Learning from other industries is one way we stay on top of communications trends. This month, we’re turning to the U.S. military to examine the role innovative communications play in connecting with each other and the country at large. 

Joint Information Center Training

Staying ahead of the game is paramount for the military. One way the military prepares for situations is by holding mock crisis scenarios, ranging from nuclear attacks to mass migration, and assembling a Joint Information Center (JIC) to prepare public affairs officers (PAOs) for potential crises.

Here’s where it gets interesting- a JIC isn’t comprised solely of PAOs from one branch- it brings in subject matter experts and personnel with varying ranks, all with different assignments from the various military branches. During a JIC training, which can be as short as a small exercise with a handful of participants or as in-depth as a three-day workshop, personnel responds as if the practice situation was happening in real-time. JIC training provides hands-on experience with media relations, strategic and logistical planning, leadership skills, information management, and cross-branch coordination in a lower-stress environment.

Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

Efficiency is key, especially when it comes to the military. To streamline access to information, the Department of Defense (DoD), which oversees all branches of the U.S. Military Services, created an online platform, called the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS). This online sharing platform expands access to unclassified military communications to military personnel and civilians alike. DVIDS provides one central hub for all things military public affairs, including images, videos, webinars, podcasts, articles, graphics, and more.

One of the DVIDS highlights is that it’s open to the public, so reporters, journalists, students, and anyone else looking for military information can visit one hub to download a wealth of information. In this technology era, a free source of verified and high-quality information can be difficult to come by. By expanding access to this platform to non-military personnel, DoD is removing barriers to information and increasing accessibility.  

Continuing Education and Training Opportunities

Ongoing training and certifications allow PAOs the opportunity to hone their craft and stay on top of their game. The Accreditation in Public Relations with the military credential (APR+M) certifies a PAO’s expertise in not only public relations but military communications as well. The APR-M credential also connects the PAO community with colleagues across the globe, expands one’s network, and creates a nationwide knowledge-sharing community that benefits military and non-military PR professionals alike. By supporting this program, the DoD encourages PAOs to learn innovative strategies and tactics that will arm them with the knowledge, experience, and network to navigate future, unknown situations.

While specialized training in the PR industry is common, this partnership bridges a gap between public and private organizations. The government and military are now collaborating with civilian PR professionals to create a network to strengthen and expand the communications industry, supporting collaboration between two sectors that need to do more than simply co-exist.