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What Military and Civilian PAO/PR Professionals Can Teach Each Other

Anyone who knows me well knows I have a special place in my heart for military public affairs types, especially reservists and retirees.  As a long-time public relations and strategic communications contractor in Washington, D.C., serving mostly military clients, some of my most talented and interesting co-workers have come from the world of military public affairs.  They are frequently the peers I have learned the most from (and not just quirky new military jargon, like “DINFOS Trained Killers” or – scandal! – “DINFOS Nymphos,” both of which refer to the military’s training school for information and public affairs).  Today’s BZ Pick offers insight into why this particular group is so frequently, and consistently, perspicacious.

The key, I think, to their unique insight into the philosophy and practice of what we do as communicators, is their exposure to two very different sides of the strategic communications coin.  Military public affairs is often more reactive than traditional public relations, while traditional public relations can often feel somewhat contrived, poorly thought out,  and lacking in a sense of genuine gravitas.  Military communications is just that: military communications–with all the planning and process one might expect from such an environment, and PR is still quite often the game of “spin” we’ve grown so accustomed to.  What is the result when the communicator must serve the left-brained master of the regimented world whilst effectively navigating the right-brained commercial flipside on as frequent a basis?  Well, if my former colleagues, and writer Brian Wagner, below, are any indications, the answer is an awful lot of insight any communicator—civilian or uniformed—would do well to pay attention to.

In a two-part series for the Journalistics blog, Wagner, a civilian PR account manager by day, and weekend warrior PAO by night (yes, I know that didn’t make total logical sense, but just go with it) attempts to bridge the knowledge gap between these dual hatted wise men (and women) and, well, the rest of us.  First tackling what military PAOs can learn from the civilian sector, Wagner followed up his post with another, highlighting what the civilian sector can learn from military public affairs.  Both are simple, to-the-point reads that offer some valuable insight into best practices from the “other” side.  Enjoy!

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