnel
Community Relations Division
Pentagon
Marketing Team
Community Relations Team
Executive Communications Team
- Outreach Council
-
Joint Civilian Orientation
- Media training for GOs and SES
- Golden Knights Liaison
Conference
- Holiday and special event speech
- The U.S. Army Field Band
- Joint Service Open House
writing
- Commemorations
- Public Service Recognition Week
-
Worldwide Public Affairs Symposium
- The U.S. Army All-American Bowl
- Interservice ComRel Liaison
-
GO speakers bureau
OCPA Liaison
- Aerial Requests
- USO Liaison
-
Non-aerial Requests
- CFSC and Army Entertainment
Liaison
Installation PAOs (x 61)
- Sports Outreach
-1 – 5 persons
- Outreach Web site/ Calendar
-Responsible for Community relations,
- Soldier of the Year/NCO of the
Command information, media relations at each
Year
installation
-
Accessions Command Liaison
--Reports directly to Installation Commander
OCPA-NY
OCPA-
MW
OCPA-LA
OCPA-SE
- Outreach in NYC metro area
-
Outreach in ND,
- Outreach in Los Angeles
-
Outreach in FL, GA and PR
- Outreach in Northeast
SD, NE, KS, MN, IA,
- Movie industry lead
-
Based in Tampa
- Book and publications lead
MO, IL, WI, MI, IN,
OH
-
Based in Chicago
Authority and Communications
Mission None available or published
Mission
None available or published

Core Functions

None available or published

functional and project project only distributed communications (e-mail, telephone, VTC)
functional and project
project only
distributed communications
(e-mail, telephone, VTC)

OPCA Community Relations Division

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

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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,

22 personnel Community Relations Division Pentagon Marketing Team Community Relations Team Executive Communications
22 personnel
Community Relations Division
Pentagon
Marketing Team
Community Relations Team
Executive Communications Team
- Outreach Council
-
Joint Civilian Orientation
-
Media training for GOs and SES
- Golden Knights Liaison
Conference
-
Holiday and special event speech
- The U.S. Army Field Band
-
Joint Service Open House
writing
- Commemorations
-
Public Service Recognition Week
-
Worldwide Public Affairs Symposium
-
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl
-
Interservice ComRel Liaison
-
GO speakers bureau
OCPA Liaison
-
Aerial Requests
- USO Liaison
-
Non-aerial Requests
- CFSC and Army Entertainment
Liaison
Installation PAOs (x 61)
- Sports Outreach
-1 – 5 persons
- Outreach Web site/ Calendar
-Responsible for Community relations,
- Soldier of the Year/NCO of the
Command information, media relations at each
Year
installation
-
Accessions Command Liaison
--Reports directly to Installation Commander
OCPA-NY
OCPA-
MW
OCPA-LA
OCPA-SE
- Outreach in NYC metro area
-
Outreach in ND,
-
Outreach in Los Angeles
-
Outreach in FL, GA and PR
- Outreach in Northeast
SD, NE, KS, MN, IA,
-
Movie industry lead
-
Based in Tampa
- Book and publications lead
MO, IL, WI, MI, IN,
OH
-
Based in Chicago
Authority and Communications
functional and project
Core Functions
project only
Mission
distributed communications

None available or published

(e-mail, telephone, VTC)

None available or published (e-mail, telephone, VTC) None available or published and annual meetings for

None available or published

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 barracksPAO 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, 4 th 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

Community Relations 19

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 OCPA

“Push vs Pull”

Push Push Pull Pull
Push Push
Pull Pull

•Daily “Stand-to”

Earlybird

AKO resources:

Seminar

•“Data depot”

PA homepage

PAG

 

•“Editorial Roundup”

division

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

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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.

NY receive the minutes from these meetings electronically. Community Relations Division ’s Website The other way

Community Relations Division’s Website

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 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.

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

Community Relations 23

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 Contact Other , 11.90% Personal visit, 4.76% E-mail, 23.81% Phone, 59.52%
Method of Contact
Other , 11.90%
Personal visit,
4.76%
E-mail, 23.81%
Phone, 59.52%

PhoneMethod of Contact Other , 11.90% Personal visit, 4.76% E-mail, 23.81% Phone, 59.52% E-mail Personal visit

E-mail

Personal visitMethod of Contact Other , 11.90% Personal visit, 4.76% E-mail, 23.81% Phone, 59.52% Phone E-mail Other

Other

method?

Of the PAOs surveyed, the majority

prefer to contact local media by phone.

E-mail remained the second preferencethe majority prefer to contact local media by phone. while making a personal visit to the

while making a personal visit to thelocal media by phone. E-mail remained the second preference media was the least favored option. 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

Community Relations 24

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).”

Inteaction With Media Never Annually 0% 0% Other 5% Monthly 7% Daily 49% Weekly 39%
Inteaction With Media
Never
Annually
0%
0%
Other
5%
Monthly
7%
Daily
49%
Weekly
39%

Daily

WeeklyWith Media Never Annually 0% 0% Other 5% Monthly 7% Daily 49% Weekly 39% Daily Monthly

Monthly

AnnuallyWith Media Never Annually 0% 0% Other 5% Monthly 7% Daily 49% Weekly 39% Daily Weekly

Never

OtherWith Media Never Annually 0% 0% Other 5% Monthly 7% Daily 49% Weekly 39% Daily Weekly

While the Army doesn’t highlight

the importance of routine

communication with the media, mostWhile the Army doesn’t highlight the importance of routine PAOs acknowledge (88%) that they communicate with

PAOs acknowledge (88%) that theythe importance of routine communication with the media, most communicate with their local media on a

communicate with their local mediawith the media, most PAOs acknowledge (88%) that they on a regular (daily or weekly) basis.

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.

Community Relations 25

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.

Access Granted to Local Media Closed Restricted 0% Other 17% 7% Unrestricted Controlled Unrestricted
Access Granted to Local Media
Closed
Restricted
0%
Other
17%
7%
Unrestricted
Controlled
Unrestricted
Restricted
0%
Closed
Other
Controlled
76%

Restricting access of the local

media ranked second with no

PAOs using either closed or

unrestricted practices. Those thatmedia ranked second with no PAOs using either closed or selected “other” stated their approaches fell

selected “other” stated theirusing either closed or unrestricted practices. Those that approaches fell equally in the controlled and restricted

approaches fell equally in the

controlled and restricted categories.

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 cutterapproach 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

Community Relations 27

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

Ranking Information Dissemenation Techniques

Direct phone calls or meetings w ith local media

Press Release to local media

Setting up interview s w ith unit personnel,

commanders, subject matter experts

Post new spaper

Official installation / unit w ebsites

Unit or soldier blogs

Leaks

installation / unit w ebsites Unit or soldier blogs Leaks Usefulness 1 2 1=Useless / never
installation / unit w ebsites Unit or soldier blogs Leaks Usefulness 1 2 1=Useless / never
installation / unit w ebsites Unit or soldier blogs Leaks Usefulness 1 2 1=Useless / never
installation / unit w ebsites Unit or soldier blogs Leaks Usefulness 1 2 1=Useless / never
installation / unit w ebsites Unit or soldier blogs Leaks Usefulness 1 2 1=Useless / never
installation / unit w ebsites Unit or soldier blogs Leaks Usefulness 1 2 1=Useless / never
installation / unit w ebsites Unit or soldier blogs Leaks Usefulness 1 2 1=Useless / never
installation / unit w ebsites Unit or soldier blogs Leaks Usefulness 1 2 1=Useless / never

Usefulness

1

2

1=Useless / never used

3 4 5 5= Most useful
3
4
5
5= Most useful

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.

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.

Community Relations 29

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.

Type of Coverage

Tabloid Other Overly critical 7% 2% 5% Overly supportive 16%
Tabloid
Other
Overly critical
7%
2%
5%
Overly supportive
16%

Objective

70%

ObjectiveOther Overly critical 7% 2% 5% Overly supportive 16% Objective 70% Overly supportive Overly critical Tabloid

Overly supportive

Overly criticalOther Overly critical 7% 2% 5% Overly supportive 16% Objective 70% Objective Overly supportive Tabloid Other

Tabloid

OtherOverly critical 7% 2% 5% Overly supportive 16% Objective 70% Objective Overly supportive Overly critical Tabloid

Seventy percent of the respondents

noted that the coverage of their

installation was objective. Add to thispercent of the respondents noted that the coverage of their another 16% who deemed their coverage

another 16% who deemed theircoverage of their installation was objective. Add to this coverage as “overly supportive” and some 86%

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.

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.

Community Relations 31

It is discouraging to see that 68% of all PAOs surveyed felt that their local media had been less than

Has the Media Ever….

Lied to you?

11% Been completely honest and straightforward? 32% Deceived you? 25%
11%
Been completely
honest and
straightforward?
32%
Deceived you?
25%

Withheld

information?

32%

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

Community Relations 32

How Are You Treated By the Local Media?

Ignored Other 0% 10% Feared / avoided 0%
Ignored
Other
0%
10%
Feared /
avoided
0%

Respected

90%

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.

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.

Community Relations 34

Characterize Your Working Relationship With the Media

Formal

Other 10% Hostile 5% 0% Informal / formal mix
Other
10%
Hostile
5%
0%
Informal / formal
mix

78%

Informal

7%

know you have to talk to, but don’t trust?

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

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

Community Relations 35

Community Relations 35 Schenkler and Herrling’s Channels  Story pitches  Unaccompanied access to select events

Schenkler and Herrling’s Channels

Story pitches

Unaccompanied access to select events

Interviews with subject matter experts (SME)

Embedding with units

Other

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)

Community Relations 36

Do You Offer the Media

Subject Matter Expert Interviews

Leadership Interviews

Story pitches

Media days

Embedding

Editorial boards

Unaccompanied access to select events

Town hall meetings

Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Unaccompanied access to select events Town hall meetings 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%

0%

10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%

Percentage Responding Yes

100

%

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 Installation Leadership?

Daily Annually Weekly 3% 11% 6% Semi-Annually 49%
Daily
Annually
Weekly
3%
11%
6%
Semi-Annually
49%

Monthly

31%

How Frequently Is The Press Offered Interviews

With Subject Matter Experts?

Monthly

44%

Annually Semi-Annually 3% Daily 3% 6%
Annually
Semi-Annually
3%
Daily
3%
6%

Weekly

44%

Community Relations 37

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

How Frequently Is The Press

Offered Story Pitches?

Monthly

29%

Semi-Annually Annually 3% 0%
Semi-Annually
Annually
3%
0%

Weekly

47%

Daily

21%

How Frequently Is The Press Offered Attendance at

Media Days (visit training, installation junket)?

Daily

6% Weekly 9% Monthly 13% Annually 38%
6%
Weekly
9%
Monthly
13%
Annually
38%

Semi-Annually

34%

How Often do you Offer Local Media the

Opportunity to Embed with Units?

Daily

Annually 20% 35% Weekly 0% Monthly 25% Semi-Annually
Annually
20%
35%
Weekly
0%
Monthly
25%
Semi-Annually

20%

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

Community Relations 38

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

How Often Do You Invite Local Media to Installation

Town Hall Meetings?

Weekly Daily 0% 0% Annually 7% Semi-Annually 72%
Weekly
Daily
0%
0%
Annually
7%
Semi-Annually
72%

Monthly

21%

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.

How Frequently Is The Press Given

Unaccompanied Access to Installaiton Events?

Annually

21%
21%

Semi-Annually

29%

Daily

7%

Weekly 14% Monthly 29%
Weekly
14%
Monthly
29%
How Frequently Does the Installation Conduct Editorial Board Meetings? Monthly Daily 0% Weekly 0% 0%
How Frequently Does the Installation Conduct
Editorial Board Meetings?
Monthly
Daily
0%
Weekly
0%
0%
Semi-Annually
40%
Annually
60%
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

Community Relations 39

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?

Engagement Preferences

Unaccompanied Access

Pitches

Meetings With Local Officials

Media Days / Visits

Interviews

Combination

Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%
Access Pitches Meetings With Local Officials Media Days / Visits Interviews Combination 0% 5% 10% 15%

0%

5%

10% 15%

20% 25% 30%

35% 40%

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:

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.

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

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)

Community Relations 43

Characterize the Relationship Between Your

Installation and the Local Community

Hostile, 0% Other, 5% Poor, 0% Satisfactory, 17%
Hostile, 0%
Other, 5%
Poor, 0%
Satisfactory,
17%

Excellent, 79%

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.

Community Relations 44

Periodic open houses and an active installation tour program (see para 75).

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)

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

Host community update breakfast (annual)

Appreciation Night

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

Create installation civilian employee appreciation events

Develop Co-Op programs between units and local businesses

 

installation

speaker’s bureau

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.

Community Relations 47

How Do PAOs Conduct Research? content analysis of local media coverage interviews with opinion leaders
How Do PAOs Conduct Research?
content analysis of local media
coverage
interviews with opinion leaders
community meetings (zoning
boards, city council, etc.)
informal surveys conducted by
attending local events
installation town hall meetings
Other (please specify)
call-in line (CG's hotline)
focus groups
web surveys
mail surveys
analysis of local blogs
phone surveys
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%

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)

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.

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

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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Part V Summary and Recommendations for Future Research

This study has highlighted the challenges which both the U.S. Army and major

corporations face when implementing community relations programs. While those practicing

community relations retain small staffs and budgets, the benefits of a successful program far

outweigh the investment. Lessons from companies such as Toyota and Deere and Company

suggest the Army may be doing a lot of the right things when it comes to engaging local

communities.

Overall, the U.S. Army’s PAOs enjoy a quality working relationship with their local

communities and media. PAOs utilize a number of successful techniques when interacting with

both media and community leaders. Army Public Affairs, however, is not organized from top-to-

bottom to conduct robust community relations. The personal contact required of successful

community relations programs is not possible when only one person is planning, conducting, and

assessing feedback from local community relations efforts. As a result, PAOs must harness

available research tools and volunteers to increase the effectiveness of existing community

relations programs. Additionally, enlisting the support and professional knowledge of local

public relations professionals might bring to light new ideas on how to improve relationships with

local media and communities.

To improve on Army community relations efforts in the future, the following points of

additional research could be explored:

1. How does Army Public Affairs Doctrine (field manuals, regulations, circulars,

textbooks, lesson plans) compare to current industry training and procedures for

community relations? For example, how does General Electric train its community

relations specialists? What texts and procedures are employed to ensure community

relations at such a large corporation are standardized? How do the Army’s texts, training,

and doctrine compare?

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2. How do Army PAOs conduct research to support their community relations practices

and media engagement? Based on the number of readily available research tools such as

Survey Monkey, has the Army begun utilizing online research tools to overcome staffing

shortages?

3. How do successful large corporations measure community involvement? For example,

how does Toyota measure the community impact of building a new youth soccer facility?

How can the Army begin measuring its own impact on its local communities?

4. Are the Army’s public relations practices and procedures outdated? Given the rapid

changes in public relations practices in a diverse information environment, is Army

doctrine and training “up to speed”?

5. How could Army Public Affairs be better organized to conduct community relations?

How are major corporations of similar size organized to conduct community relations?

What would be the advantages and disadvantages to mirror these organizational

structures?

6. What research and professional tools are available for Army PAOs to assist in

community and media engagement? How could these tools be made readily available to

PAOs? What would be the advantages to creating a community relations “toolbox” site

to assist PAOs in retrieving the tools? How much would these tools cost?

7. How does the Army utilize volunteers? Does the Army track volunteers’ efforts in

their communities? Can installation volunteer coordinators assist PAOs in community

relations?

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References

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Appendix A PAO Survey1. Media Relations Section

Community Relations 62 Appendix – A – PAO Survey1. Media Relations Section

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Appendix B Media Survey

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Appendix C - Installation Listing

Community Relations 73 Appendix – C - Installation Listing

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Appendix D - PAO List

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Appendix E PAO Survey Invite

Initial Invite:

Sir:

My name is MAJ Paul Hayes and I am a PAO currently attending graduate school. For my thesis, I am researching the relationships Army installations have with their neighboring communities and media. Your experiences as an installation Public Affairs Officer and community relations specialist would greatly assist this endeavor.

I know you are busy, but I need your help in completing a brief survey. Your answers are completely confidential. I will not know who replied and with what answers, only the total answers provided.

This survey should take about 10 minutes and can be completed between the 10th and 24th of July.

Please feel free to contact me directly at paul.hayes@us.army.mil or 860 881 8065 should you have any questions. I welcome any additional comments or contributions that will help the Army strengthen its relationships with local communities. Once complete with my study, I can gladly send you a copy.

Thank you in advance for your participation and thank you for helping to tell the Army story.

Army Strong!

MAJ Hayes

PAUL R. HAYES Major, U.S. Army Graduate Student, Army Public Affairs Program

Reminder Invite:

Fellow Public Relations Professional:

Due to a lack of responses, the window to complete our Community Relations Survey has been extended to the 30th of July. Please take a moment to complete the survey as your experience and comments are vital to our research.

Thanks again for your consideration.

Army Strong!

MAJ Hayes

PAUL R. HAYES Major, U.S. Army Graduate Student, Army Public Affairs

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Appendix F Media Survey Invite

Dear Media Professional:

My name is Paul Hayes and I am currently attending graduate school at Iona College. For my thesis, I am researching the relationships communities and their media have with neigboring US Army installations. Your experiences as a journalist who covers an Army installation would greatly assist this endeavor.

I know you are busy and probably on deadline, but I need your help in completing a brief survey. Your answers are completely confidential. I will not know who replied and with what answers, only the total answers provided.

This survey (link below) should take about 10 minutes and can be completed between the 26th of September and the 10th of October.

Please feel free to contact me directly at phayes1@iona.edu or phone 845 549-4197 should you have any questions. I welcome any additional comments or contributions. Once complete with my study, I can gladly send you a copy.

Thank you in advance for your participation and I look forward to reading your responses.

Paul Hayes

Graduate Student Department of Mass Communications, Iona College

715 North Avenue

New Rochelle, NY 10801

845 549-4197

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Appendix G Sample Corporate Interview Request

Initial Request via e-mail:

Ms. Salley,

My name is Paul Hayes and I currently attend Iona College where I am pursuing a masters in

public relations. As part of my final thesis project, I am collecting some of the best practices in

community relations from business to assist the US Army in improving their relationships with

communities neighboring their installations.

As a Major serving on active duty in the Army, this project is of great significance and your

assistance would be appreciated. I would like to set up a time to meet you’re you about John

Deere’s relationship with the community of Moline. These communities neighboring your

Moline plants and your workforce there replicate several Army installations and their neighbors

in size and population.

While the information and press releases on your website are very informative, I would like to

visit the plant and communities with you to better understand the programs and systems your

company has developed to foster such a great relationship.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Paul R. Hayes Graduate Student Iona College PR Masters Program PO Box 194 Mountainville, NY 10953 (845)